Tofu Jerky, the Sequel

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 90 minutes
Servings: 4

One of Mark Bittman’s favorite snacks from VB6 is now an ongoing project, as he continues to play with jerky variations. It’s a portable, chewy snack that’s the next best thing—flavor, not healthwise!—to a Slim Jim. And it’s easy to make, too.


  • 1 lb. (500 g) firm tofu (1 block)
  • 1 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbs. water


Preheat an oven to 225°F (110°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Cut the block of tofu in half through the equator and blot the halves dry. Then cut each half the long way into slices a bit thicker than 1/8 inch (3 mm) (you should have about 28 slices total) and lay them on the parchment (it’s preferable if they’re touching).

Bake the tofu for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together the tomato paste, soy sauce, cumin, paprika, brown sugar, salt, chili powder and water to make a basting sauce. After 30 minutes, lightly brush the top of the tofu slices with half of the sauce and bake for 15 minutes more. Flip the slices and cook for 30 minutes more, then lightly brush the second side with more sauce and bake for 15 minutes more. The tofu should be chewy (not crunchy) and still very pliable.

Let the jerky cool completely (the slices will get a bit more crisp as they cool). Eat immediately or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 1 week. Serves 4.

·      Miso Jerky: Swap miso paste for the tomato paste, and skip the cumin and smoked paprika. Add 1/4 tsp. garlic powder if you’d like.

·      Teriyaki Jerky: Use mirin instead of the tomato paste, ground ginger for the cumin and onion powder for the smoked paprika.

·      Garlicky Tofu Jerky: Add 1 tsp. garlic powder along with the smoked paprika.

Adapted from VB6, by Mark Bittman (Clarkson Potter, 2013).

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