How to Cook Tofu- Everything you need to know!
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How to Cook Tofu– in this comprehensive post, I’m going to talk all about what tofu is, how to cook tofu on grill, in the oven, on the stovetop etc, AND tofu nutrition facts!
I’ve been working on this post for WEEKS and I’m so glad that it’s finally here!
Let’s master tofu together and cook it all kinds of fun ways that will all make you fall in LOVE with tofu :D
See my video showing you lots of different ways for how to cook tofu:
What is tofu?
What is tofu made of?: Tofu is a soy based product that is made by coagulating soy milk to create soy bean curds. Those are then very tightly pressed into a block that results in tofu. I won’t pretend to be a tofu making master as I’ve never made it at home but I HAVE prepared it a LOT :)
You can get tofu in a variety of types including soft, silken, firm, and extra firm.
For all of these recipes today, we’re going to be using firm and extra-firm tofu which holds it’s shape much better than silken tofu and does a great job absorbing flavors. I use extra firm tofu on a weekly basis and am excited to share all of these recipe with you.
Is Tofu Healthy?
As I started eating tofu more often, a lot of family members expressed concern based on rumors that they had heard about soy being bad to consume. I am not a health professional and do not want to give detailed health advice but after some research on my own, I came to the conclusion that tofu is a healthy option for me and my diet. Like anything, you should consume everything in moderation and maybe not eat soy for every single meal. I have tofu about 1-2 times per week.
Wondering how much protein in tofu? Tofu is a great source of protein containing 8 grams of protein per 3.5 ounce serving of tofu. It’s high in iron, calcium, and magnesium and overall a great alternative to meat in a plant based diet.
1/2 cup of firm tofu only has about 70 calories in it which makes it a great weight loss option and overall source of protein!
How to Prepare Tofu:
I go into detail in my video (see above) on how to press tofu both with a tofu press and using random objects you have lying around your kitchen. I use THIS tofu press. I also have a FULL COMPREHENSIVE post all about how and why to press your tofu. Check that out HERE.
For the longest time, I resisted getting a tofu press since I already have SO MANY extra kitchen gadgets lying around. But after getting to the point that I was wasting SO MANY paper towels pressing tofu multiple times per week, I figured that it was time.
If you don’t cook tofu often, you DEFINITELY do not need a tofu press. However, if you find yourself cooking it several times a week then it might be worth getting one. The tofu press that I have was only about $20 and totally worth it for me.
How to use a tofu press:
Using a press is ridiculously easy. Place the tofu press on a rimmed surface to catch the excess liquid. Place the block of tofu into the press and tighten it down so that the tofu has a considerable amount of pressure on it without completely squishing it. Leave that for 10 minutes and then tighten it a bit. After an additional 5 minutes, the tofu is ready to cook.
How to press tofu without a tofu press:
If you don’t have a press, you can get much of the excess moisture out using a skillet and some cans.
Cut the tofu in half so that you have 2 thinner rectangular sheets. Wrap those tofu sheets in a kitchen towel and place them on a rimmed plate to catch the excess liquid. Evenly place a skillet or heavy pot on top of the tofu and weigh it down with something heavy such as a few cans. After about 20 minutes, much of the moisture will have been released from the tofu and it’s ready to cook.
How to cut tofu:
tofu can be cut in any which way that you would like to cut it. In my video above, I go over a few of these different methods including to cut it into various sized cubes for sautéing and baking, rectangles for grilling, and triangles that are great for frying.
How to Freeze tofu:
Freezing tofu is a great way to enhance the flavor and add a deliciously meaty texture to the tofu. I talk a lot about freezing tofu in THIS post but let’s briefly go over it.
When you freeze tofu, the excess liquid in the tofu hardens and forms lots of little pockets all throughout the tofu. When thawed and squeezed of the liquid, those pockets remain. Not only does this change the texture of the tofu (making it a bit chewier and meatier) but it also allows the tofu to soak up more of the flavors/ marinades that it is being cooked with.
How to cook tofu:
After pressing the tofu, cut it into small cubes and place it into a large bowl with olive oil, cornstarch, salt, pepper, and spices of choice. Toss to coat and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Baking in an oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, flipping mid-way through.
Tofu scrambles are such a fun and EASY breakfast that are packed with protein. The yellow color comes from adding in a little bit of turmeric to the pan.
To make a tofu scramble, take your pressed firm tofu and break it into large chunks. The size doesn’t matter too much as you can break it up more once in the pan. Heat some oil and toss in the tofu chunks. Stir in turmeric, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt and pepper. Continue to stir and cook until heated through (about 8 minutes) and break up the tofu until it’s at your desired size. Serve up and enjoy!
If desired, you can saute veggies in the skillet with the tofu for a full, well balanced meal!
Pan Fried Tofu
Frying tofu is ridiculously easy. For this, I like to cut the tofu into triangles (see how to do this in my video above).
Start by filling a large skillet with oil so that there’s about 1/4 inch high in the pan and put over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add in the tofu and pan fry for 3-4 minutes on each side, about 15 minutes total . Watch it carefully so that it does not cook for too long on either side.
Place the fried tofu on a paper towel lined plate to remove excess moisture. Sprinkle with salt and enjoy!
This is one of my new favorite ways to enjoy tofu!
To grill tofu, cut the pressed firm tofu into rectangular pieces as shown in the video above. Place those in your marinade for at least a few hours or even overnight. Once ready to cook, heat your grill to high heat (I usually aim for around 400 degrees) and once hot, place the tofu on the grill to cook for about 10 minutes on each side.
Serve immediately with your favorite sides and ENJOY!
This is another quick and easy way to prepare tofu. Heat about 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet and then cut your pressed tofu into chunks (big or small work here). Place the tofu cubes into the skillet in an even layer and refrain from moving them at all for about 4-5 minutes until the pieces form a nice crust on the bottom. Toss and cook on all sides, about 15 minutes total.
You can serve this sautéed tofu with any sauce you’d like or toss it into a stir fry. There are so many delicious ways to enjoy sautéed tofu!
For this recipe, start by cubbing pressed tofu and toss it in cornstarch (Lindsay suggests using arrowroot flour), garlic powder, paprika, cumin, and salt. Spray the inside of your air fryer and place the tofu cubes in an even layer. Set the air fryer to 370 degrees and cook for a total of 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Once done cooking, you can serve with your favorite sauce or dish.
- What is the BEST way to cook tofu?: I’m honestly not sure that there is a BEST way to cook tofu as it really depends on preference. Personally, I like to pan fry it as it’s quick, easy, and you can still get it a little crispy on the outside this way. When I have the time, my all time favorite way to eat it is baked since it results in the crispiest crust on the outside.
- Do you need to cook tofu?: Technically, no. Tofu can be consumed as is, straight out of the package. However, I’ve never really enjoyed it that way. But, it can be done :D
- Can you boil tofu to cook it?: Yes, you can boil tofu to cook it! It’s great this way in soups. Simple add the tofu to boiling water and cook until heated through OR for longer (20-30 minutes) so that it develops just a little bit of a crust on the outside.
- Should you marinate tofu before cooking?: I highly recommend marinating tofu! If does not *need* to be done however, marinating tofu is definitely the best way to get the most flavor. You can use any kind of marinate mix/ recipe that you’d like and let the tofu sit in it for an hour or even overnight!
- Can I eat raw tofu?: Yes! While not the tastiest, tofu can be consumed raw and directly out of the package.
- Do you cook tofu before putting in soup?: You do NOT need to cook tofu before adding it in soup. I suggest adding cubed tofu into your soup with about 10 minutes left to cook. This allows time for the tofu to heat through and develop just a little bit of a crust on the outside.
- Which tofu is best for soup?: In most situations, medium tofu is the best for soup. It’s softer but still holds together when mixed into the soup.
- Does tofu need to be refrigerated?: Yes, you should store tofu in the refrigerator.
Easy Tofu Recipes
I recently wrote a whole post rounding up my favorite tofu recipes. These are all packed with flavor and I’m excited for you to give some of them a try!
Read The Best Tofu Recipes Around!! Here are some of my favorites:
- Grilled Tofu
- Sheet Pan Tofu & Veggies
- Tofu Stir Fry
- Easy Tofu Kebabs
- Cashew Tofu Stir Fry
- Copycat Chipotle Sofritas
- 6 Different Tofu Marinades
Perfect baked tofu is easy to make and delicious in all kinds of different recipes!
- 1 block of firm or extra firm tofu (I do not recommend doing this with any other type of tofu)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- extra spices of choice**
- Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with a silpat mat or parchment paper.
- Take the tofu out of the packaging and discard the liquid. Press the tofu according to these directions. If you have a tofu press, use that. If not, you can simply wrap the tofu in a lint free towel or paper towels and place a heavy skillet on top for 20 minutes. See HERE for full details on pressing tofu.
- Once pressed, cut the tofu into bite sized pieces. I have tried this with small pieces and rather large chunks and they all work great! So cut them according to your liking.
- Place the tofu pieces into a large bowl, drizzle with the oil, and sprinkle with cornstarch, salt & pepper, as well as any other spices that you might be using. GENTLY toss the tofu to coat in the cornstarch.
- Line the tofu on the prepared baking sheet leaving a bit of space between each piece. Baking for 15 minutes, flip the tofu over, and bake for an additional 15-25 minutes. It should be done after a total time fo 30 minutes BUT you can leave it in a bit longer if you want it even crispier or if you chunks are extra large.
- Let cool slightly and ENJOY!
**I recommend adding a couple teaspoons of spices based on what you’re serving the tofu with. For tacos or a Mexican dish you can add a little cumin, paprika, and chili powder. For curries you can add curry powder and turmeric etc.
- Prep Time: 40 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: tofu
- Method: frying
- Cuisine: american
Keywords: vegan recipes, tofu recipes, fried tofu