Herbaceous pesto and savory tofu come together with fresh veggies and toasted bread to create the most delicious texture and flavor combo. This Pesto Tofu Sandwich is perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. Ready in just 30 minutes!
Packed with healthy plant-based protein, fresh vegetables, and bold flavors, this sandwich is satisfying and tasty.
Whether you’re a seasoned vegan or simply looking to explore more plant-based options, this Pesto Tofu Sandwich is a must try!
Ingredients you need
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Tofu ~ Extra firm tofu is the best choice for these sandwiches. Drain and press the tofu to remove as much moisture as possible.
Firm tofu or super firm tofu should both work. Do not use silken tofu.
Cornstarch ~ A light coating of cornstarch will help the tofu slices get crispy on the outsides.
Seasoning ~ I like to flavor the tofu with nutritional yeast, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt and pepper.
If you don’t have Italian seasoning, you could use dried thyme, oregano, basil, or a combination of some or all of those. Herbs de Provence would also work.
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast that has a savory, cheesy flavor. It is often fortified with vitamin B12. If you don’t have or don’t like nutritional yeast, you can leave it out.
Pesto ~ This lemony Pumpkin Seed Pesto is my favorite. It’s incredibly flavorful.
Trader Joe’s carries a delicious vegan pesto if you’re looking for a store-bought option.
You can also freeze pesto! Transfer it to a freezer-safe container or plastic bag. It will keep well for up to 6 months.
Obviously, pesto is a major component of this tofu sandwich recipe, however if you don’t like pesto, you do have options. Try my veggie cream cheese, sun dried tomato spread, green goddess dip, easy vegan mayo, or even this homemade guacamole in place of the pesto!
Zucchini ~ I love raw zucchini. It has a fresh, mild taste and a tender crunch. It complements the other flavors and textures of this Tofu Sandwich really well.
You can also quickly cook the zucchini slices if you prefer. Once the tofu is done cooking, remove it and add the zucchini to the same skillet. Cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes per side until tender. This will allow the zucchini to soak up the seasonings from the tofu.
If you don’t like or don’t have zucchini, you can leave it out.
Other veggies ~ Slices of fresh tomato, a handful of peppery arugula, and some tangy pickled red onions round out the ingredients.
Feel free to add whatever other vegetables you like on a sandwich: sautéed mushrooms, shredded carrots, thinly sliced radish, cucumber slices, creamy avocado, etc.
Bread ~ I like toasted slices of sandwich bread best. If you’re in to making your own, try my vegan oatmeal bread! Toasting the bread gives it a nice rustic crunch, but it’s still soft enough to bite though everything without the filling squishing out.
For these photos I used ciabatta rolls, which were quite delicious, but a little too hard. The filling squished out the sides when taking a bite. It tasted so good, I wasn’t mad about it though! Just like when eating Sloppy Joes make sure to grab some napkins if you go this route!
Feel free to switch it up and make it a wrap by using a tortilla or pita bread.
Gluten-free works bread works perfectly, too.
How to make a tofu sandwich
Please scroll down to the recipe card for exact ingredient measurements and instructions.
Drain and press the tofu. You can use a tofu press for this or see this baked tofu recipe for directions on pressing tofu using what you have on hand.
Cut the block of tofu in half. Cut each half in half and then in half again. You will end up with eight slices.
Whisk together the cornstarch and seasonings in a wide, rimmed bowl.
Place the tofu slices into the cornstarch mixture and coat it lightly on all sides. Shake off any excess.
Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and pan fry the tofu slices until golden, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.
Spread a tablespoon or two of pesto onto both slices of toasted bread. Layer tomato slices, zucchini slices, seasoned tofu, arugula, and pickled red onions on one slice of bread. Top it off with the other slice of bread.
Cut the sandwich in half to make it easier to eat and enjoy!
The Pesto Tofu Sandwich is quite filling on its own, but if you want a side dish, try one of these favorites:
Storage and meal prep
Storage: Leftover pan fried tofu will keep in an air-tight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. Leftover pesto can be stored in a separate air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Store any leftover veggies separately.
Meal prep: Both the tofu and pesto can be made in advance, which means these Pesto Tofu Sandwiches can be made in just minutes when you’re ready to serve.
Great for lunchboxes and picnics!
Pro tips and tricks
~ Use extra firm or super firm tofu for best texture. It will hold up better than regular firm. Do not use silken or soft tofu.
~ Press the tofu to remove as much moisture as possible. This will help it get nice and crispy on the outsides when pan frying.
~ Pan fry the tofu slice with a bit of oil. I know many people are on an oil-free diet these days, but the oil is necessary for a crisp exterior. For an oil-free option, try baking the tofu instead. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 400°F for about 20 to 30 minutes, until crispy, flipping halfway through.
~ Use a non-stick skillet to cook the tofu. Scanpan is my favorite brand. They are truly non-stick and clean up like a dream!
~ Do not crowd the pan! Ensure there is at least a couple of inches between each tofu slice. Work in batches if your skillet it on the smaller side.
~ The tofu and pesto are gluten-free. To make the whole sandwich gluten-free, simply choose a gluten-free bread.
~ Meal prep the seasoned cooked tofu and pesto in advance so these sandwiches can be assembled in just minutes when you’re ready to eat.
Extra firm or super firm will hold up best in this Pesto Tofu Sandwich. Do not use silken tofu.
Yes! Your favorite store-bought vegan pesto may be used instead of making your own.
You can also make homemade pesto in advance. It will keep up to a week in an air-tight container in the fridge.
Use your favorite kind of bread. I used ciabatta rolls for these photos (thought admittedly they were a little too hard and the filling squished out). Sourdough would be a great or a whole-wheat sandwich bread. We like Ezekiel brand breads – they toast up nicely and have a great rustic flavor. You could even use a bagel and make this into a breakfast sandwich!
Gluten-free bread would work perfectly.
Of course! Feel free to add your favorite sandwich veggies – cucumber, mushrooms, shredded carrot, thinly sliced radish, etc.
More vegan sandwiches
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Pesto Tofu Sandwich
For the seasoned tofu
For the seasoned tofu
- Place the pressed tofu block flat on its side on a cutting board. Cut the block in half through the shorter side. Cut each half in half again. You now have 4 thick slabs. Cut each of the 4 slabs in half once more for a total of 8 slices. Set aside.
- In a wide, flat bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, nutritional yeast, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.
- Take one slice of tofu and press it into the cornstarch mixture. Flip it over and coat the other side. Shake off any excess then transfer it carefully to the hot skillet. Repeat with the remaining tofu slices. (Do not crowd the pan! Work in batches if your skillet is on the smaller side).
- Cook the tofu until golden and crispy on one side, about 4 to 5 minutes. Gently flip the slices over and cook on the second side until golden.
For the Pesto Tofu Sandwich
- While the tofu is cooking, toast the bread.
- Spread 1 tablespoon of pesto on each slice of toasted bread.
- On one slice of bread with pesto, layer a handful of arugula, 1-2 tomato slices, 1-2 zucchini slices, 2 slices of cooked tofu, and 1 tablespoon of pickled red onions. Top with the other slice of toasted bread. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
- Cut each sandwich in half, if desired. Serve immediately.
Nutrition facts calculated using Ezekiel Sprouted Whole Grain Bread.
Nutrition values are calculated using online calculators and are estimates only. Please verify using your own data.