Tofu is the perfect vehicle for countless plant-based meals. Too often, though, it comes out bland and soggy when cooked at home, a far cry from the flavorful and even crispy tofu you find in restaurants. If you’ve ever been disappointed by your tofu efforts at home, chances are you didn’t press your tofu before cooking it. While it’s possible to press tofu between two paper towel-lined plates, there’s an easier and more effective way to do it. The best tofu presses gently and thoroughly extract excess water from store-bought tofu, getting it ready for any number of preparations.
So what should you look for in a tofu press? Think about the pressing mechanism, and what feels most comfortable for you. Pressing can happen via a weight or an upper plate that is tightened with screws or a twisting function — both of which force excess water from the tofu.
Plastic presses are easy to care for and clean, just be sure to pick a durable model that can hold up to repeated use. (I've got you covered there.) If you’re a life-long tofu eater (and have no plans to stop), you may want to consider a model made from stainless steel. They can be considerably more expensive, but will last for years of frequent use.
The best tofu presses prepare packaged tofu so it can absorb flavorful marinades and sauces or be dry enough to pan fry. No matter if you’re baking, grilling, or stir-frying it, the tofu presses below will seriously upgrade your tofu cooking at home.
Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle's editorial and sales departments.
1. The Overall Best Tofu Press: TofuXpress Gourmet Tofu Press/Marinating Dish
This press from TofuXpress is made of durable, food-grade plastic, and is compact and easy to use. It uses a spring-loaded screw to lower an upper plate onto the tofu to extract liquid, which is contained neatly inside the press. Extracted liquid can then be poured-off, which is a less messy process compared to some other presses, which need to drain over a container or bowl. Once the tofu has been pressed, it can conveniently be marinated or stored directly in the press until ready to cook.
According to one reviewer: "If you eat tofu at home at all this is so so worth it. Even compared to a regular tofu press (and obviously compared to plates and heavy objects), this blows all that out of the water. It is so simply and so clean that it is really worth it. I just stick a tofu brick in the fridge and maybe drain it once when I remember to and then the next day I have perfectly pressed tofu WITHOUT any mess or annoying thing to take care of."
2. The Best Splurge: Raw Rutes Stainless Steel Tofu Press
This stainless steel tofu press from Raw Rutes is an investment, but the best pick for tofu devotees who frequently prepare tofu at home. Whether you prefer not to use plastic or just want something super durable, this stainless steel press is made in the United States and built to last. Pressing happens via a heavy 5-pound weighted plate that gently removes liquid, while retaining tofu’s shape after liquid has been released. Small slats in the press allow liquid to drain out into a sink, bowl, or other container, so tofu is dry and ready for seasoning.
According to one reviewer: "This is truly a beautiful item and does a great job of getting liquid out of the tofu. Today I got the frozen tofu from the freezer, thawed it, and pressed it. (By the way, you are not really pressing the tofu. The heavily weighted top piece does the work!) After pressing the block, I sliced it and again pressed the slices. What a super easy tool to change water-pack tofu into a form that can be used in so many ways. For a few years I have done the manual method, thinking save my money and do my own thing. I am glad I decided to go for it and pay for an all stainless steel, 5-star quality tofu press."
3. The Best Value: EZ Tofu Press
This press from EZ Tofu Press is just that — simple in its construction and impossible to mess up. It’s the closest thing to placing tofu between two weighted plates, and functions a bit like a flower press by using two adjustable screws at either end. It’s generous size with open sides can fit tofu blocks of all sizes, whether small, rectangular sprouted varieties, or larger squares. The one potential drawback of the open sides? If too much pressure is used, delicate tofu can break or crumble. Like the stainless steel pick, it also needs to drain over a plate or sheet pan to catch excess liquid. With 1,900 Amazon reviews and a 4.6-star rating, this bare-bones tofu press is tried and true, and will get the job done.
According to one reviewer: "Absolutely love this. Makes perfectly firm tofu, is easy to use, and has totally changed my tofu game. Use it at least once and a week!! Prior to this had never managed to get firm tofu even with the many books and cans on a towel method. This is a no brainer!!!"