Tofu Shish Kebabs Recipe | Vegetarian Recipes | PBS Food

Tofu and Sweet Pepper Shish Kebabs

This jazzy shish kebab will satisfy vegans and meat-eaters alike. The colorful and impressive presentation is sure to add a festive touch to your BBQ meal. To make it super easy, you can use your favorite vegan BBQ sauce or whip up the tasty version included below. You can serve the shish kebabs over quinoa as an extra pop of flavor.


Yield: 8-10 servings


  • BBQ Sauce
  • 1 cup organic ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon tamari
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/16 to 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • Kabobs
  • 10 metal or bamboo skewers
  • 1 ½ blocks firm or extra firm tofu, pressed and drained (see note in Tips/Techniques)
  • 3 sweet peppers, seeded and cut in 1 ½ inch pieces (orange, red and/or yellow are nice)
  • 2 medium sweet onions, cut into chunks
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into ½ inch thick slices
  • 16 ounces crimini mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
  • 10 cherry tomatoes


  1. Place the barbecue sauce ingredients into a medium bowl and whisk until the sauce is smooth.
  2. Place the drained tofu onto a cutting board and carefully slice it into 36 uniform size cubes. Spoon the tofu into a large bowl and top it with ¼ cup of the barbecue sauce. Carefully toss the tofu to coat each cube with some of the sauce. Toss carefully, as to not break the tofu cubes. Cover and chill at least 1 hour, or up to 2 hours, to marry the flavors.
  3. Place the peppers, sweet onions, zucchini, mushrooms and tomatoes into a large bowl. Top with ¾ cup of the sauce (leaving about ½ cup in reserve) and toss to coat each veggie piece with the sauce. Cover and chill at least 1 hour, or up to 2 hours, to marry the flavors.
  4. Prepare two metal or bamboo skewers for each person. If you are using bamboo skewers, place them in a pan and cover them with filtered or spring water. Let the skewers soak in the water for at least 30 minutes prior to assembling the kebabs, in order to prevent them from burning.
  5. Cover two medium or one extra large baking sheet with foil or un-bleached parchment paper.
  6. One to two hours before cooking the shish kebabs, take the ingredients out of the refrigerator and carefully thread the veggies and tofu onto your skewers in the following order: pepper, tofu, zucchini, mushroom, onion, pepper, tomato, onion, tofu, zucchini, onion, mushroom, and pepper
  7. Place the kabobs on the prepared baking sheets. If you are not baking or grilling them immediately, place the sheets back into the refrigerator until cooking.
  8. If grilling: place the kabobs on the grill. Grill the kebabs over medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until the veggies are crisp-tender and the tofu is slightly crisp and golden in color.
  9. If using an oven: preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Leave the kabobs on the baking sheets and place into the preheated oven. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the veggies are crisp-tender and the tofu is slightly crisp and golden in color.
  10. Serve immediately over quinoa or brown rice.


It is necessary to use firm or extra-firm tofu for the shish kebabs. Extra firm is preferable. (Medium or soft tofu will break apart while cooking.) It is important to drain the tofu well before tossing with the sauce, so it will properly absorb the BBQ sauce.

Here is an easy way to drain tofu:

  • Place a large colander into your sink.
  • Place the block of tofu into the colander.
  • Press down lightly with your hands to release excess water.
  • Place a medium size plate on top of the tofu.
  • Place an un-opened can of soup or beans on top of the plate to weigh it down.
  • Let set for 15 to 30 minutes. This will allow a good deal of water to drain from the tofu.
  • Remove the can and the plate and your tofu is ready to use in any recipe.
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