Delicious homemade vegan tofu sausage crumbles will quell your sausage cravings with bites of savory, smoky satisfaction with an easy plant-based recipe.
You’re gonna love these versatile and healthy vegan Italian sausage flavor bombs for everything from pizza, pasta, breakfast scrambles, and more. Once you learn how to make this delectable combination of crumbled tofu, wet ingredients, and spices, you'll be whipping up sausage crumbles in no time. That means making them often.
This post contains helpful tips and tricks to make sure you're successful in your first attempt. Below, you'll find a handy table of contents with links. But if you're in a rush, please use the link at the top to jump to the recipe card at the end!
⭐Why this recipe works
Delicious, additive-free, and oil-free vegan sausage crumbles not possible? Oh, ye of little faith. I’m here to dispel that rumor here and now! The secret for making great-tasting plant-based sausage is all about the texture and flavor.
Tofu will conquer the first and the flavorful marinade ticks off the latter. And it needs to be easy. If there was a third secret, that would be it. This recipe has 'em all!
We won't deny loving tempeh or seitan sausages or vegan versions of veggie sausages using vital wheat gluten or chickpea flour. But there's definitely room and multiple applications for a 1 main ingredient sausage (tofu) requiring a simple process of mixing marinade, crumbling tofu, marinating, and baking.
📋 Key ingredients & notes
Tofu – Firm or extra firm tofu works best for this recipe. Silken tofu won't crumble or retain enough texture for tofu crumbles.
Tahini – Tahini adds a subtly nutty flavor. It's a natural and healthy way to add a little oil and create a smooth and binding marinade. It also has a mellow, nutty flavor. Be sure your brand of tahini doesn't add oil during processing (yes, this is a thing). There's always the option of making a paste of sesame seeds – super easy!
Soy sauce – The umami flavor of soy sauce is heads above adding salt. If you want your vegan sausage gluten-free, use tamari as a substitute. Vegetable broth – You only need 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth to thin out the marinade a bit. You could use water in a pinch.
Nutritional yeast – Nutritional yeast (‘nooch’) will add a little cheese flavor, but more importantly, a savory, nutty taste. If you don’t want to use it, simply omit it without substitution.
Fennel seeds – For vegan sausage crumbles with a real sausage taste, then fennel is a must. Fennel seeds can often be found at the grocery store, but if not, you can use ground fennel, but only use 1 teaspoon. The closest substitutions for fennel are anise or caraway.
Mixed Italian herbs – Use your favorite Italian herb mix with an added teaspoon of oregano. You can also add a pinch of sage or marjoram if you want more of those flavors pronounced in your sausage.
Smoked paprika – Smoked paprika adds a warming, smoky and peppery flavor without liquid smoke. That said, liquid smoke is the best substitute if you don't use smoked paprika or want a more intense smoky flavor. This recipe also calls for cayenne pepper; however, if your smoked paprika is hot already, you may want to make an adjustment.
🔪 Pro tips & notes
If your block of tofu has excess water, use a tofu press or wrap the tofu in paper towels and press it between 2 plates. Tip: speed up the process by cutting the block into quarters. The marinade will be paste-like.
Resist the urge to add more liquid. You want the marinade to cling to it. You don’t need to use a food processor to mix the marinade. Just grab a large bowl and a whisk and work it. Then crumble the tofu directly into the bowl. In my veggie sausage experience (it's extensive for this recipe), it's most expedient to use your hands to cover the tofu with the marinade. Bonus - it's therapeutic. 😊
Sausage-flavored tofu requires time to let the flavors merge. You can marinate the tofu anywhere from 30 minutes (minimum) to 2 days. It will take about 40 minutes to bake. It might be more convenient to get the tofu marinating a day before or in the morning.
You can bake or pan fry sausage crumbles. Baking will yield crispier crumbles, so if that's your jam, bake it. It's best to line the baking tray with parchment paper or a baking mat. This will make it easier to toss the crumbles in a bowl or add them to whatever you are using them for.
💭 Common Questions
Yes! Bake sausage crumbles, then let them cool to room temperature. Place them in a freezer bag or airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw them in the refrigerator, then separate them. Reheat on the stovetop or in the oven if you want them firmer.
If you prefer, use crumbled tempeh in place of tofu. You may want to simmer the tempeh before adding the marinade to soften it and make it more receptive to the marinade. You can also use soy crumbles or TVP (textured vegetable protein). Be sure they are rehydrated before you marinate use them.
It's best practice to cover marinating tofu and then pop it in the refrigerator. Covering tofu ensures that it won't be influenced by other odors in the fridge. Keep marinating tofu where it won't get super cold. You want it to absorb as much marinade as possible.
🍽 Serving & storage
Store baked sausage crumbles in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can also freeze crumbles for up to 3 months.
Beyond pizza, sausage crumbles make a delicious addition to pasta sauces, stews, or soups. Use your new favorite veggie sausage to make pot pies pop, or get creative and explore sausage rolls.
Sausage crumbles with sliced peppers and potatoes is a delicious breakfast fry-up. If you want vegan breakfast sausage, consider adding a tablespoon of maple syrup to the marinade. Roll it into your favorite tortilla, and you're headed to burrito heaven.
📖 Related recipes
Vegan Tofu Sausage Crumbles
Delicious homemade vegan tofu sausage crumbles quell your sausage cravings with bites of savory, smoky satisfaction with an easy plant-based recipe.
- Prep Time: 60 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Tofu
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: Italian
- Diet: Vegan
- 1 block of firm or extra-firm tofu (16 ounces/454 grams)
- 4 heaping tablespoons tahini
- ¼ cup soy sauce or tamari
- 2 tablespoon vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds (1 teaspoon ground)
- ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more)
- Press tofu if needed. If your tofu contains excess moisture, press it before crumbling. Use a conventional tofu press or wrap the block in paper towels between two flat surfaces and put something heavy on top to weigh it down. Press for 20 minutes. Drain off excess moisture before crumbling it.
- Make the marinade. Mix the tahini, soy sauce, and vegetable broth in a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the tofu). Blend until smooth.
- Crumble tofu. Crumble the tofu directly into the bowl with the marinade. Cut the tofu block in half or quarters for easier handling if necessary.
- Mix tofu and marinate. Use your hands to cover the crumbles with the marinade. Cover the bowl, place it in the refrigerator and let the tofu marinate for 30 minutes up to overnight (2 days max).
- Bake tofu crumbles. Preheat the oven to 400 F. (200 C.). Line a baking tray with parchment baking paper or a baking mat. Spread the crumbles in a single layer on the tray. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until the crumbles are brown and firm. Gently toss the crumbles a few times during baking to ensure they cook evenly.
- The nutritional value is based on 4 servings. This will vary depending on how you use the crumbles.
- Tofu is recommended for this recipe; however, you can use crumbled tempeh, TVP (textured vegetable protein), or soy crumbles.
- Marinate the tofu for up to 2 days before baking them. Baked sausage crumbles can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for 3 months.
- If you want a smokier flavor without adding more smoked paprika, use a teaspoon of liquid smoke. For making breakfast-themed sausage, consider adding a teaspoon or more maple syrup.
Keywords: vegan tofu sausage crumbles; tofu sausage; gluten-free sausage; plant-based sausage
Just made this and it smells really good. I used a mix of tempeh and regular firm tofu.
Oh wow! That combination sounds delicious. I made the tofu ones over the weekend and we had them on pizza. It was fantastic. I like it better than my go-to tofu bacon. Thanks for trying and reviewing this recipe. Much appreciated.
Everybody was tofu fighting
This is ridiculously delicious. I’ve made this every week for two months. My husband is not a plant person and he loves this. I put it in my bolognese sauce with TVP and it’s amazing. The fennel really makes it taste like sausage so don’t skip it!
So happy you like this one - we are also hooked! And it's so versatile too. Admittedly, we've even mixed it into mashed poataoes. Yummy! 🙂
is it possible to use this for a cornbread dressing recipe? I usually the sauté hot Italian sausage, but I’m trying to find a vegan alternative.
My mouth is already watering at the idea of using sausage crumbles in dressing. I'd bake them per the recipe so they aren't too moist and then add them to the stuffing. I shall be testing these with dressing. We've used them in pot pies and they are fab! 🙂
My husband & I love this recipe. We’ve also have used your crumbles on top of pizza, in our pasta sauce, and also as a salad topper. Thank you!
So happy you found this recipe - we love it in all the same ways too. I've been doing double batches and freezing one. Great for dolling up pasta sauce. 🙂