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Black Pepper Tofu

Black Pepper Tofu features tofu coated in a sweet and salty, sticky sauce with green onions and spicy peppers and is perfect served with rice for a quick and easy weeknight dinner! This delicious vegan stir-fry is made in under 30 minutes using everyday ingredients.

top down view of black pepper tofu in a ceramic bowl with rice and cilantro, and chopsticks on the side.

For those of you who follow TSV, you know how much I love spicy food. And if you’re a lover of spiciness, this black pepper tofu will work well for you too!

I’ve simplified and made healthy the traditional black pepper tofu, which calls for 1 stick of butter and 3 types of soy sauce. Instead, we’ll be using a little oil and 1 type of soy sauce or tamari (for gluten-free).

But not to worry my pepper lovers, this simple and healthy version is so flavorful that you won’t miss a thing!

What I love about this black pepper tofu recipe is that it’s pretty much foolproof and ready in under 30 minutes.

The only thing you may end up doing is adding too much pepper for your taste, those of you who are more sensitive should stick to using the lesser amounts called for and go up from there.

top down view of ingredients used to make black pepper tofu.

Black Pepper Tofu Ingredients + Notes

In this recipe, I’ve tried taking into account all the different levels of eating habits, creating a version for almost everyone. You’ll find various ideas on most of the ingredient lines reflecting this.

  • Organic tofu – Super firm, extra firm or firm (tempeh would be great too)
  • Toasted sesame oil – Toasted sesame oil adds a nice nutty flavor, but if you don’t have it on hand use your favorite oil.
  • Tamari – Tamari is great for those avoiding gluten. I’m not gluten intolerant, but it’s a staple in my pantry. Light soy sauce or coconut amino’s will work great too.
  • Pure maple syrup – Adds a nice sweetness to the sticky sauce.
  • Cornstarch – Used to make a slurry. I use and recommend this organic cornstarch (affiliate link). Substitute with arrowroot or tapioca flour.
  • Fresh cracked pepper – Adjust to taste.
  • Garlic – Fresh is best, or sub with 1 heaping teaspoon of garlic powder.
  • Ginger – Use fresh minced or grated, or opt to use store bought ginger puree.
  • Scallions – Use the freshest green onions available.
  • Chili peppers – Use Thai chili peppers, jalapeno or serrano peppers. In place of fresh pepper, use 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes.
  • Cilantro – Used when serving, it adds freshness to the dish. It’s especially nice with all the peppery flavor!

Feel free to change up any of the ingredients using the suggestions or make it your own using whatever ingredients you have on hand.

top down view of crispy tofu in a wok.

How To Make Black Pepper Tofu

  • Prep the tofu by pressing and cubing.
  • Cut the scallions into 1 inch pieces.
  • Make the stir-fry slurry mixture.
  • Cook the tofu in a large wok or skillet.
top down view of slurry added to tofu.
  • Pour in slurry mixture, ground pepper, garlic and ginger.
  • Stir fry 3 minutes, allowing the slurry to thicken.
top down view of green onions added to black pepper tofu.
  • Add in hot peppers and scallions, and cook another 5 minutes or until the scallions are just softened.
top down view of freshly made black pepper tofu in a wok.

How To Store

  • Refrigerator: Leftover pepper tofu can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 – 5 days, in a covered container.
  • Reheat: Warm on the stovetop over low heat, adding more tamari or splash of water for moisture if needed. Alternately, reheat in the microwave using 30 second intervals, stirring between each interval, until warmed through.

Serving Suggestions

  • Grain: Serve with a grain such as brown rice, cilantro lime rice, brown rice and quinoa mix, basmati or jasmine rice. Soba noodles would be great too.
  • Fresh herbs: Chopped cilantro is nice too, adding to the flavors while giving a nice dose of freshness to offset the pepperiness. If you love cilantro, you will truly appreciate it here!
up close view of healthy black pepper tofu.

More Easy Tofu Recipes!

If you try this vegan tofu recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment and rate it below. I love to hear what you think, or any changes you make.

Print

BLACK PEPPER TOFU

A healthy version of black pepper tofu without losing any flavor! Makes an easy weeknight meal served with rice that’s ready in 30 minutes.

  • Author: Julie | The Simple Veganista
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 15 min
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 3
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Stir-fry
  • Cuisine: Asian
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 block (14 – 16 oz.) organic tofu (super firm, extra firm or firm), cubed
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil (sesame or grapeseed)
  • 1/4 cup tamari, soy sauce or coconut amino’s
  • 1/4 cup water or veggie broth
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch (tapioca or arrowroot flour is fine too)
  • 12 tablespoons fresh cracked pepper
  • 34 cloves garlic, minced or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 inch knob ginger, minced
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 12 chili’s peppers, sliced and seeds removed or 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped, to serve

Instructions

Prep tofu: If not using one of the tofu’s mentioned above, you’ll want to drain and press your tofu to remove excess water. Simply cut tofu into slabs and place between paper towels or a clean dish cloth. With wrapped tofu laying on a flat surface, place a heavy book/object on top for about 15 minutes or so. Here’s a great tutorial from Olives for Dinner: How to press tofu perfectly in six steps.

Stir-fry sauce: In a small bowl, combine the tamari, water, sweetener and flour. This will be your slurry, ensuring your tofu will be coated nicely.

Cook tofu: Heat oil in a large wok or skillet over medium high. Add tofu and cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes, or until golden on all sides. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Add remaining ingredients: Add in your slurry mixture, ground pepper, garlic and ginger. It will sizzle at first when adding the liquids. Stir fry another 3 minutes or so, add in hot peppers and scallions. Liquids should start to thicken a bit, cook another 5 minutes or until the scallions are just softened.

Serve: Pair with brown rice, brown rice/quinoa mix, basmati or jasmine rice. Soba noodles would be great too. Add a large handful of chopped cilantro on the side, it will add to the flavors while giving a nice dose of freshness to the pepperiness. If you love cilantro, you will truly appreciate it here!

Serves 3

Store: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 – 6 days, in a covered container.

Notes

Add more or less of any ingredient to suit your taste. You can also sub in mild chili peppers or sliced jalapeno peppers with the seeds removed.

Feel free to use 2- 3 tablespoons pure cane sugar, raw sugar or coconut sugar in place of the liquid sweetener.

Tempeh would be a nice change up from using tofu. It’s nutty flavor would be delicious with all the flavors.

Updated: This Black Pepper Tofu was originally published in March 2014. It has been retested and updated with new photos and helpful tips in January 2020.

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36 Comments

  1. My favorite tofu recipe EVER! I share it with everyone and even my tofu-hating friends love it. One TBSP of pepper does it for me and I like to use a fresno pepper as well as a jalapeno. It’s so simple to make and great for meal prep!! I am soo happy you shared this with the world because it is such a treat to my taste buds every time I make it :)

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