This Authentic Jamaican Jerk Tofu Recipe is packed full of bold Caribbean flavors to light your taste buds with excitement! Grill or pan fry options included.
Jerk recipes were a staple in my home growing up, but not with tofu. Today, we are combining my love of jerk flavor from my childhood with tofu for this delicious, authentic Jamaican jerk tofu recipe.
I’ll be honest, I had to call my mom up for this one. I wanted her decades of experience in making this one and wanted to make her proud with flavor that we know you’ll love as well.
We will be making the jerk sauce completely from scratch but this recipe comes together insanely quickly and then we just let it marinate, which is the hardest part!
The jerk sauce that we’ll be showing you makes approximately 2 cups of mixture, so you won’t be using the entire recipe here. Good news is though, if store properly you can use it on a variety and recipes and it will last for 2-3 months stored in your fridge.
What makes a jerk sauce jerk?
Jerk seasoning, marinades, and recipes are a specific set of ingredients that are native to Jamaica cooking. It can be a dry rub or a wet marinade. Jerk sauce is a spicy mixture that includes scotch bonnet peppers, allspice berries, and thyme, in addition to other ingredients.
While it is traditionally used for chicken, lamb or pork, we are using the recipe for tofu, but vegans could also use jackfruit, mushrooms, cauliflower, and more.
Never miss another recipe! Get our recipes straight to your inbox when you sign up for our weekly newsletter today! Our Top 15 posts automatically sent to you! Plus, enjoy behind the scenes, giveaways, and other exclusive content!
Sign up for our newsletter HERE!!
JERK TOFU INGREDIENTS:
Below are notes about the main ingredients before we get into the full recipe located lower in this post on how to make these vegan jerk tofu:
- Pimenta berries ( allspice berries) – This is a Caribbean spice that is harvested and then dried from the pimento tree. They are called allspice because the flavor profile is similar to multiple spices in one including, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
- Brown sugar – Beyond adding just a little bit of sweetness to the marinade, sugar helps to neutralize spice as the sugar crystals absorb some of the capsaicin oils and balance the flavors well
- Yellow onion and Garlic – the base of so base dishes because they produce the aromatics. Onions produce a sweetness as cook and garlic mellows things out.
- Scotch bonnet peppers – this is an essential ingredient in many Jamaican dishes, but especially jerk. This is a very spicy chile with a rating between 100,000 and 350,000 units on the Scoville scale, which is similar to a habanero for reference and are around the same size as well.
- Browning or molasses – Browning sauce is an extremely important pantry staple in Caribbean cooking. It adds flavors with its unique blend of ingredients. While it’s fairly easy to find in major grocery stores, if you can’t find it, we recommend using molasses instead.
- Tofu – The star of the show! You want to use an extra firm block of tofu for this recipe
The other ingredients listed in the recipe are all carefully chosen and selected and passed down from generations of cooks.
Substitutions and Variations:
- Seasonings – If you didn’t want to make a sauce from scratch you could use store bought Jerk marinade. Obviously, we recommend making from scratch as the flavors of fresh jerk sauce can’t be beat
- Brown sugar – swap with coconut sugar if needed
- Scotch bonnet peppers – It’s actually different to find scotch bonnet peppers in many places outside the Caribbean. If you are having a hard time locating, you can swap with habanero
- Soy sauce – you could swap with coconut aminos or tamari if that’s what you have on have
- Tofu – obviously this whole dish is based around tofu, but you could also use seitan, jackfruit, oyster mushrooms, chickpeas, cauliflower and more with this recipe
Frequently Asked Questions:
Yes! The scotch bonnet peppers make this a spicy sauce. If you would like a more mild flavor, you can reduce the amount of peppers that are used to either 1 pepper or 1/2 of a pepper. Make sure to carefully remove the ribs and seeds of the peppers and dispose of them without touching your face.
We’ve tried both and the flavor is great either way. Grilled jerk tofu gives some of those smokey grill flavors into the tofu which is delicious. Pan frying is also delicious and easier than heating up the grill.
Alternatively, you could oven baked this jerk tofu as well. We’d recommend 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
You will not sure the full amount of sauce for the recipe. The jerk marinade itself can be used with many other things and will last in the fridge in an air tight container for about 3 months. If you don’t think you could use it in that allotted time, then you can reduce all the ingredients by half.
Yes! Make sure the jerk sauce is at room temperature, then place into a freezer safe container or bag. We recommend using within 6 months of freezing.
Another thing we would recommend is to first place the marinade into ice cube trays and then freeze. After frozen, pop them into a freezer safe container or bag. This way you don’t have to thaw a large amount and you can just pull out a few cubes as needed.
For reference most ice cube trays are 2 tablespoons per cub.
This dish is tofu based so soy is in the main ingredient but you could swap the tofu for something else like mushrooms, jackfruit, or cauliflower.
For the soy sauce, you can easily swap with coconut aminos, tamari sauce or a no soy soy sauce depending on your allergens.
We highly recommend pairing with our easy vegan Jamaican rice and peas. It’s the perfect side dish to any jerk main dish. Grilled pineapple also would be great served on the side.
Tips for making the perfect tofu:
WHAT IS THE BEST TYPE OF TOFU TO USE?
We prefer extra firm tofu for this recipe and would highly recommend using that.
This recipe will also work with firm tofu if needed.
We do not advise using silken or soft tofu for this recipe.
WHY SHOULD I FREEZE TOFU FIRST?
Freezing tofu gives it a more meat-like texture. While this isn’t a requirement, we highly recommend doing it this way.
Freeze to tofu in the store packaging. Then remove and let thaw completely before adding it to a tofu press to drain (see below)
HOW DO I PRESS OUT TOFU?
The easiest way to press out tofu is to use a tofu press. We use this tofu press because it’s easy to use and works great.
However, if you don’t have a tofu press then you could wrap the block of tofu in a kitchen towel, place it on a plate, and then put something heavy on top like a cast iron skillet.
Pin this jerk tofu for later!
Authentic Jamaican Jerk Tofu Recipe
- 1 14-16oz block extra firm tofu, frozen, then thawed and pressed
- 3 tbsp pimenta berries (allspice berries)
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 large yellow onion
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 scotch bonnet peppers, seeds removed
- 1 tbsp ground thyme (or 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves)
- 2 scallions (just the green part)
- 1 juice of lime
- 1 inch ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp browning (sub for molasses)
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 1/4 cup olive oil, see notes if grilling
Optional Side Dish
- Freeze and thaw tofu and use a tofu press to get the water out. *See Notes in post for why and how to do this if needed.
- Add all the ingredients except the tofu into a blender or food processor and blend until very well combined. Put into a jar.
- Once pressed, slice tofu in half and then half again for 4 equal size pieces (or cube if desired).
- Place tofu into a shallow container that has a lid. Spread 1/4-1/3 cup jerk sauce across and over all sides. Rub into the tofu. Place lid on top and into fridge to marinate overnight or at least 4-6 hours.
- To Grill: Preheat grill to medium (about 400 degrees). Add tofu directly to greased grill grates or to a grill mat. Cook for 8-10 minutes, flipping halfway. To Pan Fry: add 1 tbsp oil to a large skillet and heat over medium low heat. Once hot, add tofu and cook for 8-10 minutes, flipping occasionally to get all the sides.
- Remove and serve with Jamaican rice and peas or desired side dishes.
Share a photo of our recipe you made! Tag us @makeitdairyfree and use #MakeItDairyFree on Social so we can feature you!