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Zesty Grilled Tofu Burgers That Even Tofu Skeptics Will Love

Picture of American Specialty Health
By American Specialty Health on June 22, 2022
Zesty Grilled Tofu Burgers That Even Tofu Skeptics Will Love

Summertime BBQ season is here! If you’re looking to cut back on how much meat you eat, try these tempting tofu burgers at your next cookout.

High in protein and low in saturated fat, these sweet-and-sour tofu burgers include a one-hour soak in a marinade of pineapple juice, soy sauce, fresh ginger, garlic, and green onions. Serve on toasted whole grain buns with your favorite toppings for a healthy version of barbecued burgers.

Why eat tofu?

Even if you’re not vegetarian or vegan, you may have considered cutting back on how much meat you eat.

While the total health impact of eating a diet high in meat, dairy, and eggs is still being researched, some studies have found that a plant-based diet rich in whole foods supports good blood pressure, heart health, a healthy weight, and more.

Tofu is made from condensed soy milk that’s pressed into a solid form (similar to the way in which cheese is made.) Tofu is high in protein and vitamins and low in calories. That makes this an incredibly nutrient-dense food.

Read more about the nutrition and health benefits of tofu here.

Tofu is more than a meat substitute

Of course, no one is going to mistake tofu for something like beef. But try not to think of tofu as a “meat alternative” or “meat substitute.” Tofu stands on its own as a delicious, high-protein food. It’s a nutrient-rich “blank canvas” that soaks up the flavor of any marinades, herbs, spices, or other ingredients you prepare it with.

And talk about versatility. It’s perfect for grilling and baking, and it’s great in soups and stews, too. You can use it to make sauces and dips. You can scramble finely diced tofu for breakfast or use it as a taco filling. Or you can stir-fry cubed tofu with veggies and serve over rice. It’s been a popular food staple for centuries for good reason!

If tofu is new to you, this just might be the perfect recipe to try. The other ingredients used in it have some stand-out health benefits, as well:

  • Pineapple juice may be sweet, but it’s a healthy treat rich in nutrients. Pineapple juice is loaded with vitamin C, manganese, B vitamins, and more. Together these play a big role in bone health and stronger immunity. And talk about flavor!

  • Garlic does more than bestow amazing flavor and aroma. It also offers some powerful health benefits. In fact, that wonderful smell is due to a compound in garlic called allicin, which has some powerful immune-boosting perks.

  • Whole wheat buns give you all the marvelous benefits of whole grains you won’t find in white or enriched buns. Whole wheat is a great source of complex carbs and can help support an overall healthy diet. Whole grains also support digestive health and are even linked to lower risks of heart disease, diabetes, and other health conditions.

Why this tofu recipe works

Again, tofu is a terrific food to marinate because of its excellent ability to soak up every bit of flavor you add to it. And the best part is it only needs to marinate about an hour for these zesty ingredients to pop.

For better grilling, just be sure to look for “extra firm” tofu at the grocery store. If you can find sprouted tofu—which is the firmest—even better. (Careful not to buy soft or “silken” tofu. This variety is better for sauces or dips.)

If you’re unsure how well tofu can handle cooking on a grill, you can put those fears aside. So long as your tofu is firm and sliced nice and thick—about half an inch—you can rest assured that it will hold together and grill up beautifully.

So, if you’re ready, get your tofu marinating and your grill fired up, and kick off your summer in good health!


Zesty Tofu Burgers


  • ½ cup minced green onions
  • ½ cup of canned pineapple, in juice (and minced)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1½ teaspoons sesame oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound extra firm tofu, drained
  • 8 whole wheat hamburger buns
  • Cooking spray
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Mayonnaise
  • Other toppings of choice


  • Combine the first 7 ingredients in a flat bowl or deep dish.
  • Cut the tofu into 8, half-inch thick slices and add to the marinade. (Note: Tofu comes in rectangular blocks, so your burgers won’t be round.)
  • Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Be sure the tofu is fully submerged in the marinade.

Prepping your grill

Taking the following steps to prep your grill will also help ensure perfectly cooked, juicy tofu burgers:

  • Once your tofu is almost done marinating, prep your grill by first preheating it at medium for about 5 minutes, or until those grates are nice and sizzling.
  • Once the grates are hot, carefully oil them. Put a few tablespoons of cooking oil in a bowl and soak a paper towel in it. Using a set of long tongs, pick up the towel and run it over the heated grates 3 or 4 times. This cleans the grates and also helps keep the tofu from sticking.
  • Continue to preheat the grill but turn it down to medium-low (to approx. 400 degrees).
  • Place the tofu slices on the heated grill.
  • Cook for approximately 6 to 10 minutes, carefully flipping halfway through, or until the tofu shows light- to medium-brown grill marks. (Don’t overcook or your tofu burgers may be too dry.)
  • Place one tofu burger between each bun. You can toast your buns on the grill if you like. Top with mayonnaise, lettuce, onion, tomato, and any other toppings of your choice.

Yield: 8 tofu burgers

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Marinade Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 6 to 10 minutes


Nutrition Facts
Calories 194
Fat calories 54
Total fat 6g
Saturated fat 1.1g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 376.6mg
Total carbohydrate 27.2g
Dietary fiber 2g
Sugars 6.4g
Protein 8.8g


Looking for a tasty side to go with your grilled tofu burgers? Check out more recipes and nutrition tips here.



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This information is not intended to take the place of regular medical care or advice. Please check with your doctor before using this information or beginning any self-care program.


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This article was written by Jason Nielsen, edited by Gail Olson, and clinically reviewed by Elizabeth Thompson, MPH, RD.


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