Spicy Garlicky Sesame Tofu (30 Minutes!)

Welcome to another minimal effort, BIG flavor dish! This quicker-than-takeout sesame tofu is baked to crispy perfection and coated in a drool-worthy, sweet + spicy + garlicky sauce. It might have you questioning whether you’ll ever be ordering takeout again!

Pair with rice and steamed veggies for a simple, 30-minute meal that’s vegan, gluten-free, and naturally sweetened. Let’s make it!

Tofu, cornstarch, avocado oil, sesame oil, garlic, salt, water, rice vinegar, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, tamari, and maple syrup

Recipe Inspiration

This recipe is inspired by Sesame Chicken, which is commonly found in Chinese restaurants in the US and Canada (source). Though likely originally inspired by a dish from China, its exact origin story is unclear. Some suggest it’s an adaptation of General Tso’s, while others say it’s inspired by Sichuan La Zi Ji.

Our inspired, plant-based version has a similarly sticky, spicy, sweet (but not too sweet!) glaze and is made with tofu. Our version also doesn’t involve any battering or deep frying!

How to Make Sesame Tofu

It starts with making the tofu crispy using a different method! Instead of deep frying, we break the tofu into bite-sized pieces and bake until a little firm and golden with crispy edges.

Drizzling oil over a baking sheet of tofu pieces

Then we make a simple, super flavorful sauce on the stovetop with maple syrup, tamari, rice vinegar, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, and garlic.

Adding tamari into a saucepan

Next, we cook it down with a little slurry of cornstarch + water until it’s thickened.

Stirring a sticky, spicy, garlicky sesame sauce in a white ceramic saucepan

The final steps are adding sesame seeds to the sauce then stirring in the baked tofu until it’s well-coated and irresistible!

Pieces of crispy baked tofu coated in a sticky sesame glaze

We can’t wait for you to try this sesame tofu! It’s:

A little sweet
A little sticky
Crispy on the edges
& SO delicious!

It pairs beautifully with rice (brown, white, or cauliflower “rice”), and steamed broccoli for a simple, weeknight-friendly meal. Other delicious pairings include our Sesame Sautéed Swiss Chard, Gingery Smashed Cucumber Salad, and Spicy Garlicky Edamame.

More Flavorful Tofu Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Close up shot of chopsticks holding a bite of vegan sesame tofu

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 20 minutes

Total Time 30 minutes

Servings 4

Course Entrée

Cuisine Chinese-Inspired, Gluten-Free, Vegan

Freezer Friendly No

Does it keep? Best when fresh

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  • 1 (14-16 oz / 397-453 g) package super firm high-protein tofu*
  • 1 Tbsp olive or avocado oil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt


  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup (or honey if not vegan)
  • 2 ½ Tbsp tamari or soy sauce (gluten-free as needed)
  • 4 tsp rice vinegar
  • 4 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 large cloves garlic, grated or pressed
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds


  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch*
  • 1 Tbsp water
*If you can’t find super firm tofu, extra firm or firm tofu will work in this recipe. If using extra firm or firm tofu, wrap it in an absorbent towel and set something heavy on top — like a cast iron skillet — to press out extra moisture for 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, use a tofu press. Then proceed with step 2.
*If you want to replace the cornstarch with arrowroot starch, use only half the amount. It will look a little goopy, which isn’t as appetizing, but it still tastes good!
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated without optional ingredients.
*Inspired by Allrecipes’ Sesame Chicken.

Serving: 1 serving Calories: 345 Carbohydrates: 16.4 g Protein: 20.7 g Fat: 22.4 g Saturated Fat: 3.8 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.8 g Monounsaturated Fat: 4.7 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 795 mg Potassium: 249 mg Fiber: 3.7 g Sugar: 9.3 g Vitamin A: 12 IU Vitamin C: 0.5 mg Calcium: 138 mg Iron: 4.6 mg

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