Silken or extra-firm? To press or not to press? This easy baked tofu recipe + my best tips and tricks will teach you how to cook tofu like a pro!
Everyone has an opinion on tofu, and here’s mine: I absolutely love it…when it’s prepared the right way. If you’ve never worked with it before, cooking tofu can be daunting. But once you learn a little about it, it couldn’t be easier to prepare tofu well. Below, you’ll find my best tips and tricks for how to cook tofu like a pro, plus my go-to sriracha baked tofu recipe!
What is tofu, anyway?
Tofu is a soy-based food that’s made from curdling soy milk and forming it into a solid block. It’s a good source of plant-based protein that can be used in all sorts of ways. It’s a great addition to vegetarian and vegan diets, but even if you’re a meat eater, I urge you to try it. In my tofu recipes, I don’t use it as a meat substitute, but rather as something unique and delicious in its own right!
How to Cook Tofu
Tofu can get a bad rap as a meat substitute, but it’s actually an incredibly versatile ingredient. When blended, it has a great creamy texture – you can use it in a vegan mousse or pudding, and it’s essential for making a creamy ricotta substitute in my lasagna and vegan stuffed shells. Most often, I bake it to add protein and hearty texture to bowls, noodles, and salads.
It’s easy to work with, but there are a few things you should know before you start cooking with it. Here are my best tips for how to cook tofu:
- Make sure you select the right texture. In grocery stores, it ranges from silken to extra-firm. Soft silken tofu would be my choice for blending into desserts or slicing into miso soup, but if you’re serving it as a main dish or topping it onto bowls, extra-firm is what you’ll need. It has a heartier, denser texture and less water content than other types of tofu. Note: I prefer to buy organic tofu made without genetically modified soybeans.
- Press it. Tofu contains a lot of water, and you’ll want to squeeze most of it out, especially if you’re baking, grilling, or frying it. I recommend using a tofu press to do this, because it gives the tofu a delicious chewy texture and makes cleanup a breeze. But having one isn’t necessary. For a DIY option, you can press tofu with a cast-iron skillet instead. No time to press? Wrap the tofu in a paper towel and press it lightly with your hands before cooking.
- Spice. It. Up. There’s a reason that tofu gets flak for being bland, and that’s because it is! Make sure you season it well. You can marinate it, or prepare it using the crispy baked tofu recipe below.
Do I need a tofu press?
The short answer is no, you don’t technically need a tofu press. But if you cook tofu recipes often, I definitely recommend getting one! These gadgets are simple and affordable, and they’ll give your tofu an amazing firm, chewy texture.
After testing the best tofu presses, my favorite is the Tofuture Tofu Press, which is easy to use and yields perfectly pressed tofu every time. It also captures the excess liquid from the tofu, making cleanup easy. I just pour the extra water into the sink!
My Go-To Baked Tofu Recipe
First, drain and press the tofu. For the best texture, press the tofu using a tofu press or cast-iron skillet for 20 to 30 minutes. If you’re short on time, just drain the tofu and gently press it in a kitchen towel or paper towels over the sink. The tofu won’t be as firm this way, but it will still be delicious!
Next, cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and spread them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toss the cubes with olive oil, tamari or soy sauce, and sriracha. If desired, you could also add cornstarch to make the cubes extra crispy.
Finally, bake! Transfer the baking sheet to a 425°F oven and cook until the cubes are browned around the edges. Enjoy!
More Plant-Based Cooking Basics
If you love this recipe, try one of these plant-based cooking components next:
- Crispy Roasted Chickpeas
- Marinated Baked Tempeh
- How to Cook Lentils
- Lemon Herb Couscous
- Herbed Farro
- Cauliflower Rice
- Zucchini Noodles
- Spaghetti Squash
- Vegan Bacon
How to Cook Tofu
- Baking Sheets (I love these nonstick ones from Nordic Ware)
- Toss the cubed tofu with the olive oil, tamari, and sriracha. For extra crispy tofu, sprinkle with the cornstarch and gently toss to coat.
- Spread the tofu evenly onto the baking sheet. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until browned around the edges. Remove and serve warm.