The Grumpy Garbanzo vegan food for real life

5–Ingredient Tofu Ribs

Ribs have always sketched me out. When I was an omnivorous child, I would have my mom scrape the meat off the bone because, let's be real... teeth scraping on bone is a sensation I've never wanted to experience. Also, I presence of a bone made the reality that I was eating a dead animal a little too evident. But let's not get preachy, let's focus on what really matters: barbeque sauce.

Find a barbeque sauce that you like, and you are already halfway to recreating the experience of eating ribs. The next step is to prepare your tofu the right way for this occasion: freezing, pressing, marinating, and baking to create glazed tofu with crispy corners and a juicy, flavorful center. It's a little bit of a process, but really no more complicated than cooking actual meat, and is just as satisfying, in my depraved vegan opinion. Plus, you avoid having to deal with a creepy plate of bones at the end of the meal. No bones for the win!


extra firm tofu

barbeque sauce

vegan beef bouillon paste or cubes

tomato paste

olive oil spray


Remove tofu from package, place in a closed container, and freeze overnight. Freezing makes the tofu spongy and allows it to absorb the marinade all the way through.

Once fully frozen, thaw tofu all the way through. This takes about 5 hours; simply set out the frozen tofu and go about your day.

Press thawed tofu to remove as much liquid as possible.

To make the marinade, hydrate the beefless bouillon using around 1/4 the amount of recommended water; you want the broth to be intensely flavorful. Mix broth with barbeque sauce and a touch of tomato paste until you get a tomato soup consistency; it's important that the marinade is thin enough to be absorbed into the tofu, but that the flavor isn't too diluted.

Chop pressed tofu into rib–sized strips and place in a container for marinating. Dump the marinade over the ribs and gently mix or tip the container around to coat all sides. Let tofu sit until the ribs are saturated, rotating occasionally for more even absorption.

Place tofu ribs onto a lined baking sheet and bake at 200ºF for around 40 minutes, flipping halfway.

Spritz ribs with oil and raise the temperature to 275ºF. Bake until the exterior is firm, crisp, and dry, about 30 minutes.

Remove ribs from oven, coat with barbeque sauce, and bake until a glaze is formed. You may want to lower the temperature slightly at this point to avoid burning. When finished, the tofu ribs should have a thick glaze and crisp corners.

Serve with mashed potatoes, vegetables, or whatever side you find most nostalgic.

What did I use and why?

Sweet Baby Ray's original barbeque sauce, because I'm from the Midwest, where this is a golden standard.

Better than Bouillon No Beef Base. I grew up eating pork ribs, but I've never stumbled upon a 'porkless' broth. This beefless broth does the trick of making the tofu taste meaty and savory.