How to Press Tofu

Learn how to press tofu with and without a tofu press! These two easy methods take just 30 minutes. They'll help you cook crispy tofu every time!

How to press tofu

If you’re a tofu lover, learning how to press tofu is a complete game changer. Here’s the thing: even though tofu might be labeled firm or extra-firm, it contains a lot of water. This excess water can cause the tofu to crumble when you cook it, and it will also have a hard time crisping up.

But when you press tofu, you remove the excess moisture. It takes on a chewier, firmer texture, which makes it super satisfying to eat and less likely to fall apart. Pressed tofu guzzles up flavor from a sauce or marinade, and it gets SO much crispier in the air fryer or oven!

Below, I’m sharing two methods for how to press tofu—with a tofu press and without one. Both are quick and easy, and they’ll take your favorite tofu recipes to a whole new level. If you’re not already pressing tofu, now’s the time to start!

Placing block of tofu in tofu press

How to Press Tofu with a Tofu Press

The best way to press tofu is with a tofu press. Here’s why:

  1. These simple gadgets evenly apply pressure to tofu. They won’t crack or squish it!
  2. Many capture the excess water that the tofu releases, so you don’t end up with a sopping countertop.
  3. They can fit in the fridge, so you can press tofu hours in advance.

I tested the best tofu presses earlier this year, and my #1 pick was the Tofuture tofu press, which is super easy to use. I also highlighted a few other types of tofu presses that might suit different cooks in my guide, so check it out to find the best press for you!

Every brand is a little different, but here’s how to use the Tofuture press:

  • First, place the block of tofu in the green drainage container. Nest it inside the large white container, which will capture the water the tofu releases.

Sealing Tofuture tofu press

  • Next, place the green press on top. Attach the rubber bands to the hooks on the sides of the white container. I like to start on the first or second hook and move the bands down to the third hook partway through the pressing time.
  • Flip the white hooks closed to begin pressing the tofu. Leave it on the counter for a quick press, 20 to 30 minutes, or pop it in the fridge to press overnight.

After pressing, cut the tofu into cubes or slices to bake or air fry, or follow the instructions of whatever recipe you’re cooking!

How to press tofu without a tofu press - cast iron skillet on top of block of tofu wrapped in towel

How to Press Tofu without a Tofu Press

Not ready to spring for a press? That’s totally fine! There are several methods for how to press tofu without a tofu press.

My favorite is simple: you just need a clean kitchen towel or paper towels and a cast-iron skillet.

  • Wrap the tofu block in the kitchen towel, and place it on a flat surface. The towel will absorb much of the excess liquid the tofu releases. To capture all of it, place the wrapped tofu on a rimmed baking sheet.
  • Place the cast-iron skillet on top of the wrapped tofu. If you don’t have a skillet, you can place a small cutting board on top instead. Then, place a different heavy object on the cutting board. A heavy book or canned goods work well.

After pressing, cut the tofu into cubes or slices to bake or air fry, or follow the instructions of whatever recipe you’re cooking!

Two blocks on wooden cutting board

How long should tofu be pressed?

For the best results, I recommend pressing tofu for at least 30 minutes before cooking, though longer is great if you’re able to plan ahead.

In a pinch, even less time can make a big difference. I pressed the left block of tofu in the photo above for just 20 minutes. An unpressed block of tofu is on the right. You can see how much the tofu condensed in a short time!

When it is OK not to press tofu?

  • Press it whenever you want it to be firm or crispy… In stir-fries, grain bowls, sandwiches, etc.
  • Don’t press it when you want it to have a soft or smooth texture… i.e., if you’re pureeing it to make a vegan dessert or creamy dressing or crumbling it up for a tofu scramble.

A good rule of thumb is that you’ll usually press firm and extra-firm tofu but almost never press soft or silken.

Tofu slabs on wooden cutting board

Favorite Tofu Recipes

Use your pressed tofu in any of these delicious tofu recipes:

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How to Press Tofu

rate this recipe:
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves 4
The best way to press tofu is with a tofu press (we like the Tofuture tofu press), and if you plan on cooking tofu often, I recommend investing in one—check out my guide to the best tofu presses. But if you don't have one, don't worry about it. Follow these steps to press tofu without a tofu press!



  • Wrap the block of tofu in a clean kitchen towel and place it on a flat surface. To capture the excess liquid that the tofu releases, place it on a rimmed baking sheet.
  • Place a cast-iron skillet* on top of the wrapped tofu block.
  • Press for 30 minutes before using in your favorite tofu recipes.


*No cast-iron pan? No problem! Instead, place a small cutting board on top of the tofu and top it with a heavy book or canned goods.
5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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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.