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How to Press Tofu: A Step-by-Step Guide

Tofu is a versatile and popular ingredient in many cuisines, especially for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet. Pressing tofu is an essential step to achieve a firm and meaty texture, allowing it to absorb flavors more effectively during cooking. In this article, we will guide you through the process of pressing tofu, providing useful tips and techniques to help you get the best results.

Why Press Tofu?

Tofu is typically packed in water, which gives it a soft and spongy texture. Pressing tofu removes excess moisture, resulting in a firmer texture that can be easily marinated, grilled, or stir-fried. By pressing tofu, you enhance its ability to absorb flavors and prevent it from becoming mushy when cooked.

Step 1: Choose the Right Tofu

When it comes to pressing tofu, selecting the right type is crucial. Firm or extra-firm tofu works best for pressing, as they have a higher water content and hold their shape better during the process. Silken or soft tofu, on the other hand, is not suitable for pressing as they have a delicate texture.

Step 2: Gather Your Materials

To successfully press tofu, you will need the following materials:

  • A block of firm or extra-firm tofu
  • Paper towels or clean kitchen towels
  • A cutting board
  • A heavy object or tofu press

Step 3: Prepare the Tofu

Remove the tofu from its packaging and drain any excess liquid. Place the tofu block on a cutting board lined with paper towels or clean kitchen towels to absorb the moisture.

Step 4: Apply Pressure

If using paper towels, cover the tofu block with another layer of paper towels. Place a cutting board on top of the tofu, followed by a heavy object like a cast-iron skillet or a few heavy cans. Apply even pressure to the tofu to squeeze out the water.

Step 5: Pressing Time

The pressing time may vary depending on how firm you want your tofu. For a softer texture, press it for 15-30 minutes. If you desire a firmer texture, press it for 1-2 hours. Remember to change the paper towels if they become too damp.

Step 6: Alternative: Using a Tofu Press

If you have a tofu press, follow the manufacturer's instructions for pressing the tofu. These presses are designed to apply consistent pressure, making the process more convenient.

Step 7: Remove the Pressed Tofu

After the desired pressing time has passed, remove the heavy object or release the pressure from the tofu press. You will notice that the tofu has released a significant amount of water.

Step 8: Dry the Tofu

Gently pat the tofu dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Take care not to apply too much pressure, as the tofu may crumble or lose its shape.

Step 9: Cut and Cook

Now that your tofu is pressed and dried, you can proceed to cut it into cubes, slices, or any desired shape. The tofu is now ready to be cooked in various recipes of your choice. Here are some popular cooking methods for pressed tofu: Marinating and Grilling: Pressed tofu is excellent for marinating as it absorbs flavors more effectively. Slice the tofu into desired thickness, prepare a marinade of your choice, and let the tofu soak in the marinade for at least 30 minutes. Once marinated, you can grill the tofu on a preheated grill or grill pan until it develops a nice char and crispy texture. Stir-Frying: Pressed tofu holds its shape better during stir-frying, making it a great addition to stir-fry dishes. 

Cut the tofu into cubes or rectangular slices, and stir-fry it with vegetables, sauces, and seasonings of your preference. The firm texture of pressed tofu allows it to remain intact while being tossed in the pan. Baking or Roasting: Preheat your oven and cut the pressed tofu into slices or cubes. Arrange them on a baking sheet and bake or roast until they turn golden brown and slightly crispy on the outside. This method gives the tofu a chewy texture and is perfect for adding to salads, Buddha bowls, or wraps. Pan-Frying: Heat some oil in a non-stick skillet and place the sliced tofu in a single layer. Pan-fry the tofu over medium heat until it becomes golden brown and crispy on both sides. This method creates a crunchy exterior while keeping the inside tender and flavorful.

FAQs about Pressing Tofu

Here are some frequently asked questions about pressing tofu:

Question Answer
1. Can I press soft or silken tofu? No, soft or silken tofu has a delicate texture and is not suitable for pressing. Stick to firm or extra-firm tofu for best results.
2. Can I reuse the paper towels? It's best to use fresh paper towels when pressing tofu to ensure proper absorption of moisture.
3. How can I store pressed tofu? After pressing, store the tofu in an airtight container filled with water in the refrigerator. Change the water every day to keep it fresh. Pressed tofu can be stored for up to 3-4 days.
4. Can I freeze pressed tofu? Yes, you can freeze pressed tofu. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or place it in a freezer bag before freezing. Thaw the tofu in the refrigerator before using it.


Pressing tofu is a simple yet crucial step to achieve a firmer texture and enhance its ability to absorb flavors. By following the step-by-step guide in this article, you can enjoy tofu that is perfect for grilling, stir-frying, baking, or pan-frying. Experiment with different marinades and cooking methods to create delicious tofu dishes that will satisfy both vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Pressed tofu opens up a world of culinary possibilities, allowing you to explore new flavors and textures in your plant-based cooking.

Goodbye for now! If you found this article helpful, you might also be interested in our next article on "Creative Tofu Recipes to Try". Stay tuned!