How to Press Tofu to Get the Ultimate Crispy Exterior

Pressing tofu helps get rid of extra moisture. That means the tofu absorbs the most flavor and achieves amazing texture.

As someone that follows a flexitarian diet these days, tofu is one of my favorite plant-based proteins to keep on hand for cheap, delicious meals. It's an excellent substitute for paneer cheese (my favorite Indian food!) and even "eggs" in my morning wraps. For anyone unfamiliar with cooking tofu, those white spongy looking blocks of bean curd might be a little intimidating. Tofu also gets a bad rap for being mushy and bland, which is totally true if you don't know how to prepare it. Never fear, it's actually quite easy to infuse texture and flavor into tofu dishes. How? By pressing it! Learn how to press tofu (with or without a tofu press) so you can start making your meatless meals even more delicious.

Spicy Tofu Lettuce Wraps
Blaine Moats

How to Press Tofu

Do you really need to press tofu? Well, no. There's nothing wrong with using tofu right out of the water-filled package, but most tofu recipes will call for draining and pressing tofu. When you press water out of tofu, it allows the bean curd to soak up whatever marinade or seasonings you add. Pressing tofu also allows the exterior to get nice and crispy if you're frying, baking, or sautéing it. Here's how to make a homemade tofu press using items you already have in the kitchen.

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Step 1: Drain and Cut Tofu

slices of tofu on teal tea towel
Katlyn Moncada

Drain and remove tofu from the package. Cut into even-width slices and set on a clean, lint-free tea towel ($16, Amazon). You can also use a few layers of paper towels here, I just prefer fabric towels for less waste. Wrap the tofu in the towel and place on a cutting board or baking sheet.

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Step 2: Press Tofu

pressing tofu on cookie sheets with plastic food containers
Katlyn Moncada

Place another baking sheet ($40, Amazon) or cutting board on top of the towel-wrapped tofu. Now you'll need to weigh down the top. Use a skillet, a couple of heavy cans, or food storage containers like I did.

How Long to Press Tofu

If your recipe doesn't say how long to press the tofu, any time draining and removing the moisture is going to benefit your final dish. Just ten minutes will help. I recommend pressing tofu for at least 30 minutes, but you can let it go for longer (I've seen some cooks press tofu for up to four hours). You'll be amazed at how meat-like tofu can get when pressed for a longer period of time.

YARKOR Tofu Press
Courtesy of Amazon

How to Use a Tofu Press

If you're an avid tofu user, you might want to consider investing in a tofu press ($20, Amazon), which is a device that helps to more easily remove the water from the block. There are several different types of tofu presses out there, but they're all basically the same. If you use a tofu press like the one pictured above, you just drop the tofu in and a lid tightly locks in place. With a tofu press, you can leave it to press in the fridge all day to use for dinner or whenever you want to use it.

Once you learn how to press tofu, you'll be ready to use it in all your favorite tofu recipes. Use pressed tofu to absorb incredible flavor with our hoisin-ginger sauce. Marinate pressed tofu for up to 24 hours for a homemade noodle bowl. Use it in your weeknight stir-fry. Not matter how you cook pressed tofu, you know it'll be super delicious and crispy.

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