What Does Tofu Taste Like? Ultimate Tofu Taste Guide


Everyone has heard about tofu. With many people cutting their meat consumption, plant protein foods like tofu are becoming more popular. Tofu is made of curdled soy milk and is often called “meat without bones” because it contains 8 g of protein per 100 grams, and almost no carbs or fat. If you want to become a vegetarian or vegan or just eat less animal-based food, tofu will be your go-to. Check out our article to find out what tofu actually tastes like, what texture it has, and what it is usually served with.

What does tofu taste like? Tofu has a rather bland and plain taste with subtle sweet soy notes. In cooking, tofu acts as a sponge and absorbs the flavor of other ingredients. To add flavor to tofu, marinate it in soy sauce and rice wine, or add your favorite hot sauce, minced garlic, or apple cider vinegar.

Ultimate Tofu Taste Guide

Does tofu taste good? By itself, tofu does not taste like anything. However, you can make tofu taste good by marinating it in soy sauce with herbs, or by baking, pan-frying, grilling, sauteeing, air-frying, or microwaving. Tofu absorbs the flavor of other ingredients, so be sure to add your favorite seasonings.

When you first try tofu, you might think it has a strange taste. However, tofu by itself does not really have a taste. Raw tofu is a little bit sweet, salty with nutty notes. However, raw tofu is not bitter or sour. Think of tofu like a sponge – it acquires the flavor of the food it is cooked with. If you marinate tofu in soy sauce, tofu will taste salty and savory. If you make crispy honey garlic tofu, tofu will be sweet and spicy.

Is tofu supposed to be sour? Fresh high-quality tofu is not supposed to taste sour, bitter, or too salty. Tofu should have a mildly sweet taste with buttery and creamy notes. However, by itself, tofu is rather plain, so it is fine for tofu to not have any taste when raw. If tofu has a sour smell, throw it out immediately.

On average, tofu does not have a sour taste. High-quality tofu is rather sweet and delicate than sour or bitter. If your tofu is too sour, check the expiry date on the package – it can be bad. If the expiry date is fine, tofu might taste sour due to improper storage. Tofu must be stored in the fridge in the original packaging without opening for 5 days after the “sell-by” date, while opened tofu can only last for 3 days in the fridge.

Why does tofu have a weird taste? Tofu might have a weird or even a disgusting taste if it has gone bad or was stored incorrectly. Before cooking, check the expiration date. Bad tofu has a brownish color and a strong sour and bitter taste, and a sour aroma. Tofu might also have a weird taste if you are not used to bland and basic food.

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Tofu can have a weird taste if you are not used to plain basic foods. If you are used to flavorful foods like steaks, mayonnaise-based salads, and curry, raw tofu will have a strange flavor. Luckily, tofu does not have to be plain – you can marinate it in your favorite sauce, add your favorite seasonings and pan-fry, sautee, bake, or even microwave tofu and enjoy your favorite flavors!

Tofu And Meat

Tofu is the main meat substitute for vegans and vegetarians due to its high protein content, but does tofu taste like meat? Raw tofu does not taste like meat, however, if you crumble and stir-fry tofu with minced garlic, soy sauce, and BBQ seasoning blend, tofu will become crispy and juicy, similar to ground pork and beef. Without seasonings, tofu is rather bland and tasteless.

While tofu can be cooked in a special marinade and fried or baked with BBQ or chicken seasonings, it will not taste exactly like chicken or pork. The main secret to making tofu taste like meat or chicken is to press the extra liquid out of the tofu! If you skip this step, tofu will be too watery and have a different texture to meat and chicken.

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Once you have drained tofu, crumble it and add 1-2 tbsp of cornstarch or plain flour to make it crispy. Then all you need to do is to pan-fry crumbled tofu with olive oil, add your favorite seasonings, herbs, and spices, and fry until tofu turns brown. Serve tofu with mashed potatoes, noodles, brown rice, or your favorite vegetables.

Tofu Texture

Does tofu have a weird texture? Tofu varies in texture from delicate, soft, and airy to dense and firm. High-quality tofu is usually plain and rather firm but you can buy soft tofu and eat it raw or add it to soups, stews, salads, desserts (puddings).

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Depending on the making process, tofu can be extra-firm, firm, soft, and silky soft. Tofu’s texture depends on the water content, and hence calories. The more water tofu has, the more airy and delicate it is. And vice versa, the less water, the firmer the tofu. On average, 100 g of tofu contains 76 calories but can go up to 140 calories if tofu is firm.

We like buying soft tofu as it has a delicate texture and tastes good in both sweet and savory dishes. Soft tofu tastes good in soups, salads, smoothies, vegetable and meat stews, or even eaten raw. Firm tofu can also go well in soups, smoothies, and stews, but can be too chewy when eaten raw. However, it is a matter of preferences.

Cooking Tofu: What Goes Well With Tofu?

What does tofu taste like when cooked? Tofu absorbs the flavor of the ingredients it was cooked with, so properly cooked tofu can be creamy, buttery, soft or crunchy, juicy, sweet, savory, spicy. Tofu tastes good when it is marinated in soy sauce with herbs and spices, but it tastes good as a dessert.

Tofu can be cooked in many ways. It can be grilled, baked, pan-fried, sauteed, microwaved, or even added to soups. Since tofu does not have its own pronounced flavor, it is a perfect ingredient for sweet and savory dishes. Here is a list of foods that go well with tofu: 

  • Brown rice
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Avocado
  • Cauliflower
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Soy sauce
  • Honey
  • Tomatoes
  • Bell pepper
  • Noodles
  • Quinoa
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Mushrooms
  • Chicken
  • Peanut butter
  • Sweet potatoes and kale
  • Blueberry smoothie
  • Zucchini

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To spice up the flavor of tofu, it is often cooked with garlic, bell pepper, onions, and even seaweed. Tofu is often added to soups, for example, in traditional Japanese Miso soup. Tofu is often added to vegetable stews and salads or fried in batter. Silky soft tofu is an inalienable ingredient of vegan desserts. If tofu is too soft, you can press and drain extra liquid.

Tofu goes well with any vegetable – tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, cucumbers, eggplant, mushrooms, potatoes, beans, legumes. Even though tofu is associated with vegans, it does not mean it is not suitable for those who like meat. Tofu goes well with pork, beef, chicken, duck, turkey, as well as with seafood (scallops, shrimp, crabs, salmon).

When making tofu, the choice is vast – you can make spicy tofu with creamy coconut sauce, sesame garlic tofu, honey sriracha tofu, peanut butter tofu, tofu, and pineapple skewers, tofu scramble, hot and sour tofu soup, seared tofu with mango and avocado, Thai tomato curry with tofu or even tofu puddings.

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Tofu Taste FAQ

What does tofu smell like?

Fresh tofu has a subtle salty and sour aroma, but you can barely smell it. If tofu has a pronounced sour aroma and has turned brownish, it has gone bad and needs to be thrown away. Cooked tofu takes on the smell of the ingredients it was cooked with, so it can smell sweet, savory, sour, or spicy.

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Does tofu melt like cheese?

Tofu does not melt like cheese. When heated, tofu retains its shape, so it should not be used as a cheese substitute in food when you are looking for melting properties. Instead, tofu has great caramelization properties and can be baked, fried, grilled, microwaved, and sauteed with sauces and herbs.

Why is tofu so disgusting?

Tofu tastes disgusting when it expires or goes bad due to improper storage. Tofu can also be disgusting if you are not used to plain food, so try marinating tofu in soy sauce with black pepper and serve it with brown rice, noodles, broccoli, mashed potatoes, avocado, tomatoes, cauliflower, and bell pepper.

How do you make tofu taste good?

Tofu needs to be marinated to taste good. Use soy sauce, rice vinegar, salt, black pepper, and a bit of plain flour and bake tofu for 25 minutes at 180°C. You can also pan-fry tofu to make it crispy on the outside and delicate inside.

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