I am sharing one of my very favorite kinds of recipes today! It’s a clean-out-the-fridge, even-if you-can’t- cook-you-can-cook-this, HELP-me-so-hungry, easy, healthy dinner: Tofu Stir Fry! You can use any kind of vegetables you like, the “sauce” is only two ingredients, and the entire shebang is ready in less than 30.

Crispy tofu with spinach, broccoli, and fresh vegetables on a plate

This easy tofu stir fry came about in one of those classic Erin moves in which I tell myself I am cooking “just for fun!” and don’t need to worry about measurements or posting the recipe.

You’ve witnessed this here before. I make a recipe. We sit down to eat it. I fall madly in love and realize that I cannot in good faith go about the rest of my mortal existence without sharing the recipe with you.

You need this tofu stir fry and you need it ASAP!

This healthy tofu stir fry is a last-minute meal you can cook with anything you have on hand. We usually make it with spinach—I have a habit of buying Costco-scale containers of with the best of salad intentions, only to have 40% of the box lingering in my fridge on the brink of extinction—but you can swap in any veggie you like.

Broccoli tofu stir fry? Pepper tofu stir fry? Any vegetable is game!

Even if you think you don’t like tofu, I hope you’ll try this recipe. The tofu is firm and flavorful. The veggies are fresh and colorful. The flavors are salty, savory, and satisfying (just like in this Tofu Curry and Egg Roll in a Bowl).

Tofu stir fry has all the makings for a fast, healthy dinner you can turn to again and again. For those with dietary considerations, this tofu stir fry is vegan naturally and (if you use gluten free tamari in place of soy sauce) it’s gluten free as well. More stir fry for all!

Healthy Tofu Stir Fry. A fast weeknight dinner packed with protein and vegetables.

How to Make the Best Easy Tofu Stir Fry

I made this tofu stir fry immediately after we’d been out of town and all we had in the refrigerator was two blocks of tofu and the aforementioned container of on-the-brink spinach.

As it turns out, if you have tofu, a few veggies, a bottle of soy sauce, and a couple of garlic cloves rolling about in your pantry, you can turn it all into a dynamite dinner.

Core Ingredients to Make Tofu Stir Fry

Let’s talk about the essentials to make a healthy tofu stir fry. This recipe on the whole is very flexible. I only have a few non-negotiables, which, bossy lady that I am, I will make abundantly clear in the following bullets.

  • Extra-Firm Tofu. This is the bossy part. Tofu can be confusing, because (like breakfast cereal), there are an alarming number of options that all sound eerily similar. For those yummy, crispy outsides, firm (forgive me) “meaty” insides, and a happy I didn’t realize I loved tofu! experience, look for EXTRA firm tofu.

Not soft. Not silken. Not even firm. EXTRA firm. Are you with me?

Let’s discuss.

easy, vegan Tofu Stir Fry in a wok

The Difference Between Different Types of Tofu

Tofu is categorized depending upon the amount of water content it contains.

  • Extra-Firm Tofu has the least amount of liquid. It’s what I always recommend for stir fries, especially if it will be cubed like in this General Tso’s Tofu Stir Fry. It still has enough liquid to where you will need to squeeze some of the liquid out. For cooking tips, check out my post about Crispy Tofu.
  • Firm Tofu. Straight talk: I don’t know what the point of this tofu is. Even when I’m crumbling the tofu like in these Tofu Tacos, I still prefer the extra firm, which contains a decent amount of liquid. (Tofu experts, feel free to enlighten me on the purpose of this particular variety.)
  • Soft or Silken Tofu. Both of these kinds of tofu (silken is Japanese; soft is Chinese) behave the same way. They have the least amount of liquid squeezed out and are soft and custardy. Don’t try to make a stir fry with this kind of tofu. Instead, blend it into smoothies for a protein boost or, better yet, use it for a dessert like this vegan Chocolate Mousse Pie.
Healthy Sesame Tofu Stir Fry with spinach

OK, now that we’re on the same page about what kind of tofu to use for tofu stir fry (EXTRA FIRM!), let’s discuss a few other key ingredients for the best-tasting tofu stir fry.

  • Fresh Garlic and Ginger. These two are foundational for any great-tasting stir fry.
  • Green Onion. Sauté half of them with the vegetables to build flavor, then sprinkle the other half on at the end to give the stir fry some zip and pretty green presentation.
  • Soy Sauce and Sesame Oil. Two pantry staples that you can use to create tofu stir fry in a flash. You can add them right to the pan; you don’t even need to mix up a separate sauce! I recommend low sodium sesame oil so that the tofu stir fry doesn’t become overly salty. Sesame oil adds a rich, deep, and lightly toasted flavor to any stir fry. You can find it in the Asian or international oil of most major super markets.

Recipe Tips

A few pro tips to help you cook the best tofu stir fry ever:

  • Press out as much of the tofu liquid as you can. The less liquid, the crispier the tofu will be. To do this, place a stack of paper towels on a plate. Wrap the tofu block in more paper towels, then place a second plate on top. Add several heavy items on top to weight the tofu down (canned food is perfect). Let sit 5 to 10 minutes while you prep the rest of the recipe.
  • Add the soy sauce in increments as you cook to build flavor. Food should be seasoned throughout the entire cooking process. Each addition changes and deepens the flavor in a unique way that will give you better results than if you just add it all at once at the end.
  • Save the sesame oil to drizzle on at the end to preserve its flavor. It’s so robust, toasty, and nutty that a few teaspoons give the illusion that this tofu stir fry recipe is much more complicated to make than it is.
quick, vegan Easy Tofu Stir Fry on a plate

Tofu Stir Fry Your Way: Flexible Ingredients and Additions

Once you’ve gathered the essentials, this tofu stir fry recipe becomes much more flexible:

  • Fresh Vegetables. Whatever you have in your fridge! I used spinach, which cooks in minutes, so it makes this recipe especially fast. Broccoli tofu stir fry is another favorite of ours, but you can really swap in any vegetable you like.

Super quick-cooking vegetables like spinach you can cook right along with the tofu, because it will wilt down immediately.

For vegetables like broccoli or red peppers that need longer than a minute or two to become crisp-tender, I recommend cooking the tofu first, removing it to a plate, then stir frying the vegetables separately. Stir everything together right at the end.

  • Heat (Red Pepper Flakes or Chili Paste). We like a spicy tofu stir fry, so to give it a kick, I stir in a little fresh chili paste (sambal oelek), which is available in the Asian or international food aisle of most grocery stores and online here. If you can’t find it, red pepper flakes work as well. For a milder flavor, reduce the amount or simply omit it.
  • Fish Sauce. For a Thai tofu stir fry spin, replace 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce with fish sauce and squeeze fresh lime juice over the top. You can also swap the shrimp for tofu in my Healthy Shrimp Pad Thai or add tofu to this Vegetarian Pad Thai.
  • Rice or Noodles. We usually serve our tofu stir fry with brown rice (I cook it in the Instant Pot right along with the rest of the meal), but if you prefer tofu stir fry noodles, these are a tasty option, and they cook more quickly too!
30-minute, protein-packed Tofu Stir Fry on a plate

Recommended Tools to Make Tofu Stir Fry

  • Wok. You don’t need a tofu stir fry wok to make great-tasting stir fry—a large, deep nonstick pan will do the trick—but if you plan to cook stir fry often, it’s a handy investment. I have owned this one for about 10 years (eek! I’m old), and I’m still super happy with it. This is a very similar wok, just without the lid so it’s less expensive.
  • Wide, heatproof spatula. Perfect for stirring and flipping the tofu cubes.

Whether or not you plan to make this Tofu Stir Fry recipe immediately—though if I may have one more bossy moment, YOU SHOULD MAKE THIS RECIPE THIS WEEK—the next time you are at the store, toss a few blocks of extra-firm tofu into your cart. Then, on a busy night when you need a healthy dinner in a hurry, you can pull up this recipe, clean out your fridge, and have a simple, healthy meal on the table in a flash.

Easy Sesame Tofu Stir Fry. Crispy tofu with spinach, broccoli, or any fresh vegetables you love. This vegan recipe is packed with flavor in a simple, delicious Asian garlic ginger sauce. Serve with rice or noodles.

Tofu Stir Fry

4.88 from 47 votes
How to make the best tofu stir fry. Crispy tofu and fresh vegetables like broccoli and spinach, sautéed in a quick and easy garlic sesame sauce.

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 25 mins

Servings: 3 –4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 (14-ounce) packages extra-firm tofu do not use firm, silken or anything other than extra-firm
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil or grapeseed oil*
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce divided, plus additional to taste
  • 3 large garlic cloves minced (about 1 heaping tablespoon)
  • 1 small bunch green onions finely chopped, divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1–2 teaspoons fresh chili paste (sambal oelek) or 1/4–1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (we like a bit of a kick, so I use the full 2 teaspoons chili paste)
  • 10 ounces baby spinach**
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

For serving:


Instructions
 

  • Drain the tofu. Wrap each block in a double layer of paper towels and pat dry, pressing down on the tofu lightly to squeeze out excess moisture. Cut the tofu into 3/4-inch cubes.
  • In a large nonstick skillet or wok, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot but not smoking, add the tofu (be careful, as the oil will splatter a little bit) and drizzle with 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Sauté, stirring every minute or so until the tofu is nicely colored on all sides and the moisture has cooked off, about 8 to 10 minutes. Don’t feel that you need to stir constantly. Sitting for a while on one side is what will allow the tofu to brown. Add the garlic, roughly two-thirds of the green onion, ginger, chili paste, and the remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add several large handfuls of spinach, stirring as you go so that it wilts and you can fit more in the pan. Once the first addition has wilted, continue to add and wilt the spinach by handfuls, until all of the spinach is added. It will seem like a ridiculous amount at first but will cook down considerably. Stir in the sesame seeds. Stir in the sesame oil. Remove from the heat. Sprinkle the reserved green onions over the top. Serve hot, with brown rice, noodles, or whatever you like, along with a few dashes of additional soy sauce and chili paste or flakes to taste.

Notes

  • *I don’t recommend olive oil in stir fries at this high of heat, as its lower smoke point can cause it to burn, imparting an off flavor to the whole dish
  • **You can replace the spinach with any kind you prefer or have in your refrigerator. Spinach cooks ultra quickly, which is why in this recipe you can sauté it in the pan right with the tofu. For firmer vegetables, like broccoli or peppers, I recommend cooking the tofu as directed through Step 2, then removing it to a plate. Add additional oil (and garlic and ginger if you like) to the pan with your vegetables of choice. As soon as the vegetables are crisp-tender (about 5 to 8 minutes, depending upon the vegetable and how large they are sliced), add the tofu back to the skillet and proceed with the recipe as directed.
  • For crazy crispy tofu, prep it through Step 3 in my guide for How to Cook Crispy Tofu. Once you’ve boiled it, pat dry, dice into 3/4-inch cubes, and follow this tofu stir fry recipe as directed, starting with Step 2.
  • Refrigerate leftovers for up to 5 days. Reheat gently in the microwave. You can freeze this as well. The vegetables will become fairly soft and a bit mushy, but if that doesn’t bother you (it certainly doesn’t stop me), freeze away!

Nutrition

Serving: 1of 4, about 1 1/2 cupsCalories: 297kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 22gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 2gFiber: 5gSugar: 1g

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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  1. I’m gonna be one of those people… I had everything except extra firm tofu, only firm tofu and I can’t make myself cook with canola oil, only with olive oil. But let me tell you, it turned out sooooooooo good! And it was so quick to prepare. I made mine with baby broccolini. So yum! Thanks!5 stars

  2. First time to stir fry tofu; I learned a lot from you and your very helpful hints!
    And used the canola
    Wish I had had mushrooms in my frig!5 stars

  3. For crispy tofu being used in a stir-fry, I coat the tofu with cornstarch before frying it. Along with some soy sauce, this guarantees a crisp and tasty coating on the tofu. I do this first, before I add it to the vegetables/sauces/rice etc.. Only thing I’ve noticed is that if you have some left over and want to eat it for a snack next day, you must heat it up again or it will be tough.

  4. Not generally a fan of tofu but I will make this again and again. Such a simple, tasty recipe and I think, quite healthy x

  5. Thank you, this was beautiful although we wanted more sauce with the rice as the soy etc were sucked up by the other ingredients! How would you go about this? Add more soy/oils? Thanks for the recipe and all the tips were so helpful. Maybe noodles might work better for us next time5 stars

    1. Hi Carla! I’m so happy that you enjoyed it!! Thank you for sharing this kind review! You could add your favorite sauce or soy sauce at the end if you prefer.

  6. Googled “How to cook tofu in stir-fry” and this article was the first to pop up. Thank you for the advice on squeezing out the liquid! My Indonesian parents cooked tofu when I was a little girl, and I hated it, LOL. But I’m ready to give it a try again as a meatless meal option, and this info about the liquid is GOOD to know before I start! Thank you.

  7. Hi Erin,
    Could I replace the Tofu with Paneer?
    Ever since your Paneer Tikka masala recipe, I’ve been trying to find recipes that incorporate Paneer (it tastes so good!)

    1. Hi Aamina! I haven’t tested it out myself, but you can definitely give it a try! Let me know if you decide to experiment!

  8. I liked the flavors, however the tofu cubes stuck to the pan despite following directions to the letter, making a horrible mess to clean up. I am going to use the cornstarch trick and also try a different frying pan.4 stars

  9. I couldn’t make the recipe because of all THE ADS on this web page which made it impossible to view because the screen kept jumping everywhere with different ADS POPPING UP EVERY SECOND!!! I know people want to make money with these ads and I get it, but not to the point that you can’t even read the directions! I’ll give it two stars because what I was able to read before getting too frustrated to continue, sounded like it could’ve been ok.

    1. Hi Mike! I’m truly sorry for any inconvenience the ads caused you! I will certainly keep paying close attention to the number of ads and how they load, as I never want them to hinder your ability to view the recipe or the blog post. I do truly appreciate your feedback and apologize again for the inconvenience! Also there is a quick and convenient “jump to recipe” button that will help you get to the recipe faster plus a print button so you can have the recipe quickly at your fingertips. Hope this helps!

  10. We love this recipe! My son and I make it together, because I have to disagree with the time allotments, but it’s worth it! I tried a small version of this one Saturday, just to see if it would be worth getting all the ingredients. So, I was eating it and my husband says, “mmm that smells good, is there any more?” I had managed to already have eaten all of it! So, I knew I could make it because he would have been the reluctant one with tofu, though he’d had it before but was never thrilled. We modify it by adding mushrooms, extra garlic, and cashews. We’ve also done half spinach, half broccoli. With two blocks of tofu, we’ve been using a bit more oil and low sodium soy sauce. In our family, the Sambal Oelek is a must have! We add it to the recipe and put out more for serving. This recipe is so rich in both flavor and texture. Make it a few times before you really judge it. You will keep getting better at making the tofu, and that is key.5 stars

  11. As always, I tweaked it a bit. Added broccoli, green beans & red cabbage. I didn’t have exact Sauce ingredients, so I used some Mae Ploy in place of the Chilis? Had it over wild rice. Yum!
    Ps. I used a touch of coconut oil only because it has the highest smoke point & didn’t want to turn my lovely EVOO rancid with heat. Once the coconut oil melted, I sprinkled a thin layer of buckwheat flour on top before adding the extra firm tofu. This helps me get a better sear 👍🏼4 stars

  12. I made this exactly according to the instructions and it was incredible. This will definitely be a staple in my house!5 stars

  13. I’m doing a personal cooking challenge and this was one of the first dishes I made. I loved this it! I wrote an article about making this dish for my cooking journey challenge.
    Thank you for this tasty, easy recipe!!!5 stars

  14. Erin,
    Your tofu stir fry recipe is great! Thank you for sharing it. This was my first time making tofu stir fry and it turned out delicious! I also made some adjustments: only one block of super firm tofu instead of extra firm (which doesn’t require draining the water, but I did pat it dry and then cut into small pieces), green bell pepper and spinach for the veggies, and no green onions. Otherwise, I followed everything else exactly. I served it with rice noodles, which were bland. I think next time I’m going to try adding the additional 2tbsp soy sauce at the end when I mix the noodles/rice with the tofu veggie mix. One question, what do you think about swapping out the tofu for seitan?5 stars

    1. Hi Danielle! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review! I haven’t tried it with seitan but it might work. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes!

  15. Enjoyed a variation of this with my wife and daughter. I didn’t have any spinach leaves so I used some cabbage and beet leaves. Also used Moroccan paprika for the spicy part (not as much, obviously). Still came out excellent. A recipe is a real winner when you can easily riff off it, and this is one of them!5 stars

  16. I was looking for something somewhat easy, with ingredients that I already had. This recipe was both, in addition to being very tasty! I only had one block of tofu, but other than that I had everything needed and it took almost no time to make. I’ll definitely make this again.

    I served it with some leftover quinoa so it really took no time at all.5 stars

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