These vegan tofu skewers are marinated in a wonderfully delicious but simple Greek inspired marinade. Whether you cook them in the oven, in a griddle pan or on the BBQ, our vegan souvlaki are always delicious!
Souvlaki is one of the best known foods from Greece. Souvlaki are grilled skewers infused with a marinade of olive oil, oregano, and often lemon and garlic, although there are many variations. In Greece you can find souvlaki as a street food as well as in taverns and restaurants. As a popular fast food, souvlaki is enjoyed wrapped in pita bread along with a range of sides such as tzatziki and fries.
We’ve already made some amazing vegan tzatziki, and now we take on souvlaki to make a flavourful vegan version of these skewers!
Tofu has the perfect texture for our vegan souvlaki and can easily take up the flavour of other ingredients. We keep the marinade simple on purpose, while tweaking the measurements and method to create maximum flavour.
Whether cooked over the fire, in the pan on the hob or in the oven, our vegan souvlaki are so tasty, they might easily become a regular on your menu!
You need the firm, block type of tofu (not silken types of tofu). If you can, opt for extra firm tofu. Some tofu, although called firm, still needs to be pressed for some time before you can use it. But for this recipe we always press the tofu, to squeeze out as much water as easily possible. This makes it easier for the tofu to soak up the marinade for the most tasty vegan souvlaki.
You can freeze and thaw tofu, which slightly changes its texture. Tofu that has been frozen gets firmer, sheds more water when pressed and soaks up marinades and flavours like a sponge.
If you use frozen tofu to make our tofu skewers, you can reduce the marinating time by half.
For the simple marinade, all you need is:
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice
- Fresh garlic
- Salt and Pepper
- Paprika powder
- … and nutritional yeast
The nutritional yeast actually gets sprinkled on after marination. Otherwise the dry yeast flakes soak up the marinade liquids, and keep them from going into the tofu. But this favourite vegan cooking ingredient has an almost magical property - when toasted or grilled, nutritional yeast gets a savoury taste somewhat similar to that of roasted chicken skin.
Apart from flavour, the paprika powder also adds some nice colour to the otherwise pale tofu. These skewers are a feast for your eyes as well as for your tastebuds!
The garlic is pressed to mingle well with the rest of the marinade. If you don’t have a garlic press, then mince the garlic very finely and you’ll get a similar result.
The best olive oil to use is extra virgin. Organic extra virgin olive oil is expensive, but is a better choice for the environment.
You can also use this marinade with Mediterranean veggies such as tomatoes, bell pepper, aubergine/eggplant, courgette/zucchini or onion to make vegetable skewers. Doing separate skewers for each type of veggie means you can cook them each for the perfect amount of time - although it is fun and great for easy serving to mix them all up on one skewer.
Step by step - method
Here's a quick visual guide to making tofu skewers. You'll find the full recipe in the card at the end of the post.
Step 1 - Drain, press and cut the tofu into cubes.
Step 2 - Mix the marinade.
Step 3 - Marinate the tofu for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Step 4 - Stir in the nutritional yeast.
Step 5 - Load the skewers and cook them using your preferred method. (See below)
Grilling is the most exciting way to cook these vegan skewers. Also in flavour, as you can get some interesting charred or smoky flavour. But grilling the skewers is also the trickiest cooking method. How you want to do it depends a bit on your grilling method.
We cooked them on a grill over our fire pit. Whether you cook on a wood fire or on a coal fuelled barbeque grill, one rule stays the same: You want to cook the skewers over hot coals rather than in the flames.
Five to ten minutes on a hot grill should be enough. Rotate the skewers onto their side about every two minutes for even cooking, or just flip them over once to get darker and lighter spots.
See our tips section on how to prevent wooden skewers from burning on the wood fired grill!
Using a gas fired or electric grill is easier and more reliable. You might just not get the same smoky notes, but these skewers are full of flavour anyway!
In the pan
Pan frying is a quick and easy way to cook your tofu skewers indoors. You might just find it easier to not use skewers at all, and just fry the tofu cubes in the pan. But that’s up to you!
Lightly grease your pan to keep the tofu from sticking to it. A griddle pan is great at mimicking a grill for the well done dark lines on the tofu.
Cook on medium-high to high heat for about
In the oven
Oven cooking is another great way to cook these vegan souvlaki skewers. With a fan oven it’s ‘set and forget’, as you don’t have to rotate them round. The hot air takes care of even cooking. We cook the tofu skewers at 200°C for 15 minutes for the best flavour.
If you are using the grilling function or a combination setting, then you do need to keep an eye on them and reduce the cooking time. Turn the skewers every few minutes, to ensure even cooking.
You don’t have to use skewers, but instead you can just spread the marinated tofu cubes on a lined baking tray.
Soaking skewers in water
It’s annoying when wooden skewers start to burn on a hot grill. Soak wooden skewers in water before loading them to keep this from happening. Half an hour of soaking time is enough and can easily be done while the tofu is marinating.
Use the extra marinade
If you have extra marinade, use it for basting whilst cooking. Basting is brushing on a marinade, or just oil or other liquids, on the food while it’s cooking or grilling. This keeps the skewers moist and from drying out, while adding back some of the marinade’s freshness makes for a super nice and deep flavour.
Whichever way you prepare your vegan souvlaki skewers, don’t overcook them. It’s so easy to forget about your food cooking away on the grill or to wait just a bit longer for it to turn crispier in the pan.
But a shorter cooking time really benefits the garlic and oregano flavour, which get less strong and slightly bitter when overdone. Although the basting with extra marinade can also help with that!
Unlike meat, tofu is fine to eat raw. So you don’t have to be that careful about cooking it long enough to be safe. Better focus on the flavour, and it’s better when cooked hot but short.
Our souvlaki style tofu skewers are an excellent main meal but also make a great appetizer. Here are the best ways of serving them:
- A traditional way to enjoy this vegan souvlaki would be with a Greek pita bread. Serve it on the side or use the pita to make souvlaki wraps, which you may fill with any of the extras mentioned below - yes, even the French fries!
- We had our tofu souvlaki with these amazing crispy lemon potatoes (recipe by My Greek Dish). Simple potato chips/fries are also a good choice.
- Or simply plate up the skewers on a bed of rice.
- As a sauce we really enjoy our creamy vegan tzatziki, which tastes just like real, authentic tzatziki from a tavern in Greece.
- At a barbeque, grilled vegetables and salad, like lettuce and tomatoes, would go well with tofu souvlaki skewers.
- As a final tip, it’s really nice to squeeze on a few drops of fresh lemon juice as a flavour booster!
We hope you liked our vegan souvlaki tofu skewers! You might also enjoy these other recipes:
- 1 block (300 g) tofu firm or extra firm
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil extra virgin
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) lemon juice
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 cloves garlic pressed
- 1 tsp salt fine
- ½ tsp black pepper ground
- ½ tsp paprika
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- Press the tofu, wrapped in a clean tea towel or paper towel, to remove excess liquid. Cut the tofu into cubes.
- For the marinade, mix together olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, pressed garlic, salt, pepper and paprika.
- Stir together the tofu cubes and marinade. Allow to marinate for 1 hour or longer to allow the tofu to soak up the flavours of the marinade. Optionally, stir through once or twice during marination.
- After marination, stir in the nutritional yeast.
- Thread the tofu cubes onto skewers and cook the souvlaki using your preferred method.Note: If your cooking method allows, you don't have to use skewers - the result will be just as delicious!
- Grilling: Place the skewers on a lightly greased hot BBQ grill and cook for 5-10 minutes. Rotate every 1 - 2 minutes to cook all sides evenly. Don't overcook, as the flavours of the oregano and garlic are better when not cooked for longer.
- Oven cooking: Place skewers (or tofu cubes) on a baking tray and cook for 15 minutes at 200°C on fan setting. Turning over is not necessary. Don't overcook, as the flavours of the oregano and garlic are better when not cooked for longer. If you are using the grilling function or a combination setting, then you do want to turn the vegan souvlaki every few minutes, to ensure even cooking.
- Pan Frying: Preheat a lightly greased frying pan or griddle pan on medium-high to high heat. Cook the skewers (or tofu cubes) for about 5 - 8 minutes. Turn them regularly for even cooking. Try not to overcook, to preserve the oregano and garlic flavours.A griddle pan can give you a visually similar result as cooking on a grill.
- Serve with an extra squeeze of lemon juice and our delicious Vegan Tzatziki Sauce!