What to Do with Leftover Tofu: Quick & Tasty Ideas

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Leftover tofu can be a challenge to use up, but with a little creativity, it can be transformed into delicious and satisfying meals. In this article, we’ll explore some tasty and easy ways to use up leftover tofu, from salads to stir-fries and even desserts. Don’t let that extra tofu go to waste – let’s get cooking!

what to do with tofu water

Types of Leftover Tofu

When dealing with leftover tofu, it is essential to understand the different types of tofu and their unique characteristics. In this section, we will focus on three primary types of leftover tofu: Silken Tofu, Firm Tofu, and Extra-Firm Tofu.

Silken Tofu

Silken tofu typically has a smooth, creamy texture, making it a versatile ingredient in various dishes. Leftover silken tofu can be used in desserts such as chocolate mousse and cheesecakes or blended into smoothies for a protein boost. In addition, it can be incorporated into savory dishes like soups and sauces or used as a dairy substitute in vegan recipes. To store leftover silken tofu, keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Firm Tofu

Firm tofu has a denser texture than silken tofu, making it suitable for dishes that require slicing, marinating, or grilling. Leftover firm tofu can be easily crumbled and scrambled with onions, garlic, and spices, such as in a Southwestern Tofu Scramble. Alternatively, it can be seasoned and baked, pan-fried, or simply added to stir-fries for a protein-packed meal. Store leftover firm tofu by completely immersing it in water inside an airtight container and keeping it in the refrigerator.

Extra-Firm Tofu

Extra-firm tofu holds its shape very well, making it ideal for dishes that require a sturdy texture, such as grilling, frying, or stir-frying. This type of tofu can be marinated to absorb flavors and then grilled, broiled, or pan-fried in various recipes. Leftover extra-firm tofu can also be cut into cubes or slices and added to salads, stir-fries, sandwiches, or wraps for a satisfying and nutritious meal. Like firm tofu, it should also be stored in a generously water-filled airtight container and placed in the refrigerator.

In conclusion, managing leftover tofu is a breeze as long as you recognize the major types—silken, firm, and extra-firm tofu. Proper storage methods and a creative approach to using tofu in diverse dishes will ensure that your leftovers are put to good use while minimizing waste.

Storing Leftover Tofu

When it comes time to store leftover tofu, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind in order to maximize its freshness and shelf life. Proper storage can help maintain the tofu’s flavor and texture.

First, for tofu that you plan to consume within a week, it’s best to store it in the refrigerator. To do this, cover the tofu with cool, preferably filtered, water and store it in a tightly sealed container or the tub it came in, covered with plastic wrap (Kitchn). It’s essential to change the water daily to keep the tofu moist and fresh.

Another option for preserving opened tofu without using the fridge involves soaking it in a saltwater solution. Start by draining the liquid from the tofu, then prepare a glass jar with 1/2 liter of water mixed with three tablespoons of salt. Place the tofu in the saltwater mixture, ensuring it is fully submerged, and seal the jar (Foods for Antiaging).

Different types of tofu require slightly different storage methods. For extra firm and super firm tofu, it’s best to transfer the tofu from its opened package into an airtight container (Grow Your Pantry). On the other hand, silken tofu should be stored in saltwater.

While storing tofu in the refrigerator or a saltwater solution can extend its shelf life, it’s still important to be mindful of potential spoilage. Routinely check the tofu for signs of spoilage, such as a sour smell, sliminess, or discoloration, and discard it if any of these are present.

By properly storing leftover tofu using these methods, you can ensure that it remains fresh and delicious for as long as possible while also reducing food waste.

Food Safety and Handling

When it comes to leftover tofu, there are certain food safety and handling guidelines that must be followed to ensure a healthy and enjoyable eating experience. Tofu, a popular vegetarian and plant-based protein option, requires proper storage and reheating techniques to maintain its quality and prevent spoilage.

First and foremost, storing leftover tofu in the refrigerator is essential. Be sure to transfer the tofu into an airtight container filled with fresh water. Replace the water every day to keep the tofu fresh, and it should last for up to a week.

Reheating leftover tofu must be done carefully to retain its taste and texture. Some recommended reheating methods include:

  • Pan-frying: Heat a small amount of oil in a non-stick pan, then add the tofu and cook until it is heated through and crispy on the outside.
  • Oven baking: Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C), place the tofu on a lined baking sheet, and bake for 10-15 minutes or until heated through.
  • Microwave: Place the tofu on a microwave-safe plate, cover it with a microwave-safe lid or another plate, and heat on medium power for 1-2 minutes, checking for desired warmth.

When it comes to incorporating tofu into recipes, leftovers can be a versatile and delicious addition to various dishes. Some ideas for using leftover tofu include:

  • Scrambles: Crumble the tofu and cook it with spices and vegetables for a protein-packed scramble.
  • Stir-fries: Dice the tofu and add it to your favorite vegetables and sauce for a quick stir-fry.
  • Sandwiches and wraps: Slice the tofu and use it as a filling for sandwiches or wraps, along with your preferred condiments and vegetables.
  • Salads: Cube the tofu and toss it with greens, grains, and dressing for a satisfying salad.

It’s important to note that if the leftover tofu develops a sour smell, slimy texture, or visible mold, it is no longer safe to eat and should be discarded immediately.

By following these food safety and handling tips, you can enjoy your leftover tofu in various dishes while ensuring its quality and taste. This versatile plant-based protein is nutritious, delicious, and can be easily transformed into new and exciting meals.

Recipes for Leftover Tofu

Smoothies and Shakes

Leftover tofu can be used in smoothies and shakes as an alternative source of protein. Simply blend soft or silken tofu with your favorite fruits, some liquid like milk or almond milk, and sweeteners like honey or agave. This creates a creamy and nutrient-filled beverage that’s perfect for breakfast or a snack.

Tofu Scrambles

Instead of tossing leftover tofu, consider making a delicious tofu scramble. Crumble firm tofu and cook it with your preferred vegetables, onions, and garlic in a non-stick pan. Add spices like curry powder and salt for a flavorful, protein-rich meal. This dish can be served as a main course, or in tacos and wraps for a twist on traditional egg-based scrambles.

Stir-Fries and Fried Rice

Using leftover tofu in stir-fries and fried rice dishes is a versatile and simple option. Start by cubing and stir-frying the tofu with a variety of seasonal veggies. Season with soy sauce, ginger, and garlic for an authentic taste. Toss cooked rice into the stir-fry or even use it as a filling for lettuce cups, creating a delectable and balanced meal.

Salads and Sandwiches

Incorporate leftover tofu in salads to add an extra boost of protein. Cube the tofu, marinate it in miso dressing or your favorite vinaigrette, and then toss it in a nutritious salad. Alternatively, bake or grill seasoned tofu slices and use them in sandwiches, wraps, or even a tasty, plant-based burger.

Curries and Soups

Leftover tofu can revive curries and soups, similar to how meat does. Whether you prefer a spicy curry or a comforting hot and sour soup, gently simmer the tofu in the broth to incorporate flavors, and serve with rice or noodles for a complete meal.

Baking and Grilling

Transform your leftover tofu into a delectable grilled or baked main course. Marinate it in your choice of sauces and seasonings, then either grill or bake it in the oven. These cooking methods create a crispy exterior and a tender interior, making for a satisfying dish.


Believe it or not, tofu stars in numerous dessert recipes. Silken tofu is perfect for creating creamy desserts like cheesecakes, chocolate mousse, pudding, and even ice cream. It can also act as an egg substitute in certain recipes, such as baked goods, custard, and brownies. This unique use for tofu opens up a world of sweet possibilities.

Incorporating leftover tofu into your meals is not only easy, but it also provides a wealth of delicious and nutritious options that cater to a variety of tastes and preferences.

Tips for Cooking Leftover Tofu

Leftover tofu can be transformed into a variety of delicious dishes. In this section, we will explore some essential tips for cooking leftover tofu, focusing on draining and pressing, marinating and seasoning, and crisping and texturing.

Draining and Pressing

Before preparing leftover tofu, it is crucial to drain and press it properly. This helps remove excess moisture and allows the tofu to absorb flavors better. To drain and press tofu, start by wrapping it in clean kitchen towels or paper towels. Next, place a flat, heavy object, such as a cutting board or a couple of cookbooks, on top of the wrapped tofu. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes to allow the weight to press out the excess liquid1.

Marinating and Seasoning

Marinating and seasoning are essential steps to give your leftover tofu an extra layer of flavor. Use combinations of soy sauce, spices, herbs, and other ingredients to create a marinade that suits your taste2. For an easy option, simply mix together soy sauce, minced garlic, and a touch of sesame oil. Immerse the tofu in the marinade for at least 30 minutes to an hour, allowing it to absorb the flavors. Keep in mind that longer marinating time will result in stronger flavors.

Crisping and Texturing

Crisping and texturing leftover tofu can add variety to your dishes. To achieve a crispy exterior, coat the tofu pieces in a thin layer of cornstarch before frying3. Fry the tofu in a pan with a small amount of oil over medium-high heat, turning it occasionally to ensure even browning on all sides. Once the tofu has browned and crisped up, remove it from the pan and let it drain on paper towels.

For a different texture, consider using the tofu in a scrambled dish4. Crumble extra firm tofu into a pan with sautéed onions, garlic, curry powder, and salt. Cook the mixture until the tofu has absorbed the flavors and reached your desired level of crispiness.

Some other creative ways to use leftover tofu include:

  • Blending silken tofu into smoothies for a creamy, protein-packed addition2.
  • Making a creamy dip with silken tofu2.
  • Warming silken tofu, drizzling with soy sauce, and topping with thinly sliced green onions and bonito flakes4.

Following these tips will help you make the most of your leftover tofu, creating dishes that are flavorful, satisfying, and versatile.


  1. Good Housekeeping
  2. Kitchn 2 3
  3. TastingTable.com
  4. Food52 2

Dealing with leftover tofu can be a challenge for some. However, there are several creative and appetizing ways to repurpose it into delicious meals. The key is to treat tofu as a versatile ingredient that can be incorporated into a variety of dishes.

One option is to stir-fry leftover tofu with a mix of veggies and seasonings of your choice. Simply heat some oil in a pan, add diced tofu and vegetables, and cook until your desired level of tenderness. Enhance the flavor using your favorite sauce or spices for a quick, healthy meal 1.

Another way to use up leftover tofu is grilling it. Summer is an excellent time for grilling, and tofu makes a great addition. Opt for extra-firm tofu, either grilling the whole block or cutting it into cubes and cooking them on skewers 2. To make a mouthwatering dish, try grilling tofu with pineapple and coconut rice3.

For those who enjoy soups, leftover tofu can be easily incorporated. Cube your tofu and add it to soups like miso, hot and sour, or kimchi4. Silken tofu can be warmed by covering with hot water for five minutes, drained, and then splashed with soy sauce, topped with thinly sliced green onions and bonito flakes5.

Finally, don’t be afraid to get creative with sandwiches. Layer cubed tofu onto banh mi-inspired sandwiches for a unique option5. Experiment with different sauces and condiments for variety in taste.


In conclusion, handling leftover tofu doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Utilize its versatility to create tasty, healthy dishes. From stir-fries and soups to grilling and sandwiches, there are countless ways to repurpose tofu. Remember to keep experimenting with flavors and textures, which can lead to enjoyable culinary experiences.

Remember, tofu can also be stored for short periods by placing it into an airtight container with fresh water. Just be sure to change the water daily to preserve freshness6. So, the next time you find yourself with leftover tofu, don’t hesitate to try out new recipes and techniques to take your meals to the next level.


  1. https://www.tastingtable.com/866944/the-absolute-best-ways-to-use-leftover-tofu/
  2. https://www.thekitchn.com/5-unexpected-delicious-ways-to-use-tofu-tips-from-the-kitchn-205443
  3. Edible Perspective
  4. https://food52.com/blog/13765-9-ways-to-use-up-your-tofu-dregs
  5. Food52 2
  6. https://growyourpantry.com/blogs/tofu/how-to-store-tofu