My favorite waste-free method for pressing tofu. No tofu press required! 

How to Press Tofu Guide

I absolutely love tofu. If you haven’t cooked with it, try this Thai Red Curry Tofu or No-Cook Spicy Tofu and report back. 

Today I’m sharing my favorite method for pressing tofu. I’ve been cooking with tofu for years and this is the most effective method that I’ve discovered along the way. It requires zero waste or specialty equipment, just a handful of basic kitchen tools.

Many tofu preparations don’t require pressing, but if you are sautéing or shallow frying tofu (or looking to achieve extra crispy tofu), pressing is the best way to remove excess moisture. 

Pressing also helps create firmer tofu that better holds it shape during cooking and ensures your seasonings won’t be diluted. Let’s get started!

 

DIY Tofu Press

What Makes This Method Better?

  • this method allows the tofu to drain effectively without sitting in liquid (key!)
  • you’ll be able to press one or several blocks of tofu at once
  • no tofu press required and zero paper towel waste! 

Recommended Equipment: 

*This list contains affiliate links.

 

Stacked Baking Sheets with Cooling Rack


How to Press Tofu (easily + waste-free!):

Step One: Drain and remove the block of tofu from the packaging. Note: This method is intended for firm and extra firm tofu. 

Wildwod Organic Tofu

Step Two: Set a densely-welded cooling rack within your sheet pan. Place the tofu block on the rack. This allows excess draining liquid to drain and collect – without the tofu sitting in it – in the bottom of the sheet pan during pressing. 

Depending on how you are preparing your tofu, you can also slice the tofu block cross-wise into several pieces, as shown below. 

Tofu on Rack in Baking Sheet

 

Step Three: Fold a clean kitchen linen so that it is several layers thick (for absorbing moisture) and place directly on top of the tofu block. 

How to Press Tofu

Step Four: Place a second sheet pan directly on top, lining up the edges with the bottom sheet pan so that it is evenly centered. If you do not own a second sheet pan, you can use a large cutting board; however, I prefer a rimmed sheet pan. 

This will provide a stable, flat surface for pressing. 

Pressed Tofu Between Baking Sheets

 

Step Five: Place heavy-weighted objects on the top sheet pan. A few 28-ounce cans or a heavy bowl full of onions are a great choice. Try to space the weight across the surface for even pressing. 

Press the tofu for 30 minutes, ideally, or up to 1 hour. Halfway through, replace the kitchen linen with a new dry one, as it will quickly become saturated during this time. 

DIY Tofu Press

Step Six: After pressing, the tofu block should be visibly thinner (as a result of excess moisture being removed).

You’ll notice quite a bit of water has collected in the sheet pan below. Discard the liquid and prepare the tofu as directed in your recipe.

Hope you enjoy this easy, waste-free method for pressing tofu without a tofu press! 

Pressed Tofu with Excess Liquid

 

Can You Press Tofu Ahead of Time? 

Yes. If you’re prepping ahead or short on time, pressed tofu can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 


How to Make Crispy Tofu: 

  1. Cut the pressed tofu into one-inch cubes. Toss with cornstarch in a medium bowl until each piece is well coated.
  2. Heat a thin layer of high-heat cooking oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the tofu in batches, setting the pieces apart slightly in the pan, and cook for several minutes on each sides until crispy and golden brown. 
  3. Transfer the tofu to a paper-towel lined plate (or sheet pan lined with a cooling rack) and sprinkle with salt. Add to a vegetable stir fry, toss with your favorite sauce, or top on a salad or grain bowl.

Favorite Tofu Recipes: 

 
Tofu Being Pressed

How to Press Tofu

Yield: 1 Tofu Block, Pressed

An easy and waste-free method for pressing firm or extra-firm tofu without a tofu press!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 package (roughly 14 ounces) tofu, firm or extra-firm

Equipment

  • 2 rimmed half-sheet pans (or 2 quarter-sheet pans) 
  • 1 half-sheet cooling rack (or quarter-sheet cooling rack), densely-welded
  • kitchen linens
  • several heavily weighted objects, such as 28-ounce canned goods, heavy bowl of fruit or onions, cookbooks, etc.

Instructions

    1. Note: For step-by-step photos, please reference the photos in the article above.
    2. Drain and remove the block of tofu from the packaging. Note: This method works best with firm and extra firm tofu.
    3. Set a densely-welded cooling rack within your sheet pan. Place the tofu block on the rack. Depending on how you are preparing your tofu, you can also slice the tofu block cross-wise into several pieces, as shown in the instructional photos above. Note: This allows excess draining liquid to drain and collect – without the tofu sitting in it – in the bottom of the sheet pan during pressing.
    4. Fold a clean kitchen linen so that it is several layers thick (for absorbing moisture) and place directly on top of the tofu block. Place a second sheet pan directly on top, lining up the edges with the bottom sheet pan so that it is evenly centered. Note: If you do not own a second sheet pan, you can use a large cutting board; however, I prefer a rimmed sheet pan. This will provide a stable, flat surface for pressing.
    5. Place heavily-weighted objects on the top sheet pan. A few 28-ounce cans or a heavy bowl full of onions are a great choice. Try to space the weight across the surface for even pressing.
    6. Press the tofu for 30 minutes, ideally, or up to 1 hour. Halfway through, replace the kitchen linen with a new dry one, as it will quickly become saturated during pressing.
    7. After pressing, the tofu block should be visibly thinner (as a result of excess moisture being removed). You’ll notice quite a bit of water has collected in the sheet pan below. Discard the liquid and prepare the tofu as directed in your recipe.
    8. How to Make Crispy Tofu: Cut the pressed tofu into one-inch cubes. Toss with cornstarch in a medium bowl until each piece is well coated. Heat a thin layer of high-heat cooking oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the tofu in batches, setting the pieces apart slightly in the pan, and cook for several minutes on each sides until crispy and golden brown. Transfer the tofu to a paper-towel lined plate (or sheet pan lined with a cooling rack) and sprinkle with salt. Add to a vegetable stir fry, toss with your favorite sauce, or top on a salad or grain bowl.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 59Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 2mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 2gSugar: 9gProtein: 1g

A Beautiful Plate provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietician.

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