Get this simple tofu dish in your meal prep workflow STAT! Tender, frozen-and-pressed extra-firm tofu is marinated in a compelling combo of spicy sriracha + sweet agave with a kick of fresh garlic. It’s then baked until it’s the perfect blend of crisp on the outside + meaty on the inside. Serve these sweet chili tofu cutlets over rice, on a sandwich, or cut up into tofu pieces and thrown into a salad!
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Ever since we posted this lemon pepper tofu cutlet recipe, we have been getting tons of messages about how delicious and versatile you all think it is and how much you love it!
Which, for the record, 100% made our whole month.
And we totally understand your obsession: This method for cooking tofu is perhaps the tastiest / easiest method we’ve ever tried. Like, ever. The first time I tried it, I fell in love. And if this is your first time trying it, I think you will too.
When I find a recipe that gets my lazy butt in the kitchen for meal prep every single week, I know we have something special on our hands. These cutlets are perfect for an easy weeknight dinner and go great on everything from a salad to almost any simple Asian-inspired dish. (They’re also great on sandwiches!)
I’ve been dreaming about more delicious ways we could utilize this life-changing (no hyperbole, this is legit) tofu method, and these tofu cutlets with a sweet chili sauce were the first idea (but not the last!) to really get my taste buds excited. If you’re a fan of the lemon pepper cutlets, you’re going to love today’s recipe!
Sweet Chili Tofu Inspiration
This great recipe is inspired by an earlier recipe on the blog for Air-Fried Sweet Sriracha Tofu (another blog favorite).
I changed a few of the ingredients around based on what we had in the kitchen at the time. I also added a dash of our homemade chicken(less) bouillon powder to give it more of chicken-y vibe.
The result? The most heavenly mix of sweet + spicy, garlick-y, savory, crispy tofu wonderful-ness. It is incredibly simple to make with ingredients you likely have in your kitchen right now!
This sweet chili tofu cutlet recipe is a dinner winner, my friends.
Chili Tofu Marinade Ingredients
It’s flavor time, baby! You’ll only need 5 simple ingredients to make this sweet chili tofu, plus a block of extra firm tofu that you’ll freeze (in the package!), defrost, and press. We call this the Tofu Freezer Trick, and this little trick yields the best results.
If you haven’t tried this yet, it’s one of, if not THE best ways to get a massively meaty texture from tofu. You can read a full guide on it here. We’ve also included summarized instructions in the recipe card below!
The marinade consists of 5 ingredients:
- Chili or sesame oil – We like to use these for a big flavor! Feel free to use a combination as well for the perfect balance.
- Agave nectar
- Vegan chicken bouillon powder
- Minced garlic
If you don’t have or can’t tolerate one of the above ingredients, here are our best substitution tips. Remember though, substituting any of the ingredients may lead to a varied degree of difference in the final product. Let us know in the comments if you try any subs and how they work out for you!
For the extra firm tofu: The type of tofu you use is really important. Depending on the brand, firm tofu could work, but it could also become too chewy in the freezing process. We haven’t tried this recipe with super firm tofu, mostly because it usually comes in vacuum-sealed packaging and not in water. Freezing the tofu in the water is what makes it so porous, so I don’t know if this would work either! Chickpea tofu may work for a soy-free version, but I don’t know enough about it to say for sure.
For the oil: You can replace chili or sesame oil with olive oil. Although, it will have a different flavor. Do not use coconut oil because it hardens when chilled. I do not recommend making this tofu recipe with water or broth because that will only add excess water to the tofu, and that’s what we’re trying to cook out so we can get a meaty texture!
For the garlic: If you don’t have fresh garlic cloves, minced red or yellow onion could work for a different vibe. Or substitute 1/2 tsp minced garlic for each clove or 1/8 tsp garlic powder for each clove.
For the bouillon powder: You can sub 1 ground-up vegan chicken bouillon cube or half as much bouillon paste.
How to Make Sweet and Spicy Tofu
Crispy baked tofu is the perfect healthy meal prep option. Baking used to be my least favorite way to cook tofu.
This was back in my brand new baby vegetarian days when I didn’t have the first clue what to do with those big squishy blocks of I-didn’t-even-know-what. (Also, I don’t think the air fryer had come out yet.)
My, how far we’ve come because baking is now perhaps my FAVORITE way to cook tofu! It creates a fantastic, meaty result! The recipe takes a little planning but is super hands-off!
How to Freeze Tofu
We go into this a little more in-depth in our “How To Make Tofu Taste Like Chicken” post and also below.
But basically, you want to freeze your whole block of tofu in the package before you cook with it. And the kind of tofu you use is important. You want to be sure you are using extra-firm tofu packed in water.
At this point, our freezer is always filled with a couple containers of – especially when there’s a big sale! And yes, we buy the tofu that comes packed in water and just place the whole container in the freezer. Easy-peasy!
How to Press Tofu
Once the tofu block thaws, it will have a tougher, almost sponge-like texture to it. This is good. I like to give mine a firm but careful squeeze over the sink before I press it.
If you’ve never pressed tofu before, you can use an actual tofu press like this or do it the old school way with a dictionary + some paper towels. Honestly, I still use the latter which works just fine!
Step 1: Marinate the Tofu
Place tofu on a cutting board and slice it into 8 equal “cutlets”. I do this by slicing it in half, then slicing those halves in half, then cutting each of those slices in half.
Mix all the ingredients for the marinade and pour over the tofu cutlets, making sure they are all nice and coated. Place them in your fridge for at least an hour or overnight.
Time-Saving Tip: This is totally optional, but I really love to freeze my cutlets after this step. I find it produces an even meatier texture. Plus, it feels amazing to have a freezer stocked with marinated tofu, ready to bake and eat at my tofu-loving will!
Step 2: Bake the Tofu
Brush some excess marinade on the exposed side of the tofu and bake at 350F for 20 minutes. Then, flip each cutlet, brush the other side with the excess marinade and cook for another 20 minutes.
Depending on the thickness of your cutlets, brand of tofu you’re using, and how long you froze the tofu, you may want to flip and cook them another 10 – 20 minutes until they are golden brown and meaty. We end up cooking ours an extra 10 most times.
Is it better to pan fry or bake tofu?
I prefer to bake tofu after marinating it in an oil-based marinade. I find this great option gives the same effect as pan-frying without all the mess.
Best part, it’s also the more hands-off option, so you can do other things while it cooks! (Like dance around the kitchen celebrating your awesomeness!)
How to Serve This Chili Tofu Recipe
Serve this crispy vegan sweet chili chicken cutlet hot or cold with your favorite sides or all on their own!
Honestly, they’re so good I often eat them right out of the fridge for a quick snack.
We’ve listed some great vegan and vegetarian options for you here:
- Serve your cooked tofu cutlets over brown rice with some seared green beans and red bell pepper
- Serve them with starchy white rice as the finishing touch to an epic vegan stir fry or even a simple one with just some soy sauce, sesame seeds, and sliced green onion
- Pile it on as a vegan twist to a chicken sandwich topped with an Asian-inspired slaw.
- Slice up the tofu pieces for salads with a simple dressing!
- Alongside our sesame brussels sprouts!
How to Store Leftover Chilli Tofu
These vegan sweet chili chicken cutlets make incredible leftovers and are great for meal prep!
In the fridge: Store remaining tofu cutlets in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week. Reheat in the oven or air fryer until warmed through at 350F for maximum crispness. If they’re crispy enough, the microwave is a fine way to heat them.
In the freezer: Let the cooked tofu cutlets cool completely before transferring to the freezer in an air-tight freezer-safe bag or container. Separate the pieces of tofu with a square of parchment paper to keep them from freezing together.
More Freezer Tofu Recipes:
- Lemon Pepper Tofu Cutlets
- Balsamic Tomato Tofu Cutlets
- Restaurant-Style Vegan Chicken Parm
- Tequila Lime Tofu Cutlets
- Baked Greek Tofu
When you try these bad boys, we would love to hear what you think and how you used them!
You can rate the recipe and leave a comment below or tag us in your gorgeous creations on Instagram. If you’re not already following along, we’re @theplantpowercouple with the “the”.
And finally, also tell us if you want more of these cutlet recipes!
Hope you get as much of a kick out of this recipe as we have. Until next time!
- PREP THE TOFU: First, you’ll want to freeze your tofu. Place the whole container (do not open it) in the freezer overnight. In the morning, remove it from the freezer and set it in a shallow dish on your counter to thaw. This will take several hours.When the tofu is thawed, squeeze it gently over the sink and press it with a tofu press or on paper towels to remove any excess liquid.
- MARINATE: Place your tofu on a cutting board and slice it into 8 equal “cutlets”. I do this by slicing it in half, then slicing those halves in half, then cutting each of those slices in half. Use a fork to mix all the ingredients for your marinade in a large measuring cup. Place the cutlets in a shallow container and pour the marinade over them, making sure they are all nice and coated. Cover and place them in your fridge for at least an hour or overnight.*
- BAKE: When you’re ready to bake your cutlets, preheat your oven to 350F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the cutlets on this baking sheet, about an inch or so apart. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Depending on the thickness / brand of tofu you’re using, you may want to flip and cook them another 10 - 20 minutes until they are browned and meaty. We end up cooking ours an extra 10 most times.
- FINAL TOUCHES + STORAGE: Finally, let your cutlets cool slightly before slicing them up for all your salads or stir frys or bowls throughout the week. They will firm a bit as they cool. You can store them in an air-tight container in the fridge or freeze them for up to 8 weeks!
*Vegetable or sunflower oil can also be used for a more neutral taste. We like a mix of chili + sunflower oil for a touch of spicy!
TO MAKE THESE OIL-FREE: You can sub water for the oil if you want to make these cutlets oil-free, but be aware this will alter the texture of the final product. You may also want to cook the cutlets longer.
*Since these cutlets are such a staple in our kitchen, I will usually marinate a large batch of them at a time, separate them into several containers and freeze them in the marinade BEFORE baking. This makes it easy for me to defrost and pop a batch in the oven for salads each week, AND I’ve found it gives them an even better texture. Highly recommend this method!
Serving Size:2 cutlets
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 269Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 654mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 2gSugar: 10gProtein: 12g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated and may not always be accurate.