Sweet and Smoky Dry Rub Tofu

This recipe appears in my book The Wheat-Free Meat-Free Cookbook: 100 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes. Check out the book on Amazon if you’re looking for more tasty recipes.

Sweet and Smoky Dry Rubbed Tofu {Gluten-Free, Vegan} | Wheat-Free Meat-Free
If there’s one complaint you hear about tofu, it’s that it doesn’t have any taste. To which I say, well whose fault is that? If you want flavored tofu, add some flavor. A dry rub is a great way to do this. Dry rubs are spice mixtures rubbed onto food before it is cooked. Generally you see people use them for grilling, especially BBQ. It’s not exactly grilling weather here, nor do we own a grill, so I went with broiling.

The special ingredient in this rub is lapsang souchong. Lapsang souchong is a type of black tea that has a smoky flavor from being dried over pinewood fires. (A hot mug of lapsang souchong with a shot of Scotch and a smidge of honey is a great winter drink).

Sweet and Smoky Dry Rub Tofu

  • 1 12-ounce block extra firm tofu
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lapsang souchong, crushed to a powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • olive oil for the baking sheet
  1. Rinse the tofu and pat dry. Slice the tofu widthwise into eight even slices.
  2. Mix the sugar, tea, salt and all of the spices in a small bowl. Rub all the spice mixture onto the tofu slices, covering all sides.
  3. If you’re not in a rush, let the tofu to sit for a couple hours (or even overnight) to allow the flavors to penetrate.
  4. Move your oven rack to its highest position. Turn the broiler on low.
  5. Grease a baking sheet. Arrange the tofu slices on the sheet in a single layer and place under the broiler.
  6. Cook for 11-12 minutes; the tofu should feel firm around the edges. Flip and cook for another 11-12 minutes.

Serves 2-4

The tofu will firm up as it cools. It should be slightly crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The longer you let it cook, the chewier it gets. Cook it long enough and you might end up with tofu jerky.

I’m submitting this recipe to My Legume Love Affair hosted by Kiran at Sumadhura this month. I’m also sharing in Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Premeditated Leftovers, and Full Plate Thursday.

Looking for More Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes?

Take a look at my book, The Wheat-Free Meat-Free Cookbook: 100 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes.

A sampling of the recipes included:
  • Breakfasts: Cinnamon Quinoa Muffins, Yeasted Waffles, Gooey Butter Cake,
  • Sides: Patatas Bravas, Pea and New Potato Salad, Braised Celery,
  • Mains: Corn Waffle Sandwiches, Enchiladas with Green Sauce, Pesto Asparagus Galette, and
  • Desserts: Blueberry Mango Crisp, Baklava Rolls, Amaretto Cake.

You can see the full recipe list on the Amazon page.


  1. Yum! I laughed out loud about flavorless tofu being the cook’s fault. :-) Did you press the tofu first? Or do you think it would make any difference if you did or didn’t? Most of my tofu recipes require pressing the tofu first for it to come out right. Of course I always forget though until it’s already 6pm, so it would be great to have a tofu recipe that doesn’t need an hour of pressing!

  2. No pressing, that’s why I went with the extra firm tofu. I imagine you could to end up with extra chewy tofu. And it would probably be helpful if you can’t find extra firm tofu.

  3. You’re taking tofu to a whole new level. It looks beautiful with that lovely green salad

  4. This looks delicious! We use a rub on our not-turkey-roast at Thanksgiving. Your combination of spices sounds delicious, can’t wait to try this!

  5. Hi Kalinda,
    Thanks for giving me a great flavor for the Tofu, this is just awesome! Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday. Happy New Year to you and your family and Abundant Blessings in 2012!
    Miz Helen

  6. Wow, this looks great! I love your rub recipe! Thank you for sharing this with the Hearth and Soul Hop.

  7. Josephine says

    I just made this dry rub without the tea and the garlic for some smoked tofu and it tasted great! Now I’ll let it sit overnight, put it on skewers and barbecue it tomorrow, yummy!

  8. I’m a vegetarian but my boyfriend isn’t so I made this with pork chops instead of tofu and it turned out great! He said they were the best pork chops he’s ever had! I will definitely be making this again for us.

  9. Daniella says

    What do you recommend as a replacement for the tea?

    • Honestly, the easiest answer is just leave it out. You will probably be a little short on rub, but nothing too drastic.

      Alternatively, you could use any plain black tea, which would give you some of the tea taste and bitterness, but not the smokiness. Or, you could add maybe 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika, or replace some of the salt with a smoked salt.

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