Whether you're a full-on vegan or just someone who likes to occasionally eat plant-based meals, it's likely that you've had your fair share of encounters with tofu in the kitchen. Incredibly versatile and rich with protein, tofu has been around for centuries in dishes around the globe. And today, it remains steadfast in its ability to upgrade anything from soups and salads to tacos and creamy sauces.
If you often cook with it at home, having a good tofu press on hand is a must. It transforms a wet, spongy block into something much firmer that's easier to sear and absorb spices. I'll be the first to admit that I, too, previously practiced the paper towel method, using books (or whatever heavy things I had on hand) as weights to get the water out, and subsequently making a mess on my countertop. But once I started using tofu presses—and realizing how much waste I was generating with my previous method—there was no going back.
If you're new to the world of tofu presses and don't know where to start, we're here to help. We've rounded up some of the most popular presses out there, made of everything from BPA-free plastic to eco-friendly bamboo to see which performed best. The Noya Tofu Press(available at Amazon) is the best we’ve tested for its ease of use and quick pressing abilities. It doubles as a container for marinating and produced some of the firmest tofu during our tests.
If you're willing to spend a little extra, we recommend the TofuXpress (available at Williams Sonoma) as our best upgrade pick. It has a no-frills structure that's effective over time, and a clean design that's nice enough to show off.
Here are the best tofu presses we tested ranked, in order:
Noya Tofu Press
EZ Tofu Press
Noya Adjustable Tofu Press
This vibrant, BPA-free press produced some of the firmest tofu during testing, and it includes handy features that made my pressing experience as seamless as possible.
Once the tofu is placed in the removable drip tray, simply twist the silicone dial to your desired setting (the inch and centimeter measurements will help guide you to your perfect block), and wait. The excess water drips mess-free into the bottom of the container, and there's a built-in pour spout at the top to make draining extra easy.
Once it's ready, removing the tofu is also a cinch, thanks to the handles on the removable drip tray (which I found can also double as a cutting surface). No more plopping tofu blocks with lingering water onto your countertop, hoping they don't break in the process. This press also comes with a marinating lid, so it can double as tupperware while your tofu soaks in your favorite sauce.
When I tested this press, I found that it was able to produce firm, dry tofu in just 15 minutes with no cracks. It was also a breeze to clean, since I was able to toss all the parts right in the dishwasher (including the spring, which is made of rust-resistant stainless steel ).
And aside from helpful instructions, the Noya press also comes with a cheesecloth, which can substitute paper towels for additional drying and other tasks like DIY cheesemaking.
If you're looking for a clever, easy-to-use press, this is a fantastic choice.
You might be wondering why any tofu press should cost $50—especially when the structure and features are pretty straightforward. But hear us out: For those interested in investing in long-lasting, deeply effective kitchen tools, the TofuXpress is worth it. When I tested it, I found that it resulted in some seriously firm tofu after just 15 minutes. Plus, its easy-to-use structure and accompanying guidebook made it a great choice for tofu newbies and longtime lovers alike. It's also made from FDA-approved thermoplastic and stainless steel, so it's built to last and easy to clean.
This press only has one press setting, but set-up is minimal and it doesn't require continuous tightening. So once you lock in the springed lid, you can leave it in the fridge for as long (or little) as you'd like. It's also unique in that the excess water collects at the top of the container, rather than the bottom; once you're ready to remove it, just tilt the press over the sink to drain all the water out. The container's base also doubles as a lid that's helpful for storing marinated tofu in the fridge.
I was only hands-on with this tofu press for a short time, but I was encouraged by several Amazon reviewers who claimed that this product has lasted them years—sometimes close to a decade—without breaking.
Hi, I'm Monica Petrucci, Reviewed's kitchen staff writer and a longtime lover of tofu. I used to find myself only indulging in a crispy, well-cooked tofu dish when I found it on restaurant menus, or when I could find the pre-pressed, vacuum-sealed packs of it at the store. It wasn't until I started testing for this article that it hit me: I was intimated by the pressing process, and it was inhibiting my tofu-cooking potential.
Once I learned that tofu pressing didn't have to involve a messy countertop and a waste of (several) paper towel sheets, the game was officially changed. I started finding plenty of recipes online and was cooking (delicious) tofu dishes several times a week.
I then realized that there are likely many other tofu lovers out there who need similar guidance on tofu pressing—the easy way.
Although all of the presses on this list vary greatly in structure, materials, and functionality, I tried my best to keep these tests as similar as possible to see how they stacked up against each other.
I first took into account the physical make-up of each press: Is it easy to set up? Does it have multiple pressure levels? Is it dishwasher-safe? Is there a built-in water drainer?
Then, I tested each press's functionality by pressing a block of extra-firm tofu for 15 minutes, checking for any cracks after pressing, and measuring how much the block had changed in size. Then I cut the block into cubes, seasoned it, and seared the tofu in hot oil to see whether the remaining water splashed back at me while sauteing. While it cooked, I monitored whether (and how much) the cubes fell apart while cooking. And, of course, there was the final taste test to see how well the tofu absorbed the spices and whether the texture was dense or still watery.
Before and after testing, I washed each press according to the package instructions to see whether any warping, rusting, or other damage occurred. I also took into consideration what materials the press was made of—whether it was built to last or sustainably made.
What You Should Know About Buying Tofu Presses
Why Press Tofu?
Tofu is a lot like a sponge; it absorbs liquid easily. Typically, blocks of it are sold in plastic containers where they sit in water, so when you remove a block from its packaging, a lot of that water has been sucked inside. A quick paper towel blot will only remove water from the exterior, rather than getting a majority of the liquid squeezed out. Without taking the time to press it, your tofu will be watery, tough to season, and will probably fall apart while cooking.
In order to get the best results when you're cooking with tofu (aside from silken tofu, which isn't designed to be pressed), it's best to press as much of that excess water out as possible. This way, your tofu will have a denser, crispier texture and will absorb spices and other flavors while cooking.
How Long To Press Tofu
Deciding how long to press your tofu all comes down to preference. Ask yourself, How firm do I want my tofu to be? and How much time am I willing to spend?
Most tofu presses on the market will provide timing guidelines in their instruction manuals, which can vary depending on the build of the press. But the typical range lies somewhere between 10 and 60 minutes. Of course, you can always press tofu in advance for several hours or even overnight, as long as it's stored safely in the fridge. (Doing this will obviously provide the firmest results—but how often do we actually think about what we'll want to eat a day in advance?)
During testing, I stuck to a 15-minute standard for all of the tofu presses but noticed that was only adequate for some of them. The best rule of thumb? Trial and error. Follow the guidelines in your press's instructions, then do some experimenting on your own to discover the firmness level you like best.
How To Store Pressed Tofu
Once your tofu block has been pressed, you can either choose to store it in the refrigerator or freezer. If it's going in the fridge, it'll typically stay fresh for three-to-five days. Once it's cooked, it may last even longer—up to a week—without going bad. (Just be sure to look for any mold growth, discoloration, or funky smells—common occurrences for any moist foods that have been hanging around.)
Freezing tofu is another option for longer-lasting storage. Before freezing, press it as you normally would to get rid of excess moisture. Then cut the block into cubes, and place them in a freezer-safe container for up to six months. When you're ready to eat it, simply defrost as many cubes as you'd like and get cooking.
Pro tip: On top of being extra convenient, freezing tofu can sometimes even result in denser, more flavorful results.
Other Tofu Presses We Tested
Healthy Express Tofu Press
This press has more of a traditional look, with a simple construction of two curved, BPA-free plastic plates and two stainless steel screws. It comes fully assembled in one piece, and the whole thing can easily be tossed in the dishwasher after use.
The bottom plate has a helpful outline of where to place your tofu, and the plates are slightly curved to achieve the most successfully pressed block. Be aware that this mechanism requires a bit more babysitting than other models; the instructions recommend tightening the screws evenly three-to-five times while it's pressing for the best results. And since there's no drip tray included, you'll have to tip it over the sink or a bowl while the water drips out.
Although this process required a little more time and attention, the results were worth the wait. The tofu was very well pressed and came out with a dense, crispy texture after pan-frying. (Plus: it comes with a complimentary kitchen towel for sustainable drying!)
This little box-like press comes with only three parts, which made set-up easy (even without glancing at the provided directions). The pressing process is unique in this model. Instead of using screws or a spring, there are three hooks that jut out on both sides of the container, where the tight silicone bands latch onto to create pressure. You can decide to press it on the lowest, medium, or highest pressure, depending on how firm you'd like your tofu to be.
I found that the lowest pressure option was enough to make a significant difference in just 15 minutes, with a resulting block of tofu that was firm enough to crisp. And even the highest setting didn't create any cracks during testing. So if you're in a pinch, this could be a great choice.
The only disadvantage to this press is the quality. As soon as I unboxed it and started to hand wash it, I noticed one of the plastic stoppers on the bottom corner fell off (and, tragically, down the drain) very quickly. One of the handles also came off the hinges a couple of times during use, but that part easily snapped back into place with a little effort.
All of this is to say: This press works very well, it just might not last you a lifetime.
I was excited to try this press, mostly because of its sleek, modern look and fully recyclable plastic makeup. It's made up of six parts (which made clean-up a bit more challenging): A plastic knob, a sliding lid, a metal spring, two plastic plates, and the plastic container. Luckily, everything is dishwasher safe.
It technically comes with two pressure levels, but the first applies very little pressure and is meant for silken tofu (which usually doesn't require pressing at all). During testing, I put it on the second level for 15 minutes, and it resulted in a decently firm block—but I did have to pat it dry with a paper towel afterward, since the plastic sheets that the tofu sat between seemed to collect pools of liquid. There is a pour spout built-in, but it didn't work as well as others because the tofu doesn't stay locked into place as it tilts. It was also difficult to remove the slippery block without accidentally breaking the block apart.
I appreciated the included recipe book, though, which provided lots of appealing ideas that would be great for folks new to the tofu-cooking universe.
This four-piece press is made up of a water collecting tray with two handles, a durable spring, a strainer, and lid. The tofu block is placed between the strainer and lid, and it starts pressing when the lid is snapped into place with the two handles.
There's only one pressure setting with this press—and it's high. I actually found it difficult to snap the lid into place since the spring is so strong. I had to press down pretty hard with one hand to get the lid shut, using the other to try to lock the second handle into place. Plus, the spring doesn't stay attached, so it can fall out of the provided placeholder at the bottom of the tray. Once everything is locked in, though, it stays put. And the resulting block I tested was decently firm, surprisingly without any cracks from too much pressure.
I have to admit that the product itself doesn't seem very high quality; the tray arrived with a slight bend to it that worsened slightly after a run in the dishwasher. Since the material isn't very sturdy, this one might not last you a lifetime.
Another no-frills option, this tofu press arrives fully assembled in one piece, with two plastic plates connected by two stainless steel screws. These plates are fully straight and not curved, so you won't be able to lean this press over your sink to drain the liquid. (I learned this the hard way after making a mess on my countertop.) Instead, you'll have to balance it vertically over a plate or similar container, which unfortunately means another dish to wash afterward.
The instructions that came with this press were a little vague, which was especially troubling in a model like this, where guidance is needed to be sure you're screwing the right amount of pressure without accidentally cracking the tofu. It's also another instance that requires more attention, as you should be tightening the screws every two to four minutes to ensure the right amount of pressure is consistent to achieve results in 15 minutes or less.
Unfortunately, the resulting tofu texture wasn't optimal, even after tightening the screws regularly as directed. It's possible that I didn't start at the right pressure point though, since those instructions weren't as clear.
This tofu press charmed me upon arrival, with its playful, translucent colorful look.
When it came to functionality, though, it didn't deliver as well as the others. After screwing in the top lid (there's only one level offered), I noticed through the clear container that the pressing plate was lopsided, pressing the tofu unevenly. I tried playing with it to even out, but struggled to readjust it and couldn't get it perfectly straight.
Once the 15 minutes had passed, I removed the lid and noticed that the block had cracked in several places, and the texture still seemed decently wet. Sauteeing it in a pan with hot oil confirmed my suspicions, as the residual water splashed back at me several times.
I really wanted to love this eco-friendly, 100% bamboo tofu press, but its functionality disappointed me during testing. The hardware doesn't come attached, so setting everything up felt like an Ikea home project. It took me close to 20 minutes to set it all up, and taking it apart for storage was time-consuming as well.
Once it was finally ready to press, I wasn't sure how many times to screw the hardware due to a lack of instructions, so I ended up cracking the tofu block as a result (and somehow getting splashed with the tofu liquid in the process). Even after cracking under pressure, the tofu was not firm to my liking after 15 minutes; it broke apart several times during the cooking process and the resulting taste was watery.
As for long-term use, maintaining a wooden tofu press comes with its own set of challenges. You'll have to be sure it dries thoroughly after each wash in order to avoid mold growth. And watch out for splinters; ToPress recommends regularly moisturizing the press with oil to retain moisture and prevent splitting.
Monica is Reviewed's senior Kitchen & Cooking staff writer. A graduate of Emerson College, she's had her work published in The Boston Globe, Culture Cheese Magazine, Modern Luxury, and more. In her spare time, you can find her making coffee, flipping through magazines, or falling down a TikTok rabbit hole.
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