Tofu is a vegan and vegetarian’s best friend, or for anyone who would like a more plant-based diet. Packed with protein, the soybean derivative is the base ingredient in a myriad of dishes. Deep-fried, sautéed or stir-fried, this versatile food magically soaks up any flavor you mix it in. But no matter how you cook it, the tofu should be pressed to extract the water hiding in its depths. This gives it a better texture and lets it really absorb marinades, sauces and seasonings.
A tofu press takes the fuss and muss out of the process. Before this handy gadget hit the market, squeezing the water from a block of tofu was a sloppy affair that required the use of paper towels, cloths and some form of weight. A tofu press does all the work for you, leaving you with a perfectly compressed square of water-free tofu ready to cut into cubes or use in any way you wish.
We feature five tofu presses you can purchase online. Read on to find the one that best suits your needs.
Top Pick Best Basic: Tofuture Tofu Press
Some of your favorite Asian dishes include tofu and you’d like to start experimenting with recipes at home. The first step is to figure out a fast and efficient way to take the water out of the blocks of firm tofu you intend to buy. If you are looking for a simple and effective way to press the water from tofu, then this model may be for you.
This cute and compact press from Tofuture takes all the fuss and muss out of squeezing water out of blocks of tofu. This set-and-leave method to press tofu is so easy to use. Just place your tofu into the inner container and replace the lid. Then, pull down the silicone bands on the sides and attached them to one of the hooks to suit the thickness of the tofu; push the clips closed. Then pop it into the fridge for a minimum of 20 minutes.
We like this press because you don’t have to watch over it or increase the pressure every few minutes manually to extract water. Plus, the amount of time you leave it in the fridge will determine its firmness: After 20 minutes your tofu will be perfect to scramble or make into a Bolognese; after an hour it will be much firmer and able to hold flavor; after four hours it will be really firm and half as thick. You can even leave it to press overnight or all day.
Other cool features include an outer container to hold the expressed water; it’s made from BPA-free plastic; and it’s dishwasher safe.
- Clean and easy to use
- Set and leave design
- Made from BPA-free plastic
- Dishwasher safe
- Rubber bands are tight and may be hard to manipulate
- Takes longer to press tofu than other models
Top Pick Best Versatile: EZ Tofu Press
For anyone who likes to be in control of every detail in meal prep, this easy-to-use tofu press does the job well for the person with the time to supervise the process.
This simple design is made from two pieces of USDA approved BPA-free plastic held together by two stainless steel screws with specially designed fitted stainless steel grommets that allow for smoother pressing. The grommets have no contact with the plastic, so there is no worry about pieces of plastic falling on the tofu. And with no springs to wear out or bands to snap or break, this press will stand the test of time – and lots of use.
Simple to use, place a block of tofu between the plates and onto the helpful center markings to be sure it’s in the right place for even pressing. Gradually tighten the tension knobs on the top plate every two to three minutes. The gradual tensioning allows the press to work the water out of the tofu block. To avoid getting water on your countertop, turn the press vertically and place on a plate to capture the liquid.
When it’s done, to release the tofu, flip the press back onto its feet, loosen the knobs, and you’ve got a nicely compressed block of tofu ready to slice and absorb delicious marinades.
And the good news? This tofu press extracts water in 15 minutes or less. Easy to clean, on the top rack of the dishwasher or by hand with hot, soapy water.
- Can be used with most tofu brick sizes
- Made in the USA
- Can be used to make paneer
- Presses tofu in 15 minutes or less
- Easy to clean
- No drip pan to catch the water
- Needs supervision during the pressing process to increase tension
Top Pick Best Overall: TOFUDEE Tofu Press
There are many things to like about this tofu press from Tofudee, especially its ability to press tofu on its own while you’re busy doing other things like prepping the veggies to go into your tofu stir-fry.
The compact body of this press is made from BPA-free plastic, but it is the stainless steel spring located inside the press that is the key behind the virtually hands-free operation. Simply place a block of tofu into the press, close and twist the dial on the top and the spring action does the rest, adjusting the pressure on its own. Water is removed from all sides of the tofu so the end result is dense square of tofu with no cracks.
This press is equipped with a water catcher on the bottom and has soft silicone legs that absorb and provide tension under pressure. The transparent container lets you monitor the process and see how much water has been removed, and with the spring located outside of the water catcher, it won’t rust. Easy to wash, the patented design has locks that are easy to manipulate even if you have long fingernails!
- Internal spring does all the work
- Almost hands-free
- Equipped with a drainer
- Can be used as a paneer mold or cheese press
- BPA-free and LFGB compliant
- Dishwasher safe
- More expensive than other presses
Top Pick Best Honorable Mention: YARKOR Tofu Press
This tofu press from Yarkor is another model that allows you to set it and leave it, so that you can get on with other things while the press does its work. Instead of tightening the screws of a plate-style press or turning a dial to start the process, this model also uses a spring design to squeeze the water from a block of tofu.
Simple to use and effective, there are four parts to this press – the bottom water collector tray, the spring, the middle strainer where you place the tofu and the cover. To make it work, first lock the spring into the bottom water-collecting tray then place the tofu into the green inner strainer tub and place this tub on top of the spring. Cover with the lid, press on it with one hand to compress it all and with the other hand, clip the side buckles to hold it in place. Leave the press in the fridge for 15 to 30 minutes, or longer while the press does its work.
This press has built-in drainage holes so the extracted water drips into the collecting tray so when it’s all done, release the clips, remove the pressed tofu and pour out the water for a mess-free experience.
- Made from 100 percent food-grade materials and is BPA-free
- Once set, it can be left to press
- Has drainage holes and a water collecting tray
- Easy to clean
- Not recommended for silken tofu
- Takes strength to press down and close
Top Pick Best Eco-Friendly: Kimono Kitchen Bamboo Tofu Press
This bamboo tofu press is a good choice for anyone who prefers to stay away from plastic and wants a more natural, environmentally friendly tofu press. Using a manual pressure method, this model is durable and won’t bend or warp over time.
You can use firm or extra firm tofu blocks and before starting, you need to loosen the two bamboo plates so they are wide enough to fit the tofu. Place the block in the center of the press. Tighten the knobs until they touch the top of the tofu block and add a moderate amount of resistance so that water starts to seep out.
To help release the water more quickly, place the press on a plate on its side and every three minutes or so, tighten the knobs. Continue to do this for six to 15 minutes or until the desired texture is reached. Then flip it back, unscrew the knobs, lift the top plate and slide the tofu from the press.
With no plastic pieces, thick, solid and eco-friendly bamboo plates and food-grade 304-stainless steel hardware, this tofu press really steals the show for anyone wanting to reduce the toxins in their food and home environment.
- Made from durable, eco-friendly solid bamboo
- No plastic pieces
- Made in the USA
- More expensive than other models
- No drip tray
Things to look out for:
Consider these things when looking for a tofu press so you will choose one that best suits your needs:
The process: Tofu presses all do the same thing; they compress a block of firm or extra-firm tofu to extract the water and make the tofu easier to cut, cook and absorb marinades and seasonings. The difference between them is how the water is extracted and which you choose depends on how much attention and time you want to devote to the process.
Manual pressure: This simple but effective design consists of two plates that are connected by a long screw on either end, with knobs on the top that you tighten to slowly press out the water. The plates can be made of plastic, stainless steel, wood or bamboo. Some models include a drip tray, while others don’t. With this model, you have to stay with the press and turn the knobs every two or three minutes to increase the pressure on the tofu to extract more water.
Hands-free method: Some tofu presses use an internal spring or a lock-in pressure that extracts the water, which means you can set it and leave to continue prepping food or even leave for the day. The mechanisms range from internal springs to a top dial or tight side locks that slowly exert pressure on the block of tofu. These are convenient because you can prepare it at night, put it into the fridge and have freshly pressed tofu in the morning. The downside is that some models take more time to extract water than the manual kind.
Features: Tofu presses are pretty simple and don’t have many bells and whistles however, a press with drainage holes and a drip tray is very convenient and saves you from using a plate or having to clean up a watery mess from your countertop. Look for one that comes apart easily to clean or is dishwasher safe.