Tofu is one of the healthiest protein options around. It’s also one of the most versatile. You can transform it into vegan wings, blend it into a creamy sauce, and use it in your stir-fry. With all the different types of tofu available at the grocery store, the only problem is trying to figure out which one you should bring home with you.
The next time you find yourself staring at the tofu section, use this guide to learn about your options and decide which one is best fit for the recipe you’re going to make.
The Most Popular Types of Tofu—and When to Use Them
Out of all the different types of tofu, silken is the smoothest and most watery. Because of that, it works great in dips, sauces (like Alfredo sauce!), smoothies, puddings, and salad dressings. It can even be used as a cream cheese in dairy-free cheesecakes, or as an egg replacement in baked goods.
While soft tofu is more compact than silken tofu, it’s still smooth and watery. This tofu doesn’t work well for pan-fried dishes because it has a tendency to crumble. What it does work great for, though, is making a vegan scramble. It also works great in soups (it’s commonly used in miso soup!) and blended into sauces and dressings.
3. Firm and Extra-Firm
Firm and extra-firm tofu are very similar. The only difference? Firm tofu absorbs marinades better. Both types can easily be crumbled, and after pressing the water out, they’re great for pan-frying. Most dishes you make will use this kind—especially if you’re baking, frying, or slathering it in a sauce. Because of how popular it is, it’s very easy to find in grocery stores.
Super-firm tofu is the densest form of tofu. Instead of coming packed in water like other varieties, it’s typically pre-pressed and ready to cook with, saving you time when you’re cooking. Like firm and extra-firm varieties, it’s great for baking, pan-frying, and putting in the air-fryer—and it gets extra crispy. It also makes for a perfect mock meat. The only problem is it can be harder to find, depending on where you go. (Pro Tip: Trader Joe’s has some great options.)