Not only can you freeze tofu, you should.

February 03, 2021
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Slices of raw tofu
Credit: Aleksandra Novikova / Getty Images

Until fairly recently, my attempts to recreate the perfectly crispy tofu dishes I love to order from restaurants always turned into a mushy shadow of the dish I meant to prepare. But as my tofu education has continued, I realize how important getting as much water as possible out of the tofu helps to crisp it up in the pan, a feat you can accomplish in various ways. One way is to pop that tofu in the freezer. 

That sounds counterintuitive, I know. Water turns to ice in the freezer, it doesn't go away. I hear you. But it's a trick that more advanced tofu cooks swear by. When you freeze tofu, you do two things, starting with consolidating the water into ice crystals, so it's easier to drain when you thaw it out. Second, the ice crystals that form create small holes in the tofu, making it spongier and firmer and easier to crisp up and absorb flavors. Per Cook's Illustrated, tofu is 86 percent water. The freezing process is the easiest way I've found to eliminate as much water as you can for a crispier, more flavorful tofu dish. 

This method, it should be noted, works best with firm or extra-firm tofu, and less so with softer varieties. All you do is remove your tofu from its packaging, drain it, and freeze it in a resealable bag. You can freeze the tofu in one big block, but I find it's usually easier to slice it into roughly half-inch planes beforehand. Spread the slices in a single layer on a quarter sheet pan or plate and put them in the freezer until they're frozen through, a couple hours to overnight, and then transfer into a resealable plastic bag, or drain them and use in dishes like this Fried Tofu with Sesame-Ginger Sauce.

Another advantage of freezing tofu is that you can preserve it for much longer than in the fridge. Frozen, tofu will stay good for three months before it starts degrading in flavor and texture. You can thaw it in the fridge when you're ready to use it, drain it, and make crispy tofu every time.