More than 20 delicious and healthy tofu recipes await you! Including everything from noodles, stir fries, and salads to tacos, sandwiches, fried rice and so much MORE!

Tofu is an important ingredient for those who lead a meat-free lifestyle. It’s a great source of plant-protein, cooks quickly, and readily soaks up flavors. All of these reasons make tofu a weeknight dinner hero—all types of eaters welcome.

cooked cubes of tofu on a baking sheet

Types of Tofu and Their Uses

No matter the method, to get cooking with tofu you need to drain all excess liquid and pat the cube dry. There are different forms of tofu including silken tofu, medium tofu, firm, extra-firm, tofu skins, fermented tofu. We’ll briefly cover how to use each kind, but check out this article for more in-depth info on the different types of tofu, how to prep and how to cook them.

  • Soft/Silken tofu is delicate in both texture and flavor and is commonly used in sauces, creams, dressings, even baking and smoothies. 
  • Medium tofu is a mix between silken and firm and is commonly utilized in stir-fries, grilled dishes and miso soup. 
  • Firm tofu is an easy meat alternative because it holds its shape well and is commonly carried in most major grocery stores. It’s a great alternative for chicken because of its texture and ability to take on any and all seasonings you can imagine.
  • Extra-firm tofu contains one of the tightest packed curds and is slightly chewy in texture. Extra-firm tofu is great in veggie scrambles (egg alternative), fried rice, stir frys, and sandwiches.
  • Tofu skins are pre-cooked and ready to consume. They are commonly used in cold Asian salads, quick stir-fries and even bok choy.
  • Fermented tofu or Chao is essentially tofu left to ferment for a month or more, brined and then soaked in any number of sauces and seasonings but most commonly rice wine, chilis or red bean curd. Use fermented tofu in dipping sauces, served over rice, in soups, and as a condiment.

How to Cook and Eat Raw Tofu

Eating soft/silken tofu raw is super easy to do! Simply remove from the package, drain, pat dry and mix into your favorite smoothie, salad dressing, or enjoy on it’s own with a little soy sauce and sesame oil. Soft silken tofu is also a common ingredient in vegan puddings and mousses. Although any tofu can be consumed raw, soft/silken tofu contains the easiest texture to digest on its own.

cubes of tofu on a baking sheet

How to Bake Tofu

Baking is a quick and easy method for making crispy tofu. As is the case with all kinds of tofu, it’s important to drain and dry well. To do this, slice the large block of tofu into thinner planks and sandwich them between two clean paper towels set on a baking sheet or plate. Set another baking sheet or plate on top and weigh it down with something heavy (like a Dutch oven or large cans). Let the tofu press for at least 10 minutes; replacing paper towels once.

Once the excess moisture is thoroughly absorbed (this will take 10–15 minutes) cut the tofu to desired sizes before tossing with your preferred sauce or 1–2 tablespoon oil, 3-5 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot starch, salt and pepper. Arrange in an even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 400ºF for 25–30 minutes. Enjoy the crisp oven as is with your favorite dipping sauce, in fried rice, Asian noodles, salads, and more.

How to Pan-Fry

Pan-frying tofu is one of our favorite methods. Drain, dry and press the tofu as explained above. Preheat grapeseed oil or sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high until shimming. Toss tofu pieces desired sauce or spice mixture and 3–5 tablespoons of cornstarch or arrowroot starch. Add tofu to hot oil and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown on each side and crispy, about 10 minutes.

21 Delicious & Healthy Tofu Recipes

This article was originally published on June 30, 2021.

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About The Author

Loretta McGraw is a senior in journalism and mass communication at the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Iowa State University. She is currently working as a Digital Food Publishing Intern here at Zestful Kitchen while attending classes and engaging in extracurricular media organizations on campus. After graduating she hopes to continue mastering her writing skills in the magazine industry.

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