These quick tofu crumbles are an easy way to a meatless dinner! Use this vegan meat substitute in tacos, salads, pasta, and more.

Tofu crumbles

Need a meatless dinner…fast? Here’s one of our favorite shortcuts: these quick and easy Tofu Crumbles! They’re savory, meaty and the perfect plant-based substitute you can use in endless ways. If you’re not a tofu fan…you will be after you take one bite! (Promise.) Use these as a taco filling like in Tofu Tacos, or try them on salads, pasta, bowl meals…even as a savory breakfast! There’s nothing these crumbles can’t do.

What to expect as a vegan meat substitute

These tofu crumbles are quick and easy to make on the stovetop. While there are some methods for baking tofu crumbles, we prefer cooking them up in a frying pan to keep it quick and easy. That said: the texture of the crumbles is fairly soft. Don’t expect it to taste like ground beef!

The skillet gets the crumbles lightly crisp on the outside, but it’s not chewy like meat would be. However, these are very delicious once you’ve got the correct expectation! Got it? OK.

Vegan meat substitute: tofu crumbles

Ingredients for quick tofu crumbles

You only need a few ingredients for this recipe: but they’re all important for bringing big flavor! Here’s what to have on hand:

  • Extra firm tofu: This is key! Extra firm tofu is the consistency you’ll need to make crumbles. Check the label carefully at the store
  • Soy sauce or tamari: Substitute coconut aminos for soy free and gluten free
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Spices: Garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, salt
  • Olive oil

How to make tofu crumbles (basic concept)

It’s beyond easy to make tofu crumbles: and this concept along with our tofu scramble has been fueling our dinners lately! There’s really no trick to it…just crumble your tofu and cook it up! Here’s what to know:

  • Crumble the tofu with your fingers. You want roughly bite-sized crumbles here — they can all be different sizes. This part can be a little cold on your fingers, but do it quickly! It should take about 1 minute.
  • Mix the tofu with the seasonings. Get the crumbles completely coated with the seasoning.
  • Cook 8 to 10 minutes until lightly crispy. There will be quite a bit of water at first, then it will completely cook out and you’ll be left with lightly crispy crumbles with a deliciously soft interior.
Tofu tacos crumbles

Oven baked method

You can also cook these tofu crumbles in the oven to get the texture even more chewy and crisped. As we mentioned above, we typically make them on the stovetop for a fast and easy meal. If you prefer a crispier texture that’s more of a vegan meat substitute, you can spread them on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

Ways to use tofu crumbles

There are so many ways to use tofu crumbles! Over here we use them often as part of fast and easy meals and plant-based dinners. Here are are a few of our top ways to use them:

How are you planning to use them? Let us know in the comments below!

Tofu Tacos: vegan meat substitute

Lastly, is tofu healthy?

There’s a lot of misinformation related to the health benefits of this soy product, so we get this question a lot. Here’s the thing: Tofu in moderation is part of a healthy diet (several times per week). 

Per to the Harvard School of Nutrition, soy is a nutrient-dense source of protein that can safely be consumed several times a week. It’s likely to provide health benefits, especially when you eat it as an alternative to red meat and processed meat. For more, go to Straight Talk About Soy and Is Tofu Good for You?

More tofu recipes

Tofu is such a quick and easy vegan meat substitute, we love eating it in recipes of all kinds! Some favorites you might enjoy are:

This tofu crumbles recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free

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Quick Tofu Crumbles


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 12 minutes
  • Yield: 3 to 4 servings 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 12 to 14-ounce block extra firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari (or coconut aminos)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Instructions

  1. Make the tofu crumbles: Drain the tofu container, then pat the tofu dry with a clean dish towel. Place the tofu in a large bowl and use your fingers to break the tofu into roughly bite-sized crumbles. (It might be a little cold on your hands: don’t worry, it should only take a few seconds!). Stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, salt, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
  2. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Add the tofu and cook on medium high for 8 to 10 minutes, breaking up large pieces into bite sized chunks and stirring occasionally, until browned and lightly crispy and the liquid evaporates. (The exact timing depends on the tofu brand.)
  • Category: Essentials
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vegan
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Tofu Crumbles, Tofu Taco Crumbles, Vegan Meat Substitute, How to make tofu crumbles

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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11 Comments

  1. Made this early this morning for this evening’s meal, and it’s very good. Pan frying is a very good option and helps keep the kitchen cooler on these 100°+ days we’ve been having lately rather than baking it as I normally would. Thank you!

  2. Made this for dinner and used the oven instructions. Added to my stir-fry. It was absolutely delicious and SO easy! I will definitely be making again :)

  3. Every tofu recipe I’ve done in the past suggests getting rid of excess moisture. Just want to be clear that is not a necessary step here. Thanks you! Excited to try!!

    1. Correct! The extra moisture actually works well in this case (we only press tofu if it’s absolutely essential for the recipe to work). Hope you enjoy!

  4. I tried cooking this on the stove as directed, after 10 minutes it was not even slightly crispy and was beginning to stick to the bottom of the pan. So then I tried putting it in the oven and after 25 minutes in there, only a few pieces on the very edge were slightly not mushy. Not sure what went wrong here, but it made really mushy tacos, which did not go over well with some. Any suggestions?

    1. We just had this experience with a tofu brand! It’s one we have used before and it was marked “extra firm” but it came out incredibly watery. We’re wondering if it was just a bum block of tofu? Never had that happen in our 15+ years of cooking together! So, it could either be your tofu brand or maybe even a bum block of tofu. Was the tofu marked “extra firm” on the package? What brand was it?

  5. I’m a total carnivore, but I love this! I used chipotle powder instead of chili for extra smoke, and I added a dash of onion powder, and it was so good. Make sure you use high quality olive oil in the marinade, it makes all the difference.

  6. I’ve made this on numerous occasions. It’s been a hit every time! I even served a large batch of tofu crumbles at a taco night I was hosting and everyone that tried it loved it.