Think tofu is boring? With a flavorful dry rub and zingy BBQ sauce, this BBQ tofu has layers of smoky flavor you’ll love! Ready in under 30 minutes, it’s the perfect addition to your summer BBQ spread.
I’ve been on two specific quests lately:
- To prove that tofu isn’t boring
- To prove that vegan BBQ food *can* be tasty
This smoky BBQ tofu recipe accomplishes both of those. It’s got a flavorful dry rub that infuses into the tofu while it cooks on the grill, and your favorite BBQ sauce to finish it off.
I love making a batch of these skewers either to bring to BBQs with me, or to have on hand for the vegans at the party (although they’re so good, don’t be surprised if the meat eaters steal a few!)
BBQ Tofu ingredients
- Extra Firm Tofu: The star of the show, tofu is a fantastic plant-based protein source that’s known for its ability to absorb flavors. It takes on the smoky, spicy, and savory notes from the spices and BBQ sauce while providing a meaty texture.
- Oil: Oil is essential for grilling as it prevents the tofu from sticking to the grill grates and adds a touch of richness to the dish. It also helps distribute the spices evenly.
- Smoked Paprika: Smoked paprika brings a deep, smoky flavor to the tofu, replicating the essence of traditional barbecue. It adds a subtle earthiness that complements the tofu beautifully.
- Cumin: Cumin contributes a warm, aromatic quality to the tofu. Its earthy and slightly nutty notes enhance the overall flavor profile.
- Chili Powder: Chili powder provides a gentle kick of heat, balancing the sweetness of the BBQ sauce. It adds depth and complexity to the dish.
- Garlic Powder: Garlic powder infuses the tofu with a savory, garlicky essence. It’s a key player in the seasoning mix.
- Salt and Pepper: These staples are essential for seasoning, enhancing the overall taste of the tofu while allowing the other spices to shine.
- BBQ Sauce: BBQ sauce is the star condiment here, delivering that classic barbecue tanginess and sweetness. It coats the tofu skewers in a rich, finger-licking glaze that makes them utterly irresistible.
Which type of tofu?
Extra firm tofu is best here because it’s sturdy and easy to find, although if you can find super firm tofu, that variety holds up best on the grill (super firm tofu is typically vacuum sealed instead of packed in water). For a soy-free version of this recipe, use chickpea tofu!
How to make BBQ Tofu
Making BBQ tofu is super simple. You’ll basically just:
- Prep the skewers by soaking them in water to prevent them from burning
- Press the tofu so it can soak up more flavor
- Assemble the tofu onto the skewers
- Brush with dry rub
- Grill until charred!
- Prep In Advance: You can prep this BBQ tofu up to 2 days in advance. Once the tofu is on the skewers and brushed with dry rub, cover them well and refrigerate until ready to cook.
- No Grill? You can also make this tofu in the oven or air fryer. See out notes in the recipe card at the end of this post!
- Soak Wooden Skewers: If you’re using wooden skewers, remember to soak them in water for at least an hour before grilling. This prevents them from burning on the grill!
- Two Rounds of Grilling: Grill the tofu twice for the best results. First, grill it for 5 minutes on medium/high heat, flipping once, to develop those appealing grill marks. Then, brush on the BBQ sauce and continue grilling for another 1 minute per side. This dual grilling method ensures a crispy exterior with a flavorful BBQ glaze.
Fire up the grill
We love serving these burgers with other foods made on the grill, like:
- 1 14-oz package extra firm tofu
- 2 Tbsp oil 30 mL
- 1 tsp each smoked paprika, cumin, chili, garlic powder
- ½ tsp each salt and pepper
- ½ to 1 cup BBQ sauce
- Prep Skewers: If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least an hour before grilling.
- Press: Press tofu for at least 15 minutes, using either a tofu press or by wrapping it in a clean towel and setting a heavy pan on top of it, letting the moisture drain.
- Assemble: Cut tofu into squares. Assemble tofu onto metal or soaked wooden skewers.
- Brush: In a small bowl, combine oil and spices. Brush onto all sides of the tofu.
- Grill: Heat a grill or grill pan to medium/high. Use cooking spray to oil the grill grates. Cook the tofu for 5 minutes, flipping once, until char lines develop. Brush with the BBQ sauce and continue cooking for another 1 minute per side. Serve hot.