An unopened package of tofu can be stored safely in your fridge for a few months, but once it has been opened, it will deteriorate much more quickly.
Often an entire package of tofu is too much for a single meal, so once it’s cooked you may find yourself wondering how long you’ll be able to keep the leftovers before they go bad.
How long does cooked tofu last? If stored correctly, cooked tofu will stay safe and delicious for 4–5 days. However, this number can vary depending on whether you have mixed the tofu with other foods such as noodles or sauces. It is also possible to freeze cooked tofu for up to 3 months.
If you want to get the most out of your cooked tofu, this article will explain how best to store tofu once it has been cooked, as well as how to tell if it is no longer good. We’ll even share tips and techniques for freezing cooked tofu!
How To Store Cooked Tofu
It is possible to find tofu out of the refrigerated section in a grocery store, which can cause some confusion when it comes to storing tofu after you purchase it and, particularly, after you’ve cooked it.
Tofu can be cooked in a wide variety of ways and how it is stored may vary slightly depending on how you’ve prepared it or how you plan to use it in the future.
There are a few key questions that come up frequently surrounding cooked tofu. Does it need to be refrigerated? If yes, how long can it stay at room temperature before it goes bad? We’re going to answer both of these questions in depth next.
Does Cooked Tofu Need to Be Refrigerated?
Cooked tofu absolutely needs to be refrigerated if you aren’t going to consume it all within an hour or two of being cooked.
If it is properly stored, cooked tofu will be safe and delicious for 4–5 days after being cooked.
The best way to store any type of cooked tofu if you’re going to eat it in the near future is to place it in a container with an airtight seal.
You want to have as little air in the container as possible, so choose a size that is relevant to the amount of cooked tofu you’re storing.
If you cooked your tofu with any other ingredients, the mixture will only last as long as the food item with the shortest lifespan within your meal.
For example, a stirfry made with a variety of vegetables, tofu, and eggs will be limited to the lifespan of the eggs, which is only 3 days on average. Similarly, if you’ve cooked your tofu with rice, you may want to limit the storage to 2 days.
How Long Can Cooked Tofu Sit at Room Temperature?
As with most foods, you will want to cover and refrigerate cooked tofu within 2 hours of being cooked.
After 2 hours, the risk for bacterial contamination increases to a point where you need to start being concerned about potential food poisoning.
This 2-hour rule is not exclusive to cooked tofu but is also true of fresh tofu that has been exposed to air.
If you desperately want to bring a meal made with cooked tofu to work or on a road trip or other type of day-long adventure, there are ways to increase the safety of the tofu beyond the 2-hour mark.
Here’s how to keep room-temperature tofu safe:
- After cooking your tofu, allow it to cool completely to room temperature.
- Without waiting too long after letting it cool, transfer it to a container with an airtight seal.
- If possible, refrigerate the tofu for at least a few hours before moving the container to your lunch box or other transportation.
- Once cooled, do not break the seal of the container until you’re ready to eat your meal.
- If possible, keep your meal in an insulated lunch bag, like one of these cooler totes.
- Do your best not to expose your carefully stored cooked tofu meal to extreme fluctuations in temperature, even if it remains sealed.
Remember that these practices do not completely guarantee the safety of your tofu, but they will decrease the likelihood of contamination.
How to Tell if Cooked Tofu Is Bad
It can be very difficult to tell if cooked tofu has gone bad, but there are a few tell-tale signs you can look out for.
If your cooked tofu is mixed with any other ingredients, you will better be able to tell if the other ingredients are still fresh and safe to eat. Judge based on the mixture and your tofu should be safe.
Tofu doesn’t have much smell on its own. If you notice a sour odor coming from your container of stored cooked tofu, it may be best to get rid of it and cook a fresh meal.
Natural tofu is an off-white or cream color. If you’ve prepared it very simply, you may notice white or green/blue spots if your tofu is growing mold.
This is a sure sign you need to discard it. It can be more difficult to visually see signs of decay on cooked tofu, however, because it’s most often seasoned, marinated, or fried, which alters the natural color.
If you’re willing to taste test, take a single bite of your tofu. If you notice any sour tang or hints of fermentation, it has gone bad.
If you taste anything musty or otherwise off, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and stop eating before you potentially regret the experience.
Can You Freeze Cooked Tofu?
You can freeze tofu in any state, fresh or cooked. Regardless of the type of tofu or how you have prepared it, it will freeze well.
Freezing tofu will change the texture and consistency, however, it’s usually in a good way.
We know this sounds backward, but previously frozen tofu will be denser and chewier than it was when originally prepared, even if you pressed your tofu before cooking it.
The best way to freeze cooked tofu is if it has been cooked in larger blocks, either baked or fried.
Here’s how to freeze cooked tofu:
- Lay down a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to wrap all your tofu pieces in a single layer.
- Cover that sheet with a layer of plastic wrap.
- Place the individual pieces of tofu in a single layer, side by side, on top of the plastic wrap.
- Wrap the entire collection of tofu in the plastic wrap.
- Complete the preparation by sealing the plastic-wrapped tofu inside the aluminum foil.
- Place the wrapped tofu on a baking sheet or flat surface and transfer it to your freezer.
- After 1–2 hours, you can remove the baking sheet.
When you are ready to defrost and use your cooked and frozen tofu, you may still find that you can press a great deal of water out of the tofu, which is recommended.
After thawing, it will soak up even more flavor in any dish you add it to.
How Long Can You Freeze Tofu?
Fresh tofu will last in your freezer at its best quality for up to 6 months. Cooked tofu should be thawed and used within 3 months of freezing.
It’s always a good idea to label your container or package of tofu with the date before transferring it to your freezer so that you know how long it has been in there.
If you’re freezing cooked tofu you may always want to make a note of how it was prepared so that you know exactly what you’re defrosting when you’re ready to use it.
Can You Freeze Tofu Scramble?
You can freeze tofu scramble, however, the quality will be dependant on the additional ingredients you have cooked the tofu with.
Wait for the tofu scramble to completely cool to room temperature and then transfer it to a freezer-safe Ziploc bag. Press as much air out of the bag as possible before sealing and transferring it to your freezer.
Can You Eat Cooked Tofu Cold?
You can eat cooked tofu cold, though depending on how it was cooked, it may not taste as good cold as it would if it were reheated. As long as it was safely stored and not left sitting out on the counter for too long, it is safe to eat.
The texture of cooked tofu may differ when it is hot versus cold, which can be an interesting way to enjoy more variety out of your tofu.
Is Tofu Already Cooked?
The soybeans used to make tofu are cooked as part of the process to create the end product.
Soybeans are soaked and then boiled so that they can be made into soy milk. The soy milk is cooked again and, with the help of thickening agents, formed into a solid brick. Basically, tofu it’s like soy cheese.
Unless you buy smoked or otherwise prepared tofu, the brick itself is not cooked, but the ingredients are, so it’s not technically a raw food. It is permissible on some raw food diets but is not strictly adherent.
Can You Eat Tofu Uncooked?
As long as your tofu has been properly stored you can eat it raw, or uncooked. As previously mentioned, the ingredients used to make tofu have been cooked, making them safe to eat without further preparation.
Once the package is opened, however, the sterile seal for the product is broken.
To prevent food poisoning from exposure to airborne bacteria or any type of mold growth, you either must cook the tofu or ensure that it stays well sealed and protected at all times before you eat it, as is proper with any raw food item.