Skip to content

Tofu Preparation Tips

The Humane Society of the United States

February 16, 2023

Tofu Prep 4x3

Did you know that tofu is creditable in the CACFP as a meat/meat alternate? 2.2 ounces (1/4 cup) of commercially prepared tofu, containing at least 5 grams of protein, is creditable as 1.0-ounce equivalent meat alternate. Including Tofu is a great way to diversify your menus and adjust for participants with special diets! Our partners at the Humane Society of the United States have great tip sheet to help you get started serving tofu. 


What is Tofu? 

Tofu is made from soybeans and is known across the world for its nutritional benefits and versatility. Tofu, also known as bean curd, is made when soybeans are soaked then pureed, cooked and filtered through cloth. This process makes soy milk which then forms curds. Those curds are pressed into tofu blocks. Tofu is high in protein and fiber. It’s a low-fat, low-sodium, and cholesterol-free superfood. Like other protein foods, it absorbs the flavors of marinades, spices, and other ingredients when cooked. 

Types of Tofu 

There are two main types of tofu: regular and silken. It is important to differentiate types of tofu for crediting. Firm, or extra firm tofu, found in many dishes from stir fry to omelets, are creditable in the CACFP. Soft or silken tofu varieties, commonly added to smoothies and baked desserts, are not creditable in the CACFP. 

Regular tofu (Chinese style), usually sold in plastic containers and is refrigerated, is most commonly used in stir-fry’s, baked or grilled dishes, tofu scramble, sandwiches, etc. Regular tofu can be found in a variety of consistencies ranging from soft to extra firm.  

Silken tofu (Japanese style), is often sold in shelf-stable boxes that do not require refrigeration. Though silken tofu is much more delicate than regular tofu, it can also be found in consistencies ranging from soft to extra firm. It does not require pressing and is best used for smoothies, sauces, mousse pies, etc. It is important to note that this type of tofu is not creditable in the CACFP. 


How to Prepare Tofu 

  1. Open and drain tofu. 
  2. Two ways to press tofu 
    • Simple: after draining tofu, wrap in towels and place tofu between plates with a heavy object on top to weigh down and press out water. 
    • Foodservice: place tofu block(s) in a perforated hotel pan then put that into a regular hotel pan that fits. Add another regular hotel pan on top of the tofu and place two #10 cans of vegetables or beans (or heavy pans/pots) on top to evenly weigh down the tofu to press out water. 
    • Let sit for 15-30 minutes. 
  3. If there’s time, freezing overnight will help to draw out moisture and firm up the tofu. 
    • To freeze, place tofu in package into freezer. This will draw out water but also lengthens the time allowed to use the tofu. 
    • When ready to use, defrost completely by either placing in refrigerator for 24+ hours or by submerging in a large bowl of very warm water for at least an hour, changing water a couple of times to keep warm. 
    • Once defrosted, open and drain tofu. 

Tofu can be marinated or seasoned in any flavor profile desired. It can be baked, grilled, air-fried, and steamed.   

*Tofu can also be fried, however deep-fat fried foods that are prepared on-site cannot be part of the reimbursable meal. For this purpose, deep-fat frying means cooking by submerging food in hot oil or other fat. Foods that are pre-fried, flash-fried, or par-fried by a commercial manufacturer may be served, but must be reheated by a method other than frying. 


To learn more, read the Humane Society of the United States’ Tofu Preparation Tips and/or watch their video “There are many ways to prepare tofu.” You can also reference a previous blog by NCA to read about Crediting Tofu. NCA also has multiple great recipes using tofu including: Tofu Tacos and Tofu Musubi.