6 Different Types of Tofu and How to Use Them

Unless you’re a die-hard vegan, you probably don’t consider tofu the most appetizing food. But this seemingly basic block of soy is full of potential, and there are so many different types of tofu to work with!

In just a few easy steps, you can create a super tasty source of plant-based protein that’s crunchy or creamy, spicy or smoky, sweet or savory, you name it.

All you need is to select the right type of tofu and prepare it correctly. Using silken tofu in a stir-fry will result in a soggy mess, while trying to blend extra-firm tofu into your batter will likely result in a lumpy consistency.

Avoid kitchen disasters by following this guide to cooking with different types of tofu.

What is tofu?

Tofu is made from soybeans and water (essentially soy milk) with added coagulant, usually nigari (liquid left after removing salt from seawater). It comes in two different consistencies: “block” or “regular” tofu and silken tofu. The difference is that block tofu is pressed, so it has less water and therefore generally holds its shape better.

“Tofu is affordable, versatile, nutritious and delicious. It can be used in both savory and sweet applications and generally takes on the flavor of whatever it is cooked with,” says the vegan chef. Lauren Krettzer.

Types of tofu

Here’s a breakdown of the different types of tofu you’ll find and the best ways to use each one.

Super firm tofu

Super firm block tofu has the least amount of water and the most protein: approx. 11 grams per 3 ounces. It’s a hearty, chewy tofu that’s great when you want a “meaty” protein but don’t want real meat.

Since this tofu is denser, it is not the best for absorbing marinades. Instead, cook it with a glaze or something like a healthy barbecue sauce or gravy.

Best to use: sautéed, fried, grilled, baked, crumbled, in sandwiches, in the form of kebabs, in the form of nuggets.

Extra firm tofu

Slightly less dense than super firm tofu is extra firm block tofu. This is still a good source of protein, with approximately 9 grams per 3 ounces.

You can use extra-firm tofu the same way you would use super-firm tofu, so don’t worry if you can only find one at your grocery store.

Best to use: sautéed, fried, grilled, baked, crumbled, in sandwiches, in the form of kebabs, in the form of nuggets.

firm tofu

Firm tofu, which is approximately 7 grams of protein per 3 ounces. This is the tofu to grab if you’re not sure what to use or just want to have it on hand, as it’s the most versatile.

As the name implies, it’s firm enough that it won’t crumble while you work with it (unless you decide to crumble it), but if you were to drop a block onto the counter from above, it would probably crumble.

That porous texture also makes it a good marinade absorbent, as long as you press it first (see below).

Best to use: sautéed, fried, baked, scrambled, in soups, in sandwiches, as vegan “feta” or “ricotta”.

medium tofu

Medium block tofu, somewhat delicate, needs to be handled with care, so don’t use it when you want to stir-fry nice, neat blocks of tofu.

Instead, the silkier consistency is a great way to add a creamy note to recipes and on 6 grams of protein per 3 ounces.

Best to use: in miso soup (cubed), in dressings, in sauces, in creamy stews, and in cold dishes (such as tofu caprese salad).

soft tofu

As you can imagine, soft block tofu has the most water than block tofus, but still offers deals of approximately 5 grams to 7 grams of protein for 3 ounces. Be careful when handling soft tofu, as it tends to break easily.

It adds a creamy consistency and a touch of dairy flavor to dishes, making it perfect for recipes that require blending and pureeing.

Best to use: in smoothies, sauces, dressings, puddings, vegan cheesecakes and to replace eggs in baked goods.

silken tofu

Compared to block tofu, silken tofu has a higher water content because it is not pressed. Silken tofu has a silky texture (hence the name) and falls apart easily. It should not be pressed; Instead, silken tofu should be used straight from the container.

It comes in soft, firm, and extra-firm varieties, but since they all have a high water content, you can often use these types of silken tofu interchangeably in recipes. However, the protein content will vary depending on the type.

Best to use: in smoothies, in sauces, in dressings, in puddings, in vegan cheesecake, to replace eggs in baked goods

How to press tofu

If a tofu recipe calls for pressing the tofu, you probably don’t want to skip that step. Pressing helps remove water so the tofu has a firmer texture, ensuring your recipe doesn’t end up with too much liquid.

Most of the time you will only press firm, extra firm, and super firm block tofu, as the other tofu is too delicate to press.

To press tofu, you can buy a tofu press, but it is not absolutely necessary. If you don’t have press:

  • Place the tofu between paper towels or kitchen towels on a cutting board or plate.
  • Place another plate or plate on top and weigh it down with heavy objects like cans of beans, cookbooks, or more plates.
  • Let the tofu drain for at least 20 minutes. Then it will be ready for your recipe!

Different ways to cook tofu

You can prepare different types of tofu in many different ways. Head to the kitchen and experiment with some of the following to see which one you like best.

1. baked tofu

Baked tofu dish |  Types of tofu

After pressing the extra firm tofu, let it marinate and then bake until golden brown, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes.

Kretzer suggests marinating in tamari and sesame oil. “The edges turn golden and crispy, and I use it on sandwiches, sliced ​​into salads, or simply serve it with sautéed broccoli and potatoes.”

2. Fried tofu

Fried tofu |  Types of tofu

Press the tofu extra firm. Cut into cubes and cover with cornstarch and any other seasonings. Fry in a small amount of oil until crispy on all sides. Or try making it in an air fryer!

3. Tofu sauces

Use silken tofu instead of sour cream or yogurt as a base for creamy sauces.

4. Tofu sauces and dressings

Pureed Mixed Tofu |  Types of tofu

Instead of using heavy cream to make pasta sauces and salad dressings, puree soft or silken tofu with the other ingredients. “I put some silken tofu in a blender with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and capers, and it makes a great vegan Caesar dressing,” says Kretzer.

5. Tofu nuggets

Fried and battered tofu |  Types of tofu

Press a block of extra-firm tofu and then cut it into nugget-sized pieces. One piece at a time, coat and then bread. Place on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, turning at least once.

6. “Egg” and tofu salad

egg and tofu salad |  Types of tofu

Use firm tofu and mash it to use as a replacement for eggs in your regular recipe. Kretzer likes to add turmeric, vegan mayonnaise, chopped celery, and red onion.

7. Ricotta tofu

Press firm tofu. Crumble in a food processor and add lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt and any seasonings you desire. Process until you get a ricotta-like consistency.

8. Tofu feta

Press firm tofu and cut into cubes. In a bowl, combine the miso, lemon juice, garlic, herbs, salt, and a little water. Add to the diced tofu and toss to coat well. Let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and then use it as you would feta cheese.

9. Tofu smoothies

Processed tofu in smoothie |  Types of tofu

Blend silken or soft tofu with the other ingredients instead of milk or yogurt for a super silky smoothie.

BODi tofu plate pin |  Types of tofu

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