Made with only 4 simple ingredients, this Lemon Pepper Tofu recipe has quickly become a favorite in our house. Using a very easy cooking trick, the tofu becomes super crispy yet is ready to eat in 25 minutes. Check out the post for how to get crispy and hearty tofu every time!
Before I started sharing my favorite recipes (like my Vegan Lettuce Wraps, Crispy Air Fried Tofu, and Juicy Grillable Tofu Burgers) I would often hear that the texture of tofu is just odd. But here’s the thing with tofu – it’s all about how you cook it. Tofu is an awesome alternative protein choice if you just learn how to cook it!
Lemon pepper chicken (the dish that this is inspired by) usually has crispy chicken bits, so the tofu has to be the right texture to mimic that. I did numerous tests to make sure this recipe produced tofu that was crispy on the outside but chewy inside every time. I’m excited to share what I learned and my easy trick to make the best tofu!
Why you’ll love it
- 4 ingredients are all you need to make this tofu with lemon pepper seasoning!
- The perfect texture of the tofu thanks to baking it in the oven on an unlined sheet tray. Yes, unlined – I’ll explain more later!
- Versatile in that you can eat lemon pepper tofu for an easy dinner or serve it over rice as lunch for the next few days. I’s also great for serving to folks with different dietary needs, being gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan!
“Can’t believe how easy and fast this yummy recipe is.” —Kari
Ingredients for Lemon Pepper Tofu
I know 4 ingredients seem like they can’t possibly generate enough flavor, but I’m here to tell you that yes, in fact, they can!
- Extra Firm Tofu: It’s very important to get extra firm tofu to have that slightly chewy and substantial texture. Refrigerated or shelf-stable can be used but shelf-stable is typically a little smaller so you might need 2 packages.
- Cornstarch: This helps to get a little crisp on the outside during the baking process.
- Lemon Pepper Seasoning: Everything you need in one seasoning! You can use store bought or make your own lemon pepper seasoning (it’s easy!)
- Salt: Add a bit of salt to really brighten the flavors!
do i need to press the tofu?
A lot of recipes will say to press tofu, and while this is helpful sometimes, it’s not needed for this lemon pepper recipe. You only need to pat it dry because baking the tofu slowly draws out a lot of the excess moisture. Plus, extra firm tofu has less moisture in general.
How to make Crispy Oven Baked Tofu
I’ll start by saying to preheat your oven and DON’T line a pan. The direct contact with the pan helps the tofu to get a nice crispy exterior!
- Prep by preheating the oven, pat the tofu dry, break it into bite-sized pieces, and then season.
- Bake the tofu on a greased sheet tray, flipping halfway through.
- Serve with rice, broccoli, or other tasty green vegetable!
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days in an airtight container. To reheat pop them in the mcirowave, oven, or on a skillet on the stove top to heat through.
Why this Recipe Works
After much testing, I have 3 things to tell you about why this recipe works so well: texture, baking method, and effort.
- Most importantly, the texture is king with this tofu. You may have had tofu in the past that didn’t live up to actually being crispy, but this recipe delivers!
- How I bake the tofu is different than a lot of recipes because I prefer to bake on a greased sheet instead of a lined tray. The more direct heat produces a crispier exterior.
- Minimal effort is required for this lemon pepper tofu because it uses limited ingredients and you only have to flip the tofu once during the bake time.
Can the tofu be baked without cornstarch?
You can, yes, but the cornstarch absorbs some of the liquid thus helping to crisp up the tofu. For an alernative I would use tapioca starch or arrowroot flour.
Why do you tear the tofu instead of cut it?
I found that tearing the tofu mimics the texture of chicken more closely than cutting. Plus, the cube cuts of tofu can sometimes be an appetizer killer to folks looking for a meat replacement. (If there’s one think I learned in my studies as a food scientist, it’s that food needs to look appetizing – we eat with our eyes first!)
Can I use a different seasoning?
Yes, you can use another all purpose seasoning like Everything Bagel or Steak Seasoning. You cannot use a single spice like garlic powder though – a spice blend is really best.
What if I don’t have lemon pepper seasoning?
You can make your own lemon pepper seasoning with this recipe, or use a combination of fresh lemon zest (not lemon juice, this is too sour for this recipe), black pepper, and salt!
What to serve with baked lemon tofu
The classic flavors of this tofu pair well with many things. I usually like to pair it with a my favorite grain (like brown rice or quinoa) and a vegetable (like broccoli or asparagus). These are just a few ideas I’ve had, but the sky’s the limit!
- Broccoli Rice can be a great, low-carb base for the tofu. You could also pair it with rice and broccoli for a more traditional approach.
- Roasted Vegetables are easy to toss in the air fryer while the tofu bakes.
- Easy Summer Strawberry Salad with Feta is the perfect pairing with bright lemon pepper tofu!
“I LOVED this recipe!!! Seriously so easy and delicious. I made it in a meal prep with brown rice and steamed green beans, but next time I think I’ll try it on a salad to add some protein!” —Alex
- 1 16-oz package extra-firm tofu drained, 453 g
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp lemon pepper seasoning
- ½ tsp salt
- Prep: Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Pat tofu dry with a clean towel, then break it into bite-sized chunks. In a large bowl, stir together cornstarch, lemon pepper seasoning, and salt. Add tofu and toss to evenly coat.
- Bake: Arrange tofu pieces on a greased baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking, until golden brown and crispy.After testing both ways, I actually prefer baking the tofu directly on a greased baking sheet instead of parchment paper-lined. They get crispier!
- Serve: Serve warm with rice and/or a veggie, like broccoli or asparagus!