How to Freeze Tofu to Give It the Meat-Like Texture You Crave

Learn how to freeze tofu and it will soon be the only way you prepare it for all your plant-based meals.

I love the way tofu is a neutral canvas that can adapt to pretty much any flavor you add to it. But if you've cooked tofu before, you know preparing tofu the right way can absolutely make or break whether you end up with a bland or tasty meatless dish. If you've ever wondered, "can I freeze tofu?" when it's getting close to the expiration date, I have some excellent news for you. Not only will freezing tofu save your plant-based protein from going bad but is a way to give the tofu a "meatier" texture. Oh, and the tofu absorbs marinades and spices even better than simply pressing tofu (which you should do if you haven't already). So as soybean curd continues to rise in popularity all over the world, I highly recommend freezing tofu before using it as a plant-based substitute in your stir-fries. Read on for some tips and tricks on how to freeze tofu for your next meatless Monday.

slices of tofu on a wood cutting board
Frozen tofu (left) vs. right out of the package. Katlyn Moncada

How to Freeze Tofu

Yes, freezing tofu is an extra step you'll need to plan for, but I promise it's worth it. Since tofu is stored in water, ice crystals form, making porous, sponge-like holes in the block (see photo above). This allows for a chewier texture and the pockets can now absorb more flavor from your tofu marinade or seasonings added. There are a few different ways to freeze tofu, but here are the most popular methods:

  • Tofu freezing option 1: Simply put the entire unopened package of tofu in the freezer. It will take longer to thaw going this route, but I did it this way and found it to work really well.
  • Tofu freezing option 2: Remove tofu and slice or cut into cubes, then freeze in an airtight container or freezer bag.

As you can see from the image above, the frozen tofu color is a bit more yellow. Don't worry, this is totally normal, it's just what happens when the soy protein freezes.

How to Thaw Tofu

OK, so you've got a block of frozen tofu—now what? The easiest way to thaw tofu is to let it hang out in the fridge. Put the container in a bowl or wrap it in a towel so you don't have a puddle to clean up. If you need to quickly thaw frozen tofu, submerge it in hot water or defrost it in the microwave (as long as the package is microwave safe). Once the tofu is thawed, drain and press out the extra moisture before cooking in your favorite tofu dishes.

Crispy Tofu Stir-Fry
Jason Donnelly

Cooking Frozen Tofu

Now that you've learned how to freeze tofu, you can marinate it, bake it, or fry it as usual. My first dish using frozen tofu was a super easy crispy tofu "stir-fry" (pictured above). After a quick run in the air fryer, the tofu beautifully absorbed the homemade sweet ginger-soy glaze. Seriously, it was a flavor bomb that was so much stronger than I've had from just pressing tofu before. And as for the texture? It was strikingly similar to chicken. Give freezing tofu a try and you'll definitely be impressed by how much better your vegan dishes turn out.

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