How to Cook Tofu Perfectly Every Time

How to Cook Tofu Perfectly Every Time

Whether you’re trying to eat more plant-based meals or just looking to expand your culinary horizons, you may be wondering how to cook tofu.

You’re in luck! Not only is tofu one of the most versatile foods out there, but you pretty much can’t mess it up.

“Tofu has a bit of a reputation for being bland,” says Megan Wong, RD, a Vancouver-based registered dietitian. “But when you complement it with the right ingredients and spices, it’s delicious!”

And because tofu is made from condensed soybeans, it’s packed with 8 grams of plant-based protein per 3.5-ounce serving.

Here’s the essential info you need to work tofu into your next recipe.

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5 Tips for Cooking Tofu

With a few simple steps, you can transform a block of tofu into a nutrition-packed dish.

1. Choose your type of tofu.

sliced tofu on plate | how to cook tofu

You’ll find a few different types of tofu in the grocery store:

  • Soft
  • Medium
  • Firm
  • Extra-firm

Soft tofu — sometimes called silken tofu — works well as a swap for dairy in smoothies, Wong says. It’s also suitable as a replacement for eggs in baked goods, while medium is best in soups and recipes that call for boiling or braising.

Choose firm or extra-firm tofu for sautéing, stir-frying, frying, grilling, or roasting, Wong adds.

2. Press your tofu.

“You’ll want to make sure to press or squeeze excess packaging liquid so that it’s not ‘water-logged,'” says Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN, a Brooklyn-based registered dietitian. “That’ll help you achieve the desired shape, texture, and golden brownness.”

Cut medium, firm, or extra-firm tofu into thinner slices. (Don’t try this with soft tofu!) Place the slices on a plate or baking sheet lined with paper towels, then cover the slices with another layer of paper towels. Place a flat, heavy weight on top — like a cutting board with a few cans balanced on top — and let sit for 30 minutes.

You can also manually press it, but it won’t get quite as much liquid out.

3. Marinate.

Tofu is one of the most adaptable foods that takes on the flavors of whatever marinade or sauce you add to it.

“I often marinate tofu to punch up flavor using high-flavored ingredients, like vinegar, soy sauce, pureed fruit, or citrus juice,” Newgent says.

Newgent recommends using an oil-free marinade, as oil may act as a “barrier” and keep the tofu from fully absorbing the flavors of the marinade.

4. Cut and season your tofu to taste.

cut and marinated tofu | how to cook tofu

Missing meat? You can mimic the texture by creating tofu steaks or ¾-inch cubes. When in doubt, Newgent says, “Err on the side of cutting thicker slices to prevent potential crumbling during cooking.”

You can get a crispy, golden-brown texture on your tofu by adding a thin coating of cornstarch before you fry or bake, Wong says.

5. Choose your cooking style.

“I love grilling tofu,” Newgent says, but it can also be pan-fried or baked in the oven.

  • How to cook tofu in the oven: Place cubes on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 400°, flipping halfway through, until the edges are golden brown (around 25 to 30 minutes).
  • How to pan-fry tofu: Preheat a pan over medium heat and add a tablespoon of oil. Place tofu steaks or cubes in the pan. To prevent sticking, let tofu cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side before flipping.

 

7 Tasty Tofu Recipes To Try

Now that you know how to cook tofu, it’s time to put your skills to use with these tofu recipes that’ll please the whole family.

Vegan Tofu Scramble

tofu scramble | how to cook tofu

Start your morning with this vegan scramble that replaces eggs with tofu. You’ll get the day started on the right foot, thanks to the whopping 45 grams of protein per serving.

Get the recipe.

Crispy Tofu Burgers

tofu burger | how to cook tofu

Craving a juicy burger? Swap the beef — but not the taste — with this easy-to-follow recipe. Amp up the flavor by adding red chili flakes to the mix.

Get the recipe at Shivani Loves Food.

Vegan Breakfast Tacos

tofu tacos | how to cook tofu

Pressed snooze one too many times this morning? You can still get in a healthy breakfast before you head out the door with these tofu-packed breakfast tacos that you can make in 10 minutes!

Get the recipe.

Sticky Tofu & Vietnamese Noodle Salad

tofu noodles | how to cook tofu

Switch up your salad game with this flavorful Vietnamese noodle salad that features veggies and tofu deliciously marinated with ginger, soy sauce, and a dash of brown sugar.

Get the recipe at Mrs. Jones’s Kitchen.

Vegan Cauliflower Rice Risotto

tofu risotto | how to cook tofu

This nutrient-dense, vegan risotto — made with tofu, asparagus, cauliflower, mushrooms, and seasonings — can be on the table in 30 minutes.

Get the recipe.

Tofu Chickpea Curry Soup

tofu curry | how to cook tofu

Tofu and chickpeas add plant-based protein to this flavorful curry dish made with plenty of yummy spices.

Get the recipe at Crafty for Home.

Tofu Fried Rice

tofu fried rice | how to cook tofu

Skip the takeout and make this tofu fried rice instead! This easy-to-recreate recipe includes a bit of peanut butter for extra protein, healthy fats, and flavor.

Get the recipe at Katie’s Conscious Kitchen.

About

Meagan Morris a writer specializing in all things related to health and wellness. Her work has been featured in The Atlantic, Yahoo Health, Cosmopolitan, SELF, and Women's Health, among others. Learn more at meaganleamorris.com.

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