How to Press Tofu
Learn how to press tofu with or without a tofu press for the best result when frying, baking, breading, crumbling and marinating tofu.
Why press tofu?
Tofu is not only packed with water as it’s made, it’s also packed in water when it’s packaged. For the best result when cooking and baking tofu, you want to get that water out so the tofu can absorb more flavour and get crispier if you’re baking or frying it.
To press tofu, you simply apply a steady weight to squeeze out moisture. This can be done using a dishtowel and weighted object such as books or a frying pan, or with a store-bought tofu press.
Do you always have to press tofu?
Nope, not at all. You can skip pressing and use tofu in recipes right out of the package. I often don’t press tofu but I’m also not picky when it comes to eating it. If you want the best result, take the extra time to press it.
When to press tofu
Firm and extra-firm tofu will benefit from pressing. Medium can be pressed very gently but soft tofu is too delicate for pressing. I never press medium or soft tofu.
If you’re baking, frying, crumbling, marinating or adding cubed firm or extra-firm tofu to something like my panang curry, it will benefit from pressing it first.
DIY Tofu Press Method
I pressed tofu using the DIY method for years before finally getting a tofu press. Pressing tofu without a press is free, easy and more or less works just as well as using one.
Time needed: 30 minutes.
How to Press Tofu without a Tofu Press
- Open tofu and drain off the water.
Open a package of firm or extra-firm tofu and drain off the water it’s packaged in.
- Wrap in a dishtowel or paper towels.
Wrap the drained tofu block in a dishtowel or place a piece of folder paper towel underneath and on top of it. You can sit the wrapped tofu right on the counter but to prevent a mess, I’d suggest placing it on a plate to catch the water that will be squeezed out.
- Add some weight on top of tofu.
Now place a heavy object on top of the wrapped tofu. You could use a cutting board with a heavy bowl, book or a couple of cans of food on top it or a heavy frying pan works well too. I like to put a cutting board on the bottom to make it more stable.
- Let sit.
Let the tofu sit for 20-30 minutes. In a pinch, even 10-15 minutes will help. It’s fine to leave it longer.
- Use in recipes.
Now it’s ready to slice, marinate, cube or crumble for use in recipes.
Below you can see a couple of other options for adding weight on top of the tofu. Try a few books, a couple of cans of food or a heavy frying pan.
Using a Tofu Press
Pressing tofu without a press works just fine but there are a few definitely a few benefits to using one:
- You can place the press in the fridge if you want to press tofu overnight or for a longer period of time.
- No need to balance objects on top of a block of tofu…sometimes they can topple!
- Depending on the type of press you use, it will collect the squeezed out water, so there is less mess. I think this is a great bonus!
That’s really it. I’d say using a press is only slightly more convenient than the DIY method. I like mine and I’m glad I bought it but I suppose it depends on how much tofu you eat.
Best Tofu Press
If you’d like to get a store-bought tofu press, here are a few options:
- Tofuture Tofu Press. A handy, mess-free press that’s great for setting it and forgetting it. This is the most popular press you’ll find on Amazon.
- Yakoor Tofu Press. This is the one I have. I’m happy with it. It’s similar to the Tofuture press but doesn’t use elastics.
- Original Tofu Press. A screw and spring press that does the job in 15-minutes.
- Simple Drip Tofu Press. Similar to the Original Tofu Press but it has an extra piece to collect drips so there is less mess.
Can I freeze pressed tofu?
Yes, you can freeze pressed or unpressed firm and extra-firm tofu. Freezing tofu and thawing it before use makes it firmer and chewier, giving it an almost meat-like texture. It also allows it to soak up more marinade or the flavour of whatever you’re cooking it in.
Frozen and defrosted tofu works well for frying, baking, coating in batter, and marinating.
How to Use Pressed Tofu
Pressed tofu is ready to freeze, cube, slice, crumble and more. Here are some recipes to try:
For more information on what tofu is and the best types to use in various recipes, read my guide to tofu and tempeh.
Skip the pressing and the paper towel instant waste. Just press a block between the palms of your hands over the sink. Much more effective than any press. Stop when the block starts to feel really light-weight. Works best with firm/extra firm tofu that has been frozen then defrosted.