Tofu Rice Bowls are an easy healthy one-bowl meal
This easy but abundant tofu bowl is filled with all of your favorite fresh Asian flavors, combined with vegetables, and served over rice. Any combination of vegetables can be used so these bowls are super versatile!
These rice bowls are often called Buddha Bowls because everything is layered into a big bowl or shallow plate that looks like a big belly. The bowls generally have a few key elements:
- Grains such as rice or quinoa
- Protein such as tofu, chickpeas, plant based protein, or meat
- Dressing or sauce
Making our Tofu Rice Bowl is easy and it’s all about the layering. Start with a fluffy bowl of rice, add seared tofu, top with fresh vegetables and a classic Asian sauce. Add a sprinkling of sesame seeds and cilantro and your bowl is complete!
Ingredients for healthy tofu rice bowls:
- Cooked Rice
- Firm Tofu
- Canola or Sesame Oil (for searing the tofu)
- Asian Sauce – use our easy recipe below or your favorite store version
- Vegetables – we use spinach, broccoli florets, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and scallions
- Salt and Pepper
- Sesame Seeds – we like a black and white seed combo for a pop of color
- Lime for garnish and to squeeze for added flavor
How to prepare and sear tofu:
Tofu is a great option if you are trying to cut back on meat, and it tastes great seared. This recipe works great with chicken strips seared in place of the tofu, as well as shrimp.
Tofu comes in a block and is packed in water, so if you want to get a great sear on your tofu you must “air dry” it before cooking. For tofu pieces like the one in this recipe use Firm or Extra Firm tofu. It will be clearly labeled on the package. Anything softer will not hold up to a good sear.
How to perfectly sear flavorful tofu:
- Drain the tofu block and place it on a cutting board
- Cut the block into 8 equal rectangular pieces
- Prep the tofu pieces by laying them in a single layer on 3 layers of paper towels
- Lay an additional layer of paper towels on top of the tofu and press down gently to release some of the moisture
- Let air dry for about 10 minutes while preparing the Asian sauce. Blot again before cooking
- To Sear: add the oil to a large non-stick pan and heat until the oil is shimmering. Gently lay tofu pieces in the pan in a single layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Cook without moving for 4 minutes, making sure tofu develops a nice crust before turning. Turn and sear the other side for additional 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Let rest in pan while you prep the Asian sauce.
Finish the tofu and make easy Asian sauce:
- Make the Asian sauce: In a medium bowl whisk together soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, Sambal, water, sesame oil, and cornstarch, making sure sugar is completely dissolved.
- Drizzle half of the sauce over the top of the tofu. Bring to a boil, turn tofu once, and cook until the sauce is thickened. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon scallions and 1 teaspoon of the sesame seeds
- Remove tofu from the pan and let it cool on a plate while you prep the vegetables.
Step by Step for assembling Tofu Rice Bowls:
- Step One – add cooked rice
- Step Two – add seared tofu and large vegetables (we added steamed broccoli)
- Step 3 – add leafy and lighter greens – we added spinach leaves
- Step 4 – add remaining vegetables to fill in the space
- Step 5 – add small vegetables like scallions and cilantro, plus fresh lime for flavor. Sprinkle with sesame seeds
- Step 6 – drizzle with remaining Asian sauce
The best type of rice to use:
The ideal rice for this type of bowl is fluffy rice, such as jasmine or basmati rice. Brown rice is also a great choice because it adds a nutty flavor.
Other easy Asian inspired recipes:
- Spicy Szechuan Green Beans are a zesty vegetarian dish that comes together in a flash
- Our Ahi Sesame Poke Recipe is the perfect appetizer or easy light lunch
- Our Asian Coleslaw with Peanut Sauce has all the flavors you crave and is hearty enough for a whole meal or makes a fun side dish
- For a quick weeknight dinner try our Stir Fry Broccoli and Beef with a side of fluffy rice
Tofu Rice Bowls with Vegetables
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp Sambal Oelek hot sauce, or sriracha
- ¼ cup water
- 3 Tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 14 ounce block Firm Tofu, cut into 8 equal rectangular pieces
- 1 Tbsp olive oil, or canola oil
- 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 cups rice, cooked white or brown
- 1 cup broccoli florets, steamed
- 2 cups spinach
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup carrots, cut into rounds
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves
- ½ cup scallions, sliced on a diagonal, white and light green part, divided
- 2 Tbsp sesame seeds, divided
- 1 lime, sliced in wedges
Preparing the tofu:
- Prep the tofu pieces by laying them in a single layer on 3 layers of paper towels. Lay an additional layer of paper towels on top of the tofu and press down gently to release some of the moisture. Let air dry for about 10 minutes while preparing the sauce.
- In a medium bowl whisk together soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, Sambal, water, sesame oil, and cornstarch, making sure sugar is completely dissolved.
- Reserve about 1/2 cup of the sauce, in a small bowl, for serving with finished rice bowls.
- In a large non-stick skillet add canola oil and heat over medium. Once the oil is shimmering, but not smoking, lay the tofu in a single layer in the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Cook without turning or moving for 4 minutes. Gently turn and cook on the other side. Tofu should be a light golden brown.
- Drizzle sauce over the tofu in the pan. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. The sauce will be thick and syrupy. If too thick add a tsp of water to get the desired consistency. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon scallions and 1 teaspoon sesame seeds.
Assembling the Rice Bowls
- Prepare 4 bowls. Fill each bowl with 3/4 cup of cooked rice, 2 pieces of tofu, broccoli, spinach, carrots, cherry tomatoes, remaining scallions, and sesame seeds. Garnish with cilantro leaves.Drizzle with remaining reserved sauce and serve with lime wedges