There’s a saying that you either love tofu or haven’t had tofu prepared well. Tofu is not just for vegans and vegetarians; it is a powerful way to bring a major burst of flavor and texture to every bite, but only if it is prepared right.
A tofu press is designed to drain the water from a block of tofu, allowing the soy product to soak up flavor just like a sponge. The texture becomes chewy and meaty, turning an otherwise mediocre dish into something deliciously satiating.
What are the best tofu presses? The best tofu presses will be made of sturdy and reliable materials like wood or bamboo, be easy to use, and not take up too much space in your kitchen. It’s a bonus if they come with drainage trays. There are two main types of tofu presses, plate and box-style, and each has its pros and cons.
In this article, we review 9 of the best tofu presses on the market today, helping you decide between plate or box-style presses made from wood or plastic, depending on your preferences.
We’ll also share tips and techniques to use a tofu press effectively so you’ll never suffer from underwhelming tofu again.
Why Press Tofu?
If you’ve ever cooked with tofu, you’ll know that its greatest superpower is soaking in the flavor of everything it is cooked with. A tofu press is a device specially designed to remove excess water from tofu quickly.
Of course, you can squeeze tofu with your hands to wring some of the water out, but this is less than effective and highly likely to result in cracked, crumbled, or broken tofu that is only partially drained.
A tofu press will firmly yet carefully press out all extra water from your block of tofu, usually within about 15 minutes. Many of them also have draining trays to contain the excess water and prevent a mess.
The entire process is not only effective but efficient as well.
On it’s own, tofu is nothing but texture. There is little natural flavor in this soy product. But when properly prepared, it can act as the perfect vessel for all flavors, big and small.
Tofu comes packed in water. Like a sponge, if it remains waterlogged, there is no room for additional flavor. In order to soak up flavor, the water must first be pressed out.
Removing the excess water also improves the meaty texture of the tofu in most recipes.
It is important to note, however, that some tofu is designed to be softer and more moist than others. Pressing silken tofu is not a good idea.
Silken tofu doesn’t usually even need to be drained. Soft tofu should be drained and very lightly pressed, if at all.
Firm and extra-firm tofu will improve in nearly every way by pressing out as much water as possible. Medium tofu is also better pressed, but you should be more gentle with it.
Is A Tofu Press Worth It?
At the end of this article, we will share a DIY tofu press that is effective if you only prepare tofu-based recipes a few times a year.
However, if you eat tofu on an even semi-regular basis, for example, once a month or more, then yes, a tofu press is worth it. Until you’ve used one, you won’t truly understand what you’re missing out on.
The amount of water that can be expressed by a proper tofu press is considerably more than what can be managed with your hands or even heavy books or cast iron pans.
The more water you can press out, the better the flavor and texture of your tofu will be.
How to Choose a Tofu Press
There are a lot of tofu presses on the market and many of them look similar, but there are a few features to be aware of as you’re making your choice.
There are two main types of tofu presses, and you can find them made out of a variety of materials.
There are pros and cons to each, and the final decision will ultimately come down to what is most important to you in your unique kitchen and lifestyle.
Type of Tofu Presses
The two types of tofu presses that you will commonly see are plate-style, with screws or springs, and box-style.
Plate-style tofu presses look like something you would find in a carpenter’s workshop. They’re essentially two plates held together by screws or springs that will press the water out of your tofu using consistently increasing pressure.
The water will either drain through the bottom plate or the device will lay on its side to allow the water to drain directly into your sink or another container.
These tofu presses don’t usually come with drainage trays, so you’ll have to use them in your sink.
Box-style presses are designed using spring-loaded or weighted plates. The tofu is placed inside a box and a plate is pressed into place, creating sufficient consistent pressure to press the water out of your tofu over time.
These presses often come with drainage trays, but they take longer to press the tofu completely, at least 1 hour.
Tofu Press Materials
Most tofu presses are either made of wood, bamboo, or plastic, but occasionally you will come across a stainless steel tofu press as well.
The material your tofu press is made out of will largely come down to personal preference.
If you avoid plastic on principle or are looking for an eco-friendly investment, choose a beautiful bamboo press. If you don’t have time to handwash, find a dishwasher-safe plastic model.
In our list of the 9 best tofu presses, you will find both bamboo and plastic options that work incredibly well, so you can choose the solution that feels right for you.
9 Best Tofu Presses
Now that you know what features to look for in a tofu press, let’s review some of the best finds you can purchase on Amazon.
|1.||ToFuture Tofu Press|
|2.||EZ Tofu Press|
|3.||Yarkor Tofu Press|
|4.||That Tofu Thing Tofu Press|
|5.||Healthy Express Tofu Press|
|6.||Yarkor Bamboo Tofu Press|
|7.||Grow Your Pantry Tofu Press|
|8.||Tofu Presser Tofu Press|
|9.||Mangocore Tofu Press|
1. ToFuture Tofu Press
The tofu press from ToFutre is our favorite overall tofu press because it has everything you need for perfectly pressed tofu in one tidy, easy-to-use, box-style press.
It has a sleek, modern style and compact design that stores easily. The press has a lid as well, so you can keep it in your fridge and let it press safely out of the way.
There’s no need to use this one over your sink because the bottom layer catches all the water.
- Drainage tray included
- Achieve a quick press in 20 minutes or leave overnight for ultimate water drainage
- Made from BPA-free plastic that is dishwasher-safe
The size of the container does limit the size of the tofu blocks you can press at a time.
Depending on the type of tofu you are purchasing, you may find that you can cut a long block in half and layer it inside the box, but this will only work on thinner blocks.
2. EZ Tofu Press
This tofu press is accurately named; it is incredibly easy to use. With just two screws to tighten, the press is even, consistent, and quick.
You can completely press the water out of a full brick of tofu within 15 minutes with small manual adjustments every few minutes.
- Easy to use
- Fits all sizes of tofu bricks with handy center marks to ensure an even press
- Dishwasher-safe in the top rack for easy cleaning
The press does not come apart into individual pieces. This adds to the ease of use but can make it a bit tricky to store, with the bolts and screws sticking up from the plates and taking up extra space in your drawer or cupboard.
3. Yarkor Tofu Press
This spring-loaded box-style tofu press is an ideal set-and-forget solution if you like to extract every last drop of water out of your tofu and are willing to let it sit overnight to accomplish the task.
This unit has not only a tray to collect the water, but also a lid to keep your tofu fresh in the fridge while it slowly drains.
- Includes a drainage tray
- Includes a strainer, water collecting tray, and lid
- Made from BPA and chemical-free plastic
As with most spring-loaded or box-style presses, this is not a quick fix. It works best with patience and should be given at least 1 hour, preferably more, to complete the task.
It creates such firm pressure that it can be difficult to close the press, but it will result in perfectly pressed tofu every time.
4. That Tofu Thing Tofu Press
This press has a single screw, making it easy to handle and quick to use.
It’s the latticed plates, unique to this product, that are most appealing to us. These latices allow water to escape from all sides, creating drier tofu quicker.
It can be set up to drain from nearly any angle, which adds to the convenience factor more than you might expect.
- Latticed plates
- Comes with a cloth bag for tidy storage
- Presses efficiently within 15–20 minutes
There are some size restrictions and it may not accommodate the larger sizes of tofu bricks, so you’ll want to purchase your tofu with that in mind.
Having only a single screw in the center doesn’t perfectly disperse the pressure and very astute chefs may notice that the tofu retains slightly more watery around the edges of the press than the center.
5. Healthy Express Tofu Press
This tofu press has a unique design that is very effective for pressing firm and extra firm tofu.
The plates have a slight bow to them that creates more even pressure as the screws are tightened, providing a more consistent press and texture throughout the entire brick.
It also has large winged handles that make tightening the plates easy on the fingers.
- Can be used to create extra firm tofu
- Bowed plates for even pressure
- Comes with a no-questions-asked 1-year guarantee ensuring top quality control
- Great 5 star recipe mini-cookbook included for healthy tofu ideas
Even though plate-style presses are typically faster than box presses, this particular unit takes longer than some of the competition.
To get a thorough press will take 1 hour on average, however it works impressively well on extra-firm tofu that is generally the hardest to press.
6. Yarkor Bamboo Tofu Press
If you like to prepare a lot of tofu for a single meal, you may be looking for a press that can handle 2 blocks of tofu at a time.
The bolts on this press are quite tall, leaving enough room to potentially layer 2 blocks of tofu at one time, as long as they are not extremely thick blocks to start with.
This model is also one of the rare plate-style presses that includes drainage holes and a drip tray.
- Includes drainage tray
- Works with nearly all sizes of tofu bricks, up to 16 oz
- Can layer 2 bricks of tofu, provided they are not oversized
It is a beautiful design, but the wingnuts are small and the bolts are tall, making it one of the more difficult plate-style presses to screw down.
It’s highly efficient and the extra space provided by the extra-long bolts is worth the minor inconvenience.
7. Grow Your Pantry Bamboo Tofu Press
Not only is this press made of gorgeous bamboo as well, but it also includes a drainage tray like our pick above.
Bamboo is eco-friendly, sustainable, and safe for anyone concerned about the potential health consequences of plastic.
This one made our list alongside the last pick because it comes with a recipe book, storage bag, and free nut bag for making homemade nut milk!
- Specially engineered drainage holes and drip tray
- Comes with an eBook guide, recipes, a storage tote bag, and a free nut milk bag
As with all bamboo kitchen materials, this tofu press is not dishwasher-safe and should be hand-washed.
The steel nuts and bolts are of high quality, but it’s a good idea to always make sure they are as dry as possible after use and before you place the press in the storage bag so that humidity doesn’t turn to rust over time.
8. Tofu Presser Super Tofu Press
This super tofu press passes the quality control test with flying colors, especially concerning the springs.
The plastic plates are FDA-approved BPA-free plastic, which we’ve honestly come to expect with kitchen gadgets.
What really impressed us is the stainless steel nuts, bolts, washers, and springs that are rated for use in up to 50,000 cycles of your dishwasher. That’s reliability.
- Applies up to 50 pounds of pressure per square inch, pressing tofu effectively within 15 minutes
- Made in the USA with extremely high quality control standards
One of the common frustrations of plate-style tofu presses is that the plates bow once pressure is applied. This makes an uneven press, leaving your tofu with slightly more water content in the outer edges than the center.
It’s not super noticeable but may factor into your decision. The screws are also smaller than some of the other units, making them a little harder on the fingers, but not terribly so.
Mangocore Tofu Pressing Kit
If you like versatility and are a bit experimental in your kitchen, this is the tofu press for you.
Not only will it remove the water from a store-bought brick of tofu, but this kit has everything you need to make homemade tofu from soy milk.
- Make and press tofu, paneer, or even cheese
- Large enough to fit nearly all sizes of tofu bricks
- Top drawer is dishwasher-safe plastic and is easy to clean
There is no draining tray, which is unfortunate but easy to fix by simply placing the press over a bowl or sink to capture the excess liquid.
It also doesn’t come with instructions for how to use the press for making your own tofu, which can be frustrating.
How to Press Tofu
With a tofu press, it is very easy to press the water out of your tofu.
Easy doesn’t mean you can’t make mistakes, though, so we’ve covered a few of the most important details about pressing tofu so that the next time you’re ready to cook, you know you’re doing the most efficient job possible.
How to Drain Tofu
First of all, most tofu is packed in water when you buy it. Silken tofu is the exception, but you wouldn’t want to press that, so we’re going to assume you have medium to extra-firm tofu to work with.
The first thing you’ll want to do is open the package and let the water drain into your sink.
A standard plastic-wrapped package of tofu can squirt water at you when you open it, so make sure you’ve got a towel handy and are standing near your sink.
Once you’ve drained the package, give it a quick rinse and then take your block of tofu out and lightly press it between your hands to drain the surface water. This will reduce the amount that will be collected in your tofu press.
Once you’ve drained it, transfer the block of tofu to the press of your choice.
If you’re more of a visual learner, here is a tutorial with some great tips for draining tofu and making it taste great from the All Day I Eat Like a Shark channel on YouTube.
How Long Should You Press Tofu?
How long you should press your tofu depends on how you are preparing it and, of course, how much time you have and how far ahead you have planned.
If you only have 10 minutes before you need to start cooking, press your tofu for 10 minutes. If you’ve time to press longer, here are a few tips:
- Medium tofu needs to be pressed only for 10–15 minutes in a plate-style press, but it will always have a softer texture; that is the nature of tofu.
- Firm and extra-firm tofu will benefit immensely from longer pressing; 1–2 hours on average would be ideal.
- Some presses are designed to allow your tofu to press overnight, but only press this long if your tofu press meets the following criteria:
- The water has a separate drainage container
- The press can be covered to prevent spoilage from exposure to outside flavors and bacteria
- Your tofu is refrigerated – avoid pressing tofu for any longer than 2 hours unless it is refrigerated
How to Press Tofu Quickly
If you’re constantly in a hurry to press your tofu, try freezing it before you need it. Allow it to thaw in your fridge overnight before you use it and press for 5–15 minutes for impressive results.
Previously frozen tofu will become firmer, chewier, and spongier naturally, so you won’t need the press as much to get the same results.
If you need to press tofu fast and it is fresh from the fridge, not the freezer, you’ll need to apply pressure as evenly as possible.
Plate-style tofu presses will work best for this because you can manually adjust the pressure, speeding up the process as necessary.
DIY Tofu Press
While you’re waiting for your tofu press to arrive, there are a few creative techniques for designing a makeshift homemade tofu press.
Many people will simply place a paper towel or cheesecloth on a plate, top it with their block of tofu, then place something heavy on top of the tofu.
This will work, but only to a certain extent. With just a few more materials, you can create something much more effective.
What you’ll need:
- 2 small cutting boards
- 2–4 small C-clamps
Simply place your block of tofu between the two cutting boards and place 1–2 C-clamps on either side of the board to press the boards together. Adjust the clamps until they create enough pressure to press the water out of the tofu.
Tip the boards on the side to allower the water to flow away from the tofu rather than pooling underneath it. Capture the run-off in a plate or container to avoid making a mess in your kitchen.
Tighten the clamps after 5 minutes and again after 10 minutes, or as needed.
Up Next: Can You Reheat Tofu?