Delicious tofu ground beef (aka tofu crumbles) is made with a handful of ingredients, minimal hands-on prep, and a baked or stovetop method. It is perfect to use as a plant-based ground beef replacement in all your favorite recipes! Gluten-free, dairy-free, plant-based, vegan.
Drain the tofu, gently patting it dry with a paper towel.There’s no need to press the tofu if you plan to bake it, as the excess liquid will bake out. If you plan to pan-fry the ground tofu, lightly pressing the tofu can help to decrease the cooking time.
Use either a fork, potato ricer, masher, or even by hand to crumble the tofu into minced meat-sized pieces (make them as large/small as preferred) into a large bowl. I like to make mine an assortment of smaller and larger pieces, like regular minced meat.
Step 2: Prepare the Seasoning
Combine the oil, soy sauce, and spices in a small bowl and whisk well. Then pour it over the crumbled tofu and toss gently to coat.If you want to infuse the tofu ground beef with more flavor, you can now allow this to marinate for 15-20 minutes.
Step 3: Bake the Tofu Ground Beef
Transfer the tofu crumbs to a parchment-lined baking sheet, spread it evenly across the tray, and bake at 400ºF/200ºC for between 20-30 minutes, tossing/stirring at 10 minutes (and again another 7-8 minutes later if preferred).The exact time will depend on the size of your minced tofu and how "dry" vs. crunchy you want it to be, and your specific oven. If you want crispy vegan ground meat, this can take up to 45 minutes.
Alternative Method: Pan Frying
Add a swirl of oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Once hot, add the tofu crumbles and cook until browned and crispy (if the tofu was undrained, this could still take 15-20 minutes. If drained, it won’t take as long).Just note that this stovetop method will yield different results, with vegan ground meat that tends to be softer than the baked version unless you press the tofu before seasoning it.
Can I use frozen tofu? Yes, while the texture will vary slightly. Pre-frozen and thawed tofu actually crumbles even easier than regular tofu, and the texture becomes even chewier and "meatier" if anything. Unopened tofu can be frozen for up to 6 months.
Can I use an air fryer? I haven’t attempted this recipe in my air fryer (yet), but it should be doable. I recommend reducing the heat to 375ºF/190ºC, cooking it for between 15-25 minutes, tossing it a couple of times. Let me know if you try it!
Baked vs.pan-fried tofu crumbles: note that the latter will be softer than the baked tofu and won’t be quite as ‘meaty’ in texture. However, the flavor is still great. For the best results, though, I recommend baked tofu crumbles.
The baking time will vary: based on how dry you want the tofu crumbles (or how crisp/crunchy), the size of your crumbles, and your particular oven. I recommend keeping a close eye on it the first time you try this recipe. That way, you know the best time for next time.
Use the correct tofu: firm or extra firm tofu is required for the correct beefless ground beef consistency.
Don’t crowd the baking tray: otherwise, the vegan ground beef will steam and won’t dry out/crisp up enough.
Optional Add-Ins & Recipe Variations:Once you’ve experimented with my preferred simple beefless ground beef recipe (aka tofu ground beef), then use that as a rough guide and have fun with experimenting with other seasonings and flavors, including:
Liquid smoke: a few drops add a wonderful smokiness.
Vegan Worcestershire sauce: adding a generous splash of vegan Worcestershire sauce adds tons of depth and creates a more "beefy" flavor.
Oregano: a pinch of oregano or other herbs are an easy way to infuse the tofu crumbles with extra flavor.
Cumin: just a pinch.
Beetroot juice: a few tablespoons of beet juice adds color to the vegan ground beef and a savory, earthy flavor that helps make meatier beefless ground beef.
Red pepper flakes: to add a subtle heat, add a pinch of red pepper flakes (to taste).
Lentils: use a blend of 60-70% tofu and the rest as lentils for a slightly different texture and flavor in the plant-based ground beef.
Check the blog post serving suggestions and storing instructions!