Salt and Pepper Tofu

A special ingredient in the coating of this salt and pepper tofu is what makes it extra good. You’re going to want to have it over cold noodles, salads, or as a straight-up snack.

Salt and Pepper Tofu

This salt and pepper tofu is something you can use as a component in all sorts of meals. It’s great in salads, tossed with noodles, or served over grain bowls. Bonus: it’s simple to prepare, here's how. Toss crumbled, extra-firm tofu with seasoned nutritional yeast to create a nice coating. Then pan-fry until deeply golden. You can enjoy it hot, but a long cool-down in the refrigerator really dials in the texture and flavor. There are a lot of Chinese-inspired salt and pepper tofu recipes out there. Just know, this is not that. This is something different - more like a tasty health store hippie tofu, or a delicious tofu-based chicken alternative. Can’t get enough of it over here.
salt and pepper tofu in a bowl

Salt and Pepper Tofu: Tips & Tricks

There are a few things to pay attention if you want the best results for this recipe:

  • Tofu: Seek out extra-firm tofu. You’re going to freeze it overnight, or for at least 5 hours, so plan ahead. After thawing you press as much liquid as possible from the tofu. This is going to be the key to getting the dense, substantial texture in the end.
  • Black Pepper:  Black pepper steps up in this recipe, so it’s worth it to use the good stuff. The difference between old, dusty, pre-ground black pepper, and good, well-sourced freshly ground peppercorns is WILD. If you’re not excited about black pepper, it’s time to turn things around. I really love Yupanqui Black Imperial peppercorns from Ecuador, and consequently go through a lot of it. But there are many, many other amazing, interesting black peppers to explore as well:  Diaspora, SOS Chefs, Burlap & Barrel. And if you’re ready to geek out on the pepper front even more, Andrea Nguyen wrote about Vietnamese peppercorns here.

salt and pepper tofu in a large bowl with salad ingredients like ramen noodles, shredded lettuce and carrots

Salt and Pepper Tofu: How to Serve It

Salt and pepper tofu is great for snacking. I never make it with that as the intention, but I can't help but grab a few bites here and there. It is good for a few days, refrigerated, after cooking. Here are a few favorite ways to enjoy it.

  • In Salads: You can see in the photos here, salt and pepper tofu is an ideal salad component. You can serve it on top, or toss it with other ingredients and dressing. Here we had it in a big ol’ lunch salad with just about everything I could grab - shredded red cabbage and carrots, lettuces, pistachios, avocado, toasted ramen noodles, cherry tomatoes, celery, kidney beans, and a spicy sesame dressing. An all kale salad version is also A-plus.
    salt and pepper tofu in a large bowl with salad ingredients like ramen noodles, shredded lettuce and carrots
  • In a bento: As part of my feel-good lunch ideas, this fits right in. Some salt & pepper tofu alongside a tangle of noodles, plus one or two of the salad or veg options on that page is ideal.
  • Rice Bowl: It’s a great rice (or other grain) bowl component. A brown rice base topped with the tofu, some creamy avocado, and some sort of shredded salad, veg, or slaw component is the way to go. Paired with a favorite thin sauce or dressing. Something not far from this rice bowl or this sushi bowl.

salt and pepper tofu in a large bowl with other ingredients

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Salt and Pepper Tofu

5 from 2 votes

If you’re using a block of tofu larger than 10 ounces, simply increase the amount of soy sauce, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper proportionately.

  • 1 10- ounce extra-firm tofu
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Freeze the tofu overnight, or for at least 5 hours. Thaw completely and remove from packaging. Over a sink or bowl, wrap the tofu in a clean kitchen towel (or paper towels) and press out as much liquid as possible - really press and squeeze. Crumble the tofu into a medium bowl in roughly 1-inch craggy chunks.

  2. Drizzle the tofu with the soy sauce, then add the nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. Toss well and then toss some more, you want the tofu to be well coated with no dry spots.

  3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and stir to coat with the oil. Allow to cook until golden brown, stirring every couple of minutes.
  4. You can serve hot, but it’s also great after a good chill in the refrigerator. Especially if you’re planning to use it over a salad or cold noodles. Enjoy!

Serves 4.

Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
8 mins
Total Time
13 mins
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5 from 2 votes
Recipe Rating


This has forever changed how I make tofu. I didn’t have time to freeze the tofu but the taste and texture were still excellent. Thanks, Heidi!5 stars

Anne Y

    Thanks Anne!

    Heidi Swanson

So easy and delicious! Thank you!5 stars


Could you use an “air fryer” to cook this instead?


    I haven’t tried, but should work well!

    Heidi Swanson

Are you supposed to freeze the tofu in the liquid in the packaging? Or do you drain it first and then freeze it? Thanks!


    Hi A – in the package is fine.

    Heidi Swanson

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