What Happens if You Don’t Press Tofu: The Detailed Guide

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Pressing tofu is an important step in preparing it for cooking, as it helps to remove excess water and improve its texture. However, some people may wonder what happens if they skip this step. In this article, we’ll explore the consequences of not pressing tofu, including how it affects the taste, texture, and overall quality of the dish. We’ll also provide tips on how to properly press tofu and some delicious recipes that showcase the benefits of this important step. Whether you’re a tofu lover or a tofu skeptic, this article will help you get the most out of this versatile ingredient.

what happens if you don't press tofu

Why Press Tofu

Texture Improvement

Pressing tofu is an essential step in preparing this versatile protein source for cooking. The process removes excess moisture from the tofu, thereby improving its texture. When tofu is not pressed, it can become greasy and oily when cooked, resulting in an unappetizing taste and texture. By pressing and blotting tofu, you can achieve a delicious golden and crispy exterior while maintaining a tender and creamy interior1.

In addition to enhancing the overall eating experience, pressing tofu can also help to create a more desirable texture for specific dishes. For example, pressing extra firm tofu is important when trying to achieve a crispy texture or using it in a stir-fry2.

Flavor Absorption

Another key reason to press tofu is to improve its flavor absorption. Tofu is naturally packed with water, which can make it difficult for the tofu to absorb the flavors present in a dish3. By removing this excess water through pressing, the tofu becomes more porous and receptive to flavors and seasonings. This ensures that your tofu absorbs flavors from your dish more effectively and evenly, resulting in a more flavorful and satisfying meal.

To press tofu effectively, you don’t need any fancy equipment. You can simply place the tofu on a plate lined with paper towels, add a few more paper towels or a second plate on top, and then apply some weight – such as a heavy pot or a few cans4. There are also tofu presses on the market that can make the process even easier and more efficient.

In conclusion, pressing tofu is a vital step in the preparation process that greatly improves its texture and flavor absorption. By taking the time to press your tofu, you can create delicious, satisfying, and flavorful dishes to suit any palate.


  1. (https://garlicdelight.com/how-to-press-tofu/)
  2. (https://foodwithfeeling.com/how-to-press-tofu-with-without-a-tofu-press/)
  3. (https://greatist.com/eat/hhow-to-press-tofu-and-why-you-need-to)
  4. (https://blog.blueapron.com/how-to-treat-tofu-to-press-or-not-to-press/)

Effects of Not Pressing Tofu

Influence on Dishes and Recipes

When tofu is not pressed, it can have a significant impact on the overall dish, including flavor absorption, texture, and crispiness. Tofu that hasn’t been pressed retains more water, which will eventually result in suboptimal flavor absorption. As a result, dishes made with unpressed tofu may lack depth or richness in flavor, which can be disappointing, especially for those new to cooking with tofu.

The texture of unpressed tofu is also affected, making it more challenging to achieve a crispy texture or even browning. This sogginess can hinder the overall dining experience, as the tofu may not hold up well in various recipes due to its lack of structure. Cooked unpressed tofu might be greasier or oilier than its pressed counterpart, leading to a less appealing mouthfeel when consumed.

Moisture Retention

Unpressed tofu has a higher moisture content compared to pressed tofu. This excess moisture can cause several issues during the cooking process:

  1. Longer cooking times: Due to the higher moisture content, unpressed tofu takes longer to cook as the water needs to evaporate before the tofu begins to brown.
  2. Difficulty pan-frying or stir-frying: Moist tofu tends to stick to pans or become too soft, making it difficult to achieve a crispy texture or keep the tofu’s shape in a stir-fry.
  3. Inability to soak up marinades: An abundance of water in unpressed tofu prevents the tofu from effectively absorbing flavorful marinades, resulting in a lackluster taste.

In summary, not pressing tofu can result in various negative effects on dishes and recipes, including inadequate flavor absorption, undesirable texture, and difficulties in achieving crispiness. Moisture retention is a significant factor contributing to these challenges. To ensure successful dishes made with tofu, it is highly recommended to press your tofu prior to cooking to remove excess moisture and create a more flavorful and enjoyable experience.

Different Types of Tofu and Pressing Requirements

Tofu, also known as bean curd, comes in various types, each with different densities and pressing requirements. Understanding the properties and uses of each type is essential when preparing tofu dishes. This section will discuss soft tofu, firm and extra-firm tofu, and silken tofu.

Soft Tofu

Soft tofu, often used in soups and sauces, has a high moisture content and a delicate texture. Pressing soft tofu is not necessary, as it might cause it to lose its desired consistency. Instead, soft tofu should be drained gently to remove any excess liquid. Keep in mind that soft tofu is best suited for recipes where it can maintain its creamy texture.

Firm and Extra-Firm Tofu

Firm and extra-firm tofu are denser and more resilient than soft tofu. They are commonly used in stir-fries, grilling, and baking. Pressing firm or extra-firm tofu is essential, as it removes excess moisture, allowing for better absorption of marinades and sauces^1^.

If you don’t press firm or extra-firm tofu, the end result may be less flavorful and less crispy when cooked, as excess water prevents it from becoming sufficiently browned or maintaining a firm texture. To press firm or extra-firm tofu:

  1. Wrap the tofu in paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.
  2. Place the wrapped tofu between two cutting boards or plates.
  3. Put a weight on top – such as a heavy book, a large canned food item, or a cast iron pan – and let it rest for 20-30 minutes.

Silken Tofu

Silken tofu has a very smooth and soft texture and is often used for dressings, sauces, desserts, and blended dishes. Due to its delicate consistency, silken tofu should not be pressed, as it can easily crumble or turn into a paste.

To remove excess liquid from silken tofu, gently blot it using a paper towel or a clean kitchen towel. When cooking with silken tofu, gentle handling is key, as it can easily fall apart when stirred or manipulated.

In summary, pressing requirements vary depending on the type of tofu. Soft tofu doesn’t need pressing, while firm and extra-firm tofu benefit significantly from the pressing process. Silken tofu, on the other hand, requires only gentle blotting to remove excess moisture.

Methods to Press Tofu

When you don’t press tofu, it tends to have a greasier taste after frying, with a less crispy and golden texture on the outside. Pressing tofu helps to achieve a golden, crunchy exterior and a tender, creamy inside1. There are several methods to press tofu effectively, which ultimately depend on the tools you have on hand and your personal preferences. In this section, we will explore three different approaches: using a tofu press, pressing without a press, and freezing tofu as an alternative.

Using a Tofu Press

A tofu press is a handy kitchen gadget that can make the process of pressing tofu more efficient and less messy. The most reliable tofu presses include the EZ Tofu Press, which uses a screw design and features two plastic sides2, and the Tofu Bud, which utilizes a spring design and doesn’t require tightening screws2. To use a tofu press, place the block of firm or extra-firm tofu between the press’s plates and follow the specific instructions for your press model, which usually involves tightening the screws or springs. This will help to remove excess moisture, making the tofu more suitable for pan-frying or other cooking techniques.

Pressing without a Press

If you don’t have a tofu press, there are alternative methods for pressing tofu that can be just as effective. One popular method is to use paper towels and a cutting board. Firstly, drain the tofu and remove it from the packaging3. Wrap the tofu block in paper towels and place it on a cutting board. Place a second cutting board or flat plate on top of the tofu, then add a heavyweight, such as canned goods or a heavy pan, to apply even pressure. Allow the tofu to press for at least 30 minutes, which will help to remove excess moisture and improve its texture4.

Freezing Tofu as an Alternative

Freezing tofu is another technique that can alter its texture and absorption capacity4. If pressing tofu is not possible or desirable, freezing the entire unopened package of tofu is an option. Once ready to use, thaw the tofu, and it can be used as regular tofu. At this point, pressing is not entirely necessary, as freezing creates a firmer and chewier texture that is more absorbent5. Although this method is not the same as pressing tofu, it can still provide similar benefits when it comes to improving texture and reducing greasiness when frying.

In conclusion, whether you choose to use a tofu press, press without a press, or freeze tofu as an alternative, removing excess moisture from tofu can greatly enhance its flavor and texture when pan-frying or cooking in other ways.


  1. Garlic Delight
  2. Keeping the Peas 2
  3. A Beautiful Plate
  4. The Spruce Eats 2
  5. Food with Feeling

Versatile Tofu Applications

Tofu is a versatile protein-rich food made from soybeans, which is popularly used in vegan and vegetarian diets. This plant-based protein can be used in many dishes, offering unique flavors and textures depending on how it is prepared. Let’s explore some of the various tofu applications in this section.

Smoothies and Sauces

Tofu can be a nutritious and tasty addition to smoothies and sauces. Without pressing the tofu, the extra moisture present can blend well with other ingredients, providing a creamy and silky texture. Using unpressed tofu in a smoothie can make it richer in protein and provide a creaminess similar to yogurt. For sauces, the extra moisture can create a smoother, thicker consistency, which can enhance the overall taste and texture of the dish.

Salads and Stir-Fries

Unpressed tofu can be used in salads and stir-fries, as it will readily absorb the flavors of the dish. In salads, soft or medium tofu can be crumbled over the top, adding a hearty source of protein. In stir-fries, unpressed tofu can be sliced or cubed and cooked until it browns on the edges. The added moisture in the tofu helps it absorb sauces, seasonings, and flavors, resulting in a delicious and protein-packed meal.

Grilling and Baking

Tofu can be used for grilling and baking, but it is essential to press it before using it in these applications. Pressing the tofu allows it to hold its shape better, making it easier to handle on the grill or in the oven. Unpressed tofu is more prone to crumble and disintegrate when subjected to high heat. However, lightly pressed or unpressed tofu can still be grilled or baked in foil packets or used in shish kebabs with a gentle touch.

Soups and Desserts

The moisture retained in unpressed tofu makes it especially suitable for soups and desserts. In soups, soft or silken tofu can be added for a delicate texture and an extra boost of protein. The moisture can also help to blend the flavors in the soup, creating a more harmonious taste. In desserts, silken tofu can replace dairy products like cream or yogurt, resulting in a more healthful and vegan-friendly treat. The added moisture makes the dessert smoother and creamier, without sacrificing the rich, indulgent taste.

Choosing the Right Tofu for Your Recipe

When it comes to creating delicious tofu recipes, selecting the appropriate type of tofu is crucial. There are several kinds of tofu available, including silken tofu, firm tofu, and extra-firm tofu. Depending on the dish, the success or failure of your recipe may rely on these distinctions.

Silken tofu is high in water content and is not pressed. It is known for its smooth, delicate texture and comes in a range of consistencies from soft to firm. Silken tofu is ideal for making sauces, dressings, and creamy desserts, and can be blended seamlessly into smoothies as well1.

On the other hand, firm tofu and extra-firm tofu are better suited for recipes that require the tofu to hold its shape, such as stir-fries, grilling, or baking. These types of tofu have been pressed to remove excess water. Cubes of firm or extra-firm tofu can withstand the heat and maintain their texture during the cooking process1.

If you’re working with firm or extra-firm tofu, it’s essential to press it before cooking, as this will allow the tofu to become more flavorful and achieve a desirable texture2. However, if you decide not to press the tofu, you may experience a greasier, less crispy result after frying3. Pressing and blotting tofu effectively help attain a satisfying golden crunch on the outside while retaining a tender, creamy texture on the inside3.

To assist with readability, here is a quick summary of tofu types and their best uses:

  • Silken Tofu1:
    • High water content, smooth texture
    • Ideal for sauces, dressings, desserts, and smoothies
  • Firm Tofu1:
    • Medium water content, holds shape
    • Good for stir-fries and dishes requiring cubed tofu
  • Extra-Firm Tofu1:
    • Low water content, robust texture
    • Perfect for grilling, baking, and frying

In conclusion, always consider the type of tofu and the recipe’s desired outcome when selecting the appropriate tofu. Skipping the pressing step may lead to undesirable results, so it’s crucial to understand the importance of this technique when working with certain tofu types3.


  1. (https://www.bonappetit.com/story/types-of-tofu) 2 3 4 5
  2. (https://www.forksoverknives.com/how-tos/tofu-types-pressing-silken-regular-recipes/)
  3. (https://garlicdelight.com/how-to-press-tofu/) 2 3