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What Are the Best Ways to Cook Tofu?

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

Tofu is a great source of protein for vegans, but eating it can get tiring. Learn about the different ways to cook tofu to spice up your meals now!

Tofu has a huge list of health benefits and is a great option for replacing meat protein in your diet. However, if you don't prepare it and cook tofu properly, it isn't an enjoyable experience! We've got all the details to give you the best-tasting tofu for all of your vegan recipes. Read below to learn how to cook tofu!

Select Your Tofu

It's essential that you select the right tofu for what dish you're trying to create. Not all tofu is created equal and like there are different cuts of meat there are different variations of tofu.

To replace meat with tofu in a recipe, you need to choose one of the following types:

  • Medium

  • Firm

  • Extra-firm

Soft block tofu or silken tofu is softer, squishy tofu that is better used for desserts like cheesecake and pudding or sauces like sour cream instead of as a meat replacement. This type of tofu isn't usually refrigerated and cannot be pressed. Silken tofu needs to be drained instead of pressed and is better for blending.

Best Tofu for Cooking

The best option for cooking tofu is the firm or extra-firm variety. These options hold up better to pressing, chopping, and handling and also give a crispy texture.

While medium tofu is fine for soups and crumbling into veggies, it's not ideal for frying or baking. It doesn't handle as well as firm or extra-firm.

Press It

After selecting the right type of tofu, it needs to be pressed in order to have any flavor added to it. This can be done either with a tofu press or using heavy objects to push the water out of the tofu.

This is a very important step!

If the tofu isn't pressed, it will be too full of water to accept any of your seasonings or marinades. The other reason it's important is for safety reasons.

Panfrying tofu that still has excess water in it is dangerous because it could react with the oil you're using to cook it. It's a recipe for a splatter disaster and will result in bland tofu.

For crispy tofu, you need to plan on at least thirty minutes of pressing time. If you don't have a tofu press and plan on doing it yourself follow these steps.

  1. Wrap your tofu in a tea towel

  2. Place it on a counter or cutting board

  3. Add another board or cast iron skillet on top

  4. If using another cutting board on top, also use a few heavy books

  5. Leave for 30 minutes

For silken tofu recipes, you don't need to do as much work. Simply wrap the tofu in a towel to allow it to drain.

Chopping, Seasoning, & Marinating

For soft and medium tofu, you have to be careful when handling and chopping it because it crumbles easily. However, firm and extra-firm are easy to slice down the middle and then create cubes alternating vertical and horizontal cuts.

Tofu is extremely bland by itself. Now that you've learned you need to drain it, you also need to learn to season it properly. Tofu is a great base for whatever flavor you're wanting to taste in your dish! The easiest way to do this is to marinate the tofu for fifteen minutes or even overnight.

Salt and pepper aren't going to give you the results that you're looking for. Try using a honey ginger or a zesty BBQ marinade for your tofu recipes. Whatever marinade you choose, cube your tofu and place it in the marinade. Cover it and let it rest and soak up the juices until you're ready to cook!

If you're just planning on seasoning your tofu instead of marinading it, really make sure to season it. Do you know how you have to really salt potatoes before you start to notice it?

Take on that approach for tofu, except using more delicious seasonings like paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder. This will give you great-tasting tofu instead of the boring kind you've probably had in the past.

Try Using Cornstarch

Cornstarch is a great little secret tip for cooking crispy tofu. Once you've seasoned your tofu give it a coating of cornstarch. Of course, pan-fried tofu will naturally have a crunch to it, but you'll really notice the difference with baked tofu! The cornstarch will pull any remaining moisture out that would cause it to be soggy.

Pan Fry It

Panfrying tofu is a good way to cook crispy, yummy tofu! Coat the bottom of a pan with oil and then add your cubed tofu in a single layer. This will ensure evenly cooked tofu. Flip the tofu until every side is cooked to a light, golden brown.

Bake It

Bake tofu in a 400-degree oven for about 30 minutes to have a less oily result. Again, make sure your tofu is in a single layer for the best results! Before spreading your tofu cubes onto your pan, coat it in an oil of your choice. Adding cornstarch or arrowroot here will add to the crispiness. Baking is a great option if you are looking to make tofu steaks. In this case, bake your tofu steaks at 375 for about 30 minutes. Don't forget to flip at the 15-minute mark!

Grill It

Tofu is incredibly easy and quick to cook on the grill. It only takes about five minutes per side. Once you see grill marks, it's ready to go!

Enjoy Your Tofu Dishes!

Now that you know how to cook tofu, your plant-based diet will be that much tastier. For any other tips or advice on a plant-based lifestyle, check out our other blogs!

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