How to Cook Tofu

Silken or extra-firm? To press or not to press? This easy baked tofu recipe + my best tips and tricks will teach you how to cook tofu like a pro!

Baked tofu

Everyone has an opinion on tofu, and here’s mine: I absolutely love it…when it’s prepared the right way. If you’ve never worked with it before, cooking tofu can be daunting. But once you learn a little about it, it couldn’t be easier to prepare tofu well. Below, you’ll find my best tips and tricks for how to cook tofu like a pro, plus my go-to sriracha baked tofu recipe!

What is tofu, anyway?

Tofu is a soy-based food that’s made from curdling soy milk and forming it into a solid block. It’s a good source of plant-based protein that can be used in all sorts of ways. It’s a great addition to vegetarian and vegan diets, but even if you’re a meat eater, I urge you to try it. In my tofu recipes, I don’t use it as a meat substitute, but rather as something unique and delicious in its own right!

Tofu on a cutting board

How to Cook Tofu

Tofu can get a bad rap as a meat substitute, but it’s actually an incredibly versatile ingredient. When blended, it has a great creamy texture – you can use it in a vegan mousse or pudding, and it’s essential for making a creamy ricotta substitute in my lasagna and vegan stuffed shells. Most often, I bake it to add protein and hearty texture to bowlsnoodles, and salads.

It’s easy to work with, but there are a few things you should know before you start cooking with it. Here are my best tips for how to cook tofu:

  1. Make sure you select the right texture. In grocery stores, it ranges from silken to extra-firm. Soft silken tofu would be my choice for blending into desserts or slicing into miso soup, but if you’re serving it as a main dish or topping it onto bowls, extra-firm is what you’ll need. It has a heartier, denser texture and less water content than other types of tofu. Note: I prefer to buy organic tofu made without genetically modified soybeans.
  2. Press it. Tofu contains a lot of water, and you’ll want to squeeze most of it out, especially if you’re baking, grilling, or frying it. I recommend using a tofu press to do this, because it gives the tofu a delicious chewy texture and makes cleanup a breeze. But having one isn’t necessary. For a DIY option, you can press tofu with a cast-iron skillet instead. No time to press? Choose a brand of tofu that doesn’t require pressing. I love California-based Hodo Foods’ organic extra-firm tofu, which has an amazing chewy texture straight out of the package.
  3. Spice. It. Up. There’s a reason that tofu gets flak for being bland, and that’s because it is! Make sure you season it well. You can marinate it, or prepare it using the crispy baked tofu recipe below.

How to cook tofu

Do I need a tofu press?

The short answer is, it depends! Some brands of tofu, like the organic extra-firm tofu made by Hodo Foods, come already pressed, so they don’t require additional pressing. I often seek out Hodo tofu because the California-based food company uses fresh, high-quality ingredients like organic, non-GMO soybeans grown in North America. In fact, Hodo is the preferred brand of Michelin and James Beard award-winning restaurants like State Bird Provisions and Slanted Door. I love it’s delicious firm texture, and it saves me time in the kitchen. No pressing required!

For working with other brands of tofu, I definitely recommend getting a tofu press. These gadgets are simple and affordable, and they’ll give the average extra-firm tofu a great chewy texture.

After testing the best tofu presses, my favorite is the Tofuture Tofu Press, which is easy to use and yields perfectly pressed tofu every time. It also captures the excess liquid from the tofu, making cleanup easy. I just pour the extra water into the sink!

You can get the Tofuture Tofu Press on Amazon for $25.95. Want to consider a few other options before you buy? Check out my guide to the best tofu presses!

My Go-To Baked Tofu Recipe

Baking is my go-to method for how to cook tofu. It yields flavorful, firm cubes that are perfect for adding to a stir fry, salad, or bowl! Here’s how I do it:

First, drain and press the tofu. For the best texture, press the tofu using a tofu press or cast-iron skillet for 20 to 30 minutes. If you’re short on time, just drain the tofu and gently press it in a kitchen towel or paper towels over the sink. The tofu won’t be as firm this way, but it will still be delicious!

Next, cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and spread them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toss the cubes with olive oil, tamari or soy sauce, and sriracha. If desired, you could also add cornstarch to make the cubes extra crispy.

Finally, bake! Transfer the baking sheet to a 425°F oven and cook until the cubes are browned around the edges. Enjoy!

Baked tofu recipe

More Plant-Based Cooking Basics

If you love this recipe, try one of these plant-based cooking components next:

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How to Cook Tofu

rate this recipe:
4.98 from 205 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves 5

Equipment

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Toss the cubed tofu with the olive oil, tamari, and sriracha. For extra crispy tofu, sprinkle with the cornstarch and gently toss to coat.
  • Spread the tofu evenly onto the baking sheet. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until browned around the edges. Remove and serve warm.

 

74 comments

4.98 from 205 votes (176 ratings without comment)

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Jennifer
    06.11.2024

    5 stars
    This is the best tofu recipe I’ve ever made! Thank you!!! It’s even better than the Trader Joe’s sriracha tofu I’ve been trying to re-create.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.12.2024

      Hi Jennifer, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Sarah
    05.01.2024

    5 stars
    This is the first time I have actually made good tofu! Thank you!

    • Sarah Schmits
      05.01.2024

      5 stars
      i actually used Baachan’s Japanese BBQ sauce instead of sirracha and it was great.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      05.02.2024

      Hi Sarah, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Skokie Sue
    04.21.2024

    5 stars
    These were awesome! The outside was crunchy, and the inside was so scrumptious, with an amazing texture. I ate an entire 24 oz. container, all by myself, except for a few pieces I left on the plate. But guess what? I ate them later, and discovered that they are even better when they are at room temperature! The inside firms up a bit, and the flavors meld.

    I have one comment. I found that I had to salt them after cooking. More soy sauce would have been better.

    I will definitely make this recipe again, but I think I’d let them cool down first.

    Thanks for this recipe. I have never cooked tofu before that came out this delicious! Wish I could include a picture. They were beautiful.

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Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.