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Teriyaki Tofu Meatballs

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These teriyaki tofu meatballs are oven-baked to crispy perfection, then tossed in a sweet-and-savory sauce just before serving. Even tofu skeptics will love them!

Bowl of rice and steamed broccoli topped with teriyaki tofu meatballs

If there’s anything I hope my regular readers have learned over the years, it’s that you don’t have to be a vegetarian or vegan to enjoy tofu. When prepared properly, tofu is delicious—it has a tender texture, crisp exterior, and it takes on any flavors you add to it. If there’s any recipe that demonstrates all of these qualities (and then some!), it’s these teriyaki tofu meatballs (in addition to all my other tofu recipes).

The tofu is combined with veggies and seasonings, shaped into meatballs, and baked to perfection in the oven. We’re talking soft, chewy insides and crispy, browned outsides—so good! Then you’ll toss them all in homemade teriyaki sauce, which is packed with sweet and savory flavors.

I love serving these tofu meatballs with jasmine rice and steamed broccoli, but you can toss them with your favorite stir fry or set them next to a cup of toothpicks and serve them as a vegan appetizer at your next get-together. 

Does Tofu Have a Taste?

Tofu does have a taste, but it’s hard to describe—it’s mildly bean-y, since it’s made from soy beans. Tofu is all about the flavors and seasonings you add to it, so in this recipe, you’re tasting the teriyaki sauce and the seasonings, not the tofu itself!

Overhead view of teriyaki-coated tofu meatballs in skillet with large spoon

What You’ll Need

The ingredient list might look long, but a lot of these items are pantry staples!

For the Tofu Meatballs:

  • Firm tofu – The tofu will need to be pressed to get the excess moisture out. Here’s how to prepare tofu.
  • Carrot
  • Green onions
  • Garlic
  • Cornstarch
  • Sea salt
  • White pepper
  • Cayenne pepper – You can use more, less, or omit it altogether, depending on your spice tolerance.

What Is White Pepper?

White pepper is often used in Asian cuisine, and it’s not something that can be easily substituted with black pepper or any other ingredient. It has a complex flavor because the pepper berries are picked at peak ripeness then fermented, but it’s not as spicy as black pepper. 

While you can use black pepper instead, I highly recommend getting white pepper and keeping it on hand for when you need it!

For the Teriyaki Sauce:

  • Tamari – Soy sauce is fine, too.
  • Water
  • Agave – Honey can be used instead.
  • Sesame oil – Use the toasted kind, which has a nutty aroma and flavor.
  • Ground ginger
  • Garlic powder
  • Cornstarch slurry – Make this by combining 2 teaspoons of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of hot water in a small bowl.

For serving (optional):

  • Sesame seeds
  • Cooked jasmine rice
  • Steamed broccoli 

How to Make Teriyaki Tofu Meatballs

Tofu meatballs are super easy to make! Here’s what you’ll need to do.

Prepare. Preheat your oven to 425°F. 

Process photos of tofu meatball mixture in food processor, rolled into balls on baking sheet, and baked

Make the meatball mixture. Pulse all of the meatball ingredients in a food processor until well-combined. The mixture should easily form a ball when pressed together. 

Shape the meatballs. Roll the tofu mixture into 16 meatballs, using firm pressure to help them hold together. Place the meatballs on a sheet pan coated with cooking spray, then spray the meatballs with additional cooking spray.

Bake. Bake the meatballs for 30 minutes, or until the exterior is nicely browned.

Make the sauce. Near the end of the cooking time for the meatballs, make the teriyaki sauce by combining all of the ingredients in a skillet over medium heat. Bring to a simmer.

Teriyaki tofu meatballs in enamel skillet with scallions and sesame seeds

Finish. Once the sauce has thickened, add the meatballs and toss to coat. Remove from heat, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve.

Tips for Success

Here are some tips for perfect tofu meatballs:

  • Use the right tofu. Make sure you buy refrigerated firm tofu, not the shelf-stable silken kind. Silken tofu doesn’t have the right texture for this recipe. Check out my tofu guide for more information on this!
  • Make it your own. Instead of teriyaki sauce, you can toss these tofu meatballs in the sauces from my Lightened Up General Tso’s Chicken, Orange Chicken, or Pan-Fried Sesame Garlic Tofu.
  • Meatballs for meal prep. This is an awesome recipe for meal prep, but I recommend keeping the sauce and meatballs separate and combining them just before eating to keep the meatballs from getting mushy.
Bowl of rice topped with 3 teriyaki tofu meatballs and spears of steamed broccoli

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

If you have leftovers, place them in an airtight storage container and refrigerate them for 3 to 4 days. You can reheat the meatballs in a skillet or saucepan set over medium-low heat, or in the microwave. 

Can Tofu Meatballs Be Frozen?

Yes, you can freeze this recipe! It’s best if you freeze the sauce and meatballs separately, but if you’re freezing leftovers, that’s fine too—just know that the meatballs will have a softer texture after reheating. Store in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months; let the meatballs thaw in the refrigerator before reheating according to the instructions above.

Chopsticks picking up teriyaki tofu meatball with sesame seeds
Bowl of rice topped with 3 teriyaki tofu meatballs and spears of steamed broccoli

Teriyaki Tofu Meatballs

Tender oven-baked meatballs are tossed in a sweet-and-savory sauce for a tofu dish even tofu skeptics will love!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 16 meatballs
Author: Julie Chiou
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Ingredients 

  • 16 ounces firm tofu, pressed
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 green onions, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Teriyaki Sauce:

  • ¼ cup tamari
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons agave
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Cornstarch slurry, 2 teaspoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons hot water

Optional, for serving:

  • Sesame seeds
  • Cooked jasmine rice
  • Steamed broccoli

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425° F.
  • In a food processor all of the meatball ingredients and pulse until combined and the mixture easily forms a ball when pressed together. Form into 16 meatballs.
  • Spray a sheet pan with cooking spray and place the meatballs in a single layer. Spray the meatballs with additional cooking spray and transfer to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes until the meatballs are browned. Remove and set aside.
  • Combine the teriyaki sauce ingredients in a skillet over medium heat. Bring to a simmer until thickened then add in the meatballs and gently toss to coat in the sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately.

YOUR NOTES

NUTRITION FACTS

Serving: 1 meatball | Calories: 54 kcal | Carbohydrates: 8 g | Protein: 3 g | Fat: 2 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1 g | Sodium: 78 mg | Potassium: 43 mg | Fiber: 1 g | Sugar: 4 g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: asian meatballs, easy tofu recipes, tofu meatballs
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