How to Make Tofu

  • Start to Finish: 14 hours
  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Difficulty level: Intermediate

Making your own tofu isn't a difficult process, but it can be a long one. To make the tofu completely from scratch, you first need to make your own soy milk and then separate the milk into curds and whey. Adapted from America's Test Kitchen, this recipe will take you through the steps of both processes.


For the Soy Milk

  • 1 pound (approximately 2 cups) dry soybeans
  • Fresh water

For the Tofu

  • About 2 liters homemade or store-bought soymilk
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice

Make the Soy Milk

Pour the soybeans into a large bowl or plastic container. Pour over enough fresh water to cover them by an inch or two. Soak the soybeans in the refrigerator overnight or for about 12 hours.

Drain the soaked soybeans using your colander, and rinse them with fresh water. Then blend the soybeans in 1-cup small batches, using 3 cups of fresh water with every cup of beans. Blend or process thoroughly until the mixture is smooth and milky.

Transfer the blended batches into a large pot or Dutch oven as you go. Place the pot on the stove and warm it on high heat until it reaches a boil. Turn the heat down to medium and allow the mixture to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Pause to stir it every few minutes with a wooden spoon.

Turn off the heat and pour the hot mixture into a large bowl through a fine-mesh strainer. The strainer should collect the soybean pulp, called okara, and leave behind the fresh soy milk.

Make the Tofu

Pour your soy milk back into the large cooking pot or Dutch oven on the stove. Turn the heat to high and wait until the milk reaches a boil. As soon as it does, turn off the heat and add the lemon juice to the pot. Stir gently to distribute it, then let the mixture sit for five minutes.

Stir the mixture again and look for curds -- small solid portions of the milk -- beginning to separate from the whey, which will be clear. If you don't see any signs of separation, add a tablespoon or two more lemon juice, stir gently, and let the mixture sit again for five to 10 minutes.

After the curds and whey have separated, pour the mixture into a nut milk bag or a colander lined with layers of cheesecloth. Gather the loose portion of the bag or cheesecloth and squeeze the solid portion with tongs to drain off excess whey.

Place the mesh bag back in the colander and put a large bowl on top of it, inside the colander. Then place a heavy object, such as a medicine ball, inside the bowl. Let the tofu drain and cool in the sink for 20 to 45 minutes.

Remove the weight and the bowl and unmold the tofu into the bowl. Fill the bowl with cold water and let the tofu soak for several minutes to further firm up. Slice and use the tofu immediately or store it in the fridge, surrounded by cold water in an airtight container, for up to a week.