How to Cook Tofu

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… That you actually want to eat!

how to cook tofu

A reader asked me a week or so ago to do a post on cooking tofu.  Tofu is definitely one of my favorite foods, but it’s also the type of dish that can go really, really wrong if you don’t follow some basic principles.


There are two ways that I usually prepare tofu:


Fried on the stovetop in a wok

Baked in the oven


I prefer the second method (baking) but frying on the stovetop usually wins out because it’s much faster.


The first thing you must do when cooking tofu is buy the right type.  I REALLY like the Trader Joe’s kind, but Nasoya runs a close runner’s up.  No matter what brand you choose, go with Extra Firm.  It is (obviously) firmer and contains less water, which means you won’t have squishy tofu (yuck).


The second thing to know about cooking tofu is that you’ll probably want to press it before cooking it.  Pressing it removes even more water.  You can press it by wrapping the block in a few clean dish towels and putting it in between heavy plates for 10 – 15 minutes OR you can get a tofu press (like my friend Tammy got me – Thanks, Tammy!).  After pressing, you’ll want to cut the tofu block into squares or triangles.


I’ve found that the Trader Joe’s brand does NOT require pressing, which is why I love it so much. 


(Very Orange Tofu Quinoa) <—One of my favorite recipes


If you plan to cook on the stovetop, you’ll want to follow my Cast Iron Tofu directions.  It’s really simple.  The most important things to know are 1) spray non-stick spray on the wok first; and 2) the wok and butter/oil should be hot before you add the tofu (be careful!).  You can marinade the tofu beforehand OR you can add some flavors to the oil in the wok.


(Pumpkin Spice Tofu)


If you opt to bake your tofu, at the very minimum, you’ll want to toss the pressed tofu pieces in some oil before putting it in the oven.  I usually use olive oil or melted coconut.  Add some salt, too.  But it tastes best if you add flavors.  You’ve got to try my Perfect Baked Tofu recipe.  It’s one of the most popular recipes on my blog (I included it in my book for a reason!) and it’s super simple.


Other fun tofu recipes:


‘Chicken’ Salad Sandwiches (shown above)

Scrambled “Egg” Tofu (great vegan alternative to eggs)

Breaded Baked Tofu (awesome for toddlers)

Cilantro Zest Tofu

Pistachio Stir-Fry


What’s your favorite way to do tofu?



  • Ash Diamond February 3, 2015, 7:03 am

    I love you so much for this post! Pinned and pinned! Let’s see if I can find tofu at the grocery store this week!

  • Beks February 3, 2015, 9:02 am

    I’ve never been able to cook tofu well. I’ve had it in restaurants where it was delicious (my French Club went to a Vietnamese cafe in high school, and the tofu dish I had there was amazing!), but I’ve never been able to make it myself, successfully. 🙁

  • Martha February 3, 2015, 9:19 am

    I love your perfect baked tofu recipe. I tried a new recipe the other day that I have to share. In a cast iron skillet put some beer (or water) and BBQ sauce. Then put in tofu slabs. I cook that until the beer cook down and becomes BBQ sauce consistency again and then put in the oven to firm up.

  • Tammy Root February 3, 2015, 9:33 am

    This post seriously made me hungry. Thanks, Caitlin. Thanks a lot. I am about to board a plane and have absolutely no access to tofu. 😉

  • Heather @ fit mama real food February 3, 2015, 9:41 am

    I get this question all the time when I share a pic of tofu on IG/FB although I don’t really have a way to share how to cook it when asked. Thanks for making this post!

  • Autumn (@ Beautifully Gray) February 3, 2015, 12:10 pm

    This is so helpful! I love tofu, but have never tried cooking it myself.

  • Courtney! @ Redefining Athlete February 3, 2015, 12:16 pm

    I love tofu. I finally convinced my husband to love it too with Iowa Girl Eat’s BBQ Tofu Nachos. I hate to post to another blog, but this recipe is seriously awesome!:

  • Erin @ Her Heartland Soul February 3, 2015, 12:27 pm

    I love tofu! Great post!

  • Sarah @ O-HI-30 February 3, 2015, 12:46 pm

    This meat-eating girl (and bacon-loving!) LOVES her tofu! In fact, I think it’s my favorite form of protein! I wrote a blog post about my favorite way to eat it too: I love stir-frying it in coconut oil!

  • Amanda @ Life to Table February 3, 2015, 12:49 pm

    I have struggled with preparing firm tofu. I have just started mastering how to use silken tofu, which is super easy. Hopefully I can master firm tofu soon!

  • Meg @ Anderstons in the Andes February 3, 2015, 1:06 pm

    My favorite way to cook tofu is on the George Foreman grill. It is super fast and it drains the tofu for you so you don’t have to press it ahead of time. We use the cooked tofu in salads, stirfries and spring rolls.

  • Alexa February 3, 2015, 1:30 pm

    You need to link your best tofu recipe–the perfect baked tofu one! It’s what got me to try (and love) tofu.

  • Kim February 3, 2015, 2:51 pm

    I like to cook tofu in a pan for a long time on medium-high heat. I am definitely not a fan of squishy tofu. Have you noticed that TJ tofu has a strange sourness to it? I can’t eat it anymore because that sour flavor is just too strong. =( It used to be my favorite tofu.

    • Caitlin February 3, 2015, 3:05 pm

      No I haven’t at all!

  • Lisa February 3, 2015, 3:19 pm

    I LOVE tofu, daily garnish got me to love it! MMM crispy tofu is the best.

    However, there has been some research about the negative effects soy has on women. I haven’t even done my research on this so I cant even really inform you on the issue. In fact, I will now! But have you ever looked into or worried about soy in your diet?

    • Caitlin February 3, 2015, 3:22 pm

      Not really – I just try to eat it in moderation. I guess I’m more concerned with not eating meat than I am with eating soy. 🙂

  • Char @ Run Happy February 4, 2015, 7:24 am

    We usually pan-fry tofu for, like you said, convenience sake! My daughter loves tofu straight out of the pack though too haha!

  • Jillian February 4, 2015, 5:02 pm

    I had no idea you were supposed to press the tofu before hand! It makes total sense though, as my tofu always ends up falling apart and mush, never crisp and delicious. Thanks for the tips!

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  • Eva @ All Books Considered February 5, 2015, 5:31 pm

    THIS is my absolute favorite way to make tofu — it’s a little bit of work but SO, so good!!

  • Danielle February 9, 2015, 4:53 pm

    I’m the reader who asked for this post and thank you so much for doing it! I am going to check out your “perfect baked tofu” recipe, pick up the TJ’s tofu and give it another chance! Thanks again!!

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