Brown Sugar Glazed Tofu Steaks
These protein-packed brown sugar glazed tofu steaks are an easy and flavourful vegan alternative to steak with over 25g of protein per serving! Cooked on the stovetop, they come together in just 30 minutes with a simple hot brine method that means no bland tofu ever!
When I gave up meat, it was a bit easier for me as meat was already off the table…growing up, my mom and I made a lot of mixed meals like salads, stir-fries and nachos. But I know that for some folks who were raised on a meat-potatoes-veg style of eating, it can be difficult to imagine what to make when you remove the meat from your plate. And admittedly, a lot of my favourite meals are one pot situations, like black bean chili and coconut curry, so I haven’t made a ton of “protein-style” plant-based recipes yet on the blog…
I thought I should fix that so I created a cheeky little tofu “steak” recipe that you could absolutely serve with creamy mashed potatoes and perhaps some green beans to enjoy a classic North American style meal…made entirely from plants!
This protein-rich tofu recipe is great for BBQ season, when you need to offer a vegan alternative for a dinner party or anytime you’re just craving a simple but satisfying vegan dinner.
If you’ve ever tried making tofu in the past and found it bland, this recipe will change your life. The secret to making this tofu steak flavourful all the way through is a simple hot brine: a mixture of boiling water and salt that you pour over the tofu for 10 minutes, which also makes the texture of the tofu more “meaty” as well as seasoning it from the inside out. I learned about hot brining from my friend Nisha at Cooking For Peanuts.
This super simple recipe is very weeknight doable: ready in less than 30 minutes! No need to press the tofu or marinate for hours.
I feel like I need to put on my dietitian hat for a moment to assure you of a couple of things: one, that the tofu does not absorb all of the salt in the brine! You just need that level of saltiness to draw out the excess moisture in the tofu.
And secondly, because the internet is what it is, I want to remind you that tofu is super nutritious. I’ve set the serving size on this recipe to a half package of extra-firm tofu, which means each serving has 28 grams of protein (using my local brand, Soyganic). You’ll also net 150mg of vegan calcium and 3mg of plant-based iron per serving.
If you have a smaller appetite, you could absolutely eat just ¼ package per person, which is a more typical serving and still 14 grams of protein.
Wondering if that’s too much soy? These tofu steaks are six ounces, which is a typical “steak serving” and decades of research are clear: not only is soy not harmful, eating it is associated with demonstrated health benefits including lower risk of chronic disease – need a deep dive on the topic? I’ve got a podcast on the science of soy. Oh, and if you are allergic to soy? Soy-free tofu exists!
Another great gut-friendly benefit of tofu: it’s a low FODMAP food, meaning it’s great for those with IBS on a low FODMAP diet…so if you need more low FODMAP recipes, grab a copy of my award-winning cookbook, Good For Your Gut!
How to make these easy and flavourful tofu steaks
Nervous about cooking tofu? Let me walk you through it step-by-step…you’ll see how easy it is to throw together a flavourful vegan ‘steak’ in less than 30 minutes (the full recipe is below!)
Step One: hot brine your tofu. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add 2 tablespoons of salt and stir to dissolve. Slice each of your tofu blocks horizontally into 2 slices, leaving them rectangular or slicing again into triangles if you prefer. Place your slices in a heat proof shallow dish and carefully pour the brine over them. Let them sit for 10 minutes…if the brine doesn’t cover the tofu, flip them after 5 minutes.
Step Two: Whisk up the 5-ingredient brown sugar glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, tomato paste and onion powder.
Step Three: Cook on the stovetop. Pat the tofu dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. Heat a nonstick skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat with some avocado or neutral high-heat oil. Place the slices in the hot pan, turning down to medium if the oil is smoking. Cook each side until browned and crisp, about 3-5 minutes, then turn off heat, pour the glaze over the tofu and let it thicken and coat the tofu steaks.
I love serving these vegan steaks with roasted or mashed potatoes and my kale caesar salad. Got leftovers? These tofu steaks will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also slice and add them to a salad, grain bowl, or wrap…or use as a sandwich filling!
Brown Sugar Glazed Tofu Steaks
Hot Brine Tofu
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 12 ounce blocks extra or super firm tofu, substitute soy-free tofu if allergic!
Brown Sugar Glaze
- ¼ cup soy sauce, I use reduced sodium
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon onion powder, omit for low FODMAP
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil, or other high heat oil
- Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small pot, add 2 tablespoons of salt and stir to dissolve. Slice each of your tofu blocks through the centre horizontally into 2 thinner rectangular slices. If you prefer, you can slice the thinner rectangles into triangles or leave them as is!
- Place your slices in a heat proof shallow dish and carefully pour the brine over them. Let them sit for 10 minutes…if the brine doesn’t cover the tofu slices, flip them after 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, tomato paste and onion powder.
- Pat the tofu dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels.
- Heat a nonstick skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat with oil. Place slices in the hot pan, turning down to medium if the oil is smoking.
- Cook each side until browned and crisp, about 3-5 minutes, then turn off heat, pour the glaze over the tofu and let it thicken and coat the tofu steaks.