January 31st, 2009

Tofu Balls

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Makes 12 – 16 tofu balls
Time: 30 minutes

This is modified from Louise Hagler’s Tofu Cookery. It was the recipe that my family and I started cooking together over 20 years ago.

1 lb. extra firm tofu
1 small very finely chopped onion
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1/2 cup bread crumbs
A few pinches fresh basil or oregano

Flour for rolling balls in

Oil to pan-fry in

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls. Roll in flour and fry in preheated skillet, cooking until slightly to medium brown on all sides.



92 comments to Tofu Balls

  • Corey

    I made this for the first time tonight. Scanning the ingredients list, I was doubtful, but they taste AMAZING! However, mine ended up a little… mushy? They were nice and crispy on the outside, especially where they had cooked longest, but they fell apart very easily. Any way to firm them up a little?

  • Katherine

    what kind of sauce do you usually serve with this?

  • […] I can’t take all of the credit for this one, it was adapted from Post Punk Kitchen which was originally adapted from somewhere […]

  • Kumquat

    I make this recipe frequently, however, instead of bread crumbs, I substitute whatever gluten-free crackers or chips I have on hand (crushed, of course). The first time I tried to make them, they didn’t hold together, but I ended up with a great-tasting dish, anyway. Now, I don’t even try to make balls out of them and Tofu Hash is one of my families’ most requested dinners. We like it best with spagetti.

  • […] I know that’s really Noddy and Big Ears stuff to any vegetarian… but it was so good! Looking forward to more tofu joy, including these great-looking “meatballs” […]

  • […] Leave a comment Pasta dinner with fresh baked semolina bread and tofu balls. […]

  • […] the tofu lovin’ on Tuesday, I was going to make these “meatballs” but then – really fancied […]

  • Jenni

    Is this a substitute for meatballs?

  • Julieanne

    I’m vegetarian and my boyfriend is a total carnivore and last time I tried to make ‘meat’ balls I used GimmeLean’s ground beef and it was terrible tasting….do you think this is something a carnivore would enjoy?

    • IsaChandra

      All of the meat-eaters I have served this to over the past 20 years have loved it. However, don’t call them meatballs. They are their own special creation!

  • newbie

    Love your site and your cookbooks. Just received the cookie book and excited to bake! Ok… forgive my ignorance with this question. I’m a newbie and haven’t used tofu yet beyond marinating, slicing, and baking or sautéing. I think I’m missing something really obvious here. When you say combine ingredients in a bowl, does the tofu get mushy and mix-in with all of the other ingredients or do I need to cut it into small pieces or grate it before I put it in the bowl? Thanks!

    • IsaChandra

      You have to mash it really well! You can mash the tofu first, then add everything else and mash together with your hands.

  • Trista

    After I added all the goods, I used my hands and mashed it up real well, then I rolled them and put them in the fridge for about 15mins. They stayed together real well while I cooked them in the pan. I enjoyed the flavor and texture.

  • Sabrina

    My mouth is watering!!! I look forward to making this very soon!!!

  • Karina

    question , i have a family member allergic to all nuts. Is there anything that can be substituted for the peanutbutter?

  • Melissa

    I’m curious if you prepared these in advance, and freezed them, if they would be less mushy? I haven’t tried the recipe yet but I’m aware that freezing tofu can give it a nice chewy texture (an awesome Asian vegan restaurant in Worcester, Ma makes all their meat substitutes out of tofu and I’m pretty sure this is part of their method–they speak very bad English so I’ve never asked).

  • Melissa

    ‘freezed’? Why did I think that was a word a few minutes ago? My intellect is apparently reverting to that of a 3 year-old.

  • Samantha

    MMMMMM! delicious!!!! Only issue was that they are a bit delicate, but a bit more bread crumbs helps with that, so does chilling them before cooking. Sooo tasty!

  • Elizabeth

    I absolutely loved these! Sooo yummy. I plan on making this often!

  • kizat

    these were fun to make. they held their form while cooking but when you cut them, they did crumble. they were tasty none the less, but could use more seasonings. next time i will throw in more herbs/spice for some punch. the first night i served them with pasta & marinara, second night a pesto sauce which was better. there are endless flavor combinations with these tofballz!

  • these were awesome! mine kept form so long as I didn’t fry too long. the tofu and PB reminded me of Indonesian gado-gado– I think these would be great with rice noodles and shredded scallions and ginger, maybe a drizzle of sesame oil. this is the second PPK recipe I’ve tried (the other was cornbread for TG stuffing) and both were fantastic.

  • WoW! These were wonderful. I used thawed frozen tofu which did add a nice consistency. I had some extra mushrooms I needed to do something with so I added them too. I had one tablespoon of tomato paste left so I threw that in too. I ate one after I pan fried it and was afraid that I would eat them all before the noodles cooked! As a relatively new vegan, I am hooked on your recipes. Thanks!

  • becky

    must.make.these.now.

  • I wasn’t sure what these would be like but I trust you, so I went for it. I should not have doubted you. They were delicious!

    I had a couple balls fall apart in the pan. It seems like if you cook them evenly on all sides, so one side doesn’t get too hard, they stay together better. I think they stay more structurally sound if the outside is of even strength, rather than one side getting hard while another side is very soft.

    Question…do you think all this could just be whipped together in a food processor?

    • IsaChandra

      The trick is to much them really really well and make sure the onion is very well chopped. If the pieces are too big, that’s when you’ll have trouble. I’ve never had a ball fall apart in 20 years! And no, it has to be mushed by hand otherwise it’ll be gloopy.

  • Andy L-S

    Curious how these would be baked, rather than fried? Any thoughts?

  • i just made these gluten free with ingredients i had on hand at home. i subbed gluten free pretzels that i threw in the food processor for the bread crumbs, tamari for the soy sauce, and madrona almond butter for the peanut butter. i didn’t roll them in flour afterwards, but they turned out pretty good! i just topped with artichoke pesto sauce for a snack. it was a little difficult to fry, they started falling apart a bit, but they taste good.

  • Cait

    @Andy: I made something similar once and baked them. They firmed up well enough but i think you really do need to fry them to get that lovely browning (although maybe broiling would have helped). If you bake them, you might not need the flour either.

  • […] Staying with the meatless kick, I made tofu balls as substitutes for meatballs to have with pasta. It sounds weird, and the flavors are definitely interesting, but they are really good. I could even see having these with some type of stir-fry, since there’s peanut butter and soy sauce mixed in. I found the recipe over at the always delicious Post-Punk Kitchen. […]

  • Jonathan

    Dynamite! Thanks for the great recipe. I cooked them up last night with the pesto pasta, and they were very good. I substituted in tamari for soy sauce, almond butter for PB, and panko for bread crumbs. I also add about a tsp of garlic/onion powder. Yummy!

  • Laura

    I’m going to try this tonight!I Can’t wait!

  • Suzanne

    These were fantastic! I made them instead of the bean balls with the marinara sauce in Veganomicon. So easy, too. I was skeptical with such few ingredients, but even the raw product was tasty. The only changes: red pepper flakes and oregano. Love ’em!

  • Caitlin

    What kind of oil are you using to fry these in?

  • […] decided to try these Tofu Balls from the PPK. I used extra firm tofu that was frozen and thawed. I also had some mushrooms that needed to be […]

  • IanMaddox

    Can’t wait to make these tonight! We aren’t vegan but don’t eat red meat very much at all. Tofu is not something I am used to using but this recipe sounds divine! 😀 Thanks!

  • Reginald Szewczyk

    Could you bake these in the oven for a healthier version?

  • Kate

    These were so delicious. I threw them in the fridge for a few hours before frying, and they held together when eating very well. I also accidentally used vital wheat gluten instead of regular flour; not sure if that made a difference too.
    They were so easy to make! I’ll definitely be making these again.

  • I made mixed all the ingredients together last night, but then didn’t have time to cook them. I let it sit overnight in the fridge, then baked them for a bit. They were great baked, but then I pan-fried them for a little extra crispiness and served them on tofu Shiritake noodles with melted Daiya and sauteed spinach! YUM! THANK YOU!

  • Sonja

    I made these last night with the PPK pesto recipe (and roasted cauliflower and brocolli, also from that recipe). Every single aspect turned out yummy, and I’ve still got lots of mixture to make them again tonight (that’s why I’m here, mooching for more sauce options). I blended everything then added the onion, and although they came out more like patties, it was delicious blended. Thank you Isa!

  • Can these be frozen and used at a later date? If so, what’s the best way to reheat them?

  • erin

    what do you do with the firm brick of tofu when combining all ingredients? crush it with a fork/crumble it?

  • Red Jay

    These were great: I didn’t have extra firm so I used firm Tofu and did them in the oven. Awesome taste and hard not to eat them all out of the pan!! I ended up putting them into fresh made corn tortilla’s with pan fried peppers/onions, some lettuce and a little liquified baba ganoush drizzled overtop ….great twist on a soft taco.

    2 for 2 awesome recipes!!

  • Kim

    I made these last night and they look exactly like the picture! They didn’t fall apart in the pan either. I used really firm tofu and I crumbled it by hand until they were tiny chunks before mixing the rest of the ingredients in. Wow these were awesome and very filling! I also made the Bestest Pesto recipe and cauliflower and everyone loved it. I doubled all the recipes so I actually have LOADS left which is awesome for lunches 🙂

  • NR

    I just made these. I was curious to see how they taste fried vs. baked so fried a few and baked the rest (400 oven on a baking paper + a bit oil) and I think i like the baked versions as much as the fried!! Another thing I added was a little bit of garlic powder and cinnamon (a bit of midle east style spice that is usually used with meat) and I really like the results!

  • Caitlyn

    I love these so much! I also tweak the recipe sometimes (more breadcrumbs and a bit more peanut butter), roll them in breadcrumbs with some spices, and bake for tofu nuggets. Yum!

  • […] actually a modified version of the one found at Post Punk Kitchen.  The first time I made them, I followed the recipe exactly, but every time following, I found it […]

  • Rebecca

    Oh, my! Another great recipe. I’ve been experimenting with your tips and recipes lately, and I have never had my food come out so good (and sort of looking like the recipe pictures)!

  • jejune

    these are good with sweet chili sauce :}

  • Alyssa

    I make this recipe about twice per month. Sometimes, when I feel like getting crazy, I use herbed tofu instead of plain. I know. Insane. Other days, I make chick’n nuggets by rolling them into seasoned panko bread crumbs and baking in a 350-ish degree oven for 10-20 minutes-ish. Once I even subbed tahini for peanut butter. Yes, I’m not lying. I totally did. All of these methods result in deliciousness.

  • […] are Isa’s Tofu Balls, based on a book called Tofu Cookery. They are, in a word, delicious. The super simple combination […]

  • […] are Isa’s Tofu Balls, based on a recipe from a book called Tofu Cookery. They are, in a word, delicious. The super […]

  • Therese

    I love these balls! And they are so versatile… Awesome with shallots and parsley, or with extra basil and garlic instead of onion. Can’t get enough of ’em! Thank you Isa!

  • Gretchen

    Wow, these were great! A hit with my picky six-year-old, too! Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. Made our gluten-free spaghetti and meatballs a filling, delicious meal.

  • […] originally set out to make something based on these tofu balls from Post Punk Kitchen (crumbled extra firm tofu, peanut butter, soy sauce, basil) but they came […]

  • […] Lunch: Whole wheat penne pasta with sun-dried Tomato Pesto, spinach, and Tofu Balls* (based on this recipe). […]

  • […] forming the recipe into small patties and baking them in the oven. Isa’s recipe can be found here. I made a few minor changes and my version is below, along with some step-by-step […]

  • Jeff

    I’ve found that grating the tofu with a box grater works best for me 🙂

  • […] posted her version of the recipe on the PPK blog a few years ago (she uses breadcrumbs instead of wheat germ as well, […]

  • […] days of vegetarianism. While I’ve had the cookbook for years, I only recently made the tofu balls that so many PPKers, particularly Isa Chandra Moskowitz herself, raves about. I didn’t have […]

  • […] six months ago, I shared a delightful discovery: tofu balls, despite their unappealing name, are really good. Like, really, really, really good. So good that […]

  • Beth Anne

    Has anyone tried rolling in cornstarch instead of flour? I always found that crisps up my regular sliced tofu really well. Also, adding a bit of Nutritional Yeast to the mixture helps with flavor.

  • Gwen

    For those who are getting a mushy result: truly firm tofu cannot generally be purchased at a super market. You must get your tofu from either a health food store or Asian grocery. This is the secret.

  • Malorie

    Before I make these, which kind of peanut butter would be best to start with? The kind you need to stir with just peanuts and salt (more runny and grainy) or the no stir kind (usually also has sugar in it and thicker)? Thanks 🙂

  • Caiti

    Just made these tonight for supper. I read that they stay together bet if refrigerated a bit so I made them a bit early in the day and they probably sat in the fridge for 2.5 hours. I had zero problems with them falling apart and they were excellent! I kept the ingredients hidden from the man in fear that he’d reject them, but after taking a bite and exclaiming how good they were he was shocked at what the ingredient list was. Definitely a recipe to make again in the future.

  • […] Fantastic recipe from Post Punk Kitchen.. […]

  • […] not the dominant flavour or ingredient, this can be a miracle worker. I especially love it in these tofu balls which I make into patties with smoked paprika. Peanut butter, garlic, soy sauce, honey and/or […]

  • Hanna

    I plan on making these tonight and am hoping for some clarification. The type of tofu here, is it the bricks in liquid? Or the unrefrigerated blocks on the shelf? Also, this will require at least two bricks of tofu, right? Will tamari be an adequate substitute for the soy sauce? Should I use a bit more tamari or some salt in addition to make up for it? I don’t have soy sauce on hand. Thank you! I have loved EVERY one of your recipes so far and just got VWAV and AFR in the mail today!

    • IsaChandra

      It’s a refrigerated block of tofu. Only one. They are usually 14 oz or so, so not quite a pound. Tamari will work as a 1:1 swap. Enjoy!

  • Hanna

    I made these last night with the following variations – tamari subbed for soy sauce, almond butter instead of peanut (I don’t like peanuts or their butter), and I added italian seasoning, garlic salt, and oregano to taste. They were amazing. Like, not just vegan-good, they were out of this world delicious. I dried the tofu out very well, and microwaved it a bit to get out some of the moisture. It was the perfect consistency. I used a medium-sized ice cream type scoop to scoop out the balls and they were just perfect. Not crumbly or anything. Perfection. I will forever be in your debt, for these and many more vegan delights!!!!!!

  • Deanna

    Tried these today! Didn’t have breadcrumbs so I pused some oats in my food processer and this held together well! Love i!

  • […] I no longer have to buy processed vegan meatballs!  This recipe is from The Post Punk Kitchen’s Tofu Balls.  Here’s how I made […]

  • […] easy and quick alternative to meatballs, from the Post Punk Kitchen. Just don’t tell my husband (who really enjoyed these) that they’re held together by […]

  • Julie

    This recipe turned out grrrrrreat!!

  • Inabubble

    I Love, love these! Had the recipe years ago. Lost it. Soooo happy to have found it. Thanks!

  • […] made what I was going to initially call “tofu balls”. Creative, no? I got the idea from Isa, but tweaked amounts, etc. They were super easy to make and fast […]

  • I just made them but they are not my peace of cake. Like falafel much better.

  • Nicole

    These are great. Seems the key is to chop the onions almost to the point of mincing. And mash it up really well. Also, I used tongs to turn them in the skillet. I think if I’d used a spatula or spoon, they would have fallen apart. I made these gluten-free also, and they turned out great–I used Ener-G gluten-free breadcrumbs and Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose flour. Excellent recipe. Will definitely keep it on file.

  • Michelle

    I used chickpea flour instead of bread crumb and baked them.

  • dk

    I’ve made this a couple of times and half the time, I don’t roll them flour and just bake them at 400 for 20 min, turning a couple times and I think they are just as tasty!

    Also, I use panko breadcrumbs, worchestershire sauce for half the soy, and add some strong mustard. mmmm! Love new ideas for the old tofu block!

  • Mal

    Awesome and easy to modify! Thank you!
    I regularly make vegan sausage and seitan so this was a nice addition to the rotation.
    My “additions”: added 1/2 cup of vital wheat gluten, worcestershire and soy, italian seasoning, 2 tbsp of ketchup. Fried in oil first then baked at 325 for 20 min.
    Results: great taste and yummy possibilites!

  • Clinch

    I made these after reading all the positive reviews…no one in my family liked them. We each tasted one and threw away the rest.

  • Stephanie Duggan-Haggan

    Nice I have the Tofu Cookery in my cook book stack as well , bought it 25 years ago or so 🙂 I’ll be giving your version a wurl 🙂 thanks Iza you rock !

  • Rita

    Wow! I am pleasantly surprised and impressed!! These are VERY similar in texture to the tofu and edamame nuggets from Trader Joe’s, and that’s a very good thing! After I mixed everything, I let it chill in the fridge while I made the Bestest Pesto, and they held together beautifully (I also had about 1 or 2 Tbs extra breadcrumbs, just to be safe). They were a bit chilly in the middle (my ancient stove has issues), so after getting a nice sear on them, I finished them in the oven. YUM. I see a tofu meatball sandwich happening very soon.

  • dropkick

    I’ve made these many times and enjoy them. Today I tried something different and baked them instead of frying. I put them on an oiled baking sheet, spritzed them with olive oil and baked them at 400F for about 25 minutes. The tops didn’t brown well so I broiled them for a few minutes. Turned out okay, but I think next time that I try baking them I’ll leave off the flour coating and see how that works.

  • Hi Isa… I absolutely LOVE Isa Does It!!! Did I say LOVE. Some of the items are part of my reg. repertoire. This is a FAB recipe for Pesto… Thanks and about those Tofu Balls…. Can I substitute tahini for peanut butter? I don’t ever use pb.
    Thanks!
    Disa 🙂

  • unicorn

    so good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! we used toasted hamburger bun instead of bread crumbs and chopped the onion in the food processor.

  • Can you freeze them without ruining texture/taste?? I couple of people asked about freezing and using at a later date but I didn’t see any answer? Thanks.

  • Renita Dixon

    What if we added a chia egg to the mix. Do you think that would help it stay together?

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