Cooking With Frozen Tofu: A Complete Guide
If you eat tofu frequently and are looking for ways to save time when making weekday dinners, you might have thought about keeping a stash of frozen tofu at the ready.
Tofu freezes surprisingly well. Freezing tofu improves the texture and flavor, and makes it less likely to fall apart.
On top of that, you drain and press the tofu before freezing so you don’t have to worry about that later.
So, if you’ve wondered if you can freeze tofu and why so many people recommend it, my complete guide to frozen tofu will answer all your questions.
Does Tofu Freeze Well?
Tofu does freeze well, and freezing extends the shelf life of tofu for several months. So if you simply want to make sure your tofu stays good longer, freezing is a great way to do it.
Freezing tofu also changes the texture, and many people feel that the frozen tofu texture improves the flavor.
When tofu freezes, the water inside it expands, taking up more space and changing the texture. The water drains away when the tofu thaws, leaving behind a more open, porous structure.
The more open structure creates a firm tofu texture that is chewier and more meat-like.
In addition, the small spaces and openings created by the ice are now the perfect place to soak up marinades and store more flavor.
Frozen tofu holds its shape better, with less tendency to fall apart, makes it even more absorbent of marinades and flavors, and imparts a chewier, more satisfying texture. If you haven’t tried it yet, make sure to freeze the tofu before cooking your next stir fry.
How To Freeze Tofu
The fastest and easiest way to freeze tofu is to pop the unopened package into the freezer.
However, if you freeze tofu in its liquid, you will need to gently break away frost and ice before thawing, which may cause delicate tofu to break and crumble.
Instead of freezing the entire package of tofu, it’s better to remove the tofu from its packaging, drain and press the tofu, and then wrap it tightly in cling film or a freezer bag before freezing.
This removes a lot of water before freezing, making it faster and easier to defrost when you are ready to use it.
The best way to freeze tofu is to follow these steps:
- First, drain and press the tofu.
- Slice the tofu into cubes or slabs that you will use for cooking.
- Spread the sliced tofu on a sheet pan in a single layer.
- Place the sheet pan with tofu in the coldest part of the freezer.
- Check the tofu after about an hour to make sure it is frozen solid.
- Gather the frozen tofu slices, and place them in an airtight, freezer-safe container.
- Add a date to the container so you know when you froze the tofu.
Freezing the tofu in a single layer keeps the pieces from freezing together in a clump, so you can easily select only as much tofu as you want to defrost and cook at once.
In addition, the portioned tofu defrosts more quickly and is easier to cook directly from the freezer.
How To Cook Frozen Tofu
Frozen tofu should be thawed before cooking.
Once the tofu has been thawed, it can be cooked in any way that you would cook fresh tofu, following your favorite tofu recipes as usual.
How To Thaw Frozen Tofu
Frozen tofu can be thawed like many frozen foods, with less risk of food-borne illness and contamination.
Here are two easy ways to thaw frozen tofu:
On the Countertop
To thaw frozen tofu on the countertop, remove the package from the freezer.
Leave the package sealed, but break or wipe away any ice or frost that has clung to the outside.
Set the tofu on a plate on the counter, and allow it to thaw to room temperature.
This method of defrosting tofu will take about 6 hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is.
In the Refrigerator
To thaw frozen tofu in the fridge, remove it from the freezer and break or wipe away frost or ice on the outside of the package.
Leaving the package sealed, allow it to sit in the refrigerator for about 8 hours or overnight until it has defrosted completely.
How To Thaw Tofu Quickly
If you don’t have 6-8 hours, you may want to defrost tofu more quickly.
Here are two ways to thaw tofu quickly:
In the Microwave
Place your tofu in the microwave and microwave it on defrost for 4-5 minutes.
Then, turn and microwave for another 4-5 minutes.
Depending on your microwave, it may take 10-12 minutes to thaw your tofu completely.
Allow the tofu to rest for a moment after microwaving because it will be hot on the outside.
On the Stovetop
Many people say that the best way to thaw tofu is to simmer frozen tofu before cooking. This firms the texture and stabilizes the frozen tofu, further improving the texture.
To thaw tofu quickly on the stovetop, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Remove the tofu from the freezer and remove the packaging.
Place the block of tofu into the boiling water so that it is completely submerged.
Allow the water to return to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Simmer the frozen tofu for 15 minutes, flipping over halfway through.
Remove the tofu and allow it to drain on a tea towel or paper-towel-lined plate.
Allow the frozen simmered tofu to cool before cooking.
Do You Press Tofu Before or After Freezing?
Some people believe that freezing tofu does an excellent job of making it firmer and improving the texture, so it doesn’t need to be pressed.
However, most experts agree that you get the greatest benefits by pressing tofu before freezing it.
Freezing tofu is a gourmet trick for cooking with tofu.
Frozen tofu texture is firmer and meatier, and freezing tofu allows it to be more flavorful and satisfying.
In addition, freezing tofu is fast and easy and a great way to make tofu last longer, portion it for meal prep and planning and improve all your tofu recipes.