This Tofu Ground Beef Recipe gives the tofu a perfect, meaty texture and a smoky, savory taste! Enjoy this recipe on tacos or burritos, in pasta sauce, in a stir fry with some jasmine rice, or in soups and salads.
Tofu Ground Beef Recipe
You can even enjoy this vegan ground beef recipe on its own, maybe with a dash of chili oil and some green onions to kick the flavor up another notch.
We enjoyed this tofu ground beef last night mixed in a marinara sauce to make bolognese. It was such a delicious, yet easy meal that tasted just like the real thing!
Meat substitutes are usually filled with inflammatory vegetable oils, additives, and other not-so-necessary ingredients. By making this vegan ground beef at home, you get to control the recipe by using healthy, whole food-based, simple ingredients.
To cook tofu crumbles or “ground beef,” you will usually need three main ingredients: firm tofu, oil and spices. For this recipe, we’re subbing oil for cornstarch and utilizing other easy methods to still give it a crispy, meaty texture.https://www.pinterest.com/pin/357402920441411124/sent/?invite_code=a5fd90ae010b4e10804d05ad6fddd16b&sender=357403057836802827&sfo=1
5 Tips To Give Tofu A Meatier Texture
There are a few key methods and tips we’re using to achieve a “real beef” texture in our tofu recipe.
- Freeze the tofu. I recently learned that freezing unopened or opened tofu and then thawing it before cooking will give it a chewy, spongy texture and a more beige color like that in ground beef.
- Press the tofu. You can press the moisture out of the tofu with a tofu press or by covering it with a paper towel or kitchen towel and putting heavy plates on top for a couple of minutes. Get as much moisture out of the tofu as you can in order to give the tofu a meatier texture once cooked.
- Use oil or cornstarch to crisp the tofu up. Either oil or cornstarch will work in order to give it a crispier, chewier texture when cooked. Using cornstarch, you simply sprinkle a tablespoon on the crumbled, seasoned tofu and mix it together well.
- Don’t use parchment paper or foil for baking. Instead, we preheat the baking sheet in the oven to create a non-stick layer.
- Give the tofu space on the baking sheet. If the tofu is overcrowded, it’ll have a steaming effect instead of a crisping effect.
What You’ll Need For This Recipe
Tofu Ground Beef Recipe Video
How To Make Tofu Ground Beef
Press your tofu in order to drain as much moisture out as you can.
Preheat the oven to 400° F or 200° C with your empty baking sheet in the oven (no parchment paper or oil needed).
Mix all ingredients except tofu and cornstarch together in a bowl to create a paste.
Once the tofu has drained, crumble it into small pieces and place it in a medium bowl.
Add the seasonings paste to the tofu and mix until all of the tofu is coated.
Sprinkle the cornstarch over the tofu crumbles and mix once more.
Evenly spread out tofu on your preheated baking tray and cook for 20-25 minutes, mixing every 10 minutes to prevent sticking.
Watch it closely after 20 minutes different tofu and different ovens can vary cooking time.
Once it is evenly browned, take the tofu crumbles out of the oven and allow them to cool for 5-10 minutes (they’ll also crisp up even more during this time).
Tofu Ground Beef Recipe
- Large Baking Sheet
- 14 ounce package extra-firm tofu
- 4 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- Press your tofu in order to drain as much moisture out as you can.
- Preheat oven to 400° F or 200° C with your empty baking sheet in the oven (no parchment paper or oil needed but you can grease your baking sheet if you’d like).
- Mix all other ingredients except cornstarch together in medium bowl to create a paste.
- Once tofu has drained, crumble it up into small pieces into that same bowl.
- Mix well until all the tofu is coated.
- Sprinkle the cornstarch over the tofu crumbles and mix once more.
- Evenly spread out the tofu onto your preheated baking tray and cook for 20-25 minutes, mixing halfway to prevent sticking.
- Watch it closely after 20 minutes because different tofu and different ovens can vary the cooking time.
- Once it is evenly browned, take the tofu crumbles out of the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes (they’ll also crisp up even more during this time).
Frequently Asked Questions
Will any tofu work?
For this tofu recipe, I have only used extra-firm tofu and found this to work best. Some have given feedback that firm will work as well, you just may need to press the tofu a bit longer to get excess moisture out and/or cook the tofu a bit longer for the desired texture.
I wouldn’t recommend trying soft or silken tofu.
Why freeze and thaw the tofu beforehand?
This is a little trick to change the texture of the tofu to a bit meatier, chewier, and yet crispier texture when cooked.
Simply place it in the freezer still unopened in the package. Once you’re ready to cook your tofu “ground beef,” thaw it tofu in the refrigerator. Once defrosted, remove the tofu from the package and empty any water left in the container.
If you are freezing previously opened tofu, first drain the water from the tofu container, wrap it in plastic wrap or foil and place the tofu in the freezer. You can keep unopened tofu in the freezer for up to 6 months and previously opened tofu for up to 4 months.
How best to crumble the tofu?
This crumbled tofu should look similar to the size of crumbled ground beef. You can use your fingers and break the block of tofu up in to small pieces, or you can use a potato masher and mash it up until it resembles the size of ground beef.
Can I use oil?
Yes. While I did not use oil for this recipe in order to keep it whole food-based, you can use 1-2 tablespoons of oil like avocado or olive oil instead of using cornstarch. Also, I’d recommend decreasing the amount of soy sauce or tamari to only 2 tablespoons if using oil.
Can I cook this on the stovetop?
You can, it just will not give you the same texture or crispness as baking the tofu ground beef in the oven will.
To cook it on the stovetop, heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the tofu mixture and pan fry for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a tablespoon of water any time it starts to stick.
Can I cook this in the air fryer?
Yep, great idea! In order to cook this tofu ground beef recipe in the air fryer, preheat the air fryer to 350ºF (180ºC). Add a piece of parchment paper to the basket to avoid any crumbles falling to the bottom. Place the tofu in the air fryer basket and cook for 10-12 minutes, flipping every few minutes.
Optional Variations Or Add-Ins
Different Seasonings: The seasonings I added kept the recipe more neutral in flavor to ensure that it goes well with a variety of meals. You can add more or less depending on what recipe you’re going for. For example, add Italian seasonings like oregano if you’re making pasta with this tofu ground beef.
Liquid Smoke: This could be a great addition to the recipe. Just 1/4 teaspoon will give it a much smokier flavor profile.
Lentils: I’d recommend still using mostly tofu, but you can add in cooked lentils when stirring the seasonings and tofu together. This could up the flavor, nutrient density, and texture!
More Yummy Tofu Recipes
If you loved this Tofu Ground Beef Recipe, be sure to check out my other tofu recipe below!
Vegan Tofu Sofritas (Chipotle Copycat)
You might have found sofritas from the popular vegan menu item at Chipotle, or you’re here to try it for the first time. Either way, if you have a love for spice and tex-mex, you’ll love this chipotle copycat of vegan sofritas!
Crispy Air Fryer Teriyaki Tofu
This air fryer teriyaki tofu is crispy and full of flavor. All you need is an air fryer, 15 minutes, and a hungry belly to enjoy this teriyaki tofu recipe.
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