How to make tofu tasty

Amy Wood - Nutritionist | 21 May, 2023

Everyone seems to have an opinion on tofu. Some people love it, others hate it, and based on a poll in the forums, many of you haven't tried it before. As tofu begins to make its way into Western diets as a plant-based source of protein, here's all you need to know about why tofu is a healthy choice, as well as 5 ways to cook it to make it taste great!

What is tofu?

Tofu, also known as bean curd, is derived from soya. To make it, soya milk is put through a coagulation, after which the solids are separated and pressed into a block. The process is rather similar to the cheesemaking process of curdling dairy milk. The process can be altered to determine the water content, and therefore the softness of the tofu. This means there are several different types of tofu, all good for different things:

  • Silken tofu: The softest of the tofus, as its water content is so high. It has a creamy texture similar to burrata cheese. Silken tofu falls apart easily so isn't suitable for frying, but great as a cream cheese substitute.
  • Regular: Creamy like silken tofu, but a little more solid and compact. It absorbs flavours well, so is often used in soups and stews in Asian cooking.
  • Firm: The most widely available form of tofu found in supermarkets. The consistency can be likened to that of feta cheese. It's the most versatile tofu, suitable for frying as well as adding to stews and sauces. You can find smoked and seasoned versions of firm tofu.
  • Extra-firm: Contains the least amount of water, creating almost a meaty texture. The lack of creaminess means it's not the best choice for blending, but it's the best texture for frying to make crispy tofu.

Tofu has been a staple in Chinese cuisine for over 2000 years, and also appears in many East-Asian and Southeast-Asian dishes. Its popularity in the West has increased with the rise of vegan and vegetarian diets.

Why is it good for us?

Tofu has a whole host of nutritional benefits – let's break some of the main ones down:

  • Source of protein: tofu makes an excellent source of plant-based protein, providing 8.1g of protein per 100g. Tofu is also a complete protein, meaning it provides all 9 essential amino acids that our bodies can't make themselves (read more on this here).
  • Low in saturated fat: tofu does contain a small amount of fat, but it's the good unsaturated kind, which has been linked with lower cholesterol levels. Unlike a lot of its meaty counterparts, there's almost no saturated fat in tofu, making it a great option if you're looking to lower your cholesterol.
  • High in calcium: tofu is naturally rich in calcium, containing half the reference nutrient intake per 100g. Calcium plays a vital role in maintaining good bone health as well as muscle contraction, blood clotting and nerve signalling. As the primary source of calcium in the diet is dairy products, vegans and plant-based eaters might struggle to meet their body's needs. Therefore tofu is a great option to include to give you a calcium boost!
  • Source of iron: another nutrient typically lacking in a vegan diet, iron is an integral part of haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries and delivers oxygen around the body. It's also a key component of the protein that gets oxygen into our muscles. 100g of tofu contains 62% of the average man and postmenopausal woman's daily iron needs, and 36% of the average premenopausal woman's needs. It's important to note that this type of iron isn't as well absorbed by the body, so it's best to eat your tofu alongside some vitamin C, found in citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables, to help boost absorption.
  • Contains antioxidants: tofu is also famed for its isoflavone content. Isoflavones are powerful antioxidants, which have been linked with prevention and delay of cell damage. Its these antioxidants that can also behave similarly to the female sex hormone oestrogen. You might have heard that eating soy-based foods can help to ease menopausal symptoms like hot flushes, as well as protecting bone health following the menopause, although the evidence for this remains to be conclusive.

5 tasty ways to use tofu

1 Bake it

Teriyaki tofu

Crispy teriyaki tofu

Serves 2 - 488 kcals per serving Teriyaki tofu

Kcals 488
Fat 9.3g
Sat fat 1.4g
Carbs 85.7g
Sugar 11.8g
Fibre 6.5g
Protein 19.6g
Salt 0.97g

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  • 200g extra firm tofu
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 4 tsp reduced-salt soy sauce
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • Low-cal cooking spray
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 150g basmati rice
  • 160g broccoli florets
  • 3 spring onions, diced
  • Sesame seeds, to garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/Gas mark 6. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Wrap the tofu block in kitchen towel and sandwich between two plates for 30 minutes to press out the moisture.
  3. Cut the tofu block into 1-inch cubes. Place in a bowl with 1 tsp of the soy sauce and sesame oil and stir in. Sprinkle on the cornflour to coat. This is the key to a crispy texture.
  4. Spread the tofu cubes over the baking parchment and pop the tray in the oven for 30 minutes, turning halfway through.
  5. Meanwhile, cook your rice according to packet instructions. Put your broccoli in to steam or boil for around 5 minutes, depending on your texture preference.
  6. To make the teriyaki sauce, add the garlic to a pan coated with low-cal cooking spray over a medium heat. Fry off until starting to turn golden, then add in the remaining soy sauce and the rice vinegar. Finally, tip in the sugar and stir until dissolved.
  7. Serve your rice in warm bowls topped with the tofu, then a drizzle of teriyaki sauce and garnish with spring onions and sesame seeds.

2 Barbecue it

Tofu skewers

BBQ tofu skewers

Makes 8 - 75 kcals per serving Tofu skewers

Kcals 75
Fat 2.6g
Sat fat 0.4g
Carbs 8.1g
Sugar 6.5g
Fibre 0.4g
Protein 4.7g
Salt 0.27g

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  • 300g extra firm tofu
  • 175g barbecue sauce


  1. Wrap the tofu block in kitchen towel and sandwich between two plates for 30 minutes to press out the moisture.
  2. Cut the tofu into 32 cubes. Coat well in the barbecue sauce.
  3. After soaking 8 skewers, thread 4 coated tofu cubes onto each.
  4. Fire up the barbecue and grill each skewer for a few minutes each side until there are grill marks on the tofu and the sauce has caramelised. Each time you turn, brush some extra barbecue sauce on the tofu.

3 Blend it

Creamy spaghetti

Creamy mushroom spaghetti

Serves 4 - 478 kcals per serving Creamy spaghetti

Kcals 478
Fat 17.7g
Sat fat 3.2g
Carbs 54.3g
Sugar 4.1g
Fibre 10.4g
Protein 21.9g
Salt 0.71g

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  • 100g cashew nuts
  • 250g silken tofu
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 300g wholewheat spaghetti
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 300g mushrooms, sliced
  • 100g spinach, roughly chopped


  1. Place your cashews in a heat-proof bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for 30 minutes.
  2. Drain the cashews and tip them into a blender or food processor. Crumble in the tofu, then add the lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic, basil, salt and pepper, reserving a couple of basil leaves. Blend until smooth.
  3. Cook your spaghetti according to packet instructions, reserving a cup of the pasta water.
  4. Meanwhile, place a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Once hot, add in the olive oil. Tip in the mushrooms and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are golden brown. Add in the spinach and stir frequently for a further minute until the spinach wilts.
  5. Drain your spaghetti and then return it to the hot pan. Tip in your creamy sauce and stir well to coat, leaving the pan over a low heat to warm the sauce through. Splash in a little of the reserved pasta water to loosen if needed.
  6. Stir in the mushrooms and spinach until well combined, then serve garnished with some more fresh basil leaves.

4 Shred it

Tofu layered wrap

Shredded tofu layered wrap

Serves 2 - 461 kcals per serving Tofu layered wrap

Kcals 461
Fat 22.8g
Sat fat 4.3g
Carbs 44.3g
Sugar 9.9g
Fibre 9.2g
Protein 16.9g
Salt 2.0.8g

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For the tofu:

  • ½ block firm tofu
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp reduced-salt soy sauce
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 30g barbecue sauce
  • 30ml water

To serve:

  • 2 seeded tortillas
  • ½ avocado
  • 60g reduced-fat houmous
  • 100g roasted red peppers, drained


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/Gas mark 4. Drain and pat dry the tofu (no need to press). Use a cheese grater to shred the tofu.
  2. Spread out on a lined baking tray. Pour over the oil, soy sauce, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion granules and cumin. Use your hands or a fork to mix thoroughly.
  3. Bake in the oven for 25-35 minutes, stirring halfway through, until browned.
  4. Heat the barbecue sauce and water in a small saucepan, then mix into the tofu.
  5. Now assemble your wraps. Lay your tortilla flat and made an incision from the bottom edge to the middle of the wrap. Now visualise your tortilla in four sections. In the bottom right section, add ¼ mashed avocado. In the top right, add your barbecue tofu. In the top left, add 30g reduced-fat houmous, and finally, in the bottom left, add 50g roasted red peppers from a jar (see image).
  6. Take the bottom right section with the avocado and fold up on top of the tofu section. Then fold this section across on top of the houmous. Finally, fold the wrap down over the peppers to create a layered wrap. Serve right away, or chill and eat within 3 days.

5 Scramble it

Tofu scramble

Scrambled tofu with sourdough

Serves 1 - 423 kcals per serving Tofu scramble

Kcals 423
Fat 20.5g
Sat fat 2.8g
Carbs 34g
Sugar 7.1g
Fibre 9.8g
Protein 24.9g
Salt 1.14g

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  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ small onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 80g mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tomato, cut into chunks
  • 200g firm tofu
  • Pinch of salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 60g wholemeal sourdough, toasted


  1. Place a frying pan over a medium heat and add the oil.
  2. Once hot, add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until starting to soften. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  3. In a bowl, use a fork to crumble the tofu into small pieces. Add to the pan along with the tomato, salt, pepper, paprika and turmeric.
  4. Mix all the ingredients together and cook for 5-10 minutes until piping hot.
  5. Serve with the toasted sourdough and parsley.

Nutritionist Amy Wood (ANutr), MSci BSc Nutrition has a keen interest in the relationship between diet and health. Having been published in the European Journal of Nutrition, Amy is passionate about making evidence-based nutrition accessible to everyone and helping others to adopt a food-focused approach to taking control of their health.

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