If there's one tofu recipe you make, let it be Tofu Ground Beef (Tofu Crumbles). These beef-flavored crumbles will change the way you eat tofu. This recipe is an easy and delicious meal prep item since you can make countless meals with vegan ground beef. The homemade version is healthier than mock meats found at your supermarket, and they're flavored with wholesome ingredients and spices that mimic vegan beef.
I've been vegan for over seven years, and it wasn't until this year that I started eating tofu regularly. I've cubed, marinated, roasted, and air-fried it until I decided to crumble it... and the results were mind-blowing.
I gathered all the 'meaty' and beefy flavorings/sauces that mimic ground beef, and this recipe blew my mind and changed how I will eat tofu forever. Now it's yours to enjoy!
This recipe can be prepped in a large batch to make many different meals. Use these crispy bits on top of pizza, in enchiladas, as bolognese in red sauce, or as the meat in sloppy joes. My favorite use is in our Tofu Stuffed Peppers, Vegan Tofu Taco Salad Bowl with Creamy Dressing, and Teriyaki Donburi
In this post, I share the following:
- How the beefy marinade will transform plain tofu into homemade beefless ground beef.
- Tips to make the tofu meat crispy on the outside and meaty on the inside.
Use this section to jump to areas of interest within the post.
This recipe is perfect for any dish that calls for ground or vegan crumbles. I triple the ingredients to make enough tofu meat for two meals, so both my husband and I can enjoy. A good rule of thumb is half a block of extra firm tofu per person per meal.
- Extra-firm tofu - the firmest tofu is mandatory for this recipe. You'll crumble it with your hands, but we will handle it a bit more than tender tofu prefers, so starting out super firm is smart.
- Coconut aminos or soy sauce - coconut aminos' brings in a sweeter flavoring, while soy sauce is saltier. If you go the soy route, taste the marinade before adding the salt and adjust as needed.
- Worcestershire sauce - say it three times fast before adding it in for good luck! Double-check the label for anchovies. The Whole Foods brand is vegan.
- Steak sauce - accidentally vegan, but double-check the label. Both A1 and the Whole Foods brand is plant-based.
- Liquid smoke - the hickory flavor pops, and the commonly optional ingredient is now mandatory.
- Tomato paste - a generous heap of tomato paste grounds the beef flavorings and adds some color.
- Olive oil or any neutral oil - is an important ingredient so that the tofu roasts into crunchy bits.
- Spices - nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic granules, smoked paprika, and salt combine together for the smokey, beefy, spiced flavor.
See the recipe card for full quantities and instructions.
Generally, I share substitutions so that each recipe is accessible and allergy-friendly. Although this tofu meat recipe really deserves all the ingredients listed and prepared exactly as written. It was made with ingredients that are easily accessible, dairy-free, and fully vegan. Being proud of this vegan ground beef recipe is an understatement. I cannot wait to hear what you think of it!
This vegan beefless ground beef recipe is so easy to prepare that you'll want to make it every week! Let's dive in...
Press the tofu while you mix up the marinade.
Once pressed, start to crumble the tofu gently into bits.
Pour the marinade onto the crumbled tofu and combine, being careful not to mash the tofu.
Transfer the vegan ground beef onto a baking sheet and bake until crunchy, dried pieces are formed.
Hint: use a big enough baking tray so that there's enough room to spread out and the liquid can evaporate, allowing evenly dried-out pieces. Every ten minutes, crack the oven door so that the steam in the oven can quickly escape. Baking times will vary from oven to oven. Keep a close eye on the oven during the last 10 minutes to prevent under or overcooking them.
A large baking tray, especially if making double or triple batches.
Store extra tofu crumbles in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freeze in a freezer-friendly container for up to 3 months. Thaw, then reheat on a baking tray in the oven or in a stovetop skillet. Note: freezing tofu will change its texture.
Reduce cooking time and improve tofu's texture with just one simple step. Press your tofu! This will cut off 10 minutes or more of oven time and enhance the tofu's texture by allowing it to absorb the meaty marinade fully. New to cooking with tofu? Check out my DIY Tofu Press Method for tips to get the most out of your tofu.
What happens if I don't press the tofu first?
Add 10-15 minutes of cook time to the oven, and the marinade won't absorb fully, resulting in a watered-down flavor.
Why didn't my tofu beef get crispy?
If you pressed the tofu for at least 10 minutes, there was likely not enough space on the tray to allow the liquid steam to evaporate. I suggest opening the oven door a few inches for 10 seconds every ten minutes to release some steam.
Bake for 10-15 minutes longer, and it will get crispy.
Can I cook this recipe in a skillet on the stovetop?
It will not have the same texture and will likely turn to mash. However, you can bake in the oven first, then reheat or rehydrate in a skillet once the crumbles are crispy.
For example, if you're using this in a bolognese, you can transfer the crumbles to a skillet once done baking. Add tomato sauce and allow to simmer until done.
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Tofu Ground Beef (Tofu Crumbles)
- 1 package extra-firm tofu
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoons steak sauce
- 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce (double check ingredients to ensure vegan)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (or neutral oil)
- ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and press the block of tofu for at least 10 minutes.
- Start to make the marinade by combining all ingredients together in a bowl. Note: if using soy sauce, taste the marinade before adding salt.
- Once the tofu is done being pressed, crumble the block using your hands into small pieces. Add the marinade and gently mix until well combined.
- Transfer the tofu crumbles onto a large baking tray that allows enough room for moisture to escape. Place in the oven to bake, flipping halfway.
- Tip: crack the oven door slightly for 10-15 seconds every 10 minutes to release steam from the evaporated liquid. This will help speed up the cooking time and make the tofu crispy. Ovens vary, and so does the cook time for this recipe - keep an eye on the oven towards the end to avoid under or overcooking.