Today I am showing you how to take a plain block of tofu and turn it into the most flavorful tofu ground beef! Meaty, smoky, chewy, and crispy, this will be your new favorite ground meat substitute.
Just 30 minutes and a few simple ingredients are what's standing between you and this delicious ground tofu! With it's meaty texture and smoky flavor, even meat-eaters will love it.
It's a great recipe to include in your weekly meal prep if you're looking to eat less meat!
Not only will it satisfy your cravings, but it's good for you too. Tofu is a soybean product that is packed with protein, fiber, calcium, manganese, copper, and more!
If you're new to cooking with tofu, check out my ultimate tofu guide where I explain what it is and how to prepare it.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Made with whole foods: Unlike most meat substitutes you can find in the store, this tofu ground beef is made with whole food ingredients that are minimally processed.
- Simple and easy to make: This recipe has a few simple steps that anyone can follow. Even if you're a beginner at vegan cooking! No fancy techniques or kitchen tools are needed!
- Customizable: You can use your favorite spices to flavor the tofu and customize it to your taste. You can even use barbecue sauce or your favorite hot sauce to marinate it before baking.
- Versatile: This tofu ground beef recipe can be used in so many dishes! From chili, stew, and pasta sauces, to tacos, burritos, and salads.
- Tofu: For best results, use extra-firm or super-firm tofu. This type of tofu has less moisture, which helps it to crisp up more.
- Soy sauce: I use low-sodium soy sauce, but you can also use tamari for a gluten-free option.
- Spices: You'll need ground cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, smoked paprika, and black pepper.
Scroll to the recipe card below for full measurements.
How to Make Tofu Ground Beef
Step 1: Start by pressing the tofu for a chewy and crispy texture. If you're going to add it to a sauce later, skip this step.
Wrap tofu in a clean kitchen towel or a paper towel. Place something heavy on top like a soup pot or a few books. Press for as little as 15 minutes, and up to 1 hour.
Step 2: In a large bowl, mix soy sauce with the spices—ground cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, smoked paprika, and black pepper. You should have a mixture that resembles a paste.
Step 3: Using your hands, crumble the tofu into small pieces and add it to the bowl with the spices. Toss to coat on all sides.
Step 4: Transfer the crumbled tofu to a baking tray and bake in a preheated oven to 400ºF (205ºC) for 25-30 minutes.
No parchment paper is needed! The tofu will crisp up more when it's in a direct contact with the hot baking sheet.
Make sure to stir halfway through to allow the tofu crumbs to bake evenly. You know it's ready when the tofu is golden brown and crispy.
- Use the right kind of tofu: The type of tofu you use is key to how the end result is going to turn out. When choosing which one to buy, look for extra-firm or super-firm tofu. These types are dense and have a low water content, which makes them perfect for baking and crisping up. Other kinds of tofu like silken tofu or soft tofu have too much moisture in them. Meaning, they won't crisp up, but would turn to mush.
- Press it for a better texture: Pressing your tofu removes excess moisture. This also allows it to absorb more of the seasoning. If you're adding the tofu ground beef to a sauce later, you can skip this step.
- Don't overcrowd the baking sheet: Make sure to leave enough space so that steam can escape as the tofu is baking. If you overcrowd the baking sheet, the tofu will get end up being soft.
- Adjust the cooking time if needed: It all depends on what type of tofu you're using and how powerful your oven is. This tofu ground beef burns easily, so make sure to keep an eye on it to prevent that.
Yes, this recipe can easily be made in the air fryer! You'll need to add a piece of parchment paper to the air fryer basket. This will prevent any pieces of tofu from falling to the bottom of the air fryer. Cook for 10-15 minutes at max power, flipping halfway through, until golden brown and crispy.
Yes, but the texture won't be the same, so expect different results. You can fry the tofu in a cast-iron skillet or another large skillet using 1-2 tablespoon of oil. Cook for 10-15 minutes over medium heat. Make sure to not stir too often and give it enough time to brown.
After baking, you can use this recipe as a substitute for real beef in almost any dish. The only difference would be that you will need to add it at the end of cooking, not in the beginning as you'd usually do with real meat.
Tofu is a blank canvas that can easily turn into whatever you want it to with the right marinade or seasonings. Tofu has very little flavor on its own and its spongy texture lends itself to absorbing whatever flavors you add to it. It can taste like beef, chicken, or even fish depending on the cooking method and seasonings.
- Just like with my crispy vegan tofu tacos, this tofu ground beef is perfect to stuff into vegan tortillas! I always add my favorite toppings such as vegan guacamole and vegan cheese sauce, and I like to serve it alongside Palmito ceviche and tortilla chips.
- Add to your favorite pasta sauce or marinara sauce and serve over vegan pasta.
- For an easy meal, stir fry the tofu ground meat with my vegan stir fry sauce. Then, serve over jasmine rice, and garnish with green onion.
- Sprinkle it over pasta or pizza like my one-pot "baked" feta pasta and pita pizzas.
- You can also add it to tomato sauce and use that in vegan lasagna or other dishes where you'd need a vegan substitute for ground beef.
- Switch up the seasoning: Sometimes I like to use Italian seasonings and nutritional yeast instead of the spices mentioned in the recipe card. This makes for a lighter version of the recipe.
- Add liquid smoke: If you want to take it to the next level, I recommend adding 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke when you're mixing the spices.
- Coat in barbecue sauce: You can use 3-4 tablespoons of my homemade vegan barbque sauce (or any store bought vegan bbq sauce).
How to store leftovers
Let any leftover tofu ground beef cool completely, then transfer to a container and cover with a lid. Store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
To reheat, warm in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350ºF (180ºC), or until warmed through and crispy.
This recipe freezes well for up to 3 months. Let the tofu cool to room temperature, then transfer it to an airtight container and freeze. Let it thaw completely on the counter or in the fridge before using it in a recipe.
More delicious tofu recipes
- Air Fryer Tofu is extra crispy and great for adding to a variety of dishes!
- Easy Tofu Stir Fry is super filling with 30 grams of plant-based protein per serving!
- Crispy Vegan Tofu Tacos are packed with protein, fiber, and flavor and ready in just 30 minutes!
Smoky Tofu Ground Beef
- 14 ounces extra-firm tofu drained
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce use tamari for a gluten-free option
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- Start by pressing the tofu for a chewy and crispy texture. If you're going to add it to a sauce later, skip this step. Wrap tofu in a clean kitchen towel or a paper towel. Place something heavy on top like a soup pot or a few books. Press for as little as 15 minutes, and up to 1 hour.14 ounces extra-firm tofu
- Preheat oven to 400ºF (205ºC). Then, In a large bowl, mix soy sauce with the spices. You should have a mixture that resembles a paste.2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- Using your hands, crumble the tofu into small pieces and add it to the bowl with the spices. Toss well to evenly coat.
- Transfer the crumbled tofu to a baking tray and bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring halfway through. The tofu ground beef is ready when it's golden brown and crispy.