Tofu is a soy-based meat alternative frequently used by culinary professionals and home chefs alike. “The ability to store tofu products for a longer period of time and a lesser level of perishability are key factors” driving the surge of its popularity, according to a recent report by Market Research Future. However, many struggle with learning how to make this alternative protein source as palatable as the tasty morsels that others masterfully serve up.
One common prep misstep involves failing to remove the excess water inside many pre-packaged tofu blocks prior to marinating, baking, or grilling, which causes it to lose its shape, fall apart, and fail to absorb additional flavor. For optimal taste and texture—especially when frying—those who are looking to regularly incorporate this plant-based staple into meal planning would be wise to opt for a tofu press.
“Tofu pressing is a very easy process that will help your tofu absorb flavor and hold its shape while cooking,” states Lauren Montelbano, personal chef and holistic nutritionist at The Vibrant Veg.
To help you find the best prep tools for your next vegetarian meal, we sent top-rated tofu presses to our experienced product tester. Each one was used to press different types of tofus, including the medium and extra-firm varieties. Then, the tofu presses were all rated on design, material, performance, ease of cleaning, and overall value.
Ahead, our list of the best tofu presses.
EZ Tofu Press
Larger surface area
Tofu fully pressed in 15 minutes
No drainage plate or area
Ease of use, time efficiency, and fast-drying time are major selling points of this budget-friendly model. The EZ Tofu Press can press a small or large block of tofu in under 15 minutes, thanks to the ability to increase the pressure level every two to three minutes via hand-controlled knobs. Product components are made out of “USDA-approved” BPA-free plastic and stainless steel. Other major pluses during hands-on testing included being able to fit an assortment of tofu block sizes, having centering marks to ensure proper placements, and doubling as a press for paneer.
Price at time of publish: $25
Material: Stainless steel grommets and BPA-free plastic | Dimensions (LxWxH): 9 x 5.25 x 4 inches | Dishwasher-safe? Yes
"Because it requires very little assembly, it is so easy to clean and very straightforward in terms of how to use it." — Rachel Werner, Product Tester
Yarkor Tofu Press
Easy to use
Full press takes at least two hours
Simple functionality, compact size, and a drainage feature make this tofu press a solid buy. A built-in spring mechanism will gradually press the moisture out of standard 16 oz tofu blocks. Most users recommend allowing the tofu to remain overnight or at least for several hours before cooking, since once the block is fully secured inside, no other “hands-on” action is needed. Fave features include being fully dishwasher-safe and the bottom tray that collects surplus water as it drips out, preventing spills on counters or in the fridge. It’s also a solid choice as a "starter" press for anyone in the process of learning how to prepare tofu for a variety of dishes. The manufacturer also offers a 100% money-back guarantee for one month after purchase.
Price at time of publish: $24
Material: BPA-free plastic | Dimensions (LxWxH): 7.09 x 5.12 x 3.94 inches | Dishwasher-safe? Yes
"I appreciate how quickly a press can be done with this one (if one needs to get a meal made in less than 25-30 minutes), as well as the fact that none of the components ever needs to be washed by hand." — Rachel Werner, Product Tester
Grow Your Pantry Bamboo Tofu Press
Drip tray included
Tofu fully pressed in 15 minutes
An assortment of “extras,” such as a drainage tray, storage bag, and a recipe e-book, are useful accessories bundled with this pick. A bamboo is naturally an antibacterial material, the press is an economical and hygienic option for eco-conscious shoppers. The product also comes with easy-to-follow instructions in addition to all necessary tools, which makes putting it together—and taking it apart—a cinch. The earthy vibe also prevents it from being an eyesore for those who prefer to leave the press in a ready-to-use position on countertops. Thus, being eco-friendly in terms of design and aesthetic makes this tofu press a suitable choice for any home cooks who prioritize purchasing sustainable kitchenware.
Price at time of publish: $30
Material: Bamboo | Dimensions (LxWxH): 11.61 x 6.57 x 2.99 inches | Dishwasher-safe? No
"Being eco-friendly in terms of design and aesthetic makes this tofu press a suitable choice for any home cooks for whom sustainability is major priority." — Rachel Werner, Product Tester
TofuXpress Gourmet Tofu Press
Can be refrigerated
Extra tension springs sold separately
Drain and season in the same compartment with this dual-purpose press. Being able to use this product to press and marinate tofu is quite handy. Owners rave about how easy it is to clean, in addition to the convenience of the overall design. The tofu can be left in the bottom compartment after the initial moisture is eliminated to then be prepped with other sauces, herbs, and more—then simply popped into the fridge (prior to cooking). The model’s design also lends itself well to withdrawing liquid from yogurt, spinach, eggplant, and cabbage.
Price at time of publish: $45
Material: FDA-approved thermoplastic and stainless steel | Dimensions (LxWxH): 5 x 5 x 5 inches | Dishwasher-safe? Yes
"This press really only works well with a standard size tofu block. The springs can't really be adjusted to evenly press shorter blocks/different shapes." — Rachel Werner, Product Tester
Best Stainless Steel
Raw Rutes Ninja Tofu Press
Easy to clean
Durable and long-lasting
More expensive than other models
As versatile as it is sleek, it earns its "Ninja" moniker by being too dynamic to be hidden away in the kitchen cupboard. The spring-, screw-, and rubberband-less design not only results in a more minimalist look when it comes to form, but also streamlines the pressing process. The magic is in the weighted top, which does the heavy lifting in terms of extracting water from tofu blocks and canned veggies, and it can be used to create tofu and paneer cheese at home. Another added perk is that the food-grade stainless steel is actually partially composed of recycled materials. The contemporary chrome exterior will also not look out of place on kitchen countertops with an upscale vibe.
Price at time of publish: $105
Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions (LxWxH): 4.1 x 3.1 x 2.5 inches | Dishwasher-safe? Yes
"If looking for a press that actually wouldn't look awkward (or out of place) sitting on the countertop when not in use, this is the one to purchase." — Rachel Werner, Product Tester
For the most hassle-free tofu making, we recommend the Yarkor Tofu Press, thanks to its simple functionality, affordability, compact size, and drainage feature. We also love the dual functionality of the TofuXpress Gourmet Tofu Press, which removes moisture and marinates tofu all in the same compartment.
How We Tested
Our selected tofu presses were tested for hours by our product tester for the most authentic results. We paid close attention to the design, material, performance, ease of cleaning, and overall value of the presses. We made careful note of how effectively the products pressed the moisture out of different blocks of tofu, and whether the material was of durable quality. We also rated based on its convenience factors—whether it made everyday kitchen functions easier and better.
What to Look for in a Tofu Press
The majority of tofu presses are constructed with two flat plates or in the shape of a box. Ideally, look for one that has small recesses that will allow the bolt heads to sit flush into the bottom plate. That will result in the press being able to sit flat on the counter. Some presses are not manufactured with such recesses, so plastic or metal bolts are then in direct contact with the surface it's sitting on top of, making it easy for scratches or dents to occur on countertops when used.
Tofu presses come in a range of different materials, including plastic, bamboo, and stainless steel. Plastic presses are the most affordable and the simplest to use and clean. Bamboo presses are preferred by some due to their anti-bacterial properties—it's the ideal choice for the eco-conscious. And stainless steel presses are undoubtedly the most durable and strong. We recommend this for users who plan on making frequent use of their tofu press and want maximum extraction power.
Many presses have plastic knobs or tiny wing nuts that can be difficult to grip when tightening to apply pressure on tofu blocks. Look for ones that are made out of brass, steel, or bamboo and are large enough that your hand will be able to get sufficient leverage to turn tightly.
How do you press tofu?
Here are the specific steps that Lauren Montelbano, personal chef and holistic nutritionist at The Vibrant Veg, recommends following:
Step 1: Wrap the tofu block in the tea towel to absorb the moisture as it releases, or prior to placing in a press.
Step 2: Place the wrapped block in the press or on one of the plates/baking sheets, and cover with the second plate or baking sheet.
Step 3: Press for at least 30 minutes, although the longer, the better. It can even be left overnight so that it's ready and waiting for you in the morning.
Step 4: Remove the tofu, slice or cube it, and marinate.
Optional step: You can also slice the block in half before pressing if desired, to help to get more moisture out of the tofu.
Do you have to press tofu?
“If you are trying to have a delicious, flavorful tofu, I would highly recommend pressing your tofu before you marinate it,” explains Montelbano. “This will remove the water and allow you to replace it with flavor. Tofu isn't as absorbent before you press it, because it's waterlogged, so once you remove that excess moisture, it becomes like a dry sponge ready to soak up additional liquid.”
How do you store tofu after pressing?
Montelbano says that pre-pressed tofu can be stored in an airtight container for a few hours if need be. “However, in my opinion, it is best to get it into a marinade right away, because it will need to remain in the marinade for at least 30 to 60 minutes,” she says.
Do you have to press every type of tofu?
Medium and extra firm tofu both do well with pressing, but Montelbano does not recommend pressing silken or soft tofu ever, “unless you want a mushy mess on your hands.”
Can you buy tofu that's already been pressed?
“Yes. Tofu that is vacuum-sealed is almost always pre-pressed,” Montelbano says. “It's usually already marinated, too.”
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Rachel Werner is an eco-conscious vegan and culinary writer who has been profiling farmers, chefs, restaurants, and food-based businesses for over seven years. Her enthusiasm for plant-based cooking is evident in the content she’s created for a variety of regional and national publications, such as TheKitchn, Fabulous Wisconsin, BRAVA, and Hobby Farms Magazine. See examples of Rachel’s work behind the camera via the vegan lifestyle Instagram account @trulyplanted.
- Lauren Montelbano, personal chef and holistic nutritionist at The Vibrant Ve