Make Your Own Tofu

A homemade version of the vegetarian centerpiece

Tofu can be nutritional, versatile, and delicious, if it’s made right. It can also be mediocre, rubbery, and dull-tasting, if it’s done wrong. Most of the versions lining the grocery store shelves fall into the latter bucket. We have good news: You can make fresh tofu at home. More good news: It’s easy.
» Download and print these instructions

Getting Started

We’re assuming that you already have basic tools lying around (such as cutting boards, bowls, a large 15- to 20-quart pot, and measuring cups), so here are the special ingredients and equipment that you’ll need. We found soybeans at our local Whole Foods; try any health food store with a good bulk section.

  • 1 pound dried soybeans (about 3 cups)
  • 1 (1/2 gallon) empty paper milk or juice carton
  • Resealable plastic bags
  • Masking or electrical tape
  • Cheesecloth (at least 1 square yard)
  • 1 pound of small weights
    (dried beans or pie weights work well)
  • Thermometer
  • 2 teaspoons powdered nigari
    (see sidebar at right for other coagulants)
  • Cooling rack
  • Fine mesh strainer

» Next: Make the Soy Milk

Tip: What’s in a Name

There are two broad categories of tofu on the market: regular and silken. This recipe makes regular tofu. Silken has a more custardy texture, and to make it you would let the curds sit undisturbed in the mold. Use silken tofu in this smoothie recipe.

On Coagulation

Making tofu isn’t so very different from making cheese. First you make a liquid, in this case soy milk, by soaking, pulverizing, and cooking soybeans. Then you add a coagulant, which encourages curds to form.

Various ingredients can act as coagulants, from regular old vinegar to things you are less likely to have lying around, such as calcium sulfate (gypsum).

In our tests, we tried a few coagulants, and were most content with the tofu that we made with powdered nigari, a natural coagulant made from extracting magnesium chloride from seawater. It can be purchased online or in health food stores.

We also tried lemon juice (1/4 cup lemon juice dissolved in 1 cup water) and Epsom salt (2 teaspoons salt dissolved in 1 cup water). While both were acceptable, the tofu made with nigari was firmer. The lemon juice produced a tangier tofu.

Related Recipes

Show off your homemade tofu in these recipes.

Asian-y Tofu Scramble

Chilled Tofu Salad with Miso-Ginger Vinaigrette

Saag Tofu

See more articles