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Let’s talk tofu. If you’ve been scared to try tofu, this Crispy Tofu recipe will be your gateway. If you’ve tried tofu and thought it tasted like a floppy, flavorless blob, this crispy tofu will redeem your experience. If you LOVE the deep fried tofu you’ve eaten at restaurants and want an easier, healthier version you can make at home (no frying required), this crispy tofu is about to become your most bookmarked recipe.

CRISPY Tofu the EASY way! No baking, pressing, or deep frying required. Use this trick to cook tofu that comes out perfectly every time, and is perfect for all of your favorite stir fries, sauces, and even salads! @wellplated

Before I reveal the two tricks you need to know to make restaurant-quality tofu at home—we’re talking crispy, meaty (yes meaty) cubes of tasty perfection that are ideal for adding to any stir fry, salad, or even pasta—I want you to know that I understand why tofu has its skeptics.

Uncooked (or poorly cooked) tofu has the texture and flavor of a limp, overused kitchen sponge. Ewwwwww.

Properly cooked tofu, however, is positively PACKED with flavor. Its texture is lightly crispy and satisfying. Tofu is a cheap, lean source of protein, and it’s worth trying. Here’s how to make crispy tofu that actually tastes great! Feeling like baking it? Try my Baked Tofu.

CRISPY Tofu, no baking, deep frying, or pressing required! This one simple trick is all you need. A great way to add tofu to any stir fry, salad, or pasta. Even my meat-eating husband loved it! @wellplated

Tofu has two major challenges: FLAVOR and TEXTURE. Let’s start with texture.

The BEST way to make crispy tofu! No more pressing with the water or even baking. Try this one simple trick to make perfect, crispy tofu that tastes great every time. @wellplated

Right out of the package, tofu is mushy, and if you toss it directly into a stir fry, it will stay that way. Most restaurants get around the mushy-factor by deep-frying it, which (while delicious), negates tofu’s clean health benefits. It would also make my kitchen smell like a KFC for three days.

Other crisy tofu cooking methods call for pressing the tofu between layers of kitchen towels, draining, then repeating. It’s somewhat effective, but as you know if you’ve tried it, it’s messy and time consuming. I have dishes to wash, nails to paint, and a grandmother to call. This crispy tofu method is instant, no pressing required!

Here’s my hack to make the best-ever crispy tofu: Freeze the tofu, then boil it.

The secret to making Crispy Tofu that tastes deep fried but is actually healthy! Perfect for adding to your favorite stir fries, sauces, and salads. @wellplated

About This Crispy Tofu Recipe

I owe Mark Bittman for this life changing crispy-tofu hack. Freezing the tofu causes the water pockets within it expand, which helps it to cook more evenly and makes space for the tofu to absorb extra flavor. Simmering the tofu firms and plumps it.

To finish the tofu, lightly sauté it in a small amount of oil. Very little oil is needed for the sauté, since the tofu pieces are already nice and firm.

How to make Crispy Tofu that actually tastes great! No baking, pressing or frying required! This one simple trick is all you need. @wellplated

When the tofu is in the pan, add any flavors you’d like in your final dish. If I’m making a stir fry, I like to add garlic, ginger, and soy sauce; if I’m adding the tofu to a dish that is already saucy (like this Chicken Stir Fry with Thai Peanut Sauce or this Tofu Stir Fry), I’ll simply toss the tofu with a bit of the sauce while the tofu is still warm.

Critical tofu tip: make sure that you add something to season the tofu. Alone, the tofu doesn’t have much flavor, but this is a good thing. Because tofu is essentially a thirsty little sponge, it will eagerly drink up anything you place in the pan with it, making it a tasty vehicle for all of your favorite spices and sauces.

Recipes to Use This Crispy Tofu

The BEST way to make crispy tofu! No more pressing with the water or even baking. Try this one simple trick to make perfect, crispy tofu that tastes great every time. @wellplated

Tools Used to Make This Recipe

  • Saucepan. Perfect for boiling the tofu.
  • Wok. While not required, a wok is a great tool for making this recipe.

If you’ve been burned by bad tofu or have been hesitant to try it, I am begging you to give this crispy tofu a chance. It’s healthy, satisfying, and converted even my meat-loving husband into a believer.

Crispy Tofu

4.69 from 16 votes
How to cook crispy tofu that comes out perfectly every time. EASY method that's perfect for any stir fry. No baking, pressing, or frying required!

Prep: 2 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes

Servings: 1 block crispy tofu (serves about 4)


  • 1 block extra firm tofu (15 ounces), do not use firm or silken
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil or grapeseed oil


  • Place tofu in the freezer for at least 3 hours or up to 3 months. No need to unwrap—just pop the package right into the freezer.
  • When ready to cook, remove the tofu from freezer and unwrap. Discard any frost or ice that's formed on the outside, but do not tear the tofu. If the ice seems to be really stuck, leave as is.
  • Bring a pot of water large enough to completely submerge the tofu to a boil (a medium/large saucepan works best). Gently slip the frozen tofu block into the water. Return the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Continue simmering the tofu for 15 minutes, flipping once half way through. Carefully and immediately remove the tofu and set it aside on a paper towel-lined plate. Once cool enough to handle, cut into 1/2 to 3/4 inch-cubes.
  • In a large wok or skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add tofu pieces in a single layer. Let cook for 5 minutes on one side, then with a heat-proof spatula, flip the tofu pieces so that all sides brown, cooking for a few minutes on each remaining side. Once tofu is lightly browned and crispy (about 10-12 minutes total), remove from the pan. Use in your favorite stir fry, dip in peanut sauce, or add to soups or stews.


  • This recipe is more of a METHOD of cooking the tofu. Don't forget to flavor it! If using the tofu in stir fry, you can cook the tofu with garlic, ginger, and soy sauce for a basic stir fry (add the garlic at the very end so it doesn't burn) or toss it with a stir fry sauce afterwards while it is still warm. For salads, onions are great (give them a bit of a head start to soften in the pan with oil), as is garlic (again, add it towards the end to prevent burning). You can also toss the cooked tofu with a bit of salad dressing to coat and flavor it.
  • I don't recommend using olive oil to cook the tofu, as it tends to burn at a higher temperature. Canola or grapeseed oil work best.


Serving: 1(of 4)Calories: 133kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 10gFat: 10gSodium: 19mgFiber: 1g

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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  1. Your little tofu cubes look perfect! Mine never look that pretty, so consider myself officially impressed.

    1. You are too sweet Alisha. If you start with extra firm and follow the steps in the recipe, I bet yours will look even better than mine! :)

  2. YES! Freezing is the secret to great fried tofu! I learned this from Hannah Kaminsky (My Sweet Vegan author), and it changed my life. It makes it so much more meaty! I pop it in the freezer right when I get it home from the grocery store. Love this post!

    1. It’s it amazing what a difference that simple trick makes??? Maybe I’ll just start just leaving mine in the package now without unwrapping it; even more time savings. I gotta ask: Can you get the Mr. to eat tofu? Ben refuses, and at this point, I feel like he’s just spiting me!

    2. Serve them with a mixture of soysauce, vinegar, dash of sugar, salt and one choppe hot pepper
      as dipping sauce.   Can rival any bar food or complement chicken wings.,,,,,

    1. You absolutely should! Honestly, it can be really “meaty” and takes on any flavor you want. Worth giving it a shot :-)

      1. Nice technique. I’ve only ever used tofu in recipes where it’s blended in (cookies, tomato basil bisque, etc). Tried it tonight, and I subbed bacon grease for the oil…nice texture, nice taste! Thanks.

        1. I am so happy to hear that you liked this method and that it worked well for you!! Your twist with the bacon might make even Ben a tofu fan :-) Thanks so much for trying it and for sharing your review. It really means a lot!

  3. This. Is. Awesome. I love tofu but only if it’s deep-fried (but hey-o! my thighs don’t love that ;)), so this is a perfect solution!

    1. Thanks so much Steph! Now that we’ve skipped the deep frier, we can have double the brownies, right?

  4. I’ll be honest, I’ve never made tofu in my life, but I am SO intrigued by how easy you made this look, Erin!

    1. Georgia, it is even easier than I wrote! My fam NEVER cooked tofu growing up, but after having it in a few authentic restaurants, I was hooked. Need a tasty, easy, budget-friendly source of protein? Tofu’s got your back ;-) If you do try it, please let me know what you think!

  5. This sounds delicious, great recipe! I haven’t cooked with Tofu to much, but definitely wouldn’t mind using it more!

    1. It’s all in how you serve it! Tofu gets a bad name, but can be a delightful source of flavorful protein. You’ll have to let me know what you think!

  6. this is such a helpful post because I am always looking for ways to make tofu crispy minus the frying. Thank you so much. I will be trying this ASAP because I am also part of camp A

  7. I LOVE this post! My tofu is always mushy and gross, and when I press the water out, it seems to turn out lopsided. I’m gonna give this recipe a go tonight for the stir fry I am going to make.

    1. Nicole, pressing never did it for me, but this method totally hit the spot! Please let me know what you think. I really hope it works for you!

  8. I have to try your recipe, tofu has always been a challenge for me.
    Little by little I am starting to dislike tofu because of my cooking mishaps with it. I also will be switching to the extra firm, maybe that’s where I screw up, buying the wrong tofu plus cooking it wrong. LOL!! I’m such a genius…..NOT!!
    Thanks for the tips!
    Have a great day! :-)

    1. Dalila, tofu can either be awesome or mush, and combining the right kind of tofu (extra firm) with the right cooking technique makes all the difference. I really hope you give it another shot. Let me know what you think!

  9. yes, LET’S talk tofu because i adore tofu and people who don’t try it and knock it really irk me. this is actually the way my mom makes all her tofu dishes. i absolutely ADORE it because it gives it such a great, light, crunchy texture on the outside. It makes me so happy to see you post this because I love a person who can adore tofu :)

    1. Julie, the fact that your mom makes her dishes this way makes me feel even better about it! (What can I say, a cook loves company). And anyone who doesn’t love tofu, I feel is just being stubborn. The ‘fu deserves a chance!

  10. I’m definitely in Camp A – I LOVE tofu! I’ve never tried freezing then simmering it, I’ll give it a shot next time!

    1. Bianca, you totally gotta go for it. I think you’ll really love how meaty it makes the tofu, especially if you are already a proud member of Camp A!

  11. I love your pictures and recipes, they are mouth watering. Would love for you to share them with us at Over at we are not photography expert snobs, we are just foodies, so pretty much all your pictures will get accepted.

  12. I’m tofu category type A. And I need this NOW! I love tofu but hardly ever make it. Gotta change that!

  13. i am all for tofu just have never made before…love the no deep fry i’ve tried on other things and made my own house smell for 3 weeks it was awful..I will stick with baking/grilling/sauteing

    1. THREE WEEKS? OK, I definitely need to stay away!
      I do hope you give tofu a try: it really can be a great way to add protein to any dish and will take any flavor you care to throw at it! Plus, you can get the hubby to be adventurous and try it with you ;-)

  14. I am not a huge tofu fan but I like all things crispy so now I am willing to give tofu another try and make these little squares, thanks!

  15. I love tofu, this is a great recipe and I love the color you were able to get. I’ve also tried making a tofu salad which can be used as a main dish. Give it a try!

    1. High five to a fellow tofu lover! Tofu salad sounds really interesting, and I”m always up for trying something new. Thanks for your comment!

  16. I am a card carrying member of the tofu lover’s club and have been for years. But I have never been able to figure out how to get it as crispy as restaurants do (without buying a deep fryer, that is). I’ll be using this method from now on.

    1. Nora, I always love hearing from a fellow tofu lover! I hope this method works for you. Thanks for you comment and have a lovely day!

  17. I thought this worked really well. Not sure why, but I think the simmering and sautéing took longer for me. It all worked out though, a good method for home cooked tofu.

    1. Yay!!! Cooking times can vary depending on the heat/pan, but the best part is that it worked for you. I’m so glad you liked it. Thanks Erica!

  18. Question: If I freeze the block of tofu without cutting it first, do i simmer the entire block without cutting it? Or do I have to thaw the block then cut it, then simmer? Also, do you have to put the tofu in the water when it is still frozen or does it not matter?

    1. Hi Jess! Great questions. No need to cut or thaw it–you can just toss (well, gently slip) the whole block right into the boiling water. It will still turn out great.

  19. Hi Erin, I feel so hungry now. I can’t wait to try your method of making crispy tofu, they look so good. I have a question though, you said it is crispy and unfried, but the recipe says it has to be cooked with olive oil in a wok or skillet. Isn’t that frying? I am probably missing something here. Can you explain please? Thank you so much for posting this.

    1. Nina, that is a fantastic, honest question, and I think it depends on how you define “fried.” I consider it a very light saute just to brown the edges. I wouldn’t consider veggies that I saute fried, so therefore I don’t consider the tofu fried either. Very little oil is used and the tofu isn’t submerged in it at all. If you can certainly skip this step and the tofu will still be nice and firm–it just won’t be quite as crisp on the outside. Does that help to explain my thinking?

  20. Hi Erin, thank you so much for your prompt reply. That helps a lot. Guess what we are having for dinner? The Law Student’s Wife Ultracrispy Unfried
    Tofu. Thanks again and looking forward to more of your wonderful recipes.

  21. Hi Erin! My husband and I loved your recipe. Finally, I got him to like tofu. Thank you so much again for sharing your secret. Take care!

  22. I am making this un-deep fried tofu for the kids and i tonight. My 6 year old daughter calls it chicken (who am i to correct a bright young tofu lover) i need a good tofu burger recipe!

    1. Julie, I love that your daughter calls tofu chicken! Wish I could say the same for my husband, lol. I hope you guys love it! I don’t have a tofu burger recipe to recommend (I’ve never tried making one) but I love that idea. Filing the idea away for a future post :-)

    1. Hi Kyle! If you consider light sautéing in oil ‘fried’ then this tofu would not be for you–however, since only 1 tablespoon of oil is used in the entire recipe (vs. an entire pot of deep fry oil) I’d still consider it ‘unfried.’ If you are concerned, feel free to skip this step. It’s completely up to you.

  23. I hate the taste of second day chicken and have been scouring about for a way to make tofu palatable for my salads. I favor Asian flavored dressings (Miso Ginger, Sesame, Peanut) and I knew that if I got the hang of making it taste better that tofu would be a cheap, convenient protein source to my lunch salads. Thank you for publishing this post! Your method cured the raw tofu texture I despise and made my salad taste incredible. I was almost about to skip the boiling step since I read quickly the first time around but I totally saw them plump up again like you said.

    1. I’m so excited that you tried this recipe and found the texture you were looking for! I actually just made some for my salad this week (with a honey, garlic, sesame dressing in fact. Great minds :-) ) Thanks so much for taking time to comment and share your thoughts. Makes my day!

  24. Great recipe- thanks so much! I have always wondered how to get that great firm, chewy texture that I have had in restaurants. Used this technique to make some kung pao tofu over the weekend. Yesterday I improvised– instead of pan frying the cubes I sprayed a glass baking dish and baked the tofu cubes at 450 F for about 15 minutes– just tossed them every 5 minutes. Came out great also! Thanks for the freeze and simmer trick :-)

    1. Hi Geetha! Thanks so much for trying this recipe and for sharing your thoughts. I love your oven trick too. I am definitely going to try it that way for the next batch of tofu I make. Great idea!

  25. I can’t believe I’ve never heard of freezing tofu. I eat tofu all the time. This is brilliant!!!

      1. Hi Erin, I tried this today and loved it! so crispy! Thank you!! :) and will see you soon in MN for Bake for Good!

  26. Just saw this on pinterest.. I will be trying this soon! I actually just bought firm tofu from Costco.. Why won’t firm tofu work?

    1. Hi Stephanie! You can definitely use this method for firm tofu–it just won’t be quite as “meaty” since it’s a little softer than extra firm. The one type of tofu you wouldn’t want to use is silken, which tends to fall apart.

  27. You’re BRILLIANT, Erin! I’m always on a search to make tofu as they do in restaurants, but I’ve never tried freezing my tofu. Your explanation of why freezing it works is super interesting–I’m going to have to get my food science cousin to explain to me the exact science behind it all. Can’t wait to try this!

    1. Erika, I would love to hear what your cousin has to say about this! Thanks so much and hope you enjoy :)

  28. It worked even more gloriously than I could have hoped for!! THANK YOU for sharing.

    I have been failing for quite a while to replicate the tofu served at my favorite Thai/Vietnamese restaurants. Not growing up with tofu…it’s been a lovely but very recent adventure for me. Never in a million years would I have thought to try the boiling step (nor was it shown in the multiple tutorials I perused on my hunt to learn good tofu cooking technique). How is that not more common knowledge?! It makes ALL the difference in the world ;)

    You rock.

    1. Oh this makes me so, so happy to hear! I’m so glad that this method worked for you. Have a wonderful night and thanks for letting me know. Makes my day :)

    1. Hi, since the tofu is lightly sautéed in just a few tablespoons of olive oil (vs. being completely submerged in a deep fryer filled with oil), I do still consider it “unfried.” If you prefer, you can simply boil and slice the tofu, and skip the step where it sautéed. Whatever works best for you!

  29. Hi, I’m a newbie to cooking tofu but love it in restaurants. When do you marinate it? Before you freeze it? After you simmer it but before you sauté it, or after you sauté it?

    1. Hi Jem! If you love restaurant tofu, I think you’ll really enjoy this! You don’t actually marinate the tofu. Freeze it right when you buy it, then boil it in the water on the stove, per the directions. From there, you cube then saute it. I hope that helps–let me know if there is something in the recipe directions that isn’t clear or where you’d like more info.

        1. Ah, sorry Jem! I misunderstood your question. I would do it after boiling, but before sautéing. Just make sure to pat it as dry as you can before putting it in the marinade.

  30. How long will this last? (i.e.: leftovers)
    and can it be (re)frozen to later thaw/use in other dishes?

    1. Hi Amy! It will last in the fridge 4-5 days, though it will soften a bit. You can absolutely freeze it. I’ve made many stirfries with this tofu and then frozen the entire stirfry and had great results reheating it, and I’m sure it would work fine to freeze the tofu separately too.

      1. Thanks! I have never cooked tofu, never bought tofu, hardly ever eaten it… but this looks interesting. I’m going to try it :)

        1. Amy, I love that you are trying something new and am totally honored that this is the recipe you picked! I hope you enjoy every bite :-)

  31. my husband LOVES tofu but sadly, i’m the token terrible asian who hates it. i really tempted to try this tomorrow!

    1. Marly, depending upon what about tofu you don’t like, this could do the trick! If you think tofu is too mushy, this method will make it nice and firm and (dare I say) meaty. Be sure to add lots of your favorite flavors in the final dish you serve it with (I love it in stir fry with a spicy ginger or peanut sauce), and you might be surprised!!

  32. I hadn’t tried the freezing method but have been using another recipe I found online for getting crispier tofu which is to cut it into the cube shapes you want and putting it into a pot of salted water, bringing it to a boil and then turning it off and letting it sit 15 mins. I then drain it in the salad spinner and saute with a wee bit of oil and it comes out great so you might want to try that just to skip the freezing step. And since I want to try the freezing method to see if it is worth adding the step, are you freezing the block whole and then defrosting before cubing or cubing and then freezing? Thanks. Also, I don’t know where you are geographically but if you are near or are going to be in the Philly area, try the restaurant Vedge (make reservations well in advance) and order the tofu. If your husband doesn’t want to try it, that’s OK, he’ll just be missing out on one of the tastiest things he could eat and there will be that much more for you!

    1. Hi Cliff! Your method sounds really interesting! I’ll have to give it a try next time. When I’m feeling lazy, I freeze the block whole, and then just pop the whole thing into the water while still frozen. You can cut it up first and then freeze it, but I found that over all, it makes a really minimal difference, so I usually skip it. I’ve never been to Philly, but if that changes, I will definitely try that restaurant. Thanks so much for passing all of this information along!

      1. Typical of me, I jumped ahead and think I may have missed a step. You say that freeze the block whole — so I brought the package home and tossed it in the freezer. I didn’t remove the tofu and squeeze rewrap it like you say in Step 1. Now I have a frozen block of tofu in its water. Should I thaw it and then drop if in the boiling water, or should I put the whole thing (frozen tofu & ice) in the boiling water? does it matter that I didn’t drain it first?

        1. Hi Jem! Not to worry. I sometimes take a short cut and actually freeze the block whole too. Simply put the whole frozen block in the boiling water (minus the wrapper of course). It will take a bit longer to cook since it’s starting out frozen, but it will turn out just fine.

  33. Your welcome. Like curry? Here’s a really easy way to use those cubes for a side or main course. Once they are nicely crisped in the saute pan, sprinkle a generous amount of curry powder on, serve over blended peas (any organic frozen baby peas is what I use) thaw them and place in blender with just enough water to get them to blend, a little salt and white pepper, heat that up and top the tofu and peas with panko bread crumbs you have lightly browned in a wee bit of butter. Has been a hit with a wide variety of eaters.

  34. Quick question! I will be trying this recipe tonight, and was wondering, once the tofu is sautéed, can I keep it in the fridge so that I can use any leftovers later in the week for a stir fry? I cook for just myself, so 1 block is too much for one meal. It seems like doing this preparation ahead would also save lots of time on a busy weeknight, but I’m unsure if it being in the fridge after being prepared would preserve the texture. Any advice?

    1. Hi Alice! That is 100% fine. In fact, I often reheat leftover tofu stir fry for myself later in the week, with great results. Keeping the tofu separate from the stirfry until you use it shouldn’t change a thing. Thanks so much for trying the recipe. I hope you love it!

  35. You have changed my life! I have had crispy tofu, deep fried in an Asian restaurant and baked firm from a health food store. I wanted to love tofu, but was unsuccessful in all my attempts to make it crispy without frying. I will now freeze several blocks to have ready for all my favorite stir fries and sautés. A million thanks!

    1. Ruth, I am so SO excited to hear that this method works so well for you! You are putting me in the mood for tofu too :) Thank you so much for taking time to share your thoughts. Comments like these never fail to make my day. It means a lot!

  36. I’m one of those people who fall into camp A, but never really know what to do with tofu. Whipped up a batch of these this evening & found them dangerously more-ish. Definitely going to make these again in the very near future :) Thank you.

    1. Hi Kate! I am so excited to hear that you loved this recipe! It’s my favorite way to enjoy tofu. Thank you so much for trying it and for letting me know what you thought. It makes my night

  37. I was wondering if’ you’ve ever tried microwaving (instead of boiling?) I used to do that to pull out the water content on the tofu before frying.

    1. That sounds interesting. How do you microwave tofu to get the results you want? Do you start with a block of frozen tofu?

      1. There’s something very informative written on , called “How to make tofu really freaking delicious – tofu 101”. One of the people who commented on that mentioned microwaving for a minute or two and then blotting with a dish towel to remove any moisture that ends up on the surface.

        1. Hi Robin, I’ve never tried microwaving, but it’s an interesting idea! I know many people press tofu to help remove moisture and make it firmer, and this sounds like a very effective way to do that. Personally, I love the simplicity of tossing the tofu right into the boiling water, but whatever method works to get the tofu just way the you like sounds like the right one :)

    2. Hi Robin! I have never tried microwaving the tofu. The boiling doesn’t just get the water content out—it really plumps and firms the tofu. I don’t know that the microwave would have the same result, although it does sound like an interesting approach.

  38. Hi Erin!

    I am new to the tofu world – I just tried it for the first time two days ago! I followed another recipe (listed above, poured boiling salt water over it) before frying in skillet and it was nice and crispy! Have you tried to skip the freezing method and just boil it first, before simmering? If so, how does it compare? I am curious if it will be even crispier if I freeze it as you suggest. Thank you and have a great week!

    1. Hi Jenn! While boiling alone makes for great tofu (and definitely works if you don’t want to plan ahead), I really do think that freezing it is even better. It’s worth a shot if you don’t mind waiting for the tofu to freeze, and you can transfer it right from its frozen state into the boiling water. I hope you love it, and you have a great week too!

  39. This is really fantastic information. Thank you so much for sharing! I have never really worked with tofu other than crumbled in scrambles because I could never figure out how the heck to make it palatable, specifically the texture issue. I really want to benefit from tofu’s versatility and health benefits and this will certainly help with that. Thank you again :)

    1. Hi Linda! I am so happy that you found this post helpful. I agree that tofu is a wonderful ingredient, and I hope you love it cooked this way. It’s my favorite!

  40. Loving this idea! I was just wondering though, would simmering the tofu in vegetable stock instead of water make a difference either in taste or texture?

    1. Hi Lane, that is a really interesting idea! I’ve never tried it. I think that it would have the same positive effect on the texture as the water (making the tofu “meatier”), and I would imagine that some of the stock flavor would be absorbed as well. It will make the tofu saltier, so just be sure to compensate for that accordingly in the final dish. If you do try it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  41. I always cube and freeze the tofu (you can also find pre-cubed sometimes) and then use a little at a time in all kinds of things like spaghetti sauce, rice pilaf, etc. in place of animal based protein. The advantage to cubing is that you can pull out a bit at a time since I can’t go through an entire block at once, but I haven’t tried the boiling step in between. Must give that a go.

    BTW, my 3-yr old loves tofu and will often pick it out of the final dish and eat it first!

    1. Thanks for the tip Sneha! That a great idea. Also, your 3-year-old is amazing. I wish I could get my husband to be that eager, lol.

  42. Hi! I followed your directions to the letter and the tofu certainly browned nicely in the pan although I can’t say it was “crispy”. But it was chewy, certainly not mushy. But it had no flavor! What do I do to give it some flavor. I dipped it in a Hot & Spicy Thai sauce. The sauce was delicious but the tofu was still just chewy and flavorless. I guess I expected something more. Any advice?

    1. Hi Jem! This is meant to be a method for cooking tofu that can be applied to any stir fry recipe. As you noticed, tofu on its own doesn’t have a lot of flavor. This recipe gives the tofu a nice texture, then you can adapt it to fit into any recipe you’d like to make. For example, I sometimes make this recipe with tofu instead of chicken ( When I mix the tofu into the flavorful peanut sauce, it tastes wonderful. You can also add things like onion, garlic, and ginger into the pan with the tofu when you saute it, which helps add more flavor. I’m sorry for any misunderstanding, but I hope that you were happy with your dinner in the end!

  43. I LOVE this recipe. Since I came across it several months ago, it is my exclusive method for preparing tofu. My husband, who’s not the biggest tofu fan, is nuts about it too. When I do the simmer stage, I like to boil it in seasoned water (veggie broth or throw in miso paste and soy sauce) so the flavor gets all up in that tofu. Super yum.

    1. Jenny, I am so so excited to hear that this method is working so well for you and your husband! I love the idea of flavoring the water too. Thanks for the tip and for taking time to share your review here. It truly means a lot!

  44. I don’t saute mine. I spray a 9″ X 13″ pan with cooking spray and bake it @ 400 degrees till it’s golden on one side, then turn it if necessary. A cookie sheet doesn’t work because it pops like popcorn all over the oven if you don’t have a pan with sides, which is also why it isn’t always necessary to turn it.

  45. Might be just the thing to get the Mrs. to try tofu! It’s always way too squishy for her palate, I think.

  46. You are AMAZING omg! I just made this and its insane… I think I am going to devour the whole freaking tofu block lol! Thank you so much for this recipe, I have been eating tofu for years and was one of those people that could not for the life of me get the texture right and resorted to either eating it raw or just getting takeout… i’m obsessed, its delish! 

    1. The comment MADE MY NIGHT! Yay for tofu being addictive. Take that block down :) Thanks so much for taking time to leave your review!

  47. This is great! I have been cooking tofu for half a year for diet reasons and I have never known such method exists! Grilling tofu is what I usually do instead of deep frying and just now I tried boiling and wow I love the texture, crispy outside and soft in the inside. Thank you for sharing this, Erin! Love love love from the Philippines :)

    1. HOORAY! I’m so happy to read this comment. Thanks so much for trying this method and letting me know how it turned out for you!

  48. this was…AMAZING. i usually take the lazy route and barely press water out before i (try) to saute it. it always ends in a mushy mess. but i had recently frozen a block of tofu when i didnt get around to eating it, so i gave this a whirl. it was so so good in my thai red coconut curry. it’s such a great protein source – healthy, cheap, low carb for my husband. awesome! thank you!

    1. Allison, your comment made my night!!!! I’m so happy that you both loved this. Tofu is pretty fab, isn’t it? :)

  49. Just wondering what would happen if I used firm tofu instead of extra firm? I have some in my fridge but noticed that the recipe says to not use firm. Would it just crumble?

    1. Hi Kathryn! Unfortunately, firm and extra firm tofu are not created equal. The firm tofu will be much more likely to crumble, and will not have as (for lack of a better word) “meaty” of a texture. You can certainly follow the directions with the firm tofu, but the results will just not be the same.

  50. I almost never ever leave comments on recipes online, but this was amazing – hands down the best tofu I’ve ever prepared. Thank you for sharing this technique!

    1. Hannah, I am so so happy to hear this (and honored that you took time to comment!). Thank you for trying the recipe and letting me know how it tuned out for you!

  51. Wow!!! I am so impressed!! I just did these with cubes and they were out of this world! I really didn’t think they would be this amazing. I did press a ton of the moisture out before freezing which I wouldn’t do again next time as it seems a little dry on the inside. No cornstarch either and yet just so crispy!! Thank you so much for sharing this amazing recipe!! I am an official tofu boiler! :)

    1. Sarah, I’m so glad to hear this method was so successful for you! Once you boil, there’s no going back :)

  52. I never thought I’d have to fight my kids for the last bites of tofu!  So weird that that sentence just came out of my mouth ?  Do you not season it?  I was wondering about salting the boiling water or while they were cooking in the skillet because they were bland. 

    1. Marci, I love that your kids gobbled this up! This recipe is meant to be more of a cooking method that you would incorporate into another recipe, which is why it is unseasoned. You can finish the tofu with any stir fry sauce or flavors you enjoy. This honey line tofu stir fry is a great example:

      1. Oh gotcha!  One more question, are you supposed to try and get the water out of it after the boil?  I’m not super familiar with tofu but I thought that’s why people bought tofu presses. 

        1. Marci, pressing tofu is what is usually done in place of freezing/boiling it, though I don’t find it as effective. You’ll want to pat the tofu dry after it’s boiled, but no need to press it.

  53. I’ve been looking for a recipe like this for a long time, and it turned out so wonderful. I put it into a tortilla with pico de gallo, peppers, some Sriracha and vegan mayo. It made for a great vegan taco!

    1. Jenna, I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed this recipe so much—it sounds DELICIOUS as a burrito. I want to try it myself that way next time!

  54. Your method for getting the tofu crispy is quite a surprise – my experience is that freezing does nasty things to the texture of tofu.  However, I would definitely try this.  Sometimes what seems improbable is exactly what works.  Thanks for sharing this method.

  55. Um, what? Where has this hack been my whole life? We adore tofu and have made it variety of ways, but now I HAVE to try this method. What a cool idea!

    P.S. Total foodie crush on Mark Bittman. ;)

  56. i definitely have had bad tofu in the past, so i can’t wait to try this recipe out. love crispy tofu… especially when it’s done well! Xx

  57. I definitely will try it again if some one else makes it :) but I will not fool with it again…..too much trouble……I did not care for it when I tried it……but the way you fix it does sound good….but a lot of work……I’ll stick to beans for my protein….and occasionally I will have some kind of meat….. 

  58. Hi Erin! I just discovered your blog and I love it so far! Just a quick question. I want to use this tofu in place of an Indian recipe that calls for chicken. In the recipe I want to make, it calls for adding the chicken, cooking for 4-5 minutes with the spices, adding the water, and then cooking for 8-10 minutes.

    Here is the recipe:
    (Modern Honey is amazing and if you all don’t follow/subscribe to her already, I seriously recommend it!) If I follow this recipe replacing the chicken with tofu, will it overcook and dry out if I’ve already made it crispy using this recipe? I hope that question makes sense.

    1. Hi Annie! Since this isn’t my recipe, I’m afraid I can’t give you the specifics. I’d suggest cooking the tofu with the Indian spices in the pan while you saute it, but follow the tofu cooking directions, instead of the directions for the chicken. As far as the water that gets added with the chicken, you will have to feel out the proper amount. I’m sure you’ll want some for the sauce, but the tofu doesn’t need to simmer in it, since you are cooking it according to this crispy tofu method. I hope that helps a little bit and that you love the way it turns out!

  59. I followed this recipe exactly and encountered two critical problems:

    1. The tofu did not fully thaw during the boil/simmer process.

    I put the 15 oz block of extra firm tofu in the freezer 24 hours prior to cooking it. And I do not believe the freezer temperature to be an issue as it is set to the standard and I’ve never had any issues prior to this. I brought a large pot of water to a boil, put the tofu in (it did submerge completely), let it simmer for 7 minutes, flipped it over, then let it simmer for another 8 mins (15 mins total). I then removed it and allowed it to cool for 5 mins. I then tried to cut through and found that the middle section was still pretty frozen.

    Nevertheless, I cut around the frozen part, and continued on with the recipe with the outer layer of tofu.

    2. The tofu burned in the pan faster than the directions stated.

    I cut the outer layer of tofu into 3/4 inch cubes. I put 1.5 tbsp of canola oil into a pan and set it at med-high heat, and made sure to put the tofu in before it got too hot (no smoke was coming from the pan). I let the tofu sit for 4 minutes, turned them over and saw that all of the pieces were badly enough burnt that they smelled bad and were past the point of being able to save.

    Overall this recipe didn’t work for me and I followed the instructions precisely.

    1. Hi Kim, I’m sorry to hear the recipe didn’t turn out for you. Many people have enjoyed this method, but it’s always tricky to tell why the recipe might have turned out different since everyone’s kitchen is different. If you were inclined to try it again, I’d suggest making sure you use a nonstick pan and reduce the heat during the cooking process if the tofu is still frozen on the inside but cooking too quickly on the outside. You could also poach it longer if it seems it is still frozen in the middle. I know it’s disappointing when a recipe doesn’t turn out as expected, so I truly wish this method would have worked for you!

    2. I just made this and it turned out perfectly. The thing about the boiling is that it should be noted that 15 minutes is probably more of a guideline. It took probably twice as long for mine to be fully thawed through. Put a knife through it to check it every once in a while. I feel like it will probably work best fully thawed. Then I drained excess water in a lot of paper towels, which could have helped. As for the burning, you most likely didn’t have enough oil or used too high of heat for your pan. A decent non-stick pan will probably work best. I did something similar in my old way-past-it’s-prime pan (that I just threw out) and it turned out disasterous. So cookware does make a big difference. You should give it another try. Hope this helps!

  60. Tofu = life, therefor this recipe = true life hack!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    Finally discovered how to have fluffy tofu on the inside yet crispy on the outside <3

    For all people it didn't work out: cooking time is key! And trying probably too ;)
    I have tried many times, before I understood what worked for me best.

    Andrea5 stars

    1. Andrea, thank you so much for taking the time to leave this excellent review! I’m so glad these tips were helpful for you!

    1. Hi Frances! If you’d like to use a regular pan, you’ll probably need to use more oil to prevent sticking.

      1. It worked! My Mom was thrilled with how it came out. She doubt the boiling part because it was counter intuitive but that was the point, right? Cooked this with oyster & mayo with chili on top and it was so good! I’m going to find out how to make vegan dishes with this though (I’m still in the transition *wink*). Thank you so much Erin!

  61. Thanks so much! This worked beautifully for me. I just made an awesome Thai tofu peanut stir-fry using this method for the tofu and it turned out every bit as good as from a restaurant. I will now be eating a lot more tofu. 5 stars

    1. Dani, I’m so happy to hear this method was a success for you! Thank you so much for taking the time to share how it went. :)

  62. Hey Erin!  My tofu is always wonderfully crunchy if served immediately but will soften over 10-15 minutes-ish. Is that normal?  Also, is there a disadvantage of boiling it in salted water?  It seems like that would give it good flavor but would it ruin something?  Also, I like using ghee or coconut oil but it always seems like my house ends up a bit smoky when I make pan fried tofu. Is that normal?

    1. Hi Marci, I haven’t run into the issue you describe of the tofu getting soft. You could try cooking it a little longer and at a higher temperature to see if that helps. I haven’t tried boiling it in salted water, but I think that would be fine! As for the pan getting smoky, you could try using peanut oil as that has a higher smoke point. Hope that helps!

  63. Elizabeth, I usually use a knife to cut open the package then drop the whole block into the water (you’ll see that in the directions). The cutting happens after the tofu is boiled (and therefore soft). I think if you give it a try that way next time, it will go much better for you! If you can’t get the tofu open, you could try microwaving it for a minute or so too.

    1. Hi Winnifer, I have never tried! I think you’d get more bang for your buck by adding it to the tofu when it is sautéed instead, but you could certainly experiment. I hope you enjoy!

    1. Hi Alex, I follow the steps exactly as written and it comes out great! I hope the method works for you if you give it a try!

  64. I’ve got a block of extra firm tofu in the freezer and can’t wait to try your method! Quick question before I take it out – have you ever boiled/simmered the tofu in a water broth (like adding organic vegetables ‘better than bullion’)? I know the sodium content is a bit high, but figure a couple of layers of flavor will help win over my tofu skeptics. Thoughts? Tks!!

    1. Hi Miz, I’ve never tried it because I end up adding the flavor from whatever I stir-fry or cook the tofu with, but a few other readers have tried it and enjoyed the results!

    1. I haven’t Jessica, but that is a really neat idea! Adding it to my list of Instant Pot recipes to explore :)

  65. Hiya,

    I’ve read loads of posts about freezing tofu but nowhere does it say how quickly it needs to be eaten after thawing. If I freeze a whole block (circa 4 portions) then cook it will it last for 4 days or do I need to freeze individual portion sizes?! Sorry if this sounds like a stupid question but I always get confused about freezing stuff! Thanks 

    1. Hi Mary! When you get the tofu before you open/freeze the package, look at when it expires—if it’s two weeks from now, for example, then you could freeze the tofu today and when it comes out, you’d have 2 weeks to use it up. Does that make sense? To help yourself remember, you could perhaps mark the package before it goes in the freezer. I hope that helps!

  66. Maybe I’m slow but  I thought tofu krisped up better if all of the liquid was squeezed out of it.
    In your instructions it says to freeze it then boil it then sauté it. The only thing I didn’t see is that after you boil it are you supposed to squeeze out that water or just cut it up and immediately sauté it? 

    Thank you,

  67. I don’t understand what happened here. I froze my tofu block in the package. When I put the block in boiling water, the whole this dissolved and is unfortunately wasted. Did I miss something in your instructions?

    1. Hi Victoria, did you make sure to use extra firm tofu, not firm or silken? That would make a big difference. I haven’t experienced this happening, so unfortunately I don’t have any specific advice to offer, and I know it’s disappointing to try something new and not have it work out.

  68. Hi there! Brand new to your blog and can’t wait to try this method! Silly question and I tried to find this answer in other comments but no luck. Since tofu is packed in water – do I remove the block from the water packaging before freezing? Thanks!!

    1. Hi Rachel, I’m so glad to have you here! Check out step 1—no need to remove the tofu from the package. You can just pop the whole thing in the freezer. I hope you enjoy!

  69. Honest to goodness, you made me love Tofu. This recipe is absolutely delicious. I made some for my Mahjong group and everyone wanted the recipe. I eat them cold as a healthy or throw them in a salad. Thanks for a great blog that I visit daily. ??

    1. HOORAY! I’m glad to hear it, Darlene. Thanks for taking the time to leave this review—I so appreciate having you as a reader!

  70. Followed directions carefully as written. Texture of the tofu was like sawdust, totally inedible although I had put some peanut sauce on it after sauteing. The whole dish including veggies and sauce was discarded.. Wasteed lots of food! Not at all happy….really expected it to be great!

    1. Hi Pat, I’m sorry to hear this didn’t turn out for you. I have not heard of this particular problem happening, and many other readers have had success, so unfortunately I’m not sure what may have gone wrong. I know it’s disappointing to try a new recipe and not enjoy it, so I truly wish you would have loved this!

  71. Hi Erin! Can tofu be baked until crispy, instead of fried? I’d like to avoid cooking with fat.

    1. Hi Rosario, I have not tried that myself as I have found a little oil necessary for crispiness. Another reader tried this recipe in a glass baking pan at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes, tossing occasionally, and enjoyed the results, but I have not tried that myself. (She did spray the pan with nonstick spray.)

    2. Baking is how I’ve always done it before, first pressing to get out as much water, then tossing in olive oil and soy sauce, then coating with cornstarch before baking. Check out the recipe by Cookie and Kate. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe too, but have to buy more tofu to keep in the freezer. Who knew?

  72. Used this to make tofu for the first time tonight and it turned out really well! Simple, easy-to-follow steps that helped bring my stir fry together.5 stars

  73. I was today years old when I learned the best tofu advice I have ever read! You have rocked my world! Thank you

  74. I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan – but I have a lot of friends who are. I’ve always loved agedashi tofu and other fried preparations… but when faced with trying to cook at home in a tiny kitchen, I didn’t want to have to deep fry and wanted an easy way to make a stir fry for my friends so they can have a proper meal when they come to my house. I tried this and it was AMAZING – the texture of the tofu is so great! I like to keep my tofu frozen in the freezer so I’ve got some in case a friend pops by and that makes this even more convenient. I’ll definitely be eating it myself on the nights I forget to pull meat out to defrost, too!5 stars

  75. HI,

    I just became a vegetarian and am looking for info on how to cook tofu. I tried your method of freezing and boiling and am wondering what I did wrong because my tofu came out horrible. :-(

    It was soggy and bland. Wasn’t I supposed to press the boiled block of tofu before frying it? It was so soggy, that just touching it – it oozed water. Even though your directions didn’t say to press it, I did and squeezed a lot of water out of it. But it was still soggy after cooking. What did I do wrong?

    Linda1 star

    1. Hi Linda! I’m sorry to hear this didn’t turn out for you. I have not heard of this particular problem happening, and many other readers have had success, so unfortunately I’m not sure what may have gone wrong. I know it’s disappointing to try a new recipe and not enjoy it, so I truly wish you would have loved this!

  76. Before freezing I remove the tofu from the package and press out excess water. Then I cut it into large squares and wrap it in plastic wrap and then place it in a Ziploc bag. It will keep over three months this way.I also add a little broth or soy sauce or some of my marinade to the boiling water. 

  77. I’ve used this recipe a few times, especially the preparation of the tofu. 10/10 would recommend. I even forgot to book.qrk it and spent some time looking for this specific one because it works and it’s so easy!5 stars

  78. This was super easy and not only a great way to use tofu I had frozen before a months-long trip, I’m going to freeze most of my tofu. BRILLIANT method. This is my first comment on a foodie blog. You absolutely deserve kudos. I have a load of broccoli in the fridge, will peruse your site for more ideas.

    To others: If you like tofu, TRY this simple, delicious approach to crispy tofu!!!5 stars

  79. Loved it! This is the best way to make tofu. Nice not to have to squeeze it between paper towels. It’s great to store it in the freezer till I need it. I’m going to look for new Tofu recipes to use this in. Tonight I used it in a orange Tofu stir fry with rice ?5 stars

  80. New to tofu and I can’t wait to try this. Making a journey to health – you may have made my first week a win-win for me. Thank you.

    1. Hi Nicole! I would do it after boiling, but before sautéing. Just make sure to pat it as dry as you can before putting it in the marinade.

    1. Hi Nicole! I have not tried that myself as I have found a little oil necessary for crispiness. Another reader tried this recipe in a glass baking pan at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes, tossing occasionally, and enjoyed the results, but I have not tried that myself. (She did spray the pan with nonstick spray.) I hope this helps!

  81. I haven’t tried this yet but am wondering, is this simply an alternate way to get the water out? Meaning, if the molecules expand by freezing and then you boil, the water flows out of the tofu. I’ve read that squeezing water out and then freezing has a similar effect.5 stars

    1. Hi Kelly! Since I’ve only tested the recipe as written, this is the method I recommend using. If you decide to experiment with it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to share this kind review, Amy! I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed this recipe!

    1. Hi Alex, I have not tried adding seasoning to the boiling water so I am not sure. I normally add it when I cook it in the frying pan. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  82. Love the crispy tofu! You can bake it as well by just slicing the block into slabs and marinate and then cook at 400 degrees until crispy. I flipped mine after about 10 minutes – depends on what size you slice it into.

  83. Too bad I’ve already squeezed my tofu with a heavy pot filled with water & then chucked them in the freezer before I found this. I still did the next steps of boiling before frying. The outside got crisp in a shorter time compared to the way I did it before BUT because I pressed them, the tofu didn’t have big pockets inside & didn’t absorb dipping sauce as usual. The texture was ok chewy but I missed the sponginess. I’m sure next time will turn out better since I’m not so clueless anymore.4 stars

    1. Hi Kathy, as you will see in Step 3 of the recipe card, you do not press. Also I went over a few reasons as to why in the blog post if you’d like to refer to that as well. Hope you enjoy it!

  84. I freeze the tofu then thaw, slice, and pan fry it,
    Why do you simmer it? Doesn’t that make it mushy again?
    Thawed it has the consistency of meat. Thanks

    1. Hi Gina, I go into great depth in the blog post as to why I use this method. I hope you are able to give it a try and enjoy it!

  85. Omg so crispy, so delicious. Glad I found this. Even after 4 years as a vegan I could not achieve this texture!5 stars

  86. Hi Erin,
    I have never had success with getting tofu crispy so I am very eager to try your recipe. Also, I have trouble turning the cubes. I am too impatient to turn them one by one and so I don’t get the desired crisp on all sides. Is there a technique I’m missing?

    1. Hi Mary! I would just encourage you to just to follow the recipe and you’ll get crispy tofu! Hope you enjoy it!

  87. If I don’t intend to eat all the tofu in one sitting, when would you recommend I stop and refrigerate the extra tofu? Should I refrigerate the extra after boiling or after pan frying? Or should I portion it out before freezing and if so what packaging would you recommend?

    1. Hi Kim! I think I would just portion out the amount that I was going to eat. Also I would follow the information on your tofu package for storing. Hope this helps!

  88. Hi,
    Just about to try your crispy tofu recipe. One question: since I’m eating the tofu as a “salad,” when do I put the dressing on the tofu – while it’s cooking in the wok or after it’s done?

      1. Wow! I wanted to write back and say that I absolutely love this recipe and I’m crediting it to you, Erin! I made it with canola oil SPRAY, which was all I had – but the oil would have been better I think. I also added salt as one reader suggested – that was the only seasoning I used – next time more seasoning. The tofu lived up to its “crunch” factor. I’m adding Ken’s Light Ceaser Dressing after the cook. Yummy. Thanks for the recipe, I’ going to eat it all :)5 stars

  89. My luck with tofu has always been hit and miss. Partway through cooking I was convinced this wouldn’t work, but it did! I think this is my go to tofu cooking method going forward.5 stars