A quick and easy method for making crispy shredded tofu at the drop of a hat. Use the flavorful, crispy vegan shreds as a taco filling, loose “meat” sandwich, or filling for a rice bowl. Master the method then play around with different spices, aromatics and sauces.

Why You’ll Love This Method

  • Quick: want crispy tofu but don’t have time to press it between layers of paper towels for 30 minutes? This is the method to use. Simply squeeze some of the excess liquid out using your hands then shred and start cooking!
  • Versatile: The method lends itself to versatility. Make it once as written with garlic and cumin, than play around with different spices, aromatics and sauces. 
  • No Special Equipment: no fancy pressing contraption, no air fryer, you don’t even need to heat up the oven. All you need is a box grater and a nonstick skillet. 
  • Unique and different: when you want to try something other than cubes or strips of crispy tofu, this shredded tofu is a nice option. 
Close up of shredded tofu.

The Best Tofu For Shredding

The best type of tofu to use for this method is extra-firm tofu packed in water and sold in the refrigerated section. Do not use silken tofu. The recipe will likely work with firm tofu, though I haven’t tested that. The firmer, the better because the shreds are more likely to stay intact during cooking. 

The Technique

This method is all about increasing the surface area on the tofu. More surface area means the excess water in the tofu will evaporate off at a higher rate (which is why you don’t have to press it between towels). 

More surface area means more crispiness, which is high priority when it comes to cooking with tofu. The method is simple: shred extra-firm tofu onto a paper towel using a large hole grater. Transfer the tofu shreds to a large nonstick skillet with hot oil and cook until crispy. 

Block of tofu, garlic cloves, butter, olive oil and cumin seeds set out on a wood counter.

Ingredients Needed

Here is the list of ingredients you will need for the recipe. Find the full recipe, with all the measurements, in the recipe card below. 

  • Tofu: for two to three servings, you will need 1 (16-ounce) block of extra-firm tofu. 
  • Oil: for this recipe you will need a high-heat cooking oil. I recommend using a neutral oil like avocado oil or canola oil. But you can also use more flavorful oils like sesame oil or peanut oil. 
  • Garlic: you’ll need 2 large cloves for this recipe. You can skip the garlic if you plan to season with other flavors or toss with a sauce.
  • Cumin Seeds: another optional ingredient. But I think it makes for a very flavorful shredded tofu. If you don’t have cumin seed, skip it and add a dash of ground cumin at the end of cooking. 
  • Butter/Vegan Butter: just a tablespoon is needed towards the end of cooking to encourage browning on the tofu. 

How to Make Shredded Tofu

  1. Squeeze Out Excess Water

I promised no pressing and there is no pressing. But I do recommend squeezing the big block with your hands to express any excess water. This isn’t anything too crazy—just give it a good squeeze. It may start to break apart a bit and that’s OK. Just don’t let the block fall apart or that will make it hard to shred. 

  1. Shred the Tofu
Shredded tofu set out on a layer of paper towels.

Use a large hole box grater to shred or “grate” the tofu. I recommend grating the tofu over a single or double layer of paper towels. For one, it soaks up any excess moisture. But secondly, it makes it easier to transfer the tofu to the hot skillet.  

  1. Sauté the Aromatics

Add the sliced garlic and oil to a skillet and cook briefly, just until it start to turn golden—it will continue to cook with the tofu so this step is just to jumpstart the cooking. Stir in the cumin seeds and cook briefly until fragrant. 

  1. Add the Tofu and Cook
Shredded tofu cooking in a large skillet.

Add the tofu to the skillet and toss to coat in the oil. Spread the tofu into a single layer and allow it to cook, without moving, until starting to brown. Stir and continue to cook, only stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Add the butter (or vegan butter) and cook until crisp. 

How to Serve It

Shredded tofu stuffed into a flour tortillas and topped with a red salsa, cucumbers, cheese and cilantro.

Storage and Reheating

  • Store the cooked shredded tofu in a glass container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed through. 
  • Freeze shredded tofu for up to 3 months. 
  • You can also shred the tofu up to 3 days before cooking it. 

Shredded Tofu Recipe

5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Yield 2 –3 servings
Category Main Dish
Cuisine Asian/American


This shredded tofu recipe is the ideal method when you’re planning to cook tofu but don’t have time to press it. Quick, easy and versatile. Use it as a taco filling, sandwich filling, or protein for a rice bowl.


  • 1 (16-ounce) extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 2 tablespoons avocado or canola oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or vegan butter
  • Kosher salt


  • Squeeze tofu over a bowl to remove excess water. It’s OK if the tofu starts to break apart, but avoid crushing it into small pieces. This step is meant to release most of the excess of water, but not all of it.
  • Shred tofu over a layer of paper towels using a large-hole box grater. Spread tofu into a single layer and let drain while preparing and cooking garlic.
  • Slice 2 cloves garlic then add to a large nonstick skillet with 2 tablespoons avocado oil. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, just until garlic starts to turn golden around edges, about 2 minutes.
  • Add 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and cook 30 seconds.
  • Add shredded tofu and 1 teaspoon of salt; toss to coat (turn those garlic slices up and into tofu!) then spread tofu into an even layer and cook, without moving for 3 minutes. Stir tofu then spread into an even layer and cook without moving for another 3 minutes. Repeat stirring, spreading into an even layer and cooking for 3 more minutes once more.
  • Add 1 tablespoon butter and cook until golden brown and crisp, 4–6 minutes. Serve as desired.


Storage: Store the cooked shredded tofu in a glass container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed through.
Freeze shredded tofu for up to 3 months.
You can also shred the tofu up to 3 days before cooking it.
This recipe is adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe by Chris Morocco.


Serving: 1/3 of recipeCalories: 158kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 4gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 243mgFiber: 0.5g
Like this? Leave a comment below!I love hearing from you and I want to hear how it went with this recipe! Leave a comment and rating below, then share on social media @zestfulkitchen and #zestfulkitchen!
Shredded tofu cooked in a nonstick skillet.

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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