This vegan corned beef recipe is easy to make at home and perfect for your St. Patrick’s Day celebration! Tofu is simmered in a smoky marinade and baked until firm and crispy on the outside. It’s an excellent meat substitute and would pair well with my vegan Irish stew, a side of cabbage, or make your own vegan Reuben!
Although my family is not Irish, when I was growing up it was a tradition to serve corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day.
Even after my mom passed away, my dad kept up the tradition. He’s always been a huge fan of corned beef hash for breakfast. I think it’s one of his favorite meals.
My dad knows I don’t partake in meat anymore, but he would always offer to drop off a serving of his corned beef and cabbage for my husband.
This St. Patrick’s Day we are no longer a 5-minute drive away from my dad. We moved 8 hours away for my husband’s job and now live in Virginia.
We are all adjusting, but some of the traditions we used to have with family are more difficult now that we’re not a short drive away.
In honor of my dad’s love for corned beef and cabbage, I decided to make a vegan version with tofu!
Many vegan versions use a seitan recipe to recreate the texture and flavor of corned beef. They are made from seitan dough that uses vital wheat gluten as the main ingredient.
I wanted to create a simpler recipe, that didn’t involve as much time or as many steps. Tofu is the way to go!
Now, if I’m going to be completely honest, my husband is not the biggest fan of tofu meat substitutes! However, the smell of the baked tofu was enough for him to give it a try, and he loved it!
My experiment turned out quite amazing!
It starts with a marinade of dried spices, liquid smoke, and vegetable broth with a combination of tomato paste, and beet powder to give the tofu the pinkish look of corned beef.
The tofu is then baked until it’s nice and crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside.
The trick is to be sure you use extra firm tofu and press the water out of the tofu before slicing and marinating. This improves the texture of the tofu immensely! It tastes like the real deal!
Why you’ll love this Vegan Corned Beef…
- Vegan St. Patrick’s Day Meal
- Great to add to your weekly vegan meal prep!
- Perfect for Holiday Meals
- Use in sandwiches
- Healthy and low in fat and calories
- Great texture
- High in plant protein
- Meat Eater Approved
- No special pickling spices needed
Recipe Ingredients and Notes
Extra Firm Tofu: Make sure to use extra-firm tofu. Drain the tofu from the water, and press the water out of the tofu before cutting and marinating.
Spice Mix: A combination of both seeds, and ground spices give this spice rub a rich flavor that mimics the flavor of corned beef. I use black mustard seeds, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds with paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt and black pepper. Add a touch of soy sauce too if you prefer.
Tomato Paste and Beet Powder: The tomato paste adds flavor to the marinade, while the beet powder helps to give the tofu a red/pink color.
Liquid Smoke: A little of this liquid smoke goes a long way! It adds a smoky “meaty” flavor that can’t be beat!
Scroll to the bottom of the post to the recipe card for complete measurements and directions.
Tools and Equipment
- Medium saucepan to simmer the marinade.
- Whisk to combine the ingredients.
- Baking sheet to bake the corned beef tofu.
- Tofu Press
Step 1: In a medium pot over medium heat, add the vegetable stock, water, all of the spices including salt and pepper, liquid smoke, tomato paste, and beetroot powder. Whisk together until combined.
Step 2: Bring the marinade to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes to allow the spices to incorporate into the marinade.
Step 3: While the sauce is simmering, cut the tofu into quarter-inch slices. Be sure to press the water out of the tofu before slicing.
Step 4: After the sauce has been simmering for 10 minutes, add the tofu. Cover the tofu completely with the marinade. Turn off the heat, and cover with a lid. Allow to sit for 30 minutes to soak up all the flavors. While the tofu is marinating, preheat the oven to 375 F.
Step 5: Grease a baking sheet with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Place marinated tofu onto a baking sheet, leaving room between each slice. Don’t overcrowd. Spoon a bit of extra marinade on top of each piece of tofu.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until the outside is crispy and the inside is soft.
- Use extra firm tofu, and take the extra step to press the water out before marinating.
- Give the marinade a couple of minutes to simmer on low to release the flavors from the mustard, cumin, and coriander seeds.
- Spoon a tablespoon of the marinade over the top of the tofu before baking for extra flavor, and a nice coloring effect.
- Don’t over bake. Check on the tofu half way through the cooking process so that it doesn’t burn and become too crispy.
Variations and Substitutions
Tempeh or Seitan: You can use tempeh or seitan instead of tofu if you prefer the texture or flavor.
No beetroot powder? You can use actual beets for the color, just remove them before adding the tofu. Or you can also leave the beetroot out and double the amount of tomato paste.
How to Serve
Serve this vegan corned beef with vegan sautéd cabbage in a casserole dish.
I served mine with a side of green peas, potatoes and carrots.
This would also taste amazing added to Reuben sandwiches with rye bread, sauerkraut, and vegan Russian dressing!
How to Store and Keep
Store: Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. It has a tendency to lose some of its crispiness.
Keep: It will keep for about 3-4 days.
Reheat: When ready to reheat I recommend transferring to a baking sheet and heating in the oven or toaster oven at 350 for 10 minutes. This will help bring back the crispiness more so than reheating in the microwave.
Check out these other Vegan St. Patrick’s Day recipes!
Vegan Corned Beef
- 14 oz extra firm tofu
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 ½ cups water
- ½ tsp black mustard seed
- ½ tsp coriander seeds
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 tsp beetroot powder
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ tsp liquid smoke
- In a medium pot add vegetable stock, water, all of the spices including the salt and pepper, liquid smoke, tomato paste, and beetroot powder. Whisk together until combined.
- Bring the marinade to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes to allow the spices to incorporate into the marinade.
- While the sauce is simmering, cut the tofu into quarter inch slices (be sure to press the water out of the tofu before slicing).
- After sauce has been simmering for 10 minutes, add the tofu. Cover the tofu completely with the sauce. Turn off the heat, and cover with a lid. Allow to sit for 30 minutes to soak up all the flavors. While the tofu is marinating, preheat the oven to 375 F.
- Grease a baking sheet with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Place marinated tofu onto baking sheet, leaving room between each slice. Don't overcrowd. Spoon a bit of extra marinade on top of each piece of tofu. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the outside is crispy and the inside is soft.
- Tastes great enjoyed on its own or in a vegan reuben sandwich.
- Store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days in an air tight container.
- Reheat in the oven or toaster oven for 10 minutes at 350 F.