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February 1, 2023

How to Have a Restaurant-Level Tofu Experience at Home

Plant-Based

Are you ready to make the most delicious, restaurant-quality tofu at home? If the answer is yes, you’ve come to the right place. This is your one-stop shop for seasoning and cooking tofu. You’ll also find a few necessary tips to take your tofu to the next level.

With these simple tricks and modifications, tofu will become the star of your home cooking. Get ready to enjoy restaurant-quality tofu dishes at home. And impress all your friends and family who say they just don’t like tofu. Most times it’s not that people don’t like tofu. It’s that they’ve never had well-prepared tofu—like you’ll be making soon.

How to Cook Tofu

Cooking with tofu is a go-to option for vegans and vegetarians because the soybean curd is a great plant-based protein option. Tofu is really versatile, too. It can be used as a replacement in recipes that call for chicken, beef, and even pork. There’s no limit when it comes to cooking with tofu.

The neutral flavor of tofu is great for taking on additional tastes that are served with it. When cooking tofu at home, you want to make sure you select the right texture of tofu for the recipe you want to make. Some dishes only work with silken tofu, while others are fine with firm. Once you have your texture selected you’re ready to get started on your restaurant-quality dish.

How To Press Tofu

For firm or extra-firm tofu, pressing the water out of the tofu is a must. If you don’t press out the water, it can leave you with a bland, flavorless tofu dish—as well as a softer, less desirable mouthfeel. If you’ve made tofu at home and disliked the texture, this could be why.

Pressing tofu will create a chewier “meat-like” texture. You can press it for however long you desire. And use whatever tools—like pans and cans or a tofu press—you have around the kitchen.

Click to read a step-by-step guide on how to press tofu.

How To Season Tofu

Plant-based foods, like animal-based foods, still have to be seasoned. The flavors you season with are what makes the food taste good. And the variety of excellent seasoning options available makes creating a tasty tofu dish easy. You almost can’t go wrong.

To add more variety in an easy way, multiple spice blends can be used throughout the week. Making seasoning blends at home is relatively easy and affordable. Some blends for purchase at the store can have an excess of salt or added sugar. That’s why homemade seasoning blends are a great addition to your pantry—during and after your Plant-Based Whole30.

There are two simple approaches to seasoning tofu. The first is to make your tofu taste great by using a dry tofu seasoning to coat the block or cubes before cooking them. The second is to prepare a marinade so the pressed tofu can absorb more of the flavor.

What should you choose? You can’t really go wrong. Marinated tofu adds more flavor, but will need to set for at least four hours. Dry tofu seasoning can be sprinkled on at almost any time in the prep and cooking process.

These tofu seasoning recipe ideas give you three different ways to season your tofu—and enhance your meals. Don’t forget to add plenty of veggies to your plate with this plant based protein.

Cajun Seasoning

  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

Taco Tofu Seasoning

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin 
  • 1 ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Lemon Herb Tofu Marinade

  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 2 lemons zested & juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tablespoon hemp seeds

Cooking Methods

The texture of tofu can sometimes be off-putting to some people. It’s soft and unlike any other animal or plant-based protein out there. But there are ways to get a perfectly textured tofu every time. 

Like any good project, preparation is one of the most important steps. Pressing tofu changes the texture to be more firm, but cooking methods can also influence the consistency. For example, baking at high heat and air frying will yield a crispy outer texture, whereas slow cooking will yield a softer texture.

Cooking “Dry Rubbed” and Marinated Tofu

Cut your tofu into strips or cubes and toss with olive oil to coat them in the dry seasoning before baking or air frying. For the marinated version, you can let it sit for a few hours to absorb all the flavors, then cut and cook.. 

Pan-cooked tofu can get a crunchy texture by using vegetable broth or a neutral oil in the pan for coating, not deep frying. To achieve this effect, evenly space out the tofu and avoid crowding the pan. Use a large skillet on medium heat for seven to 10 minutes—flipping occasionally. 

Air-fried tofu is another great way to make a crispy treat at home. The smaller the pieces are, the shorter the duration they will need to cook and the crispier they can become. The best recommendation is to air fry your tofu for 11-15 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (F), or until your tofu is nice and crispy. 

Baked tofu is a classic way to make tasty cubes. Baking is the best for marinated tofu, but even though it takes a little longer to cook, the end result is worth it. Bake your tofu on a sheet pan at 425 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

How Long to Cook Tofu

Tofu can be eaten raw or cooked, so there is no minimum time required before enjoying it. Cooking tofu can be done to your preference. If you like super crispy tofu, you may want to bake it longer. If you like a firm, “chewy” texture, you may want to press it longer or try the freezing method outlined below.

Bonus Tofu Tip: Can You Freeze Tofu?

Yes! Tofu can be frozen to preserve it if you aren’t planning to eat it quickly. Slice the tofu into cubes or blocks, and place in a reusable zip-top bag for up to six months. Depending on what you want to make with it, you can freeze the whole block, as well.

To have a more “meat-like” texture from tofu, first remove the block of tofu from the packaging and press it using your preferred method. Instead of preparing the tofu after the first pressing, place the whole block in the freezer—make sure to use a freezer-safe container. Let it freeze for a few hours and then place the tofu in the fridge to thaw. Once it is thawed, press the tofu once again. You can repeat this process as many times as you’d like. The more you do it, the denser the block of tofu will become.

Experiment with all the techniques and tips you’ve just learned. That will help you find your favorite way to cook tofu. And you’ll be impressing friends and family with your tofu dishes for years to come.

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