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Avocado Toast with Spicy Southwest Tofu Crumbles

Updated: Jun 2

The toast with the most.

Avocado toast topped with taco-spiced tofu crumbles, queso fresco, and cilantro with lime wedges on a white plate.

Avocado toast might be passe at brunch, but when it comes to a quick weekday lunch, it’s still at top of my list. Here taco-spiced tofu crumbles and queso fresco top lime-splashed avocado for a fresh southwestern twist on the tried-and-true classic.

Avocado toast topped with taco-spiced tofu crumbles, queso fresco, and cilantro with lime wedges on parchment paper.

If you’re not regularly stocking tofu in your refrigerator, you should be. Cheap and shelf-stable, this endlessly versatile protein picks up whatever flavor you pair it with. Here it’s fried in a little oil and tossed with taco seasonings to create a spicy crisp crumble to top off that layer of silky rich avocado.

While working with tofu isn’t hard, there are a few simple things you’ll want to keep in mind. Here are my top tofu tips:

Buy extra-firm.

Tofu comes in different textures—soft, medium, firm, extra-firm—which are determined by how much the tofu is pressed when it’s manufactured (and therefore how much water it still contains). For recipes such as this, where we’re hoping to achieve a crispy texture, make sure to buy extra-firm: the type containing the least amount of water.

Press the tofu.

Even extra-firm tofu comes filled with excess water which you’ll want to remove before making these crumbles. There are a few different ways to do this, but for this recipe, the easiest way is to simply wrap the tofu block in paper towels, set it on a plate or rimmed baking sheet, place a heavy pan or weighted baking sheet on top, and leave it for 20 minutes. Don’t worry if the tofu block splits or cracks slightly under weight; you’re about to tear it up anyway so a little breakage won’t hurt here.

Taco-spiced tofu crumbles in a pan.

Fry in large chunks first.

The beauty of ground beef taco meat is the textural variation between the crispy bits and the soft luscious interior. Frying the tofu in large craggy pieces until crisp before breaking it up into smaller crumbles creates this same textural contrast, as well as preventing the tofu from drying out before it becomes crisp.

Season aggressively.

Tofu is a blank canvas, which means it’s endlessly versatile, but that it also takes a LOT of seasoning. Don’t be shy with the spices—or the salt. Taste it! If it’s not so delicious you can’t stop eating it, add more seasoning.

Because tofu is only available in 14 or 16-oz blocks, this recipe makes more tofu crumbles than you’ll need for these toasts. Fortunately, you can use the leftovers anywhere you would use regular taco crumbles: in a taco (I’m a genius, I know!), scrambled with eggs, in a rice bowl, or on a salad. Or, if you’re like me, straight out of the leftover container.



Avocado Toast with Southwestern Tofu Crumbles

(Makes 4 toasts)

Avocado toast topped with taco-spiced tofu crumbles, queso fresco, and cilantro with lime wedges on a white plate.

1 (14-oz) pkg. extra firm tofu

5 tbsp. neutral oil, divided

½ white onion, finely chopped

2 tsp. kosher salt, divided, plus more

1 ½ tsp. paprika

¾ tsp. chili powder

¾ tsp. garlic powder

½ tsp. ground cumin

1 medium tomato, chopped

2 ripe avocados, halved, pitted, and scooped out

1 lime, halved

4 (1/2”-thick) slices whole wheat bread, toasted

¼ c. crumbled queso fresco

2 tbsp. fresh cilantro leaves


Equipment: Large rimmed plate, cast-iron pan, large pan


Wrap tofu in a thick layer of paper towels and set on a large rimmed plate or baking sheet. Top with a cast iron pan or a second baking sheet weighted down with a large can. Let sit 20 minutes, changing the paper towel if it becomes soaked through. Unwrap tofu and tear into 1” chunks. Pat dry and set aside.


Chunks of tofu browning in a pan.

In a large pan over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons neutral oil. Add onion, garlic, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent, 7-9 minutes. Scrape into a large bowl and set aside.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons neutral oil to pan and set over medium-high heat. Add tofu and toss to coat in oil. Spread into a single layer and cook until browned and crisp on the bottom, 2-3 minutes. Stir to redistribute, then continue to stir, breaking up tofu until it’s broken down into irregular smaller pieces.

Add remaining tablespoon oil, along with paprika, cumin, garlic powder, and 1 ½ teaspoon salt, and toss with tofu until fragrant. Stir in cooked onion and tomato and toss to combine. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Slice avocado halves thinly. Fan a quarter of avocado slices out on each piece of toast. Season with salt and squeeze fresh lime juice over to taste. Top each toast with 1-2 tablespoons tofu crumbles, 1 tablespoon queso fresco, and cilantro.

Avocado toast topped with taco-spiced tofu crumbles, queso fresco, and cilantro with lime wedges on parchment paper.

Originally posted May 12, 2024.


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