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How To Keep & Reheat Tofu – I Try 4 Methods [Pics]

If you’ve recently made a load of tofu, you may be wondering what the best reheating method is to retain its moist, spongy texture.

Tofu can be a little delicate, and a lot of the reheating advice posted online is either untested or yields poor results.

I decided to run my own experiment to find out the very best way to reheat tofu.

The methods I tested include:

In a rush? Here’s the short version.

What’s the best way to reheat tofu? The best way to reheat tofu is in a frying pan. Ensure the tofu is dry by patting it with a paper towel. Next, coat a frying pan in a thin layer of oil and bring to a medium heat. Reheat the tofu for 5-6 minutes or until heated through. For best results, serve the tofu immediately.

A note on my experiment

I got myself some tofu, marinated it soy sauce and baked it until it was nice and crispy. 

I left the tofu overnight and the next day I tested 4 different ways of reheating it to see what worked best. I tested frying, oven baking, microwaving and steaming.

I’ve based my reheating recommendations on the taste and texture of the reheated tofu, as well as how easy the method is.

Tip: your tofu will reheat best if it was properly pressed before cooking. If you know you’re going to have leftovers, make sure to press as much water out of the tofu as you can during prep. 

Reheating tofu by frying

Reheating tofu in a frying pan yields the crispiest results

To reheat tofu in a frying pan, first dry the tofu using a paper towel. Next, coat the frying pan in a thin layer of oil and bring to a medium heat. Reheat the tofu for 5-6 minutes or until heated through. For best results, serve the tofu immediately.

Frying is one of the most popular ways to cook tofu, so it’s no surprise that it’s one of the most popular ways to reheat it. 

How to reheat tofu in a frying pan:

  1. Dry the tofu using a paper towel.
  2. Coat your pan in a thin layer of oil and heat it on a medium heat.
  3. Once the pan is hot enough to sizzle, add the tofu.
  4. Fry the tofu for around 5 minutes or until warmed through.
  5. Serve immediately.

The oil will stop the tofu from sticking to the pan, and by getting it hot first you’ll ensure the tofu crisps up instead of absorbing all the oil and going soggy. 

If you have any leftover sauce you can also stick this in the pan with the tofu. If this is your plan, consider coating the tofu with cornstarch or flour first to help the sauce adhere and maintain a crunchy texture.

My verdict

This was my favorite method because it gave me the most crisp results. There was a defined crust on the outside of the tofu, and the inside was nice and firm.

The only issue is that you have to stand and turn the tofu to make sure it’s not burning. If you have lots of little cubes this can be quite hard. Strips are much easier to reheat in a frying pan.

Reheating tofu in the oven

To reheat tofu in the oven, first dry the tofu thoroughly using a paper towel. Next, preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Place the tofu on a parchment paper-lined baking tray and coat with a light layer of oil. Cook the tofu for 5-10 minutes or until piping hot.

The oven is also a popular method of reheating tofu and it’s easy to do a big batch in one go. 

How to reheat tofu in the oven:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. Dry the tofu using a paper towel.
  3. Coat the tofu with a very light layer of oil (to prevent sticking).
  4. Lay the tofu out on a baking tray so it’s not touching.
  5. Place the tofu in the oven for 5-10 minutes (until warmed through).
  6. Serve immediately.

If you have any sides of the tofu that aren’t crisped up yet, make sure to leave these exposed. 10 minutes in the oven is long enough to crisp them up. 

If you want to add a bit of flavor to your tofu, sprinkle some salt and pepper over it before you put it in the oven. Garlic powder, chili powder, or nutritional yeast are also delicious.

My verdict

A good option for reheating tofu if you don’t want it too soggy, but don’t want the hassle of frying it. 

The tofu wasn’t as crispy as the fried pieces, but it was definitely more crispy than the microwaved stuff. The inside has a nice texture too.

The tofu pieces would be perfect in a rice bowl or a salad.

Reheating tofu in the microwave

To reheat tofu in the microwave, place it in a microwave safe bowl and sprinkle some water over the top. Cover the bowl loosely in plastic wrap to allow steam to escape during microwaving. Microwave the tofu in 30 second intervals until fully reheated. Let the tofu rest for 1 minute before serving.

The microwave won’t keep your tofu crispy, instead it’ll make it more chewy.

Some people enjoy the change in texture, some don’t. Those that don’t would describe the tofu as rubbery. 

It’s really easy to overcook the tofu in the microwave. Checking on it in regular intervals helps to prevent this from happening. (no-one wants to eat a tough tofu-shaped brick, surely?!).

The microwave works well for pre-made dishes where the tofu is already incorporated. You could spend 5 minutes picking the tofu out to bake it in the oven, but who really has time for that?

How to reheat tofu in the microwave:

  1. Place the tofu in a microwave safe bowl and sprinkle it with some water.
  2. Cover the bowl leaving a gap for steam to escape.
  3. Microwave the tofu in 30 second increments until warmed through.

I microwaved a small bowl of tofu and it was done after the first 30 seconds. Less is definitely more when it comes to time in the microwave.

My verdict

The tofu came out very wet and soggy. There was no sign of a crispy outside in sight.

Having said that, I didn’t mind the new texture and could see it working well in a curry or a soup where crispiness doesn’t matter. 

Good if you’re in a hurry and don’t mind the tofu being a bit mushy.

Reheating tofu by steaming

I knew steaming wasn’t going to crisp my tofu up, but I was interested to see how it compared to the microwaved tofu.

How to reheat tofu in the steamer:

  1. Set your steamer up by boiling some water in the the bottom of a pan and place a perforated layer over the water (I used a sieve).
  2. Place the tofu in your steamer and cover with a lid.
  3. Steam the tofu for 3-4 minutes or until warmed through.

If you don’t have a steamer to hand then you can use a makeshift one like I did. Fill the bottom of a normal saucepan with some water and place a sieve or a colander on top. Put the tofu in the sieve and then put a lid over the sieve. 

My verdict

The results from steaming were practically identical to microwaving, in fact the tofu was more wet on the outside because of all the steam.

In my opinion, it’s not really worth the effort to set up a steamer if you have a microwave. The only exception to this is if you know that you may not eat the tofu immediately after serving. Microwaved tofu goes extremely hard and chewy if left to cool.

How to reheat a tofu stir fry

Things become a little bit more complicated when the tofu is already incorporated into a dish.

It will be hard to re-crisp your tofu without removing it from the dish and reheating it by itself in the oven or frying pan. 

One option is to re-fry your stir fry, but this tends to lead to overcooked veggies because they reheat much faster than the thicker tofu.

It also wont re-crisp the tofu because the pan will be too crowded. You may even find that the tofu breaks up with your vigorous stirring and turns a little mushy. 

A better option is to reheat the stir fry in the microwave. Admittedly, the result will still be a little lacklustre, but stir fries are really hard to bring back to life. And at least the microwave is quick and easy. 

Lastly, you can hand pick the tofu out and reheat it separately to the rest of the dish. Put the tofu in the oven or frying pan, and put the noodles and veggies in the microwave. The tofu will be crispy this way, but it’s a lot of effort. It’s up to you if the effort is worth it.

How to store tofu

Cooked

You should store cooked tofu in an airtight container in the fridge. It will last for 3-5 days. If you want to keep the tofu crispy, try to keep the tofu from touching too much and place it in between two layers of paper towel. The paper towel will soak up excess moisture. 

Allow the tofu to cool completely before putting it in the container. If it’s still hot the condensation will make the tofu soggy.

You can also freeze cooked tofu. (More information on this below)

If you’ve made a dish similar to buffalo tofu or tofu chicken nuggets (i.e where the tofu is breaded) then be aware the coating won’t hold up well in storage. The breadcrumbs or flour will absorb any extra moisture and become soggy. Try to avoid storing this type of tofu dish unless you can keep the sauce and the tofu separate. 

Unopened

Keep unopened tofu from the store in its original packaging in the refrigerator. The tofu should have a best before date on that you can follow, but as a general rule the tofu will remain safe to eat for 3 months after the manufacturing date. 

Uncooked but opened

To store uncooked tofu, place it in a container and cover it with cold water. Seal the container so it’s airtight and keep it in the refrigerator. The tofu will last for 7-10 days. Use filtered water if possible and change the water every day.

The water is needed because it stops the tofu from drying out and prolongs its life. Without the water, the tofu will only last 4-5 days. 

Most sources will tell you to change the water every day and I follow this advice because I like to be cautious. But other sources (such as Cooks Illustrated) say it’s not necessary to change the water at all so don’t worry if you miss a day.

The most important thing is to look out for cloudy water. Cloudy water is a sign that there’s bacterial growth and you should discard the tofu. 

You can also freeze fresh tofu (in fact some people prefer to freeze it even if they plan on using it soon) – you’ll see why in the next section.

How to freeze tofu

You can freeze both cooked and raw tofu, but be aware that this will change the texture. The tofu will become chewier and have a more porous texture – meaning it will absorb sauces and marinades much more effectively. The tofu will be more meat-like in texture and won’t fall apart as easily as fresh tofu.

Just like with microwaving, some people welcome this texture change while others don’t like it. 

Freezing cooked tofu

To freeze cooked tofu not already in a dish, lay it out on a baking tray so it’s not touching and freeze it for an hour. Once it’s frozen solid, you can transfer it to a freezer bag. Squeeze all the air out of the freezer bag before you seal it. 

The tofu will be at its best quality for 3 months, but will remain safe to eat long beyond that.

To get as much air out as possible I recommend getting a straw and sucking the air out. This is a lot more effective than just squeezing. By pre-freezing the tofu you make sure it won’t stick together in the freezer bag so you can just take out as much as you need for your meal. 

To thaw the tofu simply take it out the night before you plan to use it and let it defrost in the refrigerator. If you forget, you can use the defrost setting on your microwave.

Freezing tofu cooked in a dish

If your tofu is part of a dish, you can freeze it together with the dish. Put your food in an airtight container and place it in the freezer. Be aware that the water from the tofu will leak out into the dish so the sauce might be a little watery.

Freezing uncooked tofu

To freeze raw tofu, drain any liquid and then press the tofu to remove excess water. Slice the tofu up into the shape you want to use it in and then flash freeze it for an hour. Once the tofu has frozen solid, transfer it to a freeze bag and squeeze all the air out. 

The tofu will stay at its best quality for 3 months.

I always chop the tofu up before I freeze it – but you can just freeze it as one big block. Just be aware that the block will take longer to thaw.

Thaw the tofu in the refrigerator and squeeze out any excess water before cooking with it. If you’re short on time you can use the defrost setting on your microwave. 

The tofu may change color after you freeze it and take on a yellowish tinge. This is nothing to worry about and doesn’t mean the tofu has gone off. 

Why does freezing alter the texture of tofu?

The texture change happens because tofu is mostly water.

As the water freezes, it expands and pushes the tofu apart. When the tofu thaws, the water escapes leaving behind porous, sponge-like tofu. The spongy texture means the tofu can absorb lots of sauce. It’s often described as having a more ‘meat-like’ feel when you eat it.

The lack of water in the frozen tofu also ensures it develops a nice crispy outside when you cook it.

fresh tofu (left) VS frozen tofu (right)

Some people purposely freeze their raw tofu before cooking it because they prefer the texture. 

All types of tofu go through textural changes when you freeze them.

For firm or regular tofu it can improve the texture, but for silken tofu it destroys the creamy softness silken is famous for. For that reason, most people avoid freezing silken tofu.

My tofu packaging says ‘do not freeze’? 

You’ll often see do not freeze written on tofu packaging which is confusing. What it means is that you shouldn’t freeze tofu in that specific packaging, because the swelling tofu could cause the packaging to explode and create a mess.

Why drain tofu before freezing it?

You want to drain your tofu before freezing it so you don’t end up with huge ice crystals on the outside of your tofu. If you freeze your tofu in water, you’re much more likely to end up with freezer burnt tofu. 

How long does tofu last?

Cooked tofu will last 3-5 days in the refrigerator if kept in an airtight container, or 3 months in the freezer. Uncooked tofu can last 7-10 days when stored in water (4-5 days without).

How to tell if tofu is bad

Telltale signs your tofu is bad include a sour smell and a darker (more tan-like) color.

Texture is also important. If you have firm tofu and notice that it’s becoming softer, this means the tofu is past its best.

Lastly, cloudy storage water is a sign of bacterial growth and you should throw the tofu out.

Remember that tofu can turn yellow in the freezer and this is absolutely fine. Color changes when the tofu is stored in the refrigerator are the ones that you need to worry about.

If you have unopened tofu, a bloated packet is a bad sign. This indicates the bacteria is growing inside and therefore you should chuck the tofu in the bin.

The BEST Way To Reheat Tofu

If you’ve recently made a load of tofu, you may be wondering what the best reheating method is to retain its moist, spongy texture.
Tofu can be a little delicate, and a lot of the reheating advice posted online is either untested or yields poor results.
I decided to run my own experiment to find out the very best way to reheat tofu.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 1 person
Calories 76 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 

  • 1 portion tofu
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cornstarch optional

Instructions
 

Reheat tofu in a frying pan

  • Dry the tofu using a paper towel.
  • Coat your pan in a thin layer of oil and heat it on a medium heat.
  • Once the pan is hot enough to sizzle, add the tofu.
  • Fry the tofu for around 5 minutes or until heated through.
  • Serve immediately.

Notes

The oil will stop the tofu from sticking to the pan, and by getting it hot first you’ll ensure the tofu crisps up instead of absorbing all the oil and going soggy. 
If you have any leftover sauce you can also stick this in the pan with the tofu. If this is your plan, consider coating the tofu with cornstarch or flour first to help the sauce adhere and maintain a crunchy texture.

Nutrition

Serving: 100gCalories: 76kcal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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