How to Make Tofu Taste Good

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overhead image of crispy baked peanut tofu on a metal platter with a blue striped towel underneath and limes and chili sauce on the side

What is Tofu?

Tofu is a soy-based food that is made from curdling soy milk. It has a mild taste, making it perfect for soaking up flavor in a variety of dishes.

Tofu is rich in calcium, manganese, copper, selenium, protein, phosphorous, omega-3 fats, iron, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B1.

overhead image of a block of tofu being dried on a blue striped towel

Best Tofu to Buy

There are several types of tofu, ranging in texture from silken (which is soft) to extra firm (which has most of the moisture pressed out) — extra firm being our favorite to work with!

For tofu recipes where you want a nice chewy texture, extra firm is the way to go!

We recommend buying organic, non-GMO whenever possible for best quality. Our favorite brands are Wildwood and Whole Foods, but if you have access to a local brand, that’s even better for freshness!

Overhead image of firm tofu on a cutting board being cubed with a large knife

How to Make Tofu Taste Good

Achieving the right texture and flavor is a key component of making tofu taste good.

In this post, we discuss how to press and cook tofu to achieve the right texture.

Because tofu is quite bland on its own, it’s best to season with spices and/or sauces.

Our Top Spices for Tofu:

As for sauces, peanut sauce is our top pick!

Cubed tofu seasoned with curry powder and cornstarch, tossed with a metal spoon in a glass bowl

How to Press Tofu

We find that pressing tofu is important if you want it to have a crispy texture.

Once you have opened and drained the tofu, there are two methods that can be used to press it:

  1. Use a tofu press (for best results) — place a towel underneath the tofu press to catch the water so it doesn’t spill on your countertop. Then slide drained tofu inside the press and tighten the screws downward to release the liquid. Only tighten the screws until it causes the sides to bulge slightly — you’re not looking to smash it flat. Let it press for about 10-30 minutes, or even longer for firmer tofu.
  2. Use a heavy object — wrap drained tofu in a clean, absorbent towel and set something heavy on top (our favorite is a cast iron skillet). Let it press for about 10-30 minutes, or even longer for firmer tofu.

You are looking for the tofu to feel more firm and less moist, but it won’t be completely dry.

Note: If you know you’ll be in a time crunch during the week, you can press your tofu (tofu press being the best method) in the refrigerator overnight, or press up to 2 days in advance and keep it covered in the fridge to save time! Then use in recipes as instructed.

overhead image of how to press tofu with a tofu press

How to Cook Tofu

Our two favorite methods for cooking tofu are to 1) sauté then bake and 2) bake, marinate, sauté.

1) For the sauté then bake method, the tofu is browned on the stovetop and then finished in the oven, as in our Quick & Easy Crispy Tofu recipe (see photos below).

It’s the perfect method for when you want to season the tofu with spices. Then add to salads, curries, sandwiches, wraps, bowls, and more!

Cubed tofu tossed in curry powder in a glass mixing bowl
Tofu being sautéed with curry powder in a cast iron skillet

While the first method requires an oven-safe skillet, for the second method, any skillet will do!

2) The bake, marinate, sauté method starts with baking the tofu on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Then the tofu gets marinated in a yummy sauce and finished on the stovetop.

It’s the ideal method when seasoning tofu with sauces and is amazing in dishes like Pad Thai, noodle bowls, curries, spring rolls, salads, and more (see photos below)!

Overhead image of tofu tossed in spices and cornstarch in a glass mixing bowl with striped blue towel underneath
overhead image of cornstarch-coated tofu being cooked in a cast iron skillet and peanut sauce being poured on top

More Tofu Recipes

Using chopsticks to grab a bite of our 20-Minute Tofu Stir Fry recipe
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20-Minute Tofu Stir-Fry
A FLAVORFUL veggie-packed Tofu Stir Fry that comes together in just 20 minutes! Gluten-free, plant-based, and perfect for weekdays. 
Make The Recipe
Wooden spoon resting on a skillet filled with our General Tso's Tofu Stir Fry recipe
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General Tso’s Tofu Stir-Fry
Extremely flavorful, General Tso’s Tofu Stir-Fry in just 30 minutes! Spicy-sweet, protein-packed, and a healthier spin on takeout!
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Two plates of our Almond Butter Tofu Stir Fry made with brown rice and green beans
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Almond Butter Tofu Stir-Fry
Easy, 9-ingredient tofu stir-fry with baked tofu marinated in an almond-tamari sauce. Serve with veggies and rice for a flavorful, plant-based meal!
Make The Recipe
Adding peanut sauce to a Crispy Shallot Spring Roll for a delicious vegan appetizer
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Crispy Shallot Spring Rolls with Seared Tofu
10-ingredient Vietnamese-inspired spring rolls packed with fresh vegetables, tender cooked rice noodles, seared marinated tofu, and crispy sautéed shallot! Paired with peanut sauce, they’re the ultimate plant-based meal or side.
Make The Recipe
Wood cutting board filled with Pad Thai Spring Rolls, lime wedges, and a bowl of dipping sauce
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Pad Thai Spring Rolls
Amazing 10-ingredient pad Thai spring rolls with spicy-sweet noodles, crispy baked tofu, and fresh carrots and herbs! A healthier vegan, gluten free entree.
Make The Recipe
Several Banh Mi Spring Rolls on a cutting board with lime and fresh cilantro
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Banh Mi Spring Rolls
Simple, 10-ingredient Banh Mi-inspired spring rolls with crispy baked tofu, quick pickled veggies, and an easy vinegar dipping sauce. So fresh, quick, and filling.
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Chopsticks beside a bowl of Vegan Fried Rice topped with tofu
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Easy Vegan Fried Rice
Easy, 10-ingredient vegan fried rice that’s loaded with vegetables, crispy baked tofu, and tons of flavor! A healthy, satisfying plant-based side dish or entrée.
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Using chopsticks to pick up a piece of Sesame Tofu
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Sesame Eggplant & Almond Butter Tofu Bowls
Hearty, flavorful, 30-minute Asian bowl with crispy almond butter tofu and sesame stir-fried eggplant!
Make The Recipe

Into tofu? Intimidated by it? We hope you found this post helpful no matter where you may be on your tofu-cooking journey!

Have any favorite cooking methods or seasonings? Be sure to share them in the comments! Cheers, friends.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Kyle says

    I came across a recipe that had two extra steps for pressing Tofu. I suggest you give it a whirl as the results are mind blowing.

    1. Press tofu for 30 minutes under a cast iron skillet
    2. Wrap tofu and toss into the freezer over night
    3. Defrost tofu in microwave (my ancient beast takes 5 minutes)
    4. Press again for 30 minutes

    You would think that the amount of water you get out after freezing would be minimal. You get 2x more water out after freezing. Then you can toss in the marinade for an hour or two and it soaks it all right up. My son didn’t notice the difference in his “chicken nuggets” as he destroyed them. It literally looks like chicken.

    It is quite a process but you will love it.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      You can, but I find it changes the texture of the tofu quite a bit (more spongy / chewy out of the freezer).

  2. Laneya Wiles says

    I now bake, marinate and saute. It’s the only way. I never was sold on tofu until I started using this method as stated on this site. My tofu-hating family loved when I made your general tso’s recipe using this method. Perfection

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