Tofu fried rice is a flavorful and easy meal that brings takeout vibes to your dinner table in a healthier way. It’s an excellent clean-out-the-fridge meal adaptable to any veggies you have on hand.
Fried rice is such an underrated meal. There are so many things to like about it: it’s quick, easy, adaptable and tastes like takeout but with a healthier approach. What more can you ask for in a dinner?
There are countless ways you can make it, switching out not only the protein but pretty much every vegetable and ingredient besides the rice, but this plant-based tofu fried rice is one of our favorites because of the delicious marinated tofu that cooks up with the most crave-worthy crispy edges.
Once you taste this recipe, I guarantee you’ll be making double batches of rice for other dishes from here on out just to be able to make this fried rice recipe the next day.
Ingredients to make this tofu fried rice recipe
Here’s what you’ll need to make this recipe, but keep in mind that it’s incredibly flexible to what you have on hand, and many of the ingredients can be swapped out for others.
- Extra firm tofu — press the water out of the tofu for at least 15-20 minutes before marinating to soak up the sauce.
- Eggs — are optional, however, if you want to make a vegan tofu fried rice recipe.
- Vegetables — we use peas, carrots and zucchini. Fresh or frozen vegetables both work well in fried rice.
- Green onions
- Tamari — is a gluten-free substitute for soy sauce. You can also use coconut aminos.
- Cooked brown rice — Previously cooked and cooled rice is essential.
- Peanuts — An optional garnish that gives some nice crunch to the final dish.
My Pro Tip
Always use extra firm tofu in stir-fries like this. It holds its shape well in the pan and absorbs flavor the best. Buying organic tofu is best to ensure it’s made with non-GMO soybeans.
Fried rice isn’t fried rice without a delicious sauce coating all the ingredients. Here is what you’ll need for the sauce in this dish, which also functions as a marinade for the tofu.
- Maple syrup
- Peanut butter
- Avocado oil
- Fresh garlic
- Fresh ginger
- Chili garlic sauce
- Rice vinegar
- Toasted sesame oil
How to make tofu fried rice
Start by baking the pressed and cubed tofu on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper at 400°F for 25-30 minutes until golden brown around the edges.
While the tofu cooks, use the time to make the sauce and chop the vegetables.
Once the tofu is baked and out of the oven, add it to a large bowl with the sauce. Toss to coat so all the pieces of tofu get covered by the sauce, and marinate for 5 minutes to soak up the flavor.
Place a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Once hot, use a slotted spoon to transfer the tofu from the sauce — letting any excess sauce drip off it back into the bowl — into the skillet. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the tofu is a deep golden brown on each side. Remove to a plate and set aside.
If using the eggs, crack them into the hot skillet, scramble them using a spatula, and then push them to the side.
Add the vegetables to the pan and sauté for 2-3 minutes until slightly softened. Pour in the tamari and stir everything together.
Lastly, add the rice, leftover sauce and tofu to the skillet. Stir everything until combined and cook for 3-5 minutes until heated through and the rice gets a bit crispy on the edges.
Garnish with chopped peanuts and additional green onions before serving.
Which rice is best for fried rice?
Medium or long-grain rice is the best option for making fried rice. Shorter grains are more glutinous and stick together more easily, making the result clumpy. Brown or white rice can be used interchangeably, depending on preference. Jasmine and basmati are popular choices.
Did you know you can also use other grains like couscous to make a fried “rice” recipe?
Why cold leftover rice is best
Good fried rice is defined by individual and distinct grains. It’s best to use pre-cooked rice, day-old rice that has been chilled – or frozen — rather than freshly cooked hot rice. Refrigerating or freezing helps dry the rice out, resulting in that perfect fried rice texture.
That said, don’t hesitate to make tofu fried rice or any other fried rice like our pineapple fried rice with fresh rice. It will still taste delicious!
Ways to customize this recipe
- Switch up the vegetables and use other options such as bell peppers, broccoli, snow peas or green beans.
- Use tempeh instead of tofu for another plant-based option.
- Instead of scrambling the eggs into the rice, serve with a fried egg on top like this beef and red pepper rice bowl.
- Make it lower-carb by using half cauliflower rice and half regular rice.
We have a whole post dedicated to the different ways to reheat fried rice, but our favorite method is the easiest and quickest with the least cleanup — the microwave.
If you have the time, reheating on the stovetop is a close runner-up.
Any leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
We’ve made many Chinese takeout recreations at home, such as kung pao shrimp, sweet and sour tofu, General Tso’s shrimp and more, but tofu fried rice is high on our favorites list. Its ease and flexibility make it a recipe you’ll want to come back to time and time again.
More tofu recipes like this to try:
Balsamic tofu pasta salad — give your pasta salad a protein kick by adding tofu.
Sheet pan BBQ tofu and vegetables — an easy one-pan dinner everyone will love.
BBQ mango tofu — also made on a baking sheet, the tofu is delicious in this sweet and savory combination.
Mapo tofu — this classic Chinese recipe combines soft tofu with savory beef.
Tofu Fried Rice
- 1 package extra firm tofu, drained, pressed then cut into cubes
- 2 eggs, optional
- ½ cup peas
- ½ cup finely diced carrots
- ½ cup chopped zucchini
- ½ cup chopped green onions
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- crushed peanuts for garnish
For the sauce:
- 3 tablespoons tamari
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1- inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
- 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the pressed and cubed tofu out onto the baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown around the edges. The tofu should be firm to the touch.
- While the tofu bakes, whisk together all the sauce ingredients in a large bowl. Once the tofu is baked, add it to the bowl with the sauce and toss gently to coat. Let the tofu sit in the sauce for 5 minutes to marinate.
- Place a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, use a slotted spoon to remove the tofu from the sauce, leaving most of the sauce behind in the bowl and add to the pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes until a deep golden brown on all sides. Remove the tofu to a plate and set aside.
- If using eggs, crack them into the hot skillet, scramble with a spatula then push to the side.
- Add the peas, carrots, zucchini and green onion to the pan and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tamari to the skillet and give a quick stir.
- Add the rice along with the tofu and remaining sauce. Stir everything together to combine and cook for another 3-4 minutes until heated through. Garnish with crushed peanuts and serve hot.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.