I went a little overboard and made something like 5 cups of barbecue sauce for my 4th of July cookout. We’ve been trying to come up with creative ways to use it since then, and Matt came up with the idea of making barbecue tofu sandwiches. I wasn’t initially psyched about the idea, but my thoughts changed when we decided to batter and fry the tofu.

We started frying tofu last year when Matt fell in love with No. 7’s General Tso’s Tofu Sub. Their tofu is battered with a egg white and cornstarch mixture and then dipped in panko breadcrumbs. He recreated it for us at home last year, and I was so surprised at how the recipe yielded such perfectly fried tofu. It was crunchy and flavorful on the outside, maintained a nice creamy interior, and surprisingly didn’t taste too greasy. We used this same method for our barbecue sandwiches.

I wanted to keep the sandwich toppings fairly traditional, keeping with the barbecue theme. I thought a red cabbage slaw would be colorful and refreshing, and a last minute addition of thinly sliced jalapeno gave it a little kick. In addition to a generous spoonful of the barbecue sauce, a few pickles on top seemed fitting. Grilling the inside of the buns gave a hint of grill flavor. The final barbecue tofu sandwiches were messy, as these things should be, and so full of interesting textures and flavors that I didn’t even miss the meat!

Crispy Barbecue Tofu Sandwiches with Red Cabbage Slaw

Tofu adapted from General Tso’s Tofu Sub recipe

Ingredients (serves 4)

    For the Crispy Tofu

    • Vegetable oil, for frying
    • Barbecue rub (I threw together a mixture of paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, sugar, salt, and cumin, but store-bought would work too)
    • 12 ounces firm tofu, drained and cut into 4 slices
    • 3 large egg whites
    • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
    • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs

    For the Slaw

    • 1 cup red cabbage, shredded
    • 1/2 jalapeno, thinly sliced
    • 1/4 large vidalia onion, thinly sliced
    • Juice of half a lime
    • 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
    • 1 tsp. agave nectar
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    For the Sandwiches

    • 4 hamburger buns (we used whole wheat)
    • Pickles
    • Barbecue sauce (homemade or store bought; we used Serious Eats’ recipe for Memphis BBQ sauce)


    Combine all slaw ingredients, season, and let sit for at least 30 minutes.

    Meanwhile, sprinkle the rub liberally over the tofu slices. Whisk together the egg whites and cornstarch until smooth. Place the panko in a shallow bowl or plate. Dip the tofu slices into the egg white batter, gently shake off excess, and then dip in the panko to cover the tofu.

    Fry the battered tofu in vegetable oil heated to approximately 350 degrees until golden brown. You can either deep fry, or shallow fry and flip halfway through like we did. I have also had some success baking instead of frying; The tofu will be crispy, but not quite as crispy as the fried version.

    While the tofu is frying, grill the hamburger buns if desired.

    To assemble the sandwiches, place one slice of fried tofu in each sandwich and top with a generous spoonful of barbecue sauce, slaw, and pickles. We ate the sandwiches with a side of grilled broccoli salad.

    What are your favorite ways to use barbecue sauce?

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