How to Cook Tofu Like a Pro {GIVEAWAY!}

by Heather

Ahh tofu. Loved by many, hated by more.

Tofu is a fantastic protein source and is rich in iron, copper, manganese, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Unfortunately, it’s often overlooked as a food choice at home. Ever notice {if you’ve dared to order it} that tofu tastes delicious in a restaurant dish, but bland, squishy, and gross at home?

It’s all about the prep method. Think of tofu as a base for whatever dish you’re making- it’s up to you to make it work!

how to cook tofu

I used to be a firm believer that you could skip the first step in tofu preparation: pressing the tofu. But I will admit, I’m wrong. {You won’t here me say that often!} Pressing the water out of the tofu makes a huge difference. Sure, it’s fine to skip if you’re just whipping up a side of tofu for a quick dinner, but once you’ve seen how much better it cooks when you press it, you won’t go back.

Tofu comes packed in water. It needs to be drained and then pressed to remove most of the water from the tofu to make room for other flavors to be absorbed. If there’s too much water,  your tofu will remain bland no matter how long you marinate or cook it.

Note: If you’re cooking tofu for stir fries, etc., be sure to use the “firm” or “extra firm” varieties instead of the soft or silken, which are better for blended use.

how to prepare tofu

To press tofu, wrap in paper towels and place something heavy on top. I wrap the tofu block in a layer of paper towels then surround it with a dish towel so I’m not wasting too many paper towels. Rest a heavy dish, cookie sheet with cans, or stack of cookbooks on top. Let rest for at least 30 minutes; more is just fine.

Once tofu has been pressed, slice into strips, cubes, or triangles. Spread on a paper towel for a little extra water absorption.

how to make tofu

Next up: cooking. Yup, we’re skipping the flavoring. For now.

Dry cooking the tofu helps remove a little more moisture and create a crispy outer crust on the tofu. The trick is to use a hot non stick pan- if you have a cast iron pan, this would be a great time to use it. Do not add oil or spray to the pan.

cooking tofu

Optional: toss tofu in cornstarch before cooking to help get a crispy coating. {I compared cornstarched & non-cornstarched versions side by side, and I still can’t decide which I prefer. So it’s up to you!}

cook tofu

Spread tofu evenly throughout pan. Let cook untouched for a few minutes, until tofu starts to brown. Flip tofu and cook other side until brown.

cooking with tofu

Now it’s time to flavor your tofu. You can use any kind of marinade or dry rub you like, but leave out the oil- oil & water don’t mix and it’ll make it hard for the tofu to absorb the marinade.

ways to cook tofu

Add the tofu back to the hot pan until warm enough to eat. If you’re using a marinade with sugar, cook until the sugar caramelizes and thickens.

tofu recipes

I’m a big fan of Asian-based marinades for tofu, but sometimes I like to mix it up. Like this Mexican style marinade:

Chipotle Marinade

by Heather Neal

Keywords: entree vegetarian vegan Mexican Southwest


  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp adobo sauce {from canned adobo peppers}
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Dash of cinnamon


Combine all ingredients.

Pour over tofu, chicken, or other meat. Let marinate for 15-30 minutes, or use as sauce when cooking.

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Want to learn more about tofu? Visit Nasoya’s Tofu U to learn all you ever wanted to know!

tofu brands

Bonus: Win some tofu! One lucky winner will get 5 coupons for Nasoya products plus a T-shirt! I used Nasoya’s Sprouted Tofu Plus {thanks to a coupon} for this dish and loved it- it held up well & tasted great.

nasoya coupons and shirt

To enter, take the Nasoya Tofu U pledge! Leave a comment letting me know you did so.

For a bonus entry, leave a comment letting me know you’re favorite way to prepare tofu or what dish you’d like to make.

Ends tomorrow!

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Gina @ Running to the Kitchen January 3, 2012 at 9:00 am
I've never cooked tofu before flavoring it and I'll admit, I'm lazy on pressing it. It usually gets about 5 minutes of quick pressing and that's it because I never leave myself enough time for that step. I'll have to try this reverse flavoring thing ;) On a side note- is inserting recipage into your post like that giving you any feed issues? Not on reader but on your feedburner subscriptions or networked blogs (if you use it). I was doing that until I realized it was breaking my feed and I tracked it back to some code in the recipage html when I inserted it into the post. So now I haven't been using it in posts, but I wish I could because it's so much easier than using a whole different plugin!
sarah @ sarah learns January 3, 2012 at 10:08 am
i took the nasoya tofu pledge!
sarah @ sarah learns January 3, 2012 at 10:10 am
and i like using tofu in stir fries. my husband and i got an amazing cast iron wok for a wedding gift and we've been trying to season it up! we usually just chop a ton of veggies, press and cube the tofu, and then add whatever sauce we feel like - i love trader joe's general tso's sauce, but we've also done peanut sauces or more simple teriyaki sauce.
Cassidy January 3, 2012 at 10:39 am
I took the nasoya pledge!
Cassidy January 3, 2012 at 10:40 am
And I prefer to fry tofu. I love the crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside result. Yum!
Lauren January 3, 2012 at 10:41 am
I took the pledge!
Lauren January 3, 2012 at 10:42 am
My favorite way is tofu scrambles with lots of veggies & curry powder!
Jane H. January 3, 2012 at 10:48 am
I took the pledge! I've always wanted to make tofu at home, but never tried it's my chance:)
Anna January 3, 2012 at 11:02 am
I took the pledge! I have some tofu in my fridge so I'll definitely be using your method to make it later this week!
Brigid January 3, 2012 at 11:59 am
Great post! I always skip the pressing portion myself. I guess I'll have to try it now to see the difference. I took the pledge and would love to win some tofu as we eat pescetarian at home. I sometimes order meat (chicken, beef) while out to eat, but I'm contemplating giving it up entirely in 2012.
Rebecca January 3, 2012 at 3:59 pm
My favorite way to prepare tofu has to be baked in the oven with bragg's liquid aminos, all-purpose seasoning + salt & cooked until slightly crispy
Rebecca January 3, 2012 at 4:00 pm
I took the tofu pledge!!
Pam January 3, 2012 at 6:25 pm
Took the pledge
Pam January 3, 2012 at 6:26 pm
I love hot and sour soup with tofu.
Lynn January 3, 2012 at 8:31 pm
Took the Tofu pledge!! I love to marinade my tofu in ginger and place it atop some brown rice and freshly steamed veggies. It's the perfect pick-me-up lunch!
Stephanie January 3, 2012 at 8:48 pm
Took the pledge!
Stephanie January 3, 2012 at 8:49 pm
I would like to try maybe tofu tacos, or pad thai with tofu.
Claire January 4, 2012 at 1:36 am
I took the pledge.
Claire January 4, 2012 at 1:37 am
I'd like to make green curry with tofu!
Lyndsay Grimes January 4, 2012 at 7:44 am
I took the pledge
Lyndsay Grimes January 4, 2012 at 7:45 am
I've made a vegan lasagna once with a tofu ricotta that was in-cred-ibe. (from Emily at
Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking January 4, 2012 at 9:07 am
Oh this is a great post! So many people don't really know how to use Tofu. It really is so versatile and we use it in a lot of different dishes. One of our favorite way to prepare it is to marinate it in homemade BBQ sauce and then grill it!
Jessie C. January 4, 2012 at 11:58 am
I took the pledge.
Jessie C. January 4, 2012 at 11:58 am
I like making grilled soy sauce tofu.
peacebeme January 4, 2012 at 1:02 pm
Don't enter me in your contest, I just won this exact same giveaway on another blog! Can't wait to use my coupons. Thanks for this helpful "how to". I will be coming back to it!
Haley @ Health Freak College Girl January 4, 2012 at 4:22 pm
i took the pledge :)
alicia January 5, 2012 at 3:58 pm
I took the pledge!
alicia January 5, 2012 at 4:00 pm
I love making vietnamese style spring rolls with rice paper wrappers, filled with tofu, lettuce, mung bean noodles, cilantro, mint, carrot, and onion with a spicy dipping sauce or peanut sauce!
Tami January 8, 2012 at 1:40 pm
I have pledged!
Tami January 8, 2012 at 1:42 pm
I love tofu cooked all sorts of ways, but my favorite is seasoned up and servers in soft tacos with gobs of hot sauce....mmmmm.

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