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Kitchen & Cooking

Every vegetarian needs this kitchen gadget

If you cook tofu, the TofuBud tofu press will be your new favorite tool.

This TofuBud tofu press changed my cooking game. Credit: TofuBud

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There's not much I miss about eating meat. Sure, sometimes I crave a juicy burger, but brands like Impossible Foods have effectively satisfied my hankering with 100% plant-based and incredibly convincing meat alternatives. Most times when I reach for a meat substitute, tofu is my go-to protein, but when it comes to preparation, tofu requires some TLC—draining, pressing, then draining again—and it also requires planning.

My personal tofu pressing method involves forgetting to press my tofu until an hour before dinner (ideally you'd press for multiple hours, or overnight if you want your tofu extra dry), followed by assembling a precarious Jenga-like tower comprised of a cutting board, paper towels, the block of tofu, lots more paper towels, another cutting board, and as many heavy cans as I can balance on top.

Enter: TofuBud, the streamlined, time-saving tofu press that seemed too good to be true. I tried it out and here's what happened.

About TofuBud tofu press

This small, boxy kitchen gadget is a tofu press, used to drain excess moisture from firm or extra-firm blocks of tofu. With a manual pressing method as described above, the pressing process will take a minimum of one hour. But even then, your tofu still might not be as dry as you'd like it.

The TofuBud comes with a clear matte base, two perforated plates, a stainless steel spring, a lid, and a knob, plus an instruction booklet and recipe e-book.

How it works

A two-part, before-and-after diagram shows how the spring-loaded TofuBud presses down on tofu as you secure the lid.
Credit: TofuBud

The TofuBud is spring-loaded, which presses down on the tofu as you secure the lid.

The TofuBud is designed to save time and eliminate most of the mess. Simply place your tofu block inside the box between the two perforated plates—these will allow the excess liquid to drain from the tofu as it presses (very important!). Then, you close the lid and insert a comically large stainless steel spring, followed by the knob. You'll need to get the angle just right in order to press the spring down and secure the knob, turning it until you hear a click.

The pressure from the compressed screw pushes on the tofu, and in 15 to 20 minutes, you've got a ready-to-cook block that's significantly drier than it was originally. To clean, remove the knob, spring, lid, perforated plates, and tofu (duh), then dispose of the remaining liquid. Wash the TofuBud with warm soapy water, or pop it in the dishwasher.

Why should I press my tofu?

Not all tofu requires pressing—if your recipe calls for silken tofu, for example, you definitely shouldn't press it as the soft, silky texture is desirable in this case. If your recipe calls for firm or extra-firm tofu, you need to press your tofu to remove extra moisture so the tofu will absorb maximum flavor and retain its shape as it cooks.

The amount of time required to press your tofu will vary depending on how it's packaged; if it's been vacuum-sealed with little to no liquid, it will require less pressing time. If your tofu is packaged in liquid, as is common, it'll requirer more time in the press.

I tried the TofuBud—here's what happened

A pair of photographs show how easy it is to drain the excess liquid from the TofuBud tofu press.
Credit: TofuBud

Draining the excess liquid is super easy with the tofu press.

My favorite tofu dish lately is this Bon Appétit recipe for Sesame Noodles with Crispy Tofu. Texture is key with a meal like this—crunchy cucumbers meet creamy sesame noodles (most times I swap out the sesame butter for peanut butter), topped with crispy tofu and fresh scallions—so making sure my tofu crisps up nicely is always a top priority.

I poured off the tofu's packing liquid, then placed my block between the perforated plates as instructed. After I added the lid I had a bit of trouble getting the spring screwed in using the knob (shout out to my husband for helping with this one). As mentioned above, you really need to get the perfect angle with appropriate pressure applied in order to secure the spring and click the knob into place.

Once I heard the knob click, I set a timer for 15 minutes and got to work on cooking the soba noodles (I love Eden Organic Lotus Root Soba). After 15 minutes the time went off and I checked on my tofu. I noticed quite a bit of liquid had gathered at the bottom of the base, and I was able to easily pour it out while keeping the entire contraption intact thanks to a handy opening and small pour spout on the side.

I removed the tofu from the press and to my surprise, it was super dry! After only 15 minutes! I cut the pressed tofu into cubes, popped it into hot vegetable oil, and cooked it according to the recipe. The final product was crispy tofu that absorbed the flavors of the dish with ease thanks to pressing.

The TofuBud effectively cut my pressing time by at least 45 minutes, and I didn't have to deal with any sopping wet paper towels during clean up.

Should you buy a TofuBud?

The TofuBud will be a game changer for anyone who regularly cooks with tofu. With an average 4.5 star rating on Amazon and almost 100 reviews, it's clear other users are just as satisfied as I am.

While I'm not typically a fan of kitchen gadgets with a single purpose, this tofu press is worth the cabinet space it occupies because it saves so much time. Now I don't need to set alarms on my phone reminding me to press my tofu hours before I'm ready to cook dinner. Instead, tofu pressing is quick, painless, and my tofu crisps up better than ever.

Get the TofuBud tofu press on Amazon for $29.95

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