Tofu scrambles have been one of my go-to vegan breakfasts for years! While I typically default to firm or extra-firm tofu, I was inspired to try this recipe with soft tofu varieties after making a braised silken tofu dish recently. Now I’m hooked on this version!
When soft tofu is pan-fried to cook off the excess liquid and achieve a light golden brown skin, it develops a texture much more reminiscent of real scrambled eggs! Silken tofu scramble is slightly fluffy and custardy on the inside, with a very light crispy skin on the outside – much less dense and dry than crumbled firm tofu.
You’ll find I included *a lot* of notes and tips in this recipe so that you can achieve the correct texture for your silken tofu, which is quite delicate out of the package! Don’t be intimidated by the long recipe though; the procedure itself is quite easy and you’ll spend most of your time simply waiting for the tofu to brown.
Hopefully this silken tofu scramble becomes one of your favorite vegan breakfast recipes as well! Happy scramblin’!
Soft vs. Silken Tofu
A common question is whether there is a difference between silken tofu and regular soft tofu. While you can use both interchangeably in this recipe (and many others), there are some differences! Allow me to elaborate.
There are two main kinds of tofu. Regular tofu (also known as Chinese-style tofu) is the kind most commonly available at grocery stores. It comes in soft, medium, firm, and extra-firm varieties and is typically packed in water in a plastic container. It is made by coagulating the protein in soy milk and pressing it into blocks.
Silken tofu (also known as Japanese-style tofu), on the other hand, has a much smoother and more delicate mouthfeel. It also comes in soft, firm, and extra-firm varieties, but extra-firm silken tofu is still very soft. Typically if a silken tofu recipe does not specify, any level of firmness can be used.
Where to Find Silken Tofu
Nowadays I can almost always find silken tofu at my local Kroger, in the same section where I find extra-firm tofu and other vegan-friendly products like Tofurky slices or nondairy cheese.
Otherwise if you have one, your local Asian market is a pretty surefire place to find silken tofu. I also have good luck at Sprouts or Whole Foods. It will be stocked either in the refrigerated section alongside regular tofu, or in the Asian food section in small aseptic cartons. These are nice to stock up on because they are shelf-stable and can be stored in your pantry longer-term.
Ingredients for Silken Tofu Scramble
- Silken tofu. The star of the show! See above for tips on where to find and purchase silken tofu or soft tofu.
- Nutritional yeast, onion and garlic powder. These are my go-to seasonings for tofu scramble. They create a well-rounded savory flavor base with plenty of umami. Nutritional yeast also adds some extra vitamins and protein.
- Turmeric. Optional — this imparts a yellow color.
- Black salt. Also known as kala namak, this is a type of salt that has a unique “eggy” aroma due to its sulfur content.
- Salt and pepper. Optional, to taste!
- Add-ins. Sautéed veggies, chopped vegan ham/bacon, or your favorite shredded vegan cheese. Fold these in near the end of the cook time so that they warm through and the cheese melts.
Tips for the Best Scramble
Use a good nonstick pan. Nonstick cookware is a must for this method. We need the soft tofu to develop a skin and release cleanly from the pan to preserve the “egg curds.” Silken tofu is already very fragile, so we don’t want it to stick to the pan and have to scrape it off. It can’t take quite the same beating that extra-firm tofu can. 😉
Patience is key! The procedure itself is not difficult at all, but it takes a little more time than regular tofu scramble with firmer varieties. Soft and silken tofu have a high water content, and we essentially want to cook off as much of the excess water as possible, creating a delicate “skin” around each piece of tofu to resemble egg curds. The resulting texture is creamy, fluffy, and much more similar to real eggs than crumbled firm tofu.
A flexible rubber spatula helps. It’ll be easier to flip and scramble your silken tofu without breaking it if you have a soft or flexible spatula.
How to Make Soft Tofu Scramble
- Break the tofu into large chunks. Start by carefully removing the tofu from the carton, keeping it as intact as possible. It can help to run a knife around the edge so it releases easily. You can plop it directly into your lightly oiled nonstick skillet. Use your spatula to break it up into a few large chunks. Avoid making the pieces too small; the tofu will shrink *a lot* as the water cooks off.
- Cook off the extra water. Crank the heat to medium-high and the tofu will begin to steam. You’ll see the pieces of tofu rapidly shedding water. The idea is to continue cooking the tofu until there is none of this excess water in the pan.
- Continue to brown and scramble the tofu. After the first 3-5 minutes of cooking, you can carefully take a peek at the underside of one of your tofu chunks. If it appears to have browned slightly, go ahead and give all the pieces a gentle flip. Continue the process until most of the sides of the tofu are lightly browned. Occasionally use your spatula to break the tofu into smaller pieces as needed. Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low if the pieces start browning too quickly; we just want a light golden skin.
- Add in seasonings and add-ins. When the tofu appears to be almost evenly browned, add in your seasonings and gently stir to coat. At this point you can also add some vegan butter to make it creamier, or melt some cheese on top. You can also fold in any vegetables you have sautéed at this point.
More Tofu Recipes
Silken Tofu Scramble
- 1 16 oz container soft or silken tofu
- 1 heaping tablespoon nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- pinch of turmeric optional, for color
- ¾ cup sautéed veggies*
- pinch of black salt optional, to garnish
- salt and pepper to taste
- If you plan to add any veggies or other add-ins like vegan sausage or ham to the scramble, precook these and set them aside to add back into the scramble at end. (Silken tofu is very fragile and if you try to cook and scramble the add-ins at the same time as the tofu, there's a good chance it will turn to mush!)
- Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a little bit of vegan butter or cooking spray if desired. We really want to avoid the soft tofu sticking, so if your pan's nonstick coating is a little worn out or old, make sure to add a few teaspoons of butter or oil for extra insurance!
- Carefully remove tofu from packaging. You can add it directly to the preheated skillet. Use your spatula to break the tofu into a few large pieces around 1" in size. (This may seem large, but the soft tofu shrinks a lot as it cooks! It will resemble more of a scramble once you're done.)
- Allow the first side of the tofu cubes to cook undisturbed until a light golden brown "skin" has formed. This may take quite awhile – up to 3-5 full minutes depending on your tofu. The soft tofu will usually start to shed a lot of water at this point. We want to cook off all this excess liquid for the perfect scrambled tofu texture.
- Once the first side is browned, very gently flip tofu with a spatula. Continue to cook, scrambling gently every minute or so until it is browned evenly. The tofu will start to brown more quickly as the excess liquid cooks off, so you can reduce the heat to medium if needed to keep the tofu from getting too dark.
- The key for this recipe is to be gentle while handling and stirring the tofu so that it doesn't get too mushy. Using a soft or flexible spatula can help. Tofu will shrink considerably as it cooks.
- Once the tofu is evenly golden, stir in nutritional yeast, onion and garlic powder, and optional turmeric.
- Stir in your pre-cooked veggies of choice to heat through, along with any other add-ins such as vegan sausage, cheese, etc. Continue to cook for an additional minute or two to heat through. If adding vegan cheese, you can add a tiny splash of extra water and cover the skillet with a lid to create some steam to help melt it.
- Stir in a generous sprinkle of black salt at the last minute before serving if desired. (The flavor/aroma of the black salt tends to diminish if it's cooked a lot.) You can also add additional salt and pepper to taste.