Learn how to cook tofu so it’s tasty and healthy! This how to cook tofu for beginners guide provides tips for preparing and cooking crispy tofu on the stove or in the air fryer.

Crispy tofu in bowl
How to Cook Tofu for Beginners

Sponsored by Best Food Facts and United Soybean Board

How to Cook Tofu for Beginners

Are you looking for an easy way to cook tofu? Here are some tips and recipes that will make cooking tofu a breeze!

After a recent taste tour around Iowa farms with Best Food Facts and the United Soybean Board, I’ve decided to cook more dishes with tofu! Tofu is a good source of protein and can be cooked in a variety of ways. 

If you are a tofu beginner like me, let me walk you through how to prepare and cook it perfectly every time.

This recap of my soybean farm taste tour and guide will teach you facts about soy and the basics of cooking tofu so you can enjoy this healthy and delicious food.

How to Cook Tofu for Beginners Guide

What is Tofu Made From?

Tofu is a soy food and starts with soybeans. If you’ve eaten edamame, you have eaten soybeans! 

Tofu is made from dried soybeans that are soaked in water, crushed and boiled. This is curdled and pressed into blocks. Think of it similar to how cheese is made.

Tofu contains no cholesterol, is naturally gluten-free, and is a source of iron and calcium.

Soy Bean Plant
Struthers Farm Soybean Field

What are Soy foods?

Soy foods are common in Asian and many flexitarian western diets. Here are four types of soy foods:

  • Tofu
  • Edamame
  • Soy Milk
  • Soy Sauce

benefits of soy foods presentation
Charlotte Rommereim, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Shares Soy Facts

Did You Know Vegetable Oil is Actually Soybean Oil?

If you look at the ingredient statement on your vegetable oil container, it will list soybean oil as the sole or primary ingredient.

Is Soy Good For You or Not?

Soybeans are a great source of protein and the nutrients found in soy provides many health benefits. Here are some health facts if you are wondering if soy foods and soybean oil (vegetable oil) is good for you.

Soy Isoflavones for Women

  • May alleviate hot flash frequency.
  • May decrease risk of breast cancer and other hormone dependent cancers.
  • May decrease fatigue in breast cancer survivors.

Soy Protein and Isoflavones for Men

  • Gains in strength and lean tissue in individuals in resistance exercise training were similar to whey supplementation.
  • Studies found no effect of soy isoflavones on estrogen levels.
  • There is speculative evidence that soy isoflavones reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.

Soy Food for Children

  • Soy foods provide a high-quality protein that supports growth and development.
  • Soy infant formula is an alternative to human milk in infants.
  • Fortified soymilk is a plant-based dairy alternative for children.
  • Soyfoods are well-accepted and add variety to a child’s diet helping to establish good eating habits.
  • Intake of isoflavones found in soy may prevent breast cancer later in life.

Source: SoyConnection.com

Learning from Dave Struthers who owns a 550 acre family farm in Iowa.
Learning from Dave Struthers who owns a 550 acre family farm in Iowa.

What I Learned About Soy Farming

It was amazing to meet the farmers who provide our food! I learned a lot about soybean farming and even got to cook some great tofu recipes. 

Here are some takeaways that I felt were important to share:

  • U.S. soybean farmers are very passionate about what they do and find it very important to protect and conserve the soil for future generations. 
  • 97% of all U.S. farms are family farms. These farmers live on their land, feed their own family from the animals and crops grown on their land which makes it even more important to strive towards the very best farming practices. 
  • Most farmers take great effort to decrease carbon emissions and support ongoing efforts toward soy sustainability.
  • Sustainability to farmers is just doing best practices and what they have always done. 
  • Scientific advances are helping feed more people in the world.

How Do You Cook Tofu?

Now that you’ve learned about the nutritional benefits of soy and the sustainability of our U.S. farmers, are you ready to learn how to cook tofu? Let’s get started!

how to cook tofu for beginners

What Tofu Should a Beginner Buy?

Block tofu is what you’ll find most often at grocery stores and restaurants. Block Tofu can be made:

  • Soft or Medium Firm– It’s ideal for whipping, blending, crumbling, using in desserts, dressings or dips.
  • Firm or Extra-Firm – This is dense and keeps its shape. Use firm tofu for slicing or cubing in stir fries, pasta dishes, baked or on the grill. 

If you are a tofu beginner, you’ll want to start with firm or extra firm block tofu

How Do You Prepare Firm Block Tofu?

To prepare firm block tofu for cooking you need to drain it first. 

Step 1: Wrap the tofu in a cloth or paper towels to absorb the liquid and press down with weight to drain. Press the tofu for 20 minutes. 

Beginner Tofu Draining Hack: Use a cookie sheet or cutting board over the top of the towel wrapped tofu, then press with a heavy cookbook, cast iron skillet or large can of food. You can also use a tofu press.

Step 2: After the tofu is drained, cut into small cubes.

Uncooked drained Tofu cubes

How Should Tofu Be Cooked?

You can cook tofu by baking in the oven or air fryer, pan-fry or deep frying.

How to Cook Tofu on the Stove

Pan-frying is the easiest way to cook crispy tofu on the stove. Here are 3 simple steps to crispy flavorful tofu cubes!

  1. Toss the drained and prepared tofu cubes with cornstarch, salt and pepper until all the pieces are completely coated.
  1. Add a small amount of oil to a non-stick skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add tofu to the pan and brown until crispy on each side for about 3 minutes.
  1. Remove and place on paper towels until ready to serve.

For added flavor, add garlic and onion powder as well like my friend Julie does with her Tofu Tacos

How to cook Tofu for beginners fried
Pan-Fried Tofu

How to Cook Tofu in the Air Fryer

You can also easily cook tofu in the air fryer! Here’s how.

  1. Toss the drained and prepared tofu cubes with oil, cornstarch, salt and pepper until all the pieces are completely coated.
  1. Air fry tofu at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, tossing halfway so that the tofu cooks evenly on all sides. 

How to Cook Tofu Air Fryer
Crispy Air Fryer Tofu

Learn More About Soy!

If you have questions or are looking for more recipes, visit BestFoodFacts.org for more expert information. 

Thank you Best Food Facts for introducing me to such amazing U.S. farmers and getting me to try tofu! I’m happy to not be a tofu beginner anymore and can’t wait to share some new soy food recipes here soon!

women on a farm

How to Cook Tofu

Learn how to cook tofu! A beginners guide for preparing and cooking crispy tofu on the stove or in the air fryer.
Prep Time20 mins
Active Time15 mins
Total Time35 mins
Yield: 4 people
Author: Amy Locurto

Ingredients

  • 10 ounce package Firm Tofu
  • 5 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • ½ Teaspoon Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil

Instructions

Prep Tofu for Cooking

  • Wrap the tofu in a cloth or paper towels to absorb the liquid and press down with something heavy such as a cast iron skillet or heavy cookbook to drain. Press the tofu for 20 minutes.
  • After the tofu is drained, cut into small cubes.
    Uncooked drained Tofu cubes

How to Cook Tofu on the Stove

  • Toss the drained and prepared tofu cubes with cornstarch, salt and pepper until all the pieces are completely coated.
    5 Tablespoons Cornstarch, 1/2 Teaspoon Salt, 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper, 10 ounce package Firm Tofu
  • Remove and place on paper towels until ready to serve.

How to Cook Tofu in the Air Fryer

  • Toss the drained and prepared tofu cubes with oil, cornstarch, salt and pepper until all the pieces are completely coated.
    10 ounce package Firm Tofu, 5 Tablespoons Cornstarch, 1/2 Teaspoon Salt, 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
  • Air fry tofu at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, tossing halfway so that the tofu cooks evenly on all sides.

Notes

Beginner Tofu Draining Hack: Use a cookie sheet or cutting board over the top of the towel wrapped tofu, then press with a heavy cookbook, cast iron skillet or large can of food. 
 
 
Plan To Make This?Please share if you do. Mention @LivingLocurto or tag #LivingLocurto on Instagram. We’d love to see!
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Course: dinner
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: air fryer, meatless, pan fried, soy, tofu, vegetarian
Calories: 98kcal

Nutrition

Calories: 98kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 0.4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 294mg | Potassium: 4mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Calcium: 90mg | Iron: 1mg

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3 Comments

  1. Hi Amy, I have recently become a vegetarian but have to be honest, I’m the only one in my family who doesn’t like tofu! My husband used to make scrambled tofu instead of eggs for breakfast but I just couldn’t appreciate the taste or texture. I have to admit this recipe does look appealing and so I might just have to give it a try.

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