What is the best way to drain tofu?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question ‘what is the best way to drain tofu?” with an in-depth analysis of what is the best way to drain tofu. Moreover. We will also discuss why you need to drain tofu along with different methods of draining tofu.

What is the best way to drain tofu?

Pressing is one of the best methods for draining tofu. You can press tofu so that more of the water is released. When pressed, the tofu doesn’t splatter as much in the pan, gets a crispier crust and it absorbs the marinade more easily. If you have a tofu press, you can press a block of tofu by simply leaving it in the press for an hour. 

What are other methods of draining tofu?

There are 3 methods other than pressing for draining tofu:

  • Simple method
  • Chinese method
  • Salt method

Simple method: 

Wrap a block of tofu in a tea towel. Place on a plate and put a wooden chopping board on top, and weigh it down with something heavy, like a pan of water. Let the tofu drain until you think it is firm enough. This method is only suitable for a firm and extra-firm tofu.

Chinese method: 

Cut the tofu into the desired shapes and place in boiling water to simmer for 5 minutes, until the tofu seems to become quite soft. Remove the tofu and leave it to drain in a colander. The tofu becomes firm but retains a velvety texture that easily absorbs marinades and sauces. This method is only suitable for firm varieties of tofu.

Salt method: 

Cut the tofu into the desired shapes and place in saltwater for 15 minutes. Leave the soaked tofu to drain in a colander and pat dry with a paper towel. This technique leaves the tofu lightly salted. These cubes are delicious in winter stews. 

How do you press tofu?

Material needed:

  1. Cutting board
  2. Paper towels or clean dishcloth
  3. Large bowl or second cutting board
  4. A heavy object to use as a weight (a large can of food, for example)
  • Softer forms of tofu are not well suited for pressing since they will quite easily fall apart under even moderate pressure. For recipes calling for pieces of tofu to hold their shape, always buy firm or extra-firm tofu. 


  • Place the Tofu on a Layer of Paper Towels
  1. Fold a length of paper towels or a dishcloth in half or quarters to increase the absorbency.
  2. Place the folded towels on the cutting board, then place the block of tofu on the paper towels. 

If the paper towels become too wet after absorbing the initial moisture, you may want to place the tofu on a second, fresh layer of paper towels.

  • Place a Weight on the Tofu

The essence of pressing tofu is to apply steady weight to squeeze out the moisture from the block. Be careful, though, not to apply too much weight or the tofu will be crushed and you will be unable to cut it into slices or blocks. 

  1. Place another layer of folded paper towels or a clean kitchen cloth on top of the block of tofu.
  2. Place the bowl or another cutting board on top of the top layer of paper towels.
  3. Place the weight into the bowl or onto the cutting board. Your weight should be heavy enough to press down evenly across the top of the tofu, but not so heavy to cause the tofu block to crumble. A large can of food is a perfect weight. Other objects that might work include an iron frying pan, a heavy book, or a small exercise dumbbell weight. 
  4. Let the tofu sit for at least 30 minutes. The weight will gradually and effectively squeeze the moisture out of the block of tofu, where it will be absorbed by the paper towels.
  5. If the paper towels become fully saturated, you may need to replace them with fresh paper towels and continue pressing until the paper towels stop absorbing moisture. 
  6. You can now proceed to cut the tofu block into strips or cubes for use in your recipes. 
  • Slice and Freeze the Pressed Tofu

After you have pressed your tofu for at least 30 minutes, you may also want to slice it into strips or cubes and then freeze it. Freezing tofu will change the texture of the tofu, making it firmer and chewier, as well as more absorbent. This can be very effective in recipes where the tofu is grilled, baked, or stir-fried since the stips or cubes will hold their shape without falling apart.

Does microwaving tofu remove water?

Another way to remove some of the water from the tofu, especially if you need to use it right away, is to microwave the tofu. Place it whole or sliced into the microwave for a minute or two. Place it on or wrap in a towel if you want. As it heats it will expel the liquid.

What happens if you don’t press tofu?

You can technically still cook and eat tofu that has not been pressed. However, it will not absorb flavor as well and will not have a very good texture. Especially if you’re trying to get it crispy at all.

How do you dry tofu without paper towels?

You can use a muslin cloth, cheesecloth, or kitchen towels instead of paper towels. You can also re-use the same paper towels to press tofu.


In this brief guide, we have answered the question “what is the best way to drain tofu?” with an in-depth analysis of what is the best way to drain tofu. Moreover, we have also discussed why you need to drain tofu along with different methods of draining tofu.



Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.