Crispy Italian Baked Tofu

April 23, 2023

It’s a vegetarian recipe dream come true! Marinated in balsamic vinegar, garlic, and herbs, this tofu bursts with flavor. Eat it as a snack or serve it over brown rice with a side salad and Parmesan shavings.

In college, I became a vegetarian. It started on principle. I didn’t want to eat meat from Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) for many reasons, and I couldn’t afford grass-fed, humanely raised meat. So I stopped eating it. 

At first, it was jarring. A wrap without chicken? No burgers? But then I discovered the health food co-op in the basement of the student union. And with it, tofu. And so, the era of tofu-scrambled “eggs” and Thanksgiving Tofurkeys began. 

For an Italian girl raised on beef tongue with “green sauce,” this was quite the stretch for my mother. So when I came up with this recipe for Italian Baked Tofu, and she approved it, I felt like I won the jackpot. 

Though I’m no longer vegetarian, this recipe has remained a staple in our home. On nights when I don’t prepare meat – which I now source from local farmers committed to humanely and pasture-raised livestock – I whip this up and serve it alongside rice and steamed vegetables or salad. 

Tofu slabs arranged on a parchment-lined baking sheet with a red, herby marinade.

Why You’ll Love This Crispy Italian Baked Tofu

  • Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free
  • No cornstarch or frying 
  • Plenty of room for ingredient customization
  • Lots of texture and Italian flavor

A piece of tofu on a paper towel. Hands holding another sheet of towel to press on top.

Tips for Making Crispy Tofu 

  1. Use extra-firm tofu. It has less water than any other tofu option out there. 
  2. Squeeze out extra water. Moisture is the enemy of crisp and crunch. Slice the tofu into ½-inch slabs or cubes. Sandwich them between dishcloths or paper towels, then press them to extract the moisture by placing something heavy on top. This can be a cast iron pan or two, or a pot filled with water. 
  3. Bake or fry the tofu. There are pros to both methods, but baking the tofu uses less oil and makes less of a mess. Frying in a skillet with oil will nicely brown the tofu. Whichever option you choose, it will be delicious

Tofu lined on a baking sheet, someone pouring marinade on top of tofu.


Crispy Italian Baked Tofu

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Balsamic vinegar is the real flavor maker in this recipe. I recommend splurging on high-quality Italian balsamic vinegar. But if you don’t want to break the bank, I LOVE this affordable brand.

  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes




  • 1 (14 to 16 ounce) block of extra firm tofu
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, grated or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • Fresh basil
  • Grated Parmesan



Box graters can be a pain, this Microplane is my go-to for zesting citrus, grating garlic, and nutmeg, or shredding mountains of Parmesan cheese!


  • Serving Size: 4

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  1. This recipe is excellent! I am always suspicious of tofu recipes because I feel like they are hit or miss, and I was nervous since this didn’t really have any reviews. But it was absolutely delicious! I doubled the sauce since I was using a whole 14oz pack of tofu. When I make it again, I’m going to use less oil and more tomato paste. With 8 tablespoons of oil it was just wayyyy too much. I’d probably use like 5-6 when I double, so I’d guess 4 tablespoons is also a lot for the normal recipe. I also didn’t use the full 8 minutes at broil as a few pieces were starting to burn at 5 minutes. Overall really great recipe, thanks!

    1. Thanks, so much for your feedback, Sarah! I’m so happy you made the recipe work for you. We’re actually in the works of testing this recipe so your suggested tweaks will be helpful in the test kitchen. All the best!

  2. Pingback: Chickpea Tofu with Roasted Italian Veggies Over Spaghetti Squash | Veggies at Tiffani’s

    1. Hi! I didn’t press it when I made this recipe and it wasn’t an issue, but I have since learned that pressing the tofu can yield a crispier result. I say try it!

  3. Hi Emma
    I need to make 80 portions for a Volunteer Appreciation Lunch next Wednesday for Ithaca Welcomes Refugees. My budget is pretty low & I need to make all vegetarian. Can I freeze the baked tofu and reheat later?
    Also, would you know where I could get some donations? Thanks
    Kathleen covell. Ithaca welcomes

    1. Hi Kathleen! Great question, and so honored that you’re making this for such an incredible cause. Yes, you can freeze the baked tofu and reheat later – no problem. Here’s another great article on freezing tofu: As for donations, I would see if Greenstar would be willing to offer donations – this seems like a very aligned cause. Additionally, you could contact the Ithaca Farmers Market and see if they were willing to send a memo out to vendors asking for donations. Hope this helps! Xo, E

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