What Kind of Tofu to Buy: A Comprehensive Guide

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Choosing the right type of tofu can make all the difference in your cooking. With so many options available, it can be hard to know which one to choose. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of tofu and provide tips on how to choose the best one for your needs.

Types of Tofu

Tofu is a versatile food that comes in a variety of textures and firmness levels. Knowing the different types of tofu and their uses can help you make the best choice for your dishes. In this section, we’ll explore several types of tofu, including Silken Tofu, Soft Tofu, Medium Tofu, Firm Tofu, Extra-Firm Tofu, and Super-Firm Tofu.

Silken Tofu

Silken Tofu is the softest type of tofu and has a high water content. It has a smooth, custard-like texture, making it perfect for blending into creamy soups, sauces, and dressings. Silken tofu can be used as a dairy substitute in smoothies, desserts, and puddings.

Soft Tofu

Soft tofu, also known as regular tofu, has a slightly firmer texture than silken tofu. While it’s still delicate, it can hold its shape better in dishes. Soft tofu is ideal for dishes like tofu scramble or lightly pan-fried for a delicate side dish.

Medium Tofu

Medium tofu is firmer than soft tofu but still tender. It can be used in various recipes, such as stir-fries and soups, where it will keep its shape but still be tender enough to bite into. Medium tofu can also be used in recipes like stuffed tofu pockets, where you need a tender texture to balance the dish.

Firm Tofu

Firm tofu has less water content than medium tofu, resulting in a denser texture. It’s one of the most versatile types of tofu and can be used in a wide range of dishes. Firm tofu is great for pan-frying, grilling, and baking, as it can hold its shape well and absorb flavors from marinades and sauces. It also works well in stir-fries and curries.

Extra-Firm Tofu

As the name suggests, extra-firm tofu is even more dense and sturdy than firm tofu. This robust texture makes it perfect for heavy handling in recipes, such as slicing thinly for sandwiches, cubing for kebabs, or even crumbling as a meat substitute. Extra-firm tofu is ideal for dishes where it needs to hold its shape and maintain its texture through longer cooking times.

Super-Firm Tofu

Super-firm tofu is the most solid and dense of all the tofu varieties. It’s ideal for recipes that require a substantial texture or when you want tofu to be the main ingredient in the dish. Super-firm tofu can be sliced, diced, or even grated, making it a versatile option in plant-based cooking. Due to its low moisture content, super-firm tofu has a higher protein content than other types of tofu.

In summary, understanding the different types of tofu and their uses can help you select the right tofu for your dishes. Experiment with various types of tofu and their unique textures in your cooking to make the most of this versatile ingredient.

Factors to Consider

When selecting the best tofu for your culinary adventures, there are several key factors to keep in mind. In this section, we will explore the aspects of Moisture Content, Protein Content, Flavor Profile, and Culinary Uses to help you make an informed decision.

Moisture Content

Tofu’s moisture content significantly affects its texture and role in recipes. Tofu varieties have varying amounts of moisture, ranging from silken to extra-firm. Silken tofu, for example, has a high water content and a smooth, creamy texture, making it ideal for blended dishes like smoothies, sauces, and deserts1. On the other hand, firm or extra-firm tofu has less moisture, giving it a denser and more solid texture. This type of tofu is suitable for pan-frying, grilling, or baking, as it can withstand higher temperatures and maintain its shape easily2.

Protein Content

Another important factor to consider when buying tofu is its protein content. Tofu made from organic soybeans with at least 4 grams of fat and 12 grams of protein per serving is typically higher quality3. The protein content is an essential aspect for those seeking nutritious plant-based meal options. Remember, tofu with higher protein content generally correlates with lower moisture content and a firmer texture.

Flavor Profile

While tofu is known for its subtle, slightly nutty flavor, the taste may vary depending on the production methods and ingredients. High-quality tofu should have a fresh, mild flavor without any strong or off-putting odors4. Furthermore, tofu can be purchased marinated or seasoned for a more pronounced taste, or even smoked for a unique and bold flavor. Experiment with different tofu varieties and flavors to find the one that best suits your palate and preferred recipes.

Culinary Uses

Tofu is incredibly versatile and can be used in various ways to suit your culinary preferences. Let’s list some different tofu varieties and their common applications:

  • Silken tofu: Perfect for blending into smoothies, sauces, dressings, or used in desserts1.
  • Soft tofu: Great for soups, stir-fries or scrambled as a vegan alternative to eggs2.
  • Firm tofu: Can be sliced or cubed and used in sandwiches, wraps, salads, or pan-fried2.
  • Extra-firm tofu: Ideal for grilling, baking, or preparing crispy tofu dishes2.

By considering the moisture content, protein content, flavor profile, and culinary uses of various tofu types, you can select the perfect tofu to elevate your plant-based culinary creations.


  1. https://www.bonappetit.com/story/types-of-tofu 2
  2. https://www.foodandwine.com/beans-legumes/soy/beginners-guide-to-tofu 2 3 4
  3. https://www.bonappetit.com/gallery/all-about-tofu
  4. https://foodprint.org/blog/buying-and-cooking-tofu

Tofu in Different Cuisines

Chinese Tofu

Chinese cuisine offers a wide range of tofu types and textures, ranging from soft silken tofu to firm blocks. This versatile ingredient is used in various dishes, including stir-fries, soups, and braised dishes. Popular Chinese tofu dishes include mapo tofu (spicy, numbing sauce with ground meat), stinky tofu (fermented tofu with a strong odor), and tofu skin (sheets of dried tofu used in wraps and rolls) 1.

Japanese Tofu

Japanese cuisine showcases tofu in many forms, such as silken, firm, fried, and freeze-dried tofu. Silken tofu or kinugoshi is delicate and soft, often eaten raw 2. It commonly appears in dishes such as hiyayakko (chilled tofu with soy sauce and toppings) and agedashi tofu (deep-fried tofu in a savory sauce). Japanese cuisine also uses a unique type of tofu called aburaage, which is a thin, fried tofu used in inari sushi and miso soup3.

Korean Tofu

In Korean cuisine, tofu is enjoyed in various dishes, from stews to side dishes. The most famous dish is soondubu jjigae, a spicy soft tofu stew with vegetables and seafood or meat4. Tofu is also used in side dishes like dubu jorim (braised tofu) and dubu buchim (pan-fried tofu with a dipping sauce). Another noteworthy dish is dubu kimchi, a dish with stir-fried kimchi and tofu 5.

Vietnamese Tofu

Vietnamese cuisine features tofu in many dishes, often as a protein substitute for meat. Tofu is used in dishes like bún riêu (noodle soup with crab and tofu), cà ri chay (vegetarian curry with tofu and vegetables), and gỏi cuốn chay (vegetarian spring rolls with tofu) 6. One distinctive type of tofu found in Vietnamese cuisine is tàu hũ, a soft tofu served sweet or savory, often with toppings like ginger syrup or crushed peanuts7.

Taiwanese Tofu

Taiwanese cuisine has several unique varieties of tofu, such as stinky tofu (fermented tofu with a strong smell) and tofu pudding (a soft custard-like dessert made with tofu) 8. Famous dishes include century egg with tofu (silken tofu served with preserved egg and soy sauce) and Taiwanese-style braised tofu with minced meat 9. Another popular snack is youtiao, a fried dough stick often served with warm, sweet tofu pudding.


  1. https://www.seriouseats.com/shopping-cooking-guide-different-tofu-types
  2. https://www.bonappetit.com/story/types-of-tofu
  3. https://www.foodandwine.com/beans-legumes/soy/beginners-guide-to-tofu
  4. https://www.thekitchn.com/heres-everything-you-need-to-know-about-tofu-from-buying-it-to-cooking-it-and-everything-in-between-tips-from-the-kitchn-215454
  5. https://www.foodprint.org/blog/buying-and-cooking-tofu/
  6. https://www.bonappetit.com/story/types-of-tofu
  7. https://www.foodandwine.com/beans-legumes/soy/beginners-guide-to-tofu
  8. https://www.seriouseats.com/shopping-cooking-guide-different-tofu-types
  9. https://www.foodprint.org/blog/buying-and-cooking-tofu/

Buying Tofu

Grocery Store Selection

When shopping for tofu at a grocery store, you’ll typically find it in the refrigerated section, near other vegan and vegetarian options. Many grocery stores offer a variety of tofu types and textures, ranging from silken to extra-firm.

Vacuum-Sealed Packages

Tofu in vacuum-sealed packages is common at grocery stores, and it can be a convenient choice because it’s typically well-packaged with a longer shelf life than fresh tofu. These packages can come in various styles – blocks, cubes or crumbled – which makes it easy to find the right tofu for your recipe. Some brands even offer pre-seasoned, marinated, or smoked options, adding extra flavor to your dish without the need for extra preparation steps. Keep in mind that vacuum-sealed tofu will need to be drained and pressed before cooking, as it contains excess water.

Fresh Tofu

If you have access to an Asian market or a store that specializes in vegan food, you might also find fresh tofu for sale. Fresh tofu is stored in water-filled containers and tends to have a softer texture and a fresher taste compared to vacuum-sealed tofu. When buying fresh tofu, pay attention to the expiration date and store it in water in your refrigerator to maintain its freshness. Remember to change the water every day or two to ensure the tofu remains fresh.

Choosing the Right Texture

Selecting the right tofu texture is essential for achieving the desired results in your recipe. Here’s a quick breakdown of the different textures and their uses:

  1. Silken Tofu: Soft and smooth, ideal for smoothies, sauces, salad dressings, and as a vegan egg replacement in baking source.
  2. Soft Tofu: Slightly firmer than silken but still delicate, great for soups and stews.
  3. Medium Tofu: Holds its shape better, making it suitable for recipes that require gentle handling or steaming.
  4. Firm and Extra-firm Tofu: Denser and sturdier, perfect for frying, baking, grilling, or using in stir-fries source.

When buying tofu, consider what type of dish you’ll be preparing and choose the appropriate texture for the best results. Being familiar with different tofu textures and their uses will help you make better decisions and create delicious, satisfying meals.

Preparing and Cooking Tofu

When it comes to buying tofu, there are several types to choose from. Each type has its own uses and benefits, depending on what you’re looking to make. It’s essential to know the differences between the various options to make the right choice for your dish.

Pressing Tofu

Before cooking tofu, it’s important to press it. This process helps remove excess moisture and results in a firmer texture. To press tofu, wrap it in a clean dish towel or paper towels and place it on a flat surface. Put a cutting board or flat plate on top, and then add some weight, like a heavy book or a cast iron pan. Leave the tofu for at least 30 minutes to effectively press out the excess liquid.


Frying is a popular method for cooking tofu. To get a crispy exterior, cut the tofu into cubes, season it with your desired sauce or spices, and let it marinate for 30 minutes. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat, and then carefully place the marinated tofu in the hot oil. Fry the tofu until it’s golden brown and crispy, turning occasionally to ensure even cooking. When it’s ready, remove from the pan using a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to remove excess oil.


Pan-frying is an alternative method for those who want to minimize the amount of oil used in cooking. This technique works best with firm or extra-firm tofu that has been pressed. Cut the tofu into cubes or slices, and heat a few tablespoons of oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Place the tofu in the pan and cook until it’s golden brown and crispy on each side, occasionally flipping it with a spatula.

In Soups

Tofu is a versatile ingredient that can be used in various soup dishes. Soft or silken tofu works best for soups, as it has a delicate texture that contrasts well with the broth. Before adding the tofu to your soup, it’s important to cut it into small cubes or slices to ensure even cooking. Gently simmer the tofu in the soup until it’s heated through.

Egg Salad Substitute

Due to its texture and ability to absorb flavors, tofu can be a great substitute for eggs in making an eggless salad. To make a tofu egg salad, crumble the tofu into ¼-inch to ½-inch pieces, resembling egg curds. Mix with your preferred egg salad ingredients such as chopped celery, onions, and mayonnaise, as well as desired seasoning. The tofu will take on the flavors of the ingredients, making for an excellent egg salad alternative.

To recap, when selecting tofu, consider factors such as the dish you’re preparing and the desired texture. After purchasing the appropriate type, remember to press your tofu and choose the cooking method that best suits your needs. By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to prepare delicious tofu dishes with ease.

Tofu Recipes and Flavor Enhancers

Marinades and Sauces

When cooking tofu, using flavor-enhancing marinades and sauces can make all the difference. Tofu easily absorbs the flavors of the ingredients it is cooked with, making it a versatile and tasty option for a variety of dishes. Soy sauce is a popular addition to many tofu recipes, adding a salty and umami-rich taste that elevates the dish. Additionally, using a good quality sesame oil can enhance the nutty, aromatic undertones of your tofu dish. For those looking for a spicy kick, chili oil makes a great addition to the marinade as well.

Experimenting with various marinades is key to finding the perfect flavor combination. Here are a few favorite ingredients to consider including in your tofu marinades:

  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Chili oil
  • Rice vinegar
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Lemon or lime juice


Yuba, also known as tofu skin, is a delicious byproduct of the tofu-making process. Made from the thin film that forms on the surface of simmering soy milk, yuba can be found in several forms such as fresh, dried, or frozen. This soy-based ingredient has a unique texture and is delightfully chewy, making it a popular addition to many Asian-inspired dishes. It can be sliced into thin ribbons and tossed with sauces or included in soups, salads, or even used as a wrap for vegetables and herbs. In addition, yuba can be used as a substitute for traditional pasta in some recipes, providing a lower-calorie alternative for those looking to make healthier choices.

Dumpling Wrappers

Tofu can also be used as an ingredient in a variety of dumpling recipes, whether it be as part of the filling or as a dumpling wrapper itself. Mixing tofu with other ingredients such as vegetables, soy sauce, and ricotta creates a tasty and protein-packed filling for dumplings. To make tofu-based dumpling wrappers, simply mash the tofu, combine it with flour, and roll it into the desired thickness. These wrappers can be used in place of traditional wheat-based wrappers, creating gluten-free and soy-based options for homemade dumplings.

Incorporating tofu into your cooking repertoire allows you to experiment with various flavors and textures, making it a versatile and delicious addition to a wide range of recipes. By utilizing different marinades, experimenting with yuba, and trying your hand at tofu-based dumpling wrappers, you can create an impressive variety of dishes that will delight both your taste buds and your loved ones.

Tofu as a Meat Substitute

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Tofu, made from soybeans, is a popular meat substitute for vegetarians and vegans. It is available in various forms, such as silken, soft, firm, or extra-firm, and can be adapted to a plethora of recipes. Tofu is versatile because it absorbs the flavors of the sauces and ingredients it is cooked with, making it suitable for various cuisines and tastes.

One significant benefit of tofu as a meat substitute is its affordability. It is usually less expensive than meat, making it an appealing option for individuals adhering to vegetarian or vegan diets. Additionally, since tofu is plant-based, it is eco-friendly and has a smaller environmental impact than meat products.

Protein Source

Tofu is not only an excellent meat substitute for vegetarians and vegans but also a valuable source of protein. One serving, containing about 15 grams of protein, makes it an attractive option for individuals seeking a healthy plant-based protein source. Moreover, tofu is low in saturated fat and cholesterol, further contributing to its appeal for health-conscious individuals.

To enjoy tofu’s benefits as a meat substitute, one can integrate it into various dishes. Some popular options include:

  • Stir-fries: Dice extra-firm tofu and marinate it in soy sauce or any desired seasoning before frying it with vegetables.
  • Scrambles: Crumble firm tofu and combine it with seasonings such as turmeric, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast to create a vegan-friendly scrambled egg alternative.
  • Smoothies: Blend soft or silken tofu into smoothies for an added protein and creamy texture.

In summary, tofu is a versatile and nutritious meat substitute suitable for both vegetarian and vegan diets. While it is affordable, eco-friendly, and an excellent protein source, its adaptability in various recipes makes it a popular choice among individuals seeking a plant-based alternative to meat.

Exploring New Tofu Types and Textures

Tofu, a versatile and healthy source of plant-based protein, comes in various types and textures. Let’s dive deeper into some unique tofu textures to help readers make more informed choices and explore the wide world of tofu.

Soft Tofu

Soft tofu has a higher water content compared to other types, giving it a delicate texture. This type of tofu blends easily, making it perfect for smoothies, dressings, and dips. It also works well in dishes that require a gentle touch, such as soups and Japanese custards.

Medium and Medium-Firm Tofu

Medium tofu has a slightly firmer texture compared to soft tofu, while medium-firm tofu falls in between medium and firm varieties. Both types maintain their shape better than soft tofu, making them suitable for use in simmered dishes, noodle soups, and light stir-fries. Medium-firm tofu is especially popular for its tender yet slightly chewy texture.

Regular (or Firm) Tofu

With less water content than medium or soft tofus, regular tofu has a firm texture that can hold its shape in various dishes. It’s a go-to choice for stir-fries, grilled dishes, and even baked tofu recipes. Companies like House Foods offer regular tofu variations to cater to different tastes and culinary needs.

When exploring new tofu types and textures, consider the following suggestions:

  • For smooth and creamy recipes, choose soft tofu.
  • For a tender yet chewy bite, medium or medium-firm tofu is ideal.
  • When you need a tofu that can withstand vigorous cooking methods, opt for regular or firm tofu.

Remember, the key to enjoying tofu in different dishes is understanding its various textures and knowing how they complement specific cooking techniques and recipes. So, embark on this culinary adventure and discover your favorite way to enjoy tofu!