homemade tofu - how to make tofu
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Have you ever wondered how to make tofu? This guide will teach you how to make your own homemade tofu from scratch, step by step! The process is similar to cheese making, and it’s not only simple, but also much healthier (and more affordable) compared to store-bought tofu. Plus, it’s a great household staple. Tofu is not only extensively used in Asian cuisine, but also provides a wonderful source of protein to daily meals for vegans, vegetarians, and anyone who likes to enjoy plant-based dishes around the world.

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    Homemade Tofu 101

    Most people have at the very least heard of tofu, but not everyone knows what it actually is, how it’s made and the different tofu varieties that exist. It also sometimes gets a bad rap and is believed to be bland in taste. Homemade tofu is, however, anything but bland! Its neutral flavor profile actually makes it the perfect sponge for all different types of flavor! The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to this wonderful staple ingredient.

    Vegan Char Siu Tofu
    Vegan Char Siu Tofu © Jeeca Uy

    What is Tofu?

    Tofu, also known as bean curd, is a popular food made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into solid white blocks. It is a staple in many East Asian cuisines and is widely used as a meat substitute and/or plant-based protein source in vegetarian and vegan dishes. Additionally, tofu is a great source of protein, iron, calcium, and other nutrients, making it a versatile and healthy ingredient.

    Crispy Tofu In A Sweet-and-Sour Sauce
    Crispy Tofu in a Sweet and Sour Sauce © Maria Gureeva

    Tofu Varieties/ Types of Tofu

    While this recipe will make firm tofu, there are many different types you can make and that are ideal for various uses. You’ll therefore also find instructions on how to adjust this firmness to your liking further down below in this guide.

    • Soft tofu (also called silken tofu) is delicate and not pressed. It provides a creamy texture and it is perfect for smoothies, pies, and sauces.
    • Extra firm tofu is often packed soaked in liquid and widely available in supermarkets. This kind of tofu makes a great meat substitute and is great for grilling, pan-frying, and as a salad topping. 
    • Firm tofu holds the sweet spot between the other two kinds in terms of texture and is ideal for pan- and stir-frying.
    Creamy Tom Yum Noodle Soup2
    Creamy Tom Yum Noodle Soup with Tofu © WoonHeng Chia

    Tofu Coagulants

    A coagulant is a substance that induces coagulation, the process of turning a liquid into a gel-like or solid state. In the context of making tofu, coagulants are used to cause the proteins in soy milk to clump together and form curds. The coagulation process is crucial in the production of tofu, as it helps transform the liquid soy milk into a solid block of tofu. The coagulants used to make homemade tofu can be divided into three main groups: 

    1. The first are salt coagulants, including gypsum and also nigari salts (either crystallized or liquid forms of it are used). 
    2. The second group are acid coagulants and GDL (aka glucono delta lactone), which are often used as coagulants for making Tau Fu Fa (soy pudding) and silken tofu. 
    3. The third are vinegar or lemon juice – natural, easily accessible coagulants that are also able to make soy milk become solid. They are commonly used to make tofu at home and are pantry-friendly. 

    Why i Use Lemon to Make Homemade Tofu

    In this recipe, I used lemon juice as other coagulants may be harder to get a hold of. In fact, I prefer the lemon version to the one that I made using gypsum because lemon gives the tofu a fresh and slightly citrusy flavor.

    homestyle braised tofu
    Homestyle Braised Tofu © Hannah Che

    how tofu can be used

    Tofu is a versatile ingredient with a relatively neutral taste that easily absorbs the flavor profiles of marinades and spices, making it ideal for a wide range of savory and sweet dishes. It can be grilled, sautéed in peanut, sesame or olive oil, seasoned with soy sauce or other condiments, used to make veggie stir-fry, blended into smoothies, used in soups, or even incorporated into desserts.

    Chili Cauliflower and Tofu
    Chili Cauliflower and Tofu © Sheil Shukla

    Ingredients You’ll Need to Make Tofu

    All you need are two simple ingredients, soybeans and lemon juice, in addition to water. Easy peasy!

    Soybeans

    Soybeans (sometimes also spelled “soy beans”) are legumes that belong to the pea family and are native to East Asia. They have been cultivated for thousands of years and are a significant crop worldwide, known for their high protein content and versatility. You find soybeans at your local Asian market!

    Lemon Juice

    Using the juice from a fresh lemon is best to make homemade tofu. Simply slice it in half and use a citrus press or citrus squeezer to extract the juice.

    lemon, cut open

    How to Make Tofu – Step by Step

    Follow these steps and you’ll have learned how to make tofu!

    Step one: Soak the beans

    Soak the beans overnight or for at least 12 hours in a large bowl. Drain out the water and discard, then rinse the soaked beans thoroughly.

    how to make tofu - soaking the beans
    homemade tofu - rinsing the beans

    Step Two: Blend the Soybeans With water

    Add the soaked soybeans and 1500 ml of water to your high-speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy. (I blend in three batches, each time with 500 ml water for blending.) 

    blending the soybeans
    blended soybeans

    Step Three: Squeeze the Soy Milk out Using a cheesecloth

    Next, use a muslin cloth or a cheesecloth to collect the soy pulp, squeeze as much milk out of it as you can.

    squeezing the soy milk with a cheesecloth
    squeezing the soy milk with a cheesecloth
    soy curd

    Step Four: Boil & Strain The Soy Milk

    Place the milk into a pot and bring to a boil. Take off the heat and strain through a cheesecloth or nut milk bag for a more smooth result.

    Boil & Strain The Soy Milk

    Step Five: Simmer & Stir

    Pour the strained milk into a large pot, along with 1500 ml water. Simmer over low to medium heat for around 15 minutes, stirring frequently using a wooden spoon. It will foam easily, so watch it carefully and don’t let it boil.

    Lower the heat when the foam rises up. Remove the foam off the top and discard it. Simmer over low heat for another 10 minutes and turn off the heat.  Pour the resulting 2000 ml of soy milk into another pot. Heat it up until it’s almost boiling, and turn off the heat. 

    Boil & Strain The Soy Milk

    Step six: Add the Fresh Lemon Juice

    Juice the lemon and mix it with 4 tbsp water. Slowly pour it into the pot with the hot milk and mix gently. Do not stir it too much. Let it sit for 15 minutes to let the curd separate from the liquid.

    lemon juice
    lemon added to soy milk

    Step Seven: Prepare the Tofu Mold

    Meanwhile, prepare a tofu mold (I used a bamboo steamer since I don’t have a tofu mold, but either will work!): place it over a bowl or a pot, and line it with cheesecloth. Slowly ladle the curds into the mold. Cover it with the remaining cheesecloth and place something heavy on top for firmer tofu. Leave for 1 hour to set. 

    tofu mold bamboo strainer
    tofu mold bamboo strainer
    tofu mold bamboo strainer

    Step Eight: Soak the Tofu

    Take the set tofu out of the mold and soak in cold water for another 30 minutes for a firmer texture (Don’t unwrap it yet). Slowly remove the cheesecloth. The tofu is ready to use! Cut the tofu block into your desired shape and enjoy. To store, soak it in water and keep refrigerated, changing the water often. 

    final tofu result
    cut homemade tofu

    How to Adjust the level of firmness when Making Homemade Tofu

    This recipe will make firm tofu. To achieve different levels of firmness in tofu—silken, firm, medium-firm, or extra-firm—you can make specific adjustments to the tofu-making process. The key factors influencing firmness include the coagulant used, the coagulant concentration, the cutting size of the curds, and the pressing time. Here are guidelines for each type:

    Silken Tofu:

    • Coagulant: Use a minimal amount of coagulant, such as gypsum or Nigari.
    • Cutting Curds: Cut the curds into larger pieces.
    • Pressing Time: Minimal pressing time, or skip pressing altogether.
    Vegan Silken Tofu with Pine Nuts and Pickled Chiles
    Silken Tofu With Pine Nuts And Pickled Chiles by Meera Sodha © David Loftus

    Soft or Medium-Firm Tofu:

    • Coagulant: Use a moderate amount of coagulant.
    • Cutting Curds: Cut the curds into medium-sized pieces.
    • Pressing Time: Press the curds for a relatively short duration.

    Firm Tofu:

    • Coagulant: Use a higher amount of coagulant.
    • Cutting Curds: Cut the curds into smaller pieces.
    • Pressing Time: Press the curds for a moderate duration.

    Extra Firm Tofu:

    • Coagulant: Use a generous amount of coagulant.
    • Cutting Curds: Cut the curds into small pieces.
    • Pressing Time: Press the curds for an extended duration.

    General Steps for Adjustments:

    • Coagulant Concentration: Experiment with different concentrations of coagulant to achieve the desired firmness.
    • Cutting Curds: Smaller curds generally result in firmer tofu, so adjust the cutting size accordingly.
    • Pressing Time: The longer you press the tofu, the firmer it becomes. Experiment with pressing times to achieve the desired texture.

    The type of coagulant used can also impact the texture and flavor of the tofu. Additionally, factors like the soybean-to-water ratio, soybean quality, and temperature during coagulation can influence the final result. If this is your first time making homemade tofu, feel free to experiment and adjust these variables a little bit to find the perfect balance for the perfect texture.

    How to Make Tofu – Video Instructions

    Homemade Tofu – Frequently asked Questions

    How do you prepare tofu?

    In terms of how to make tofu, you can follow the step by step instructions above. When it comes to preparing and cooking homemade tofu, there are a myriad of different ways and the possibilities are truly endless! You can blend it into desserts and smoothies for extra creaminess, stir fry it, bake it, grill it, etc. Click here for delicious recipes using tofu.

    Is homemade tofu as good as store-bought tofu?

    Absolutely! Some might even say it’s better that tofu found at the grocery store! It’s certainly fresher.

    Do i need a Tofu Press to make homemade tofu?

    A tofu press isn’t needed to make fresh tofu, but a tofu mold or a suitable alternative like a bamboo steamer is. A tofu press is used to press excess liquid out of tofu once it’s already made. It can be super handy and practical, but if you don’t have one (and don’t wish to invest in one), you can achieve the same result by wrapping your homemade tofu in a kitchen towel or paper towels and placing a heavy object on top to squeeze out the excess water.

    Where can i buy a cheesecloth?

    You can find cheesecloths at many Asian markets, health food stores, and online. Check out the recommended equipment section above for more details.

    How do you bake tofu?

    Simply preheat the oven, press your tofu, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place your cubed or sliced tofu on top. Add the condiments of your choice and bake at 400F/200C for about 20-25 minutes, flipping the tofu halfway through. Your baked tofu can then be added to curries, soups, and many other dishes!

    What do i do With the soybean pulp?

    The soybean pulp left over from making soy milk and tofu is commonly known as “okara” in Japanese. It is also referred to as “soy pulp” or “tofu dregs”. Okara is a nutritious byproduct that contains fiber, protein, and other nutrients. Rather than discarding it, there are several creative ways you can use okara: you can cook it by adding it to soups, stews and other savory dishes. You can also bake it to add moisture and some extra nutrients to your muffins, cookies, bread, etc. Another option is to blend okara into your smoothies to make them creamier and thicker, as well as add more fiber. Lastly, okara can be used to make homemade dog treats. Just make sure all ingredients used are safe for your dog to consume and consult a vet beforehand if needed.

    Can i use this recipe to make homemade soy milk?

    Absolutely! Simply follow the same steps, but stop once you obtain your creamy soy milk. Then store it in a glass bottle or jar with a lid in the fridge.

    Can i use a food processor instead of a blender?

    A food processor should work, but the result may not be quite as smooth as if you were using a high speed blender.

    Homemade Tofu – Recipe Card

    homemade tofu - how to make tofu

    How to Make Tofu (Homemade Tofu Recipe)

    4.92 from 48 votes
    How to make tofu? This easy recipe is made with only 2 simple ingredients (+water). Learn how to make homemade tofu from scratch in no time!
    Print Recipe Pin Recipe
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 40 minutes
    Soak Time: 12 hours 30 minutes
    Total Time: 50 minutes
    Servings: 1 Large block of tofu

    Ingredients

    • 500 g soybeans
    • Juice from 1 lemon
    • 4 tbsp water
    • 1500 ml water for blending
    • 1500 ml water for adding to soybeans

    Equipment:

    • muslin cloth or cheesecloth
    • high-speed blender
    • tofu mold or colander

    Instructions

    • Soak the beans overnight or for at least 12 hours. Drain out the water and discard, then rinse thoroughly.
    • Add the soaked soybeans and 1500 ml of water to your high-speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy. (I blend it in three batches, each time with 500 ml water.) 
    • Next, use a muslin cloth or a cheesecloth to collect the soy pulp and squeeze as much milk out of it as you can.
    • Place the soy milk into a pot and bring to a boil. Take off the heat and strain through a cheesecloth for a smoother result.
    • Pour the strained soy milk into a large pot, along with 1500 ml water. Simmer for around 15 minutes, stirring frequently. It will foam easily, so watch it carefully and don’t let it boil. Lower the heat when the foam rises up. Remove the foam off the top and discard it. Simmer for another 10 minutes and turn off the heat. 
    • Pour the resulting 2000 ml of soy milk into another pot. Heat it up until it’s almost boiling, and turn off the heat. 
    • Juice the lemon and mix it with 4 tbsp water. Slowly pour it into hot milk and mix gently. Do not stir too much. Let it sit for 15 minutes to let the curd separate from the liquid.
    • Meanwhile, prepare a tofu mold (I used a bamboo steamer): place it over a bowl or a pot, and line it with cheesecloth. Slowly ladle the curds into the mold. Cover it with the remaining cheesecloth and place something heavy on top for firmer tofu. Leave for 1 hour to set. 
    • Take the set tofu out of the mold and soak in water for another 30 minutes for a firmer texture (Don’t unwrap it yet). 
    • Slowly remove the cheesecloth. The tofu is ready to use! Cut the tofu into your desired shape and enjoy. To store, soak it in water and keep refrigerated, changing the water often. 

    Notes

    • The total time refers to the combined prep and cook times, make sure you also plan for the soak time when making this recipe.
    • Checkout the step by step photo and video instructions in the article post above for a visual demonstration of this recipe.
    • 1500 ml of water is the equivalent of a little over 6 1/4 cups of water (it’s 6.34 cups to be exact).
    • Find more of Moon’s recipes on her Youtube channel.
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

    Article & Recipe by Moon Lai | Food Passionical. Photography by Moon Lai, unless otherwise specified.

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    Vegan Tofu Recipes (What to Make with your Homemade Tofu)

    Now that you know how to make your own tofu, how about some delicious tofu recipe ideas for what to make with it?

    Vegan Tofu Tikkā

    Vegan Tofu Tikka
    Vegan Tofu Tika © Sheil Shukla

    This vegan Tikkā is cookbook author Sheil Shukla’s rendition of a northern Indian dish involving marinated protein or vegetables cooked in a tandoor, or clay oven, but made with marinated tofu baked on skewers instead. (Click here for the full recipe.)

    Vegan Orange Tofu “Chick’n”

    vegan orange chicken
    Vegan Orange Tofu “Chick’n” by Lloyd Rose © Sarah Kermalli

    This tofu chick’n by chef Lloyd Rose has a crispy exterior with a divine sticky orange sauce coating. It’s sweet and spicy and very addictive. (Click here for the full recipe.)

    Spinach Chickpea And Tofu Curry

    Spinach Tofu Curry
    Spinach Tofu Curry © Sarah Kermalli

    This easy spinach tofu curry recipe by Sarah Kermalli is awesome because you can add so many components to it! Use the spinach curry as your base and then layer on more flavors and vegetables to your liking. Enjoy this as a weeknight dinner for the whole family or meal prep it for your lunches! (Click here for the full recipe.)

    Even More Tofu Recipes to Try:

    Or click here for more ideas on how to cook your fresh homemade tofu! Want even more savory vegan recipes? Find them here.

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    7 Comments

      1. Hi Janet! It’s firm:) You can see the texture in the video and images above. Check out the instructions to adjust the firmness if you prefer a different texture.

    1. I’d love to try this. Only thing I can’t find in the recipe is how much (in weight) dry soybeans you used? (For the amounts of water).
      Thnx v much 🙏🏻

    4.92 from 48 votes (45 ratings without comment)

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