This gochujang tofu is my go-to tofu recipe – flavor-packed with spicy, sweet, and savory goodness! Not only is it a hassle-free, protein-rich meal, it's made with pantry staples and ready in less than 30 minutes. It's been a staple weeknight dinner for over a decade for me, and I've included all my secret tips so you can get that perfect crispy texture that makes this dish irresistible.
This post contains helpful tips and tricks! If you're in a rush, please use the "Jump to Recipe" below!
💭 Easy, protein-packed add to every meal
- Healthy yet flavorful, thanks to it's Korean-inspired flavor profile.
- Uses simple, pantry-friendly ingredients. Extra-firm tofu, gochujang paste, and a few basic spices are all you need.
- Great as a quick snack on-the-go or as a weeknight dinner if you add some rice as starch (try this microwave rice).
- Ready in less than 30 minutes.
📋 Ingredients and notes
To make this Korean-inspired dish, you'll need extra firm tofu, gochujang, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, maple syrup, sesame oil, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper.
Substitutions and variations
- Gochujang. If gochujang is not available in nearby grocery stores, you may substitute it with another type of chili paste, such as sriracha or sambal oelek.
- Soy sauce. Substitute with tamari for a gluten-free version of this recipe.
- Rice wine vinegar. You can easily substitute this with white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar due to similarity in tanginess, acidity, and sweetness.
- Maple syrup. You can use honey as-is or brown sugar with water (after heating it up on medium heat to dissolve and get to the right texture).
📖 How to make gochujang tofu
To prep the tofu, you'll need to press the tofu using a heavy object or a tofu press if it's not already pressed, to remove excess water. You could also freeze the tofu the night before. Make sure it's cut into 1-inch cubes.
In a medium bowl, combine all the other ingredients to make the spicy sauce.
Add the tofu to the sauce and toss to coat uniformly, flipping them over.
For oven-baked tofu: Preheat oven to 400℉ (200℃). Spread the tofu in a single layer on a baking sheet, evenly spacing them and avoid overcrowding. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tofu is golden brown and crispy.
For air fryer tofu: Preheat air fryer to 400℉ (200℃). Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the tofu is golden brown and crispy.
Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions. You can enjoy this recipe as a protein-packed snack, or as an addition to any main course. Make rice bowls by adding some rice (brown rice or quinoa work great here) for a complete meal ready in under 30 minutes.
👩🏽🍳 Tips for the best spicy gochujang tofu recipe
Tofu can be intimidating if you've never cooked with it before, but trust me, it's really easy once you get the hang of it. While this recipe is written so it's easy to get right every time, following these tips will make things easier and ensure you get crispy tofu every time!
Use extra firm tofu. To achieve a golden brown and crispy tofu, use extra firm tofu. Soft tofu and silken tofu won't work as they fall apart once pressed.
⭐ For extra crispy tofu, freeze the tofu overnight. When tofu is frozen, it becomes spongy, which makes it easier to drain and absorb more sauce, resulting in more flavorful tofu bites. Press the tofu for 30 minutes before cooking using something heavy or with a tofu press (I love using this tofu press and it gets SO much use in our kitchen, so check it out!)
Slice them uniformly. Cut tofu into uniform cubes for consistent cooking and a balanced distribution of flavors.
Lightly coat tofu cubes with cornstarch or tapioca flour for added crispiness.
Add variety. Make your meal even healthier by adding vegetables such as broccoli, mushrooms, Brussel sprouts, or bell peppers. Super easy to whip up a side of microwave broccoli, or smothered garlic green beans.
👩🏽🍳 Troubleshooting FAQs
Gochujang is a fermented red chili paste that came from Korean cooking. It is spicy, sweet, savory, and full of umami flavor. If you love spicy food, look for gochujang in your nearest local Asian market.
Not having a tofu press can't stop you from having a crispy gochujang tofu dish. Simply use paper towels. Put a layer of paper towels on both sides of the tofu and place a weight on top of the block of tofu to squeeze out excess liquid. Let it sit until the paper towels absorb all excess moisture.
You can make a stir fry by sauteing the marinated tofu over high heat in a skillet, for a golden brown finish. Avoid excessive stirring to let the tofu develop a crisp crust. Once it's brown, add the spicy sauce mixture to the pan then gently toss the tofu to coat.
🍴How to serve gochujang tofu
This spicy gochujang tofu is a satisfying dish you can enjoy as-is. But you can also make a complete meal by:
- Adding some vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or bell peppers to add more variety.
- Serve it with rice (made in the microwave), cumin rice, or even leftover fried rice or noodles for a good starchy complement.
🍶 Storage and reheating instructions
To store leftover Korean spicy gochujang tofu, transfer it to an airtight container and place in the refrigerator for up to three days. To reheat, place it in the oven at 350 F (176 C) for 5-10 minutes until warm and crispy. You can also pop it in the air fryer for a few minutes. I do not recommend freezing this recipe.
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Easy, Spicy Gochujang Tofu
- 1 Air Fryer optional
- 14 oz extra firm tofu, pressed, cut into 1-inch cubes
- ¼ cup gochujang
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce, substitute with tamari for gluten-free version
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Press the tofu using a heavy object or a tofu press if it's not already pressed. You could also freeze the tofu the night before. Make sure it's cut into 1-inch cubes.
- In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients and toss to coat the tofu.
- Spread the tofu in a single layer on a baking sheet, making sure to evenly space them and avoid overcrowding.
- Preheat oven to 400℉ (200℃). Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tofu is golden brown and crispy.
Air Fryer Tofu
- Preheat oven to 400℉ (200℃). Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the tofu is golden brown and crispy.
- For extra crispy tofu, press the tofu for at least 30 minutes before baking or air frying. Freezing overnight is a great way to get the right texture.
- If you don't have gochujang, you can substitute another type of chili paste, such as sriracha or sambal oelek.
- You can also add other vegetables to the tofu, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or bell peppers.
- Serve the tofu with your favorite sides, such as rice, noodles, or roasted vegetables.