Tofu is a versatile plant-based protein perfect to add to grain bowls, scrambles, and stir fries. Read on to learn how to press tofu to get the crispiest texture with 3 different methods. Including pressing by hand, using a heavy object, or using a special tofu press.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own; I never feature a brand that I don’t love! See my disclosure policy for more details.
What is tofu?
Tofu is made from soybeans that are blended into a milk, curdled, then pressed into a block. You’ll find all types of tofu in the store like silken, regular, firm, and extra firm. The only ones you would need to worry about pressing are regular, firm, and extra firm.
Is tofu healthy?
Absolutely! Tofu is a great source of plant-based protein and important nutrients like manganese, calcium, and iron. One 3-ounce serving of tofu packs in 9 grams of protein and just 90 calories.
Tofu has been found to help reduce the risk of heart disease. This is because soy products like tofu are rich in isoflavones which can help decrease inflammation and improve blood vessel circulation.
Why should I press and drain tofu?
Tofu is an ingredient that acts like a sponge. It’s perfect for soaking up other flavors you are cooking with. However, it’s packaged in water so it’s filled with a lot of liquid when you take it out of the packaging.
Getting rid of this excess water found in the tofu block will create more desired browning and crunch when cooking. This makes tofu taste a lot better, especially if it’s your first time trying it.
You can opt for buying pre-pressed tofu blocks, however they’re typically more expensive and somewhat hard to come by. Try using one of these methods next time you need to press tofu.
1. Press by hand
If you’re in a pinch, you can press tofu by hand. This isn’t a recommended method, but it’s better than nothing. Depending on what firmness you buy, you’ll want to use different levels of pressure when pressing. Pressing with your hands isn’t super effective but it only takes a matter of minutes.
- Carefully remove the block of tofu from the packaging and shake off any liquid.
- Then, place your palms on both sides of the tofu block and press together over a bowl or sink. Be careful to not press too hard or you’ll risk ripping the tofu.
- Pat dry with a paper towel or kitchen towel and use the drained tofu for cooking.
2. Press with a heavy object
Pressing with a heavy object is the most common method for draining the excess liquid from tofu. It’s super easy to do with objects you can find in your home. This method can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 8 hours.
- Start by removing the block of tofu from the packaging and placing the tofu between several layers of paper towels or a kitchen towel.
- Place the wrapped tofu onto a plate or glass baking pan.
- Place a flat, heavy object on top of the wrapped tofu. This could be a cast iron skillet, heavy books, or light books with cans on top.
- Let sit in the fridge for 20 minutes or up to overnight. You should start to see liquid accumulating on the plate. If there’s a large amount of liquid building up, dump it out every so often.
- Remove the object and the towel and use the drained tofu for cooking.
3. Use a press designed for tofu
If you want drained and dry tofu fast, this should be your go-to method. There’s a number of tofu presses on the market, but I love using the TofuBud press.
This press is super effective and easy to use. This method only takes 15 minutes to achieve perfectly pressed and drained tofu!
Here’s how to press tofu fast:
- Start by removing the block of tofu from the packaging and placing the tofu into the TofuBud.
- Add over the spring and screw on the lid.
- Let sit for 15 minutes while all the excess water accumulates at the bottom of the press.
- Remove from the press to reveal tofu that’s been fully drained of its liquid!
What do I do once the tofu is pressed?
So you have perfectly pressed tofu… now what? Cut into cubes, triangles, or break apart into crumbles. Then, feel free to use for most all cooking applications like sauteing, baking, dehydrating, or air frying. Get creative and experiment with some new recipes too!
Here’s some healthy tofu recipes to try:
- Tofu Bowls with Thai Peanut Sauce
- Tofu Scramble
- Sofritas Tofu Burrito
- Sticky Orange Tofu
- Coconut Crusted Tofu
- Spicy Tofu Burger
Need more help with recipes for your busy schedule?
In my coaching + cooking program, I help busy people with beginner cooking knowledge become confident in the kitchen so that they can enjoy nourishing foods they love and stress less about mealtime. Click here to learn more about this virtual program led by a dietitian.