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How to Cook Extra Firm Tofu 3 Ways

Let’s talk about how to cook extra firm tofu. Tofu is incredibly versatile — and it’s a fantastic source of protein that’s appropriate for vegans and vegetarians. Tofu can also be intimidating to cook for first-timers, mostly because it’s mushy and packaged in water.

But fear not! I’m here to guide you through the cooking process, step by step.

First things first, let’s talk about what exactly extra firm tofu is. As the name suggests, it’s the firmest type of tofu available. Extra firm tofu is perfect for dishes that require a bit of texture, such as stir-fries, soups, and salads.

Now, onto the cooking. Here’s how to cook extra firm tofu in four steps, with four cooking methods.

Close-up view of prepared extra firm tofu.

Step 1: Press your tofu

Pressing your tofu is the first step. This removes excess water, which makes your tofu easier to work with.

Start by removing the tofu from its packaging and gently squeezing out any excess water. Then, wrap the tofu in a clean kitchen towel or paper towel and place it between two plates. Put something heavy on top (like a cast iron skillet or a can of beans) and let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes. This will remove as much water as possible from the tofu.

Step 2: Cube the tofu

Once your tofu is pressed, cut it into cubes. The right size for the cubes will depend on how you’re using the tofu. For stir-fries, smaller cubes work well, while larger cubes are better for grilling.

Step 3: Season the tofu

Now it’s time to season the tofu. You can use a pre-made seasoning blend or make your own. Some popular options include soy sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, ginger, and chili flakes. Toss the tofu cubes in the seasoning mix until they are well coated.

Step 4: Cook the tofu

Now, finally, we get to the details of how to cook extra firm tofu. Here are your options:

Pan-fry extra firm tofu

Heat a little oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the seasoned tofu cubes and let them cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. They’re done when they’re crispy and golden-brown on all sides.  

Bake extra firm tofu  

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Line your seasoned tofu cubes on the parchment paper, so they’re not touching each other. Cook them for 45 minutes, turning at the halfway point.

Air fry extra firm tofu

You can even air fry extra firm tofu! Set your air fryer to 370 degrees F (177 degrees C) and air fry the seasoned pieces for 15 to 20 minutes, turning halfway through.

Microwave extra firm tofu

You can microwave your seasoned extra firm tofu, but you won’t get the same nice texture the other methods provide. You also have to be more careful, since your tofu pieces are likely to cook unevenly in the microwave — pieces on the outside of the plate will cook faster.

Still, if you want to try it out, start by arranging your seasoned extra firm tofu cubes on a plate. Make sure they’re not touching each other. Microwave for 2 minutes and then check. Flip them and microwave for another 2 minutes. Remove any pieces that are done and cook remaining pieces 20 seconds at a time until they are done.

If your microwaved tofu gets overly dry, mix up a quick broth and serve the tofu that way.

See this post for more fun tofu recipes!