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!
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!
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 bowls, noodles, 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:
- 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.
- 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? Wrap the tofu in a paper towel and press it lightly with your hands before cooking.
- 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.
Do I need a tofu press?
The short answer is no, you don’t technically need a tofu press. But if you cook tofu recipes often, I definitely recommend getting one! These gadgets are simple and affordable, and they’ll give your tofu an amazing firm, 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!
More Plant-Based Cooking Basics
If you love this recipe, try one of these plant-based cooking components next:
- Crispy Roasted Chickpeas
- Marinated Baked Tempeh
- How to Cook Lentils
- Lemon Herb Couscous
- Herbed Farro
- Cauliflower Rice
- Zucchini Noodles
- Spaghetti Squash
- Vegan Bacon
How to Cook Tofu
- 14 ounces extra-firm tofu, patted dry and cubed
- ½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons tamari
- ½ teaspoon sriracha
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch, optional
- 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.
I made this- I like it but it’s way too salty. I will try again with a less salty, slightly more sweet marinade.
Love! Love! Love it!!!
I couldn’t send you a picture, but I made a yellow Thai curry with purple potatoes, egg plant, chicken thigh and the tofu. I add a little coconut to it.
Does it work it firm Tofu
Hi Regina, extra firm tofu is best, but it’ll work with firm tofu as well.
What an unwarranted comment. This woman does nothing but devise delicious recipes to make people’s lives a little better. Why on earth would you say something like that. Incredibly rude. I wish Jeanine would put a “report comment” button so she could take down trash like this. Disgraceful and disgusting behavior.
Apologies, I have a spam filter for comments but sometimes it misses a few!
So yummy! I used 1.5 tbsp of tamari instead of 2 and skipped the cornstarch and it still turned out great.
decided to bake some tofu — found this recipe amazingly simple and tasty. The tips here are great — unlike other recipes where you end up with dried, flat cubes! And the suggestion of adding a tad bit of cornstarch i think really helped give you the crispy look and texture!! this will be the way i bake tofu from now on!!
I’m so glad you loved it!
This was delicious and will be my go to recipe for tofu now, thank you!
Love the tofu recipes.
Hi Jeanine, Thank you for your recipe and knowledge on this wondrous ingredient. (I’ve been to your site before by the way and always come away pleased) Quick question though…I live with an oven that only goes to 300 (if I cross my fingers and it comes on at all) so most of my dishes either take hours in the oven or I use my stove top…so I am assuming your recipe would be okay for the stove top with my trusty cast iron pans but I wanted to check with you incase you had any tips. Thanking you in advance for your help. 🙂
can i pan fry the tofu???
How should I store the leftovers? Fridge?
yep, in the fridge.
I’ve never tried eating or cooking tofu. I don’t even know where to find the 2 ingredients you listed. I have evolved and soy sauce but don’t have a clue what the other 2 are. Can I use garlic powder and onion powder? What other spices could I use?
Hi Tawny, tamari is gluten free soy sauce, so you can use soy sauce if you want. Sriracha is a spicy chili garlic sauce, you can find it at any grocery store. You can use garlic powder and onion powder if you want to (maybe 1/4 teaspoon of each). A sprinkle of chili powder or smoked paprika would be good too.
Can you omit the olive oil? I avoid all oils. Thank you.
You can, it won’t have a golden brown color, but it will work.
Will try it for the first time!
I am a new pescatarian, which means I only eat seafood, fruits, veggies, etc. and I had tried a Pinterest recipe that had me press it and it was absolutely disgusting but I am trying this recipe and it turned out delicious I made it with soy sauce and I put it in some fried rice and it was Delicious
Hi Molly, I’m so glad you loved this one!
This recipe worked just as stated! Thanks for taking the time to figure it out and giving it to us!
Hi Teri, I’m so glad it was helpful!
Turned out perfectly. I added a squirt of lime on top upon serving *chefs kiss*
Would also be great over a bed of butter lettuce!
Hi Michelle, I’m glad you loved it!
Delicious! I have never prepared tofu before and your recipe turned out perfectly.