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 on how to cook tofu:

  1. Make sure you select the right texture. In grocery stores, it ranges from silken to firm and 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. Tofu presses are available in stores, but having one isn’t necessary. You can use a stack of books, or just do what I do, and use your hands to press it lightly in a kitchen towel or paper towels. (Just make sure not to push too hard, or it will crumble!)
  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

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 the tofu and gently press it in a kitchen towel or paper towels over the sink. Many baked tofu recipes swear by pressing it for 30 minutes or more, but in my opinion, that step isn’t necessary. This method is SO much quicker, and the results are delicious!

Next, chop it 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 it extra crispy. It’s good both ways, but I like mine best without the cornstarch. The corners of the cubes get golden brown and caramelized, while the middles stay nice and chewy.

Finally, bake! Transfer the baking sheet to a 425-degree 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:

How to Cook Tofu

rate this recipe:
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Serves 5

Ingredients

  • 14 ounces extra-firm tofu, patted dry and cubed
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablesoons tamari
  • 1/2 teaspoon sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, optional

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.

 

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A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
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.