Baked Za’atar Tofu is a wonderful addition to any salad, wrap or Buddha bowl. It’s also a great appetizer or snack! Homemade baked tofu tastes so much better than store-bought, and it's easy to make. This simple tofu recipe is vegan and gluten-free.
I work from home, so most days I make myself a large salad or heat up leftovers for lunch. However, there are days when I don’t feel like making my own meal. I live around the corner from a Whole Foods, so I sometimes hit up the store’s prepared foods bars. A few years ago, they had za’atar tofu in the salad bar. I used to pile it high on my salad. I was hooked, and I found myself making excuses to go to Whole Foods around lunchtime, because “I might as well pick up some za’atar tofu while I’m here.” But then, just as mysteriously as it arrived, the za’atar tofu disappeared from the salad bar.
I obsessed over the missing tofu for weeks. “This is ridiculous.” I finally told myself. “You’re a cook. Just make it yourself.” And so I did. It’s super easy to make, so I’m not sure why I procrastinated on creating my own recipe.
What is Za'atar Seasoning?
Za’atar is a Middle-Eastern spice blend mix made with dried thyme, oregano, or marjoram (or a mixture of all three), along with sesame seeds, sumac, and salt. The seasoning blend may vary, depending on which region it’s from.
I first tried this tasty spice in the form of za’atar bread at a local Mediterranean restaurant, and I immediately fell in love. I hope to someday recreate that recipe here on the blog, too.
Where to by Za'atar
Since it's a speciality spice blend, a lot of mainstream grocery stores don't carry za'atar seasoning. It can typically be found in speciality spice stores and Middle Eastern markets. Some grocery stores like Whole Foods and Fairway Market do usually stock it. If you don't want to drive from store to store looking for it, you can order it from Amazon.
If you can't find it, you can make it yourself at home. This blend from Epicurious is easy to make.
How to Prepare Tofu
Make sure you press your tofu to remove the excess water before cutting the tofu in this recipe. To do this, wrap your tofu in a towel and put something heavy on top of it, such as a cast iron pan or a cutting board topped with a few cans of beans. If you give yourself enough time in advance, you can wrap your tofu in a towel and place it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. There’s no need to place anything heavy on top of it, as the towel will absorb the excess liquid over time. You can also use a tofu press, such as the TofuXpress, if you have one.
How to Make Za'atar Tofu
This recipe is super easy to make!
- Once your tofu has been pressed, you cut it into cubes.
- You mix together apple cider vinegar, tamari, and water or stock and pour it over the tofu. You should let it marinate for about half an hour, or until the tofu absorbs all of the marinade.
- Next you mix together the cornstarch and za'atar and toss the tofu cubes in it.
- Finally, you bake your tofu in a 400° oven for 30 minutes, flipping the pieces every 10 minutes or so.
If you have an air fryer, you can air fry your tofu on 400° for 15 minutes, shaking the basket at about the halfway point.
If you plan on using your tofu in sandwiches, you can cut it into slabs, rather than cubes. Bake it for half an hour, but you only need to flip the pieces once, after about 15 minutes.
Serving Za'atar Tofu
Serve this Za’atar Tofu along with Tahini Dressing as an appetizer or with vegan cheese and olives on a snack platter. It’s excellent with hummus on salads, as well as in wraps or sandwiches. It's also delicious in a Buddha bowl.
- 14- ounce package extra firm tofu drained and pressed
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 1 tablespoon water or vegetable stock
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons za’atar seasoning
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Cut the tofu in cubes, about 1” each, and place in a shallow dish or bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, tamari, and water or stock. Marinate the tofu in the mixture for about 30 minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Toss the tofu occasionally so all sides absorb the liquid. You can allow the tofu to marinate for several hours in the fridge, if you like.
- Preheat your oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Mix the cornstarch, za’atar, and sea salt together in a shallow dish. Toss the tofu cubes in the mixture, making sure each piece is totally covered.
- Place the tofu on the baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown, flipping the pieces every 10 minutes to insure that each side browns.
- Allow the tofu to cool for about 10 minutes before serving. The tofu will get denser and chewier after it cools.
Dianne! My mouth literally dropped open when I saw this recipe. I love za'atar, and using it on tofu is just pure genius!
I love crispy chewy baked tofu. And this sounds so flavorful with all those spices. I'm sooo jealous that you live so close to a Whole Foods. The closest one to me is 30 minutes away! I would love to be able to pop in for a quick lunch.
Looks wonderful! It feels like such a feat when you recreate a dish that is more expensive somewhere else. Now you can have your tofu at a moment's notice and not get out of your pajamas! I'm sure the kitties will approve.
Thank you, Becky!
Thanks, Jenn! Maybe Whole Foods will expand to your area after Amazon buys them!
Thanks, Cadry! Yes, I love being able to make things at home for a fraction of the cost!
I'm not sure if I've ever had anything za'atar, let alone tofu. This may be a new flavor adventure to try.
You should definitely give it a try!
Amy Katz from Veggies Save The Day
Off I go to buy some za'atar spice! I am really looking forward to trying this tofu!
I am going out now to buy some tofu. Za'atar I have. Can't wait to eat this tomorrow. Thanks for another great recipe Dianne.
Linda from Veganosity
Whole Foods does that so often. I'll find something I love and then it's gone! You did a great job replicating this delicious tofu, Dianne. I can't wait to make it.
Thanks, Linda! I hope you enjoy it!
Thank you, Fran! I hope you enjoy it!
Thanks, Amy! I hope you like it!
Great recipe Dianne - Thank you! What I did since no soy is something I'm doing is use Coconut Aminos for the Tamari and used Hemp Tofu instead of the regular. It was awesome. I made the lemon tahini dressing/sauce and enjoyed dipping these into it for lunch and then for dinner used the rest of the Zaatar Tofu in a Pita with the sauce, onions and a little spinach. YUM!
I'm so glad you liked it, CoraLyn!