The 10 Best Tofu Presses
This wiki has been updated 23 times since it was first published in February of 2016. If you're trying to go meat-free or simply want to eat healthier by incorporating plant-based options into your diet, you should know that the texture of tofu can be improved considerably by expelling the excess water. Our selections for this category will deliver a firmer block that can then be used to make everything from scrumptious breakfast scrambles to tasty stir-fry dishes. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
April 08, 2021:
There weren’t a lot of major changes to make to this list, but we did notice that the Collingwood Ecoware Presser Box wasn’t available at the time of this writing, and so decided on removing it. We felt that the Presser Box wasn’t the biggest loss, as the Raw Rutes Ninja features a design that’s fairly similar, but we definitely appreciated how much more affordable the Presser Box was (although it was still twice the price of average models in this category).
Our new addition, the Noya Adjustable, caught our eye with a few clever design considerations, like a spout that allows you to drain water from it without releasing the pressure being inflicted on the brick. We also liked the way that it has measurements printed on one of its transparent sides, which makes it easier to dial in just how hard you should clamp down on your tofu. It includes a separate lid so you can use its container as a marinating dish, and it even comes with some cheese cloth, as a bonus, to help with straining vegetables (or, making cheeses).
For further kitchen accessories that can help you get your plant-based protein in, check out our list of soy milk makers.
March 02, 2020:
During this round of updates, we incorporated several new options into our rankings, and removed the Soyajoy Premium Total and Tofu Presser Supper due to availability issues. Some of our new selections include the Glue Theory Bamboo Simple Drip – a basic model with an attractive design that’s supported by a lifetime warranty, the That Tofu Thing TTT01 – a British-designed device with a convenient single-clamp design that can have your bricks dried out in 15 minutes, and the Yarkor YK1909110020 – which uses a spring to gradually squeeze the water out of your bean curds.
A few factors to consider for this category:
Means of Extraction: Every option in this category uses the same basic principle to dry tofu: squeeze the water out. However, the ways they go about doing this can vary considerably, and greatly impact your user experience. Basic options like the budget-friendly Mangocore Kit and Japanese-made Tofu Kit Yamako require users to use physical force and their own body weight to push down on them, while models like the EZ Tofu Press and Glue Theory Bamboo Simple Drip feature integrated hardware that allows users to maintain a clamped-down pressure on their tofu for extended periods. The That Tofu Thing TTT01 has an especially convenient design that can be compressed with a single clamp, and the Yarkor YK1909110020 uses a spring to squeeze out unwanted water, while the Collingwood Ecoware Presser Box depends on a two-pound, stainless-steel weight, in combination with gravity, to extract moisture.
Drainage: Now that we’ve dealt with getting all that excess water out, the next logical question is: Where does it go? Basic devices like the Mangocore Kit and EZ Tofu Press have no provisions for water collection, so they’ll need to be used inside a sink or basin of some type (any pot or casserole dish will work, as well). Others, like the Tofuture Transform and Glue Theory Bamboo Simple Dry, feature built-in collection trays. The That Tofu Thing TTT01 has a clever design that allows it to be positioned in a vertical orientation – to allow water to drip out, or a horizontal orientation – so that any extracted water falls into its integrated collection tray.
Capacity: While single people and small families might be able to get away with smaller models like the Mangocore Kit, Yarkor YK1909110020 or Raw Rutes Ninja, users who frequently cook for large groups or like to meal prep for the week will likely find that a larger model suits there needs better. In kitchens with limited storage space, a compact design can be convenient – of course, but when it takes as long as several hours to press a single batch of tofu, you’re likely not going to want to see dinner delayed because you need to prep a second. For users looking for a larger option, a good place to start is the Glue Theory Bamboo Simple Drip, which can accommodate 5-1/2 inches by 9-1/2 inches of tofu in a space that’s three inches high.
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Tofu To The Rescue
These can be anything from a vegan replacement for feta cheese to a grilled tofu slab marinated to perfection and served like a steak.
If your experience with tofu has been a predominantly negative one, then I apologize on behalf of whoever prepared it for you. If you prepared it yourself, then you only have yourself to blame. The good news is that, with a little guidance, cooking with tofu at home can result in some of the tastiest and healthiest dishes imaginable.
Let’s get one thing out of the way, however. Tofu is often described the way some people describe water: tasteless. Both assertions are deeply inaccurate, and often both come out of mouths that are used to taking in heavily processed foods when they aren’t busy spewing criticism.
To those of us who still have functioning taste buds that haven’t been firebombed by an endless barrage of unpronounceable chemicals, tofu has a very definite taste. That taste is, however, rather flexible, and that’s where the magic happens.
One thing about tofu that doesn’t jive with the chemical people is that it does require some patience. Cooking times on the stovetop or in the oven often exceed 20 minutes if you want to truly transform the stuff. Before that, you’ll have to get your tofu to drain.
With even more patience, you can transform tofu into a litany of comparable foodstuffs. These can be anything from a vegan replacement for feta cheese to a grilled tofu slab marinated to perfection and served like a steak.
Why Bother With A Dedicated Tofu Press?
Tofu comes packaged in water. Any bit of the block you don’t use after you open it you should store in water. That’s what keeps it from drying out and prematurely spoiling, but it’s also what makes it so hard to prepare.
If all you want to do is crumble some fresh tofu over your favorite salad, you could probably survive without a tofu press. But if you want to experience the full range of culinary expression tofu has to offer, you absolutely need one of these machines.
That’s an environmental impact I couldn’t continue to perpetrate.
The first major benefit to owning a tofu press is the amount of water they can remove from your tofu. By applying gentle, even pressure across the block, you can safely and completely desaturate it. That primes it for two things: marinating and sautéing. If you drop a wet block of tofu into a marinade, it could take upwards of 24 hours for the flavors to truly impart themselves, as the water already present in the tofu will resist the new juices. A dry block, on the other hand, will drink your marinade like a wanderer lost in the desert. Water is also anathema to hot oil, and dropping wet tofu in a sauté pan will not only decrease the temperature of that oil, it will send little dollops of the searing stuff out into the area around the pan, potentially burning you and any nearby pets.
The next major benefit of a tofu press is less culinary and more environmental. If any of you are already members of the tofu choir, you know pretty much everything we’ve covered so far. But you also might be like I was up until about six months ago, when I was still using paper towels to dry out my tofu. Not only did this process require more time and physical work than a tofu press requires, it also ate an unconscionable amount of paper towels. That’s an environmental impact I couldn’t continue to perpetrate.
I will admit that I resisted the idea of a tofu press at first. It seemed like a unitasker — an item that only serves one purpose —, and I hate having those in my kitchen. At first, I tried to employ a good old bench vise to dry my tofu out, and, while the tool proved moderately effective, I never really felt like the tofu came away completely clean.
Fortunately, it turns out certain of these devices have additional uses. Some have compartments that can function like emergency strainers if your son is wearing your only colander as a space helmet and you need to wash some veggies. Others work in a fashion similar to a vise, but with completely flat interiors that can accommodate the shape of a tofu block. These you can use to press other materials, from dough to eggplant medallions, saving a lot of work for your back and arms.
Two Great Tofu Ideas
Whether you’re new to tofu, or you’ve been cooking with it for ages, a new recipe or two never hurt. These are admittedly rather loosely written, but the intention is for you to make them your own.
Heat up a little coconut oil over a medium-high flame, and add some crushed red pepper and sliced garlic. Then, drop in a whole block of pressed tofu and mash it into large pieces with a wooden spatula. Stir only once in a while over the course of about 20 minutes, letting the tofu stick to the pan and even burn a little.
Grab a couple blocks of pressed tofu and slice them once lengthwise.
Add a little more garlic right before you pour a shot or two of tequila over everything. This will deglaze the pan, allowing you to scrape any stuck tofu or garlic from the surface as you lower the heat significantly. Add in some black beans, diced tomatoes, and a can of vegetarian refried beans, then stir it all up, and you’ll have yourself a filling for enviable vegan tacos. Toss it in a toasted tortilla with some guacamole and enjoy!
Preheat your favorite oven to 400 degrees. Grab a couple blocks of pressed tofu and slice them once lengthwise. Then, cut them cross-wise every ¼-inch or so to create thin rectangles of tofu. Lay these out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Liberally apply sliced garlic, sliced tomatoes, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Finally pour a bit of aged balsamic vinegar over the whole thing and shove it in the oven. 20 minutes later, you’ll have a hot vegan caprice salad. You can serve it while hot, or let it cool and toss it in the fridge for your party later that night. Just make sure you hit it with a fresh splash of balsamic before you serve it.