This tofu sushi recipe combines smoked tofu, veggies, and a sriracha mayo to make delicious maki sushi rolls the entire family will love. You do not need to be a professional sushi chef to whip up this recipe. With this easy step-by-step guide, you will have your own restaurant-style vegan sushi at home in just an hour!
There are many delicious and versatile options when it comes to finding vegan sushi. Be sure to try our sweet potato sushi rolls, rice paper sushi without seaweed, and easy sushi without fish (or seafood).
What to expect from this recipe?
Most maki sushi is made with rice, seaweed paper, veggies, and some kind of protein like seafood, fish, meat, or tofu. Yes, tofu is a quite popular ingredient in Asian cuisine, therefore it cannot be missing from sushi recipes. Our first encounter with it was a smoked tofu nigiri wrapped in a thin nori band. It was simple, but delicious.
Our tofu sushi recipe combines smoked, firm tofu with crunchy red bell pepper, and cucumber, crispy onion, lettuce, chives, vegan sriracha mayo sauce, and of course sushi rice. We even provide several alternative vegan sushi fillings and condiments to customize your sushi rolls to your taste!
Why this is the best tofu sushi recipe:
- It is super easy to make. Even beginners can make this recipe without prior experience.
- It doesn’t take long to make. Only 30 minutes of prep time and 30 minutes of cook time!
- It is versatile. There are several variations and serving styles to create the perfect customized sushi.
- It is incredibly flavorful, combining various flavors to make your taste buds dance!
Although most sushi contains the same key ingredients, one of the best things about it is that it is also incredibly versatile. Below we share the essential ingredients for our tofu sushi, plus a few alternatives and optional condiments to give your sushi that extra kick of flavor!
- Firm tofu (or extra firm tofu) – Smoked, or you can marinate plain tofu in liquid smoke.
- Red bell pepper
- Lettuce – We recommend romaine lettuce.
- Crispy fried onion – It is generally not gluten-free, so be sure to find a suitable brand or make it at home.
- Vegan mayo
- Sriracha – You can use other hot sauce that you have in your pantry.
- Nori seaweed sheets
- Sushi rice – You can also use other short-grain rice, such as brown rice or wild rice. Quinoa is another alternative.
- Rice vinegar
🛒 You can find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
There are three parts to preparing the perfect tofu sushi rolls: 1) making the sushi rice, 2) preparing the fillings, and 3) rolling the sushi. The latest step can be a challenge, but no worries! We have included step-by-step instructions and resources below for making the perfect rolls.
Making sushi rice
- Rinse the rice in cold water until it becomes clear. Let it soak for 15 minutes. Then, drain the rice and let it stand for an additional 10 minutes.
- Mix the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat the mixture over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, leave it to cool.
- Once cooled, bring the rice to a boil in a pot of water. Once boiling, lower the heat and let the rice simmer for 10-15 minutes. Then, remove the rice from the heat and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
- Pour the rice into a large pan, then add the vinegar mixture. Stir the rice and vinegar mixture with a wooden spoon, taking care not to break the rice.
- Use a fan to cool the rice and allow the vinegar to evaporate. Lastly, cover it with a damp cloth and leave it to cool.
Preparing the fillings
- Cut your pressed tofu into ½-inch thick strips. To learn more about when and how to do so, check out our guide to pressing tofu.
- Cut the cucumber and red bell pepper into ½-inch thick slices each.
- Cut the lettuce leaves into 1-inch thick slices.
- Mix the vegan mayo and sriracha hot sauce.
How to roll tofu sushi
- Place a dry nori seaweed sheet on top of a bamboo sushi mat.
- Using your fingers, thinly and evenly spread a handful of cooked sushi rice over the nori sheet. To prevent the rice from sticking to your fingers, wet your fingers first.
- Sprinkle one half of crispy fried onions.
- Place smoked tofu bars around ⅓ line from the bottom of the nori sheet and spread the spicy mayo on top of them. Add the remaining ingredients on top of each other in this order: lettuce leaves, cucumber, red bell peppers, and chives.
- Take the bamboo mat and roll the sushi as tightly as possible. (For more tips on how to roll sushi, watch our video on how to do so).
- Once tightly rolled, use a sharp knife to cut both ends of the roll. Then, cut the remainder into 1-inch wide sushi pieces. Repeat with all four nori sheets until you have 24 tofu sushi rolls.
- Use freshly cooked sushi rice – When making sushi, always try to use short-grain sushi rice. Short-grain rice has a higher amount of starch and stickiness required for sushi. We also do not recommend using day-old rice as it will not have enough moisture to stick together.
- Use wet fingers – When spreading the rice over the sheets, it is helpful to have wet fingers to prevent the rice from sticking to them.
- Keep it simple – Sushi is usually simple and doesn’t contain many ingredients or flavors in one roll. That said, we recommend using at most 3-5 ingredients. Plus, the more ingredients there are, the more difficult it is to roll the sushi.
- Crispy tofu – Fry your smoked tofu first in a pan or bake it in the oven to make it crispy.
- Different tofu marinades – Make your sushi even more flavorful by first marinating your tofu using one of these seven tofu marinade recipes.
- Other vegetables and fruits – Mix things up with other vegetables such as carrots, radish, asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, zucchini, roasted eggplant, or sweet potato. You can also throw in some fruits, such as sliced mango or creamy avocado!
- Sesame seeds – Use sesame seeds in or sprinkled on top of your tofu sushi roll for additional aroma and flavor.
- Other Japanese ingredients – Incorporate unique ingredients such as gourds, dashi or fermented soybeans, wakame (kelp), or mirin.
- Rice paper instead of nori – If seaweed is not your favorite, you can also use rice paper wrappers or soybean sheets as an alternative. See our sushi without seaweed recipe on how to roll sushi in rice paper.
This smoked tofu sushi is wonderful on its own, but these key additions and condiments boost the flavor and give it a kick of heat:
- Soy sauce – You can also use tamari for a gluten-free.
- Wasabi – To add a bold kick of heat.
- Pickled ginger – To serve as a palate cleanser.
- Hot mustard
- Chili oil
- Bamboo mat
- Beginner’s sushi kit
- Sushi-making kit with roller machine
- Rice cooker
- Hangiri (wooden bowl for sushi rice) – If you want to go down the traditional route, use a hangiri or a wooden salad bowl.
Sushi tastes best when freshly prepared, especially since sushi rice dries quickly. However, if you have leftover sushi, here is how you can safely store it:
- In the refrigerator: Store your tofu sushi rolls in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
- In the freezer: Depending on your ingredients, you can freeze sushi for months. However, freeze each roll separately to avoid the pieces sticking together and getting soggy when defrosting.
- Reheating: Tofu sushi is served fresh and raw. No need to reheat it.
We do not recommend using long-grain rice for tofu sushi, as it does not have the proper amount of starch that gives the moisture and stickiness it needs to hold its shape.
Tofu sushi can be vegan, our recipe certainly is. Even you would order a tofu sushi roll in a restaurant, even if tofu is the main ingredient and no seafood or meat is used, be sure to check whether it contains dairy products like cream cheese or Japanese omelette.
More sushi recipes
Here you can find 16 accidentally vegan sushi to choose from or check out one of the below recipes:
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Smoked Tofu Sushi
- 7 oz Smoked firm tofu or marinade plain tofu in liquid smoke
- ½ Red bell pepper
- ½ Cucumber
- ⅓ oz Chives
- 2 Lettuce leaves
- 2 Tbsp Crispy onion
- 2 Tbsp Vegan mayo
- ½ tsp Sriracha
- 10 oz Sushi rice
- 1+¼ cup Water
- ¼ cup Rice vinegar
- 3 tsp Sugar
- 1 tsp Salt
- 4 Nori sheets
Cooking sushi rice
- Wash the rice in cold water, changing water until it becomes clear. Leave it to soak for 15 minutes. Drain and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
- Take a small saucepan and mix rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Heat it over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Leave it to cool. Put rice into a pot with water and take it to boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Take it off the heat and leave it to rest for 15 minutes.
- Pour the rice into a large pan. Add the vinegar mix and stir with a wooden spoon. Be careful not to break the rice. Cool the rice with a fan to allow the vinegar to evaporate. Lastly, cover it with a damp cloth and leave it to cool.
Preparing the fillings
- Press tofu and cut them into ½-inch thick bars.
- Cut the cucumber and bell pepper into ½-inch thick slices.
- Cut the lettuce leaves into 1-inch thick slices.
- Mix vegan mayo and sriracha.
Rolling tofu sushi
- Take a bamboo mat and place a dry nori sheet on it.
- Take a handful of cooked sushi rice and, using your fingers, spread it evenly and thinly over the nori sheets.
- Make your fingers wet to avoid the rice sticking to them too much.
- Add first your tofu bars at around ⅓ line from the bottom of the nori sheet. Then add lettuce leaves, cucumber, and bell peppers on top of each other. Chives can go below the tofu bars.
- Spread the spicy mayo on the tofu bars.
- Take the bamboo mat and roll the sushi as tight as you can. (You can watch our video on how we do it, or check out the step-by-step photo collage above the recipe card.)
- Once it is tightly rolled, cut both ends first, then cut it into 1-inch wide sushi rolls. Repeat with all 4 nori sheets. You should have 24 sushi rolls at the end.
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