Tofu can be complicated. For many people, when they first try to cook it themselves, they don’t understand what the fuss is about. They might think it’s soft, it’s flavorless, it’s no real alternative to meat—but that’s only at the start. After you’ve learned to cook with tofu properly, there’s no going back.

JUMP TO THE TOFU PRESSES

One of the most important steps toward cooking a great tofu-based meal is finding the right tofu press. Yep, that’s right, if you’ve just been taking tofu straight out of the packet and hoping for the best, your world is about to change. Here’s why you should start pressing your tofu, as well as some of the best tofu presses available right now, and, of course, mouthwatering recipe inspiration. 

JUMP TO THE RECIPES

Should you always press tofu?

Most packaged tofu has high water content, and when tofu is wet, it’s much harder to achieve that dense texture, which allows it to easily firm up in the oven, frying pan, or air fryer. This applies to most types of tofu, even extra firm.

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“You can technically still cook and eat tofu that has not been pressed, however, it will not absorb flavor as well and will definitely not have a very good texture,” food blogger Brita Britnell writes on her blog Food with Feeling. “Especially if you’re trying to get it crispy at all. Just because the tofu has a firmer consistency, that does not mean it’s not holding an excess of liquid inside.”

RELATED: Soy-Free Tofu? It’s a Thing and Here’s Why You Need to Try It

What’s the best way to press tofu?

There are many different ways to press tofu. One of the best ways is to buy a specific tofu press gadget for your kitchen (and you can find some of our recommendations below), but if you’re short on time and don’t want to wait for delivery, it is possible to press tofu without buying anything new at all—all you need is something heavy.

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First, layer up some paper towels over and underneath the tofu on a chopping board. After that, find a skillet or a pan to balance on top. And finally, fill that pan with heavy items in the kitchen—you can use tinned vegetables, bags of flour, cookbooks, or anything else you have on hand.

Whether you’re using a tofu press or the makeshift pan method, you’ll need to leave the tofu for around 30 minutes before you start cooking, to allow most of the water to drain out.

Tofu presses to buy right now

If you’re a tofu fan (and if you’re not, give it time), then a tofu press is a great kitchen tool. It’ll save you time and hassle, and, of course, improve the taste and texture of your tofu dishes. From budget options to more expensive investments, here are some of the best tofu presses you can buy now. 

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1 Noya Adjustable Tofu Press, $21.99

This slightly more sophisticated, self-contained tofu press from Noya is priced under $25, and you get a bang for your buck. It presses the tofu evenly, has a separate drip tray for catching water, and it even has a pour spout (so you can easily remove the extra water without making a mess). Even better, you can use it for marinating tofu in the fridge, too, due to the extra lid. 
Get it here

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2 QBB Tofu Press, $16.98

This tofu press is a little sleeker, making it a perfect option for big families who can’t sacrifice fridge or counter space. It has three main parts, is pretty straightforward to use, and is dishwasher safe making post-dinner cleanup a breeze.
Get it here

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3 Raw Rutes Stainless Steel Tofu Press, $105

This stainless steel option from Raw Rutes is for the real tofu aficionados among us because it’s over $100. But if you’re the type of person who loves to eat tofu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it’s worth the investment. There are no metal springs or plastic bands, just a heavy-duty pressing weight. “It’s the last tofu press you’ll ever buy,” according to Raw Rutes.
Get it here

5 tofu recipes to try next

After you’ve pressed your tofu, the next step is finding the most delicious recipe to try. We have a plethora of tofu recipes to choose from, but to get you started, here is just a small selection of our favorites. 

VegNews.PopcornChik'inFrancesca Bonadonna

1 Easy, Crispy Vegan Tofu Popcorn Chicken

Forget KFC—all you need is a block of tofu and you can make crispy, delicious animal-free popcorn chicken without going anywhere near the fast-food chain. To complete the experience, we recommend serving with fries and your favorite selection of dips, too. 
Get the recipe

VegNews.MusubiDeborah Gleason

2 Maple-Glazed Tofu Musubi

Sushi lovers, listen up: you can make Hawaiian Spam musubi without the actual Spam part. You guessed it, tofu does a great job of replicating the taste and texture of the processed meat favorite. 
Get the recipe

vegnews.bahnmiWilliam and Susan Brinson

3 Vietnamese-Inspired Tofu Bánh Mì

Usually, bánh mì is loaded with pickled vegetables and chicken, but instead of the latter, you can swap in some thin slices of extra-firm tofu. For extra flavor and spice, this recipe calls for hoisin sauce, sriracha, and chopped jalapeño slices.
Get the recipe

VegNews.SpicyFriedTofuLauren Hartmann and Julie Grace

4 Spicy Oven-Fried Tofu

Arguably, tofu is at its best when it’s been baked—it’s crispy on the outside and tender and firm on the inside. For extra crunch, this recipe also uses cornflakes for the coating. And don’t forget the hot sauce.
Get the recipe

VegNews.CharSiuTofuJeeca Uy

5 Sticky Sweet Char Siu Tofu

Save money on takeout by learning to make this delicious sticky, sweet, and tangy tofu recipe at home. It’s easy to make, packed with flavor and is guaranteed to become your new go-to. 
Get the recipe

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