Crispy Baked Jerk Tofu has all the bold, sweet, spicy flavour you love from traditional Jamaican jerk recipes but it’s a deliciously filling vegetarian dish. Serve it with a salad, in a wrap or on a bed of fluffy rice. However you choose to enjoy this protein replacement, it’s bound to be a hit!
Jamaican Jerk Tofu
Jerk tofu is baked until crispy and then coated in a mouthwatering honey jerk sauce. When I was a vegetarian, I used tofu to recreate my favourite meals. And now when I want a meatless meal, tofu is a top option. Some may be thrown off by the texture but if you don’t like tofu, it’s because you haven’t tried the method I use for this jerk tofu recipe. It has a delightfully chewy texture just beyond the crispy-coated exterior.
Here’s Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- Authentic Caribbean Flavour – my favourite quality of tofu is that it tastes like whatever you season it with. Using my quick homemade jerk seasoning, this recipe has that unmistakable island flavour.
- Versatile – once you know how to whip up this baked jerk tofu, you can add it to any meal!
- A Healthy Alternative – whether you’re a vegetarian or trying to consume less meat, tofu is a plant-based protein that will have you feeling full and satisfied.
What is Jamaican Jerk?
Jerk is a hot and spicy dry-rubbed or wet marinated blend of herbs and spices used on all types of meats and seafood. Traditionally, jerked foods would be cooked over a small open coal or wood fire. Jerk has a spicy, woodsy, smoky flavour.
This seasoning is used for proteins like chicken, pork, lamb, shrimp, and fish but it is also used to season vegetables like oyster mushrooms, jackfruit, seitan, chickpeas and cauliflower. So why not use this delicious spice blend to make crispy jerk tofu?
Jamaican Jerk History
It’s been said that the Maroons (descendants of Africans who formed settlements away from slavery in the Western world) jerked wild pigs in Portland, Jamaica while on the run from the British. It’s been a part of Jamaican culinary traditions for centuries, and now evolved in various unique dishes.
What is Jerk Marinade Made Of?
Jerk marinade often is made using onions, garlic, ginger, pimento, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, scotch bonnet pepper, and brown sugar. However, there are many variations, some which include citrus, vinegar, and various sweeteners such as honey and molasses.
Uses for Jerk Marinade
Use jerk marinade on poultry, meats, fish, seafood, vegetables or in pasta, the options are endless. Wherever you need a spicy, earthy kick to your recipe, just add this marinade.
What Does Jerk Marinade Taste Like?
Jerk marinade flavours are bold and pungent with a kick of spice from the scotch bonnet peppers. It’s a delicious blend of warm, smoky and spicy flavours with sweet undertones.
Crispy Tofu Cooking Tips
- Thoroughly rinse, then pat dry block of tofu using paper towel or a clean dishcloth. Then wrap your tofu in a dry dishcloth and press, using a tofu press or heavy object to remove any excess liquid. Use a skillet, or stack of cookbooks and your backsplash to steady the books on top of tofu.
- Cube the tofu and add it to a mixing bowl. Then, season according to what you are making. For a crispy exterior, you want to use a neutral oil with some cornstarch or arrowroot starch.
- Place the tofu evenly on a baking sheet, bake in oven for about 20 to 30 minutes or until crispy and golden, flipping at the halfway point.
- Remove and enjoy!
What You Need to Make this Crispy Baked Jerk Tofu Recipe
- Tea Towel or paper towel – to press tofu.
- Mixing Bowl – to combine ingredients.
- Baking Sheet – to bake tofu.
Ingredients and Ingredient Notes
- Extra Firm Tofu – this is the type of tofu you need to purchase and use for this recipe. You will find it refrigerated in your local grocery store, stored in a sealed package in water.
- Olive Oil – use this or another neutral oil with a high smoke point, like avocado oil.
- Cornstarch – use this or arrowroot starch to crisp up the tofu.
- Seasoning – salt, garlic powder, black pepper.
- Butter – this is the base of the sauce and is used to saute the other ingredients.
- Garlic – mince fresh garlic cloves.
- Honey – the sweetness balances the spicy qualities, you can also use agave nectar or maple syrup if you are vegan.
- Rice Wine Vinegar – this adds a pop of acidity, you can also use balsamic vinegar or .
- Soy Sauce – this can be swapped with coconut aminos.
- Wet Jerk Marinade – this classic all-purpose marinade is loaded with aromatics, fresh ingredients, a delicious spice blend, and scotch bonnet pepper for a kick of heat.
- Ginger – for a warm, spicy depth of flavour.
- Seasoning – I add smoked paprika, salt, and black pepper.
How to Make Crispy Baked Jerk Tofu
How to Press Tofu (Remove Excess Liquid)
Drain extra firm tofu and rinse well. Press tofu by wrapping tofu in a clean tea towel and placing a few heavy books or a cast iron skillet on top. Use your backsplash to steady the books or pan in place. Press for 30 minutes.
Crispy Baked Jerk Tofu
Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C), and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set aside. Then, unwrap tofu and cut into bite-sized cubes.
In a mixing bowl add tofu, olive oil, cornstarch, salt, garlic powder, black pepper and toss gently to combine. Evenly transfer bite-sized tofu pieces onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden and crispy. Toss in prepared sauce, let sit for 3-5 minutes to absorb, serve while hot and enjoy!
Honey Jerk Sauce
Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add butter and garlic and saute until butter melts and garlic becomes fragrant. Stir in honey, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, jerk seasoning, ginger, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and allow to simmer for 3-4 minutes then remove from heat.
Recipe Substitutions and Tips
- Jerk Tofu Bowl – a bowl layered with coconut rice, jerk tofu and an array of your favourite topping would be a deliciously balanced meal.
- Air Fryer – season, air fry at 400°F (200°C) for about 12-15 minutes, then coat it in the homemade honey jerk sauce.
- Jerk Tofu Salad – spice up a salad by adding this.
- Grilled Jerk Tofu – instead of baking, you could grill these in a pan or on a grill. Don’t skip the pressing step.
- Jerk Tofu Wrap – add this to a tortilla wrap with pineapple chunks and some rice and peas for a meal on the go.
- Comparable Store-Bought Versions – although I prefer to make my own jerk sauce, you can save some time and purchase it instead. If you must use store-bought then I recommend Grace Jerk Seasoning (Mild), or Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning (Hot). Both brands have mild and hot heat levels, so if spice isn’t your thing, you can opt for the mild selection.
- Jerk Tofu Marinade – I prefer to cook the tofu without the sauce so it gets a crunchy coat but you can also marinade the tofu for about 30 minutes and then bake it. Press the tofu before marinating.
Serving Suggestions and Tips
Recipe Notes and Tips for Success
- Type of tofu – use firm/extra-firm block of tofu, this will yield wht best taste and texture for this recipe. You will find it refrigerated in your local grocery store, stored in a seal package in water.
- Do not skip pressing the tofu – you will need to press out the majority of the liquid from your tofu to create space for your sauce/marinade to be soaked up, it also aids in making your tofu get to that ideal crispness and texture. I recommend pressing for about 30min minimum – the longer the better. To do this, stack heavy items on top of your tofu i.e. cast iron pot, some thick books etc. to remove the liquid.
- Make it vegan – simply omit the honey and replace it with an equal measure of agave.
Can I Make this Ahead of Time?
Yes. Prepare them in advance and store them in the fridge once they’ve cooled down.
Store leftover jerk tofu in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Freeze jerk tofu for up to 3 months. To defrost, let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
To reheat the tofu, place it in the microwave in 30-second internal or warm it up on a stovetop over low heat. You may need to add a splash of water or vegetable broth to loosen the sauce a bit.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Jerk seasoning is a dry spice blend whereas jerk marinade is a wet marinated blend. Seasoning acts as a dry rub and marinates overnight. The marinade takes less time than jerk seasoning.
Although every blend has different proportions, traditional jerk seasoning includes garlic powder, onion powder, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, ginger, cayenne pepper, red chili flakes, dried thyme, parsley flakes, smoked paprika, and dark brown sugar.
The term “jerk” references the Maroons (descendants of Africans who formed settlements away from slavery in the Western world) who jerked wild pigs in Portland, Jamaica while on the run from the British.
Interested in Similar Recipes? Check These Out!
- Jamaican Banana Fritters
- Jamaican Hard Dough (Hardo) Bread
- Cornmeal Pudding
- All Purpose Seasoning
- Bulla Cake
- Caribbean Chocolate Tea (Cocoa Tea)
- Garlic Ginger Tofu Stir Fry
- Vegan Crispy Tofu Quinoa Bowl
- Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe
- Hickory Smoke BBQ Sauce (Chicken)
- Honey Jerk Shrimp
Crispy Baked Jerk Tofu
- Tea Towel or paper towel, to press tofu
- Mixing Bowl
- Baking Sheet
- 1 block Extra Firm Tofu
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil or avocado oil
- 2 tbsp Cornstarch or arrowroot starch
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 5 cloves Garlic minced
- 1/4 cup Honey
- 1 tsp Rice Wine Vinegar
- 1 tsp Soy Sauce
- 1 tbsp Jerk Seasoning more or less as desired
- 1/4 tsp Ginger
- 1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
Press Tofu (Remove Excess Liquid)
- Drain extra firm tofu and rinse well. Press tofu by wrapping tofu in a clean tea towel and placing a few heavy books on top. Use your backsplash to steady the books in place. Press for 30 minutes.
Crispy Baked Jerk Tofu
- Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C), and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set aside. Then, unwrap tofu and cut into bite-sized cubes.
- In a mixing bowl add tofu, olive oil, cornstarch, salt, garlic powder, black pepper and toss gently to combine. Evenly transfer bite-sized tofu pieces onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden and crispy. Toss in prepared sauce, let sit for 3-5 minutes to absorb, serve while hot and enjoy!
Honey Jerk Sauce
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add butter and garlic and saute until butter melts and garlic becomes fragrant. Stir in honey, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, jerk seasoning, ginger, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and and allow to simmer for 3-4 minutes then remove from heat.
Note, the nutritional information is calculated using a nutrition facts calculator. It is a rough estimate and can vary based on products used.