How to Cook Tofu: A Comprehensive Guide

Are you a fan of tofu or are you interested in trying out this plant-based protein? Well, cooking tofu can be intimidating, but with the right techniques, you can make it taste just as good as any meat dish. Tofu can be prepared in a variety of ways and can be used in dishes such as stir-fry, soup, salad, and even desserts. In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to cook tofu that will encourage you to add this versatile ingredient to your diet.

Choosing the Right Tofu

The first step towards cooking tofu is selecting the right kind of tofu for your dish. There are three types of tofu available in the market: silken, soft, and firm. Each of these has different textures, moisture levels, and flavors. Here is a breakdown of each type of tofu:

  • Silken Tofu: This type of tofu is creamy, smooth, and has a high water content. It’s perfect for blending into smoothies, sauces, desserts, and dips.
  • Soft Tofu: This type of tofu has a slightly thicker texture than silken tofu and is often used in soups or stews.
  • Firm Tofu: This type of tofu has the highest protein content and is much denser than silken and soft tofu. It’s perfect for frying, grilling, baking and stir-fries.

When selecting tofu, make sure to check the expiration date and observe its texture. Fresh tofu should have a subtle sweet fragrance, and it should be stored in cold water until it’s ready to be used.

Preparing Tofu for Cooking

Before cooking tofu, it is essential to press the excess water out to improve the texture and ensure its ability to absorb flavors. Here’s how to press tofu:

  1. Remove the tofu block from its package and drain the excess water.
  2. Wrap the tofu block in a clean kitchen towel or a few paper towels and place it in between two plates.
  3. Place a heavy object like a cookbook or a can of food on top of the plates and let the tofu sit for at least 20 to 30 minutes to press the excess water out.
  4. Unwrap the tofu block and slice it accordingly to the recipe’s requirements.

Frying Tofu

Fried tofu is one of the most popular ways of preparing tofu. Here is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Fill half a pan with vegetable oil and heat it over medium-high heat. You can test if the oil is hot enough by dipping a chopstick in the oil, and if it bubbles around the chopstick, the oil is hot enough.
  2. Cut the pressed tofu into desired shapes or sizes such as cubes, triangles, or rectangles. Then, coat the tofu in cornstarch or flour to give it a crispy texture.
  3. Gently place the tofu into the hot oil and cook it for three to five minutes or until it’s golden brown on all sides. Use a slotted spoon or chopsticks to turn the tofu while frying it.
  4. Remove the tofu from the oil and place it on a paper towel to drain the excess oil.
  5. Serve it with dipping sauces, in a stir-fry, or a salad.

Baking Tofu

Baking tofu gives it a crispy texture without using any oil. Here’s how to bake tofu:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C). Cut the pressed tofu into desired shapes or sizes such as cubes, slices, or rectangles.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, salt, pepper, and any spices such as paprika, garlic powder, or cumin.
  3. Add the cut tofu into the mixing bowl and toss it until it’s coated with the seasoning mixture.
  4. Place the tofu on a baking sheet and bake it for 30 to 35 minutes or until it’s crispy and golden brown on all sides.
  5. Remove the tofu from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.

Stir-Frying Tofu

Stir-fried tofu is perfect for a quick and easy weeknight dinner. Here’s how to stir-fry tofu:

  1. Cut the pressed tofu into bite-sized pieces. In a pan or wok, heat a tablespoon of oil over high heat.
  2. Add the tofu to the pan and cook it for two to three minutes or until it’s golden brown on all sides.
  3. Add your desired vegetables such as bell peppers, onion, carrots, and broccoli and cook for a few minutes until the vegetables are crisp-tender.
  4. Whisk together soy sauce, honey, and any seasonings of your choice and pour it into the pan. Use a spatula to stir the tofu and vegetable mixture until everything is coated evenly.
  5. Serve the stir-fry hot with rice or noodles.


Can you eat tofu out of the package?
It is not safe to eat tofu out of the package as raw tofu can contain bacteria or pathogens. Make sure to cook tofu properly before consuming it.

Do you need to press tofu for all recipes?
Pressing tofu is not necessary for all recipes. However, pressing tofu helps it to absorb flavors better and improve the texture, especially for frying, baking, and grilling.

Can you marinate tofu for too long?
Yes, tofu can become mushy and fall apart if it is marinated for too long. The recommended time for marinating tofu is 30 minutes to an hour.

Can you freeze tofu?
Yes, tofu can be frozen to extend its shelf life. Press and drain the tofu before freezing it. Defrost it in the refrigerator before using it.


Tofu is a versatile ingredient that can be used in various dishes and cuisines. It’s a great protein alternative for vegetarians and vegans. In this article, we’ve provided you with a guide on how to cook tofu, including selecting the right type of tofu, pressing tofu, and various cooking techniques such as frying, baking, and stir-frying. Follow these instructions and tips to make delicious and healthy tofu dishes.