When I first started eating tofu I was having a really hard time getting used to the taste and squishy consistency. I figured out how to make tofu have a meat texture and lots of flavor so I wanted to share because it’s super easy.
The key for how to make tofu have a meat texture is cutting your tofu into slices or pieces 1/4 inch thick or crumbling it, lightly coating it in cornstarch or tapioca starch and cooking it in an air fryer, oven or skillet until it is slightly crispy around the edges.
You can make tofu have the texture of chicken, steak, or ground beef using this method. The process will be just a little different for each.
How To Make Tofu Have A Meat Texture
There are a few different ways you can prepare your tofu to give it a meaty texture so that you can use it as a chicken substitute or meat replacement in your favorite recipes.
The most important thing I can say here is to use the firmest tofu you can find. I buy a Nasoya super firm one at WalMart that is my favorite. The firmness definitely makes a huge difference in the consistency you get for your tofu.
Another important thing is getting as much liquid out of the tofu as possible. If there’s too much liquid in your tofu, you may not get that meat texture you’re looking for or it will have to cook for much longer to achieve the results.
How To Press Tofu To Use As A Meat Substitute
How To Press Tofu With A Tofu Press
The easiest way to press tofu is with a tofu press. These little gadgets are so handy because you can put your tofu in there and just let it drain until you’re ready to cook it. This is the one I have from Amazon.
Just take your tofu out of the package, place it into the tofu press, place the tray over the top and set it at whatever setting you want. You want to squish it, but not so much that it breaks the tofu.
How To Press Tofu Without A Tofu Press
If you don’t have a tofu press and don’t want to buy one, don’t worry. You can still press tofu without a tofu press.
If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to let the tofu sit and press for any amount of time, you can just use your hands to squeeze out the liquid and then wrap paper towels around the tofu and squeeze a little more to get more liquid out. This method works, but isn’t the best for getting as much liquid out as possible.
The other way to press tofu without a tofu press is by placing it on a few layers of paper towel and then adding a few more layers of paper towel on top. Now sit something with a little weight to it on top (a few plates will work) and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Change the paper towels in between if they get too saturated. Be sure not to put anything too heavy on top or it will break your tofu and it will fall apart when you try to cut it.
How To Make Tofu Have A Chicken Or Steak Texture
- To make tofu with a chicken or steak texture, you’ll want to press the tofu first. Get as much liquid out as you can.
- Slice it so that your slices are about 1/4 inch thick. If you want pieces, cut your slices into smaller pieces or strips.
- Lay all your slices out and sprinkle on the seasonings you want. I usually get something like barbecue seasoning or taco seasoning. It all depends what kind of dish you’re going to put your tofu in. I put a nice thick coating on each side because I really don’t care for the taste of tofu and I want it to taste like the meat it’s replacing.
- Now sprinkle a little cornstarch or tapioca starch on each side of your tofu slices. If you’re using pieces, the easiest way to season and add the starch is by putting the tofu, seasoning and starch in a large baggie and shake it all up to coat all the tofu. For slices, I lay them all out on a cutting board, sprinkle the seasoning and cornstarch on and rub it all around on the tofu to coat it.
- Now you’ll want to cook it in an air fryer or oven. I like mine in the air fryer best. Set your oven or air fryer to 400 degrees and cook the tofu slices or pieces for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes, check it to see what it feels like. What we’re going for here is crispy around the edges and not much squish. It should feel pretty firm rather than that squishy tofu feeling.
- Flip the tofu over and cook for a few more minutes and check the texture again. Keep doing this until you achieve the crispy and firm consistency. Be careful though. This can go from chicken texture to jerky texture pretty quickly so check it often.
This will not have the stringy texture like chicken and steak have, but it does have the firm chewy texture. I feel that this is a good replacement for chicken or steak in a recipe or on a sandwich (It’s amazing on sandwiches!), but maybe not so great to replace a whole chicken breast or steak.
How To Make Tofu Have A Ground Beef Texture
- Press your tofu to remove as much liquid as possible.
- Crumble the tofu with your hands and put in a large Ziploc bag.
- Add your seasoning of choice and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or tapioca starch and shake to coat the tofu.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet.
- Add tofu to hot oil and cook on medium high until slightly crisp on the bottom.
- Flip the tofu and cook the other side until crisp.
Allowing the tofu to become slightly crispy will give it more of the texture of ground beef, but be careful not to get it too crispy or it will just be crunchy in your recipe and not have the meat texture you’re wanting.
How To Use Tofu As A Meat Replacement In Recipes
This way of making tofu is perfect to add to your favorite recipes. Here are a few things you can use these tofu meat substitutes in:
- Sloppy Joes
- Spaghetti with meat sauce
- Vegan Chicken and Noodles
- Vegan Chicken and Dumplings
- Vegan Chicken Alfredo
How To Make Tofu Taste Like Chicken
My favorite recipe for making tofu taste like chicken is this one from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken. I usually prefer to use a dry seasoning for this method of making meaty textured tofu. This recipe is a wet marinade, but it’s thick and doesn’t add a ton of moisture making it perfect to use with my way of making tofu that has a meat texture.
My favorite dry seasoning to make tofu taste like chicken is this Chicken Salt (grab it from Amazon here). This set has 5 different kinds so you can have a variety of ways to make your chicken tofu. The lime flavor is great for fajitas!
One of my favorite ways to use sliced tofu is on sandwiches. I season my tofu with BBQ seasoning that I get at the grocery store. I use fresh bakery rolls smeared with vegan mayo, pile on the tofu, lettuce and tomatoes and top it off with a little BBQ sauce. It’s SO GOOD!
How To Make Tofu Taste Like Steak Or Beef
Many of the steak seasonings in the grocery store are vegan, but also be cautious of the not so healthy ingredients in some of these seasoning blends like MSG. Look for organic and vegan ones like this one on Amazon.
You can also season your ground beef style tofu with BBQ sauce, sloppy joe seasoning, taco seasoning, Italian seasoning or any spices that fit your dish.
I like to use ground meat tofu in spaghetti. I season it up with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and Italian seasoning and add it in with my favorite marinara sauce. It’s so easy and delicious!