Can you microwave Tofu? How to & Safety Concerns (Answered)

Just by googling the words ‘can tofu be microwaved’ you should already be very confused. A gazillion results on just one ingredient among which microwaving tofu is an unanswered but popular one. Sometimes I wonder if it’s a food ingredient or a politician because it seems like everybody has an opinion on Tofu these days, 

To press or not to press? To cook or to eat it raw? Pan-fried or microwaved? Silken or firm? So many daunting questions can leave you confused especially if you are just dipping your feet into the vegan world. Lucky for you, you’ve got me. I am going to help you navigate on what is the best way to prepare this delicious protein-packed treat.

Choosing Tofu can be a great alternative to meat. In fact, it is the protein source of choice for most vegetarians and vegans. Couple that with the fact that since it’s been in use by many Asian countries for ages you know you can count on them to find some delicious recipes using this fantastic ingredient. 

Simplify your life even further by using a microwave to prepare your tofu and you’d have what I’d like to call a recipe for convenience. 

Can you microwave Tofu?

The short answer would be: Yes, you can microwave tofu.

The more detailed answer would be, that microwaving tofu produces different results based on how you microwave it. It also depends on what you are looking to achieve in the final product. 

You can use a microwave for preparing your tofu if you want to:

  • Thaw out frozen tofu
  • “Cook” it before eating
  • Dry it out before pan-frying (as a quicker alternative to pressing)

With a slight variation in technique, you can easily microwave tofu in many ways. Let’s start by looking at these techniques one by one, shall we?

How to thaw frozen Tofu in the microwave?

Sometimes it’s just not possible to use up the entire tofu package, so in such a situation I usually prefer to freeze my tofu for later use. If you need to use your frozen tofu ASAP, you can zap it in the microwave. The beauty of this method is that it will only take about 8-12 minutes

  1. Take the tofu out of the freezer and remove the packaging. Place the frozen Tofu on a paper towel in a microwave-proof dish.
  2. Microwave it on high for 5 minutes or until defrosted. Check at regular intervals by piercing with a knife. 
  3. If your frozen tofu is in a huge chunk, i.e. not sliced up, I would make sure to check it after stopping the microwave in intervals to see if has been completely thawed in the middle. A knife inserted into the center will pass through the tofu easily when it has been defrosted all the way to the center.
  4. Allow it to cool for a couple of minutes before handling and using as desired.

Bonus Tip: How to store thawed Tofu?

Defrosted Tofu can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator. Just remember to cover the leftover tofu with cool, filtered, water, enough to submerge the entire surface underneath.

Store it in a tightly sealed container. Change the water daily to keep the tofu moist and fresh.

Storing the tofu in water helps prolong its shelf life and maintain its soft, spongy texture for several days

How to cook tofu in the microwave?

Tofu is made from soy milk just like cheese is made from dairy-based milk. 

Since tofu is technically a soy milk-based “cheese”, like any other cheese, it’s cooked and pasteurized before it’s packaged. You don’t necessarily need to cook it. It can safely be eaten raw, right out of the package. 

However, that bland “raw” taste doesn’t appeal to many people, which is why some people prefer to microwave it to reduce its “rawness” or cook it.

While microwaving tofu won’t give you a crispy golden outer layer as it would by baking or pan-frying, it’s still a great way to prep it to be served over rice and veggies.

Here’s how to make microwaved tofu for perfect results each time. You will need:

  • 1 block of tofu (any variety except silken works just fine)
  • Paper towels
  • Microwave-safe plate
  • microwave

Directions:

  1. Thinly slice the tofu into even strips.
  2. Microwave the tofu for around 5-6 minutes depending on your microwave power. 
  3. Flip the slices over and continue heating until the tofu slices look dehydrated and dry. But don’t go overboard that they look shriveled up and ready to snap.
  4. Remove as much of the water as you can by patting it dry with paper towels or pressing.
  5. Prepare your marinade or dip of choice. From here on your tofu is ready to eat. You could now let it sit in the marinade for a while to absorb all the flavors or serve it Asian style over rice and veggies with soy sauce poured over it.

Bonus Tip:

Use a tofu press to remove extra water from the tofu, so that it’s ready to take on more of the flavors of the marinade and sauces. It also helps to enhance the texture by making it more dense and delicious.

How to dry tofu in the microwave?

While using a tofu press is the traditional way of removing extra water from tofu, it can be a tad bit time-consuming, which can be especially cumbersome on days when you are in a hurry. 

This is why I love the microwave even more ever since finding out that I can use it as a quick and efficient way to dry and drain my tofu of the excess water without having to plan ahead aka leaving your tofu wrapped in paper towels to drain a day ahead of when you actually plan to eat it.

  1. Remove your tofu from the wrapper and place it in a microwave-safe container, preferably one which has a rim, like a bowl so all the excess drained water will not puddle in the microwave.
  2. Make sure you leave the container uncovered, we want the tofu water to evaporate and not create more moisture inside the tofu.
  3. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.
  4. Using oven mitts, remove the container and drain off the collected liquid at the bottom, being very careful because it will be hot. Keep on microwaving until you feel that the tofu has been dried to your liking.
  5. Once you feel that the tofu has dried, carefully remove the container from the microwave and allow the tofu to sit for about 5 minutes to cool down.
  6. Wrap it in paper towels and squeeze out any moisture until it feels dry and spongy.
  7. Your tofu is now ready to be marinated and used in cooking.

FAQ

What happens if you don’t press tofu?

Tofu is pressed to remove all the excess water inside. When you don’t press Tofu it won’t be able to absorb flavor as well and will have an overly soft and mushy texture which means it might get smushed when used in stir-fries etc.

You can still cook it and eat it, though, it won’t get crispy and develop that golden seared outer layer.

Microwave tofu instead of pressing to make life easier.

Why does my Tofu stick together while cooking?

Give your tofu a light coating or spray of oil before you start cooking. This will help prevent the tofu pieces from sticking together.

Microwaving tofu made me overcook it, what now?

Don’t worry, sometimes it’s easy to overcook tofu and make it tough. That doesn’t mean you have to toss it out though.

Make some soup or broth and toss those overcooked pieces of tofu into it. Not only will the added moisture soften it up again, but it will also give you a hearty filling meal as well.

Conclusion:

Tofu is one of those great things that can pack a big punch in your meals with just a little effort. Using a microwave to prepare your tofu makes it all the more easier. You can now dry, defrost and even cook your tofu with a microwave and life couldn’t have been easier.