1. Choose the cooking method
2. Tofu in different dishes
3. Tofu with different ingredients
4. Tofu cooking tricks
Tofu is a meat alternative, similar to tempeh, it is high in protein, low in fat, and it has a very bland taste. If you have ever tried tofu and you didn’t like it, maybe it wasn’t cooked properly and you should give it a second chance. Thanks to its neutral flavor, tofu easily absorbs other flavors and spices and it can taste differently. Learn how to cook tofu in different dishes, with various ingredients and different cooking methods. I will share with you all tofu cooking tricks that I know and you can share with me in comments what’s your favorite method to cook tofu.
Choose the cooking method
How to cook tofu in a pan
Pan fried tofu is maybe the most popular cooking method because it is quick and easy, plus you can control the whole cooking process. You can cook tofu in a pan in three different ways: frying it in a deep oil, saute tofu with just a bit of oil, or fry scrambled tofu.
If you like crispy tofu, you should buy firm or extra firm tofu and not the soft one. However, soft tofu can also turn out crispy if you squeeze the liquids from it. The best way to do that is to press the soft tofu cubes with some heavy pot and leave it for half an hour. Remember, tofu will be crispy if it is firm or totally drained out.
Pan fried tofu always features these ingredients: sesame oil (or olive oil), garlic (fresh or garlic powder), plain flour or cornstarch, soya sos, sugar or honey, pepper. When you pan fry tofu in oil, you need to cover it in flour, salt, pepper and garlic first. Fry each side of the tofu for a few minutes, it should look crispy and golden. Stir all other ingredients in one bowl and drizzle that marinade over the pan fried tofu. If there is too much sauce you can leave half of it for serving. Pan fried tofu goes well with sesame seeds and scallions.
How to bake tofu in oven
The biggest advantage of baking tofu over pan frying it, is the amount of oil you need. Obviously, you don’t need much oil when baking tofu and thanks to the baking sheet, it won’t get sticky. But, you still need to squeeze out the liquids from tofu, regardless of the cooking method. When baking tofu you need just three ingredients: cornstarch, a bit of olive oil and soya sos.
If you like spicy tofu, you can also add some paprika or sriracha sauce. After the tofu is baked and crispy, you can drizzle some marinade on it or mix it with any rice dish, salad or wraps. If you want to bake tofu that will turn out crispy, you need to cut it in thinner slices. The choice of seasoning is up to you, tofu easily absorbs every flavor. Just don’t marinate tofu before baking it, it will turn out soggy.
In addition to baked crispy tofu, you can also bake tofu to look like chicken nuggets. In that case, no need to squeeze the liquid from the tofu, and no need to cut tofu in equal cubes, just break tofu in small chunks, cover them in cornstarch or flour first, add some garlic powder if you like and drizzle olive oil and soya sos.
When baking tofu at 190 degrees Celsius, it will be ready in about 30 minutes. You need to flip the tofu cubes/chunks, once they get golden so they are baked evenly on every side.
How to cook tofu stir fry
Stir fry tofu can be combined with pan fry technique as well. When you want to prepare stir fry tofu it always involves at least two types of veggies and some rice or noodles. There are two different ways to stir fry tofu:
-You can pan fry it first, then stir fry veggies and in the last minutes of cooking add pan fried tofu and stir fry it with the veggies.
– The other way to stir fry tofu is to put it in the wok first with some soya sos and oil (canola, sesame oil, olive oil), stir it for about 8 minutes and then add vegetables in it, with some more soya sos.
When you cook tofu stir fry, you need to have in mind these “rules”:
- Use extra firm tofu and press it with a pan for 20 minutes or so, to squeeze all the liquids.
- You can stir fry tofu with or without flour/cornstarch.
- Soya sos and oil are the main ingredients, but you can play and add more ingredients. Ginger, garlic,honey, rice vinegar are a perfect addition to every tofu stir fry.
- If soya sos and other ingredients are not thick enough and tofu is “swimming” in too much liquid, add some cornstarch in it.
- When you want to stir fry veggies that need longer cooking time, you can stir fry them separately and then add pan fried tofu.
- Naturally, first add the veggies that are the hardest to cook.
- You can garnish stir fried tofu with sesame seeds and green onions.
- If you prefer crispy tofu, than you can just stir fry veggies and add pan fried tofu at the end (when you remove the wok from the stovetop).
Unlike baked tofu that can be refrigerated for days, stir fry tofu is the best to eat immediately without keeping leftovers.
How to cook tofu in air fryer
Cooking tofu in an air fryer takes less time than baking it in the oven. Unlike stir fried and pan fried tofu, this cooking method doesn’t require oil, or you can put just a drizzle of it. Depending on the type of your air fryer you will need to cook it for about 12 to 15 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius. The first time you cook tofu in air fryer, test the best temperature and the cooking time. Of course, if you want crispier tofu, the cooking time will be about 15 minutes.
The rule of pressing the tofu and squeezing the liquids can be applied for this cooking method as well. Use extra firm tofu, press it for 15 minutes, cut it into small cubes and cover it in cornstarch, salt and pepper (and a bit of sesame, olive or avocado oil). You can add some other spices such as paprika, garlic powder, ground coriander, soya sos, tamari sos.
Don’t forget to stir and shake tofu from time to time so it gets cooked evenly.
How to cook tofu in microwave
Cooking food in a microwave is not the best solution, but if you don’t have any other choice, here’s how to cook tofu in microwave. Following the same steps for pressing and cutting tofu into cubes, the next is to put tofu in a microwave and cook it between 2 and 7 minutes at the highest temperature. If you cook crumbled tofu, 3 minutes is enough.
You shouldn’t season tofu before cooking it in a microwave, but you can sprinkle some garlic powder, soya sos, vinegar or lemon juice, honey or molasses and sesame seeds afterwards.
Tofu in different dishes
How to cook tofu for salad
The best way to prepare tofu for salad is to pan fry it or just to marinate it. You can mix tofu with any kind of vegetables, here are some combinations:
- Red onions, mix green salads, tomatoes
- Cooked peas and fresh or cooked carrots, kimchi or fresh cabbage
- Spinach, radishes, cucumbers
- Cucumber, carrots, mixed greens
Crispy, pan fried tofu seasoned with sesame seeds will be a star of any salad. As for the salad dressings, you can combine soya sos, ginger, vinegar, olive oil, fresh garlic, chilli flakes and honey. Instead of vinegar you can also use fresh lime or lemon juice. You can also garnish the salad with salty peanuts or cashews.
How to cook tofu in soup
You can cook tofu in a soup, straight ahead, together with other ingredients, without previous baking. Another even tastier option is to stir fry tofu with veggies and then to add broth for the soup. For more crunchy tofu, you can bake it or pan fry it first and then add it to the soup at the end. If you want just to cook tofu in a soup, you can choose soft tofu instead of firm one, that will behave like a sponge, absorbing the liquids from the soup.
When making soups with tofu (without meat), you need these veggies so the broth has a better flavor: celery, carrots, green onions, onions, garlic. Every soup needs some pepper and parsley as well.
These are the most popular combinations of ingredients when cooking tofu in a soup:
- Miso paste, seaweed, green chard and green onions
- Soya sos, rice or any other vinegar and sesame oil
- Potatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers
- Kale, mushrooms, peas
In addition to these combinations of vegetables and must-have soup ingredients mentioned above, you can also add some rice or noodles.
How to cook tofu for pad thai
You can stir fry tofu together with the veggies that go with pad thai or you can saute tofu and cook it in a skillet at medium heat until golden brown. If you stir fry tofu, you need to put some oil and cook it in a pan until golden and then add the veggies. You don’t need to put too much oil, only a tablespoon or two.
Don’t forget to press tofu first with some large skillet for 10 minutes or so, because it has to be drained completely. In some pad thai recipes, you may find the instructions to add tofu in the skillet together with the veggies. Tofu is tastier if prepared separately, with or without marinade/sauce, or if you want to cook it with the veggies, saute the tofu first and then add the veggies.
How to cook tofu for thai green curry
Cooking tofu for green curry can be done in three ways. You can fry or saute the tofu separately and then stir it in the green curry. If you are cooking green curry in an instant pot, you can put tofu at the same time as all other ingredients. The third way is to cook tofu in a skillet, first add veggies, curry paste and other ingredients, then coconut milk, with tofu, water and sugar.
Whatever way you choose, you should use extra firm tofu and you should it press it with a heavy object to drain the liquids. If you want to eat tofu that absorbed green curry flavors, then it is better to cook it together with other ingredients in one pot.
How to cook tofu for curry
When using tofu to prepare vegetarian chicken curry or similar meals with yellow curry, you should pan fry tofu separately and then add it later in the curry. That way it doesn’t become soggy. Also, keep tofu under a heavy object at least 30 minutes. You don’t need to use much oil when cooking tofu, but that depends on the pan or skillet you are using. Don’t season tofu because it will be mixed with curry which is spicy enough.
How to cook tofu for fajitas
You can bake tofu and then use it as a meat alternative for fajitas. Another way to prepare tofu for fajitas is to season it well with hot and sweet paprika, chilli flakes or cayenne pepper, black pepper, lime or lemon zest, kumin. You can marinate tofu in the fridge up to one day or at least one hour, and then pan fry it separately or stir fry it with other ingredients for fajitas.
How to cook tofu for tacos
The easiest way to prepare tofu for tacos is to sprinkle it with taco seasoning mix and fry it with just a bit of oil in a deep pan or skillet. If you don’t have taco seasoning, you can pan fry tofu with chilli powder, onions and garlic, paprika, salt and cumin.
Tacos goes well with scrambled tofu, so you can break tofu cubes in small pieces, season with taco mix or the seasoning of your choice and fry it in a skillet. An alternative method, without oil is to bake scrambled tofu in the oven and then cook them with taco salsa in a pan. When baking scrambled tofu in the oven, better use garlic and onion powder instead of fresh ones. If you like soya sos, you can add some together with other spices.
How to cook tofu for pasta
Baked tofu, scrambled tofu or pan fried tofu- whatever cooking method you choose when making pasta with tofu, you won’t make a mistake. Scrambled tofu goes well with tomato sauce if you want to make a vegetarian Bolognese pasta. You can season scrambled tofu with any type of spices and bake it for half an hour. Then cook tomato sauce and stir in scrambled tofu. You can use the same method when making vegetarian tofu lasagna.
For pasta dishes with pesto sauce, baked tofu is the best choice and pan fried and sauteed tofu goes well with white sauces or with pasta without sauce. You can use tofu with any kind of pasta and any combination of veggies and spices.
Tofu with different ingredients
Cooking tofu with oyster sauce
When preparing tofu dishes with oyster sauce, you can use extra firm tofu that you will fry or sauté in the pan separately. Oyster sauce should be mixed with stir fried veggies and in the very end of cooking, you can add pan fried or sautéed tofu in cooked oyster sauce.
How to cook tofu with noodles
Whatever noodles you choose to cook with tofu, you need to cook them separately and then add baked, pan fried or stir fried tofu. To avoid tofu to become too soggy, don’t stir it in the noodles and veggies before eating. Noodles go well with crispy tofu, so you can fry tofu in a deep pan or skillet with or without marinade. If you like one pot meals, you can fry tofu first, add some veggies and soya sos and then stir in cooked noodles. The cooking time should be quick so your tofu stays crispy.
Cooking tofu with soy sauce
Tofu and soy sauce go perfect together when making noodles, rice with veggies and tofu. You can marinate tofu with soy sauce, garlic and chilli flakes or powder for one hour in the fridge. After that you can bake tofu in the oven or cook it on the stovetop. If you don’t have time to marinate tofu you can still mix it with soya sauce and stir fry it with some veggies of your choice.
How to cook tofu with sesame seeds
Sesame seeds and sesame oil are widely used when cooking tofu. You can sprinkle sesame seeds on the pan fried tofu, before or after cooking. If you like your tofu to be more crunchy you can cover it in sesame seeds and bake it in the oven. Sesame seeds can burn easily so you need to bake or cook tofu at very low heat.
How to cook tofu with kangkong
Tofu and kangkong are usually cooked with oyster sauce. First pan fry tofu and remove it from the pan once it gets crispy and golden. Then cook oyster sauce with other ingredients and add tofu and kangkong and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes. For more tender kangkong, first add fried tofu and kangkong in the pan and cook for a few minutes and then add oyster sauce in the last minute of cooking. The third option is to cook kangkong in oyster sauce without tofu and once it is cooked to serve it on the plate with fried tofu.
How to cook tofu with eggs
You can prepare tofu egg omelette, scrambled tofu eggs or you can use eggs and cornstarch for making “breaded” tofu. The same way you can make frittata with tofu, eggs and veggies. To make scrambled eggs with tofu, whisk eggs with salt and pepper, fry onions and scrambled tofu in a pan and once it is cooked add whisked eggs. You can add any kind of vegetable in scrambled tofu and eggs dish. For cooking egg omelette you also need scrambled or smashed tofu and you need to combine it with whisked eggs before frying. Frittata is similar but you need to sauté vegetables first, for example kale or spinach, onions, mushrooms and once they are cooked enough, add eggs with scrambled tofu. When frying tofu with cornstarch you can dip it into whisked egg and you will have something like vegetarian chicken nuggets.
How to cook tofu with cornstarch
Cornstarch makes tofu crispy. Just coat tofu cubes with some cornstarch and bake tofu in the oven on a baking sheet. When you coat tofu with cornstarch, you can also pan fry it in a skillet, at medium heat and some oil.
How to cook tofu with flour
Similar to cornstarch, you can coat tofu with flour and bake it or pan fry it. Cornstarch is a better option because you will need less of cornstarch than flour to get the same firm and crispy effect. Flour is less thickening than cornstarch.
How to cook tofu with pork
Tofu with minced pork is a Chinese dish. Pork is usually cooked with onions and garlic and then you can add oyster sauce and soya sauce together with pan fried tofu. Cooking tofu with pork requires extra firm tofu, and you need to fry it or bake it first and then add it to the pork stew.
How to cook tofu with veggies
You can stir fry tofu with veggies in the same skillet, first cooking tofu and then adding veggies. If you prefer crispy tofu, better bake it in the oven or fry in the pan to stay crispy and then mix it with cooked veggies in the end.
How to cook tofu with sauce
Tofu can be marinated in soya sauce for one hour and then baked or sautéed . You can also stir fry tofu with oyster or soya sauce. To prevent tofu become soggy, don’t let it cook in the sauce for too long and use extra firm tofu.
Making tofu with eggplant
If you like Asian cuisine, you can try to cook tofu with eggplant. It is popular in Japanese, Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine. Tofu with eggplant is the best to cook stir fry. First sauté tofu in a deep skillet and once it is tender and crispy, you add eggplant and other ingredients and stir fry it for about 10 minutes. Tofu and eggplant stir fry goes well with hoisin sauce and vinegar, scallions and garlic. In addition to hoisin sauce, it also goes well with soya sauce. If you don’t like to cook tofu in a sauce, you can pan fry it separately and add it at the end.
How to cook tofu with rice
In addition to the plain cooked rice covered with veggies and tofu cubes, you can make tofu with fried rice. For making fried rice you can use either tofu cubes or even better scrambled tofu. If you prefer tofu cubes, you need to prepare them separately and then add them later to the fried rice. On the other hand, scrambled tofu can be cooked together with the veggies and other fried rice ingredients.
How to cook tofu with ramen
Similar to other noodles, you can cook soup with tofu and ramen or cook pasta with it. For the crunchy effect, better pan fry tofu with spices or marinade of your choice and then stir the tofu cubes into cooked ramen noodles. Check more info above on cooking tofu in a soup.
How to cook tofu with bbq sauce
Unlike other sauces, barbecue sauce doesn’t go well with one pot, stir fry tofu with veggies. The best way to cook tofu with bbq sauce is to brush it with it and then bake it in the oven with a baking sheet or pan frying it at low temperature.
How to cook tofu with curry
Tofu with curry should be cooked very shortly. Whatever curry you use, prepare tofu first and then add it in the last minutes of cooking. It won’t get soggy. You can also coat the tofu cubes with cornstarch which will make them firm. When cooking Indian curry you can add pan fried tofu in the last 10 minutes of cooking. If you prefer Thai curry, don’t cook tofu in a curry but separately, and just before eating top crispy tofu cubes over rice and curry.
How to cook tofu with tausi
When cooking dishes with beans and tofu, you should fry tofu in oil first and then combine it with tausi and other veggies. You can cook tausi and garlic in a skillet and add fried tofu, a drizzle of soya sauce, a bit of water and scallions. Don’t cook it too long. The other way is to sauté tausi with onion, garlic and ginger, add some white wine and water with cornstarch, and once it is cooked and thickened enough, you can stir in fried tofu. If you want to cook tofu with tausi sauce, sauté tausi beans with garlic and onion, add some water and soya sauce and add fried tofu when it starts to boil. Don’t cook it more than 7 minutes.
How to cook tofu with coconut oil
If you prefer to use coconut oil when cooking, you can use it to cook tofu as well. Choose one of stovetop cooking methods such as pan frying, sautéing and use non stick pan or skillet for frying. When cooking tofu with coconut oil, you can still coat it with cornstarch for extra crispness.
Tofu cooking tricks
How to cook tofu without oil
Place tofu on a baking sheet and bake it in the oven for half an hour or until golden. You can season it with any spices of your choice, cover it with sesame seeds or marinate it with soya sauce.
Cook tofu without frying
There are three ways to cook tofu without frying it: in a microwave, in an air-fryer and bake it in the oven. Baking tofu in the oven is the longest method but probably the healthiest one. It is up to you which one you will choose, depending on the kitchen gadgets you have.
How to fry/bake tofu without it falling apart
To prevent tofu from breaking, use extra firm tofu, press it with something heavy for at least 10 minutes or more and coat it with cornstarch or flour. Also, use non stick pans and flip them carefully.
Cooking tofu without pressing
If you don’t have time to press tofu so it gets drained, use extra firm tofu and coat it with cornstarch. To avoid sogginess, cook tofu separately from other ingredients.
How to make tofu without marinade
You can prepare tofu without marinade, only with some seasoning or just with a drizzle of oil. It depends what cooking method you use to cook tofu. Sprinkle some spices of your choice, like salt, pepper, sesame seeds, paprika and fry tofu in a pan or bake it without oil.
How to make tofu without sticking
Use a baking sheet or a non-stick pan to prevent tofu from sticking. If you cook tofu on the stovetop, cook it at medium heat with some oil. If you don’t have a non stick pan, don’t sprinkle sesame seeds on tofu before frying.
How to make tofu healthy
The healthiest way to cook tofu is to bake it in the oven on a baking sheet without oil. For even more healthier solution, avoid sauces and use only healthy spices.
Cooking tofu like chicken
You can fry tofu with cornstarch and eggs to get something similar to chicken nuggets. Tofu can be used instead of chicken for all types of pasta, rice dishes, and stir fry meals.
Preparing tofu for baby
Babies young 8 months or older can eat tofu. Soft tofu is the best first choice for babies, because it is easier to chew than firm tofu. You can cook plain tofu and mix it with other ingredients in a blender. You can blend tofu with different fruits and vegetables. Tofu can be used as a baby cereal as well. You can mix cereals with small tofu chunks. Before you decide to cook tofu for baby, make sure you check first if your baby is allergic to tofu.
Tofu for breakfast
Mix mashed tofu with eggs to make scrambled eggs with tofu meal, tofu egg omelette or tofu frittata. Or make tofu bacon by seasoning thin tofu stripes with spices and soya sauce and pan frying them in a skillet until crispy.