Can you eat tofu right out of the package?

Tofu is a versatile ingredient that is made from soybeans. It’s commonly found in grocery stores sealed in plastic packaging and sold in blocks. Some people wonder if it’s safe or advisable to eat tofu straight from the package without any additional preparation. Here is a look at whether or not you can eat tofu right out of the packaging.

Quick Answer

Yes, it is perfectly safe to eat tofu directly from the package without any additional cooking or preparation. However, tofu has a better texture and flavor when it is prepared. Eating tofu plain out of the package provides protein but does not offer the ideal taste and texture.

Can You Eat Tofu Raw?

Tofu is unique in that it can be eaten either raw or cooked. Tofu sold in the grocery store has already undergone a heating process during production, even though it may not be cooked through when you purchase it. The soybeans are first ground and combined with water to make soy milk. Coagulants are then added to the soy milk to cause it to curdle and solidify into tofu.

During this heating process, harmful bacteria are eliminated, making raw tofu safe to eat. However, some varieties of tofu are better suited for cooking versus eating raw. Soft or silken tofu has a custard-like texture that can be enjoyable to eat raw. Firm or extra firm tofu has a spongier texture that benefits more from cooking.

Food Safety

As long as the tofu is still within the expiration date and has been stored properly, it is perfectly safe to eat straight from the package. Always check the expiration or “best by” date on the packaging and do not eat tofu past this date, as harmful bacteria could develop over time. Raw tofu from an unopened package that has been refrigerated can generally be safely eaten up to one week past the printed date.

Make sure tofu has been refrigerated at 40°F or below and has not been left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours before eating raw. The tofu packaging should not be bulging, cracked, or leaking, which could indicate spoilage. When stored and handled properly, eating raw tofu straight from the package poses no safety risks.


Eating tofu right out of the package can provide protein, minerals, and other nutrients. A 3-ounce serving of raw firm tofu contains:

  • 70 calories
  • 5 grams protein
  • 3 grams fat
  • 2 grams carbohydrates
  • 10% calcium
  • 6% iron

While not extremely high in vitamins and minerals, raw tofu direct from the package provides a protein boost along with some calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese, and selenium. It makes for a quick, nutritious snack in a pinch.

Texture and Flavor

Although safe and nutritious, eating tofu straight out of the package does not provide the best experience when it comes to texture and taste. Tofu comes packed in water, which dilutes the flavor. The spongy texture also leaves something to be desired for many when eating tofu plain.

Draining and pressing the tofu to remove excess water before marinating, seasoning, baking, frying, or otherwise preparing it results in a more concentrated flavor. The texture also improves with cooking methods that help make the tofu firmer, chewier, crispy or silky smooth.

Methods for Improving Tofu Texture

Here are some ways to alter the texture of plain raw tofu for a better mouthfeel:

  • Draining and pressing – Removing excess moisture makes tofu firmer.
  • Freezing and thawing – Freezing causes ice crystals to form and change the texture.
  • Pureeing – Blending or mashing makes a smooth consistency.
  • Marinating – Soaking in sauces and seasonings infuses flavor.
  • Baking/air frying – Dehydrates the tofu for a chewy texture.
  • Frying – Crisps up the outside of tofu cubes or slabs.

Tofu Cooking Methods

Some popular cooking methods that improve tofu texture and taste include:

  • Tofu scramble – Sauteed with spices and vegetables for a scramble substitute.
  • Teriyaki tofu – Baked or pan-fried with a sweet and salty glaze.
  • General Tso’s tofu – Fried with a spicy, sticky sauce.
  • Tofu tacos – Spiced and crisped tofu in tortillas or taco shells.
  • Tofu curry – Simmered in a curry-spiced coconut milk sauce.
  • Sesame tofu – Rolled in a flavorful sesame oil and ginger marinade.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to transforming plain raw tofu into delicious dishes. Preparation brings out the best in tofu’s flavor and texture.

Uses for Raw Tofu

While raw tofu straight from the package may not make the most appetizing stand-alone snack, it can be useful in some raw preparations:

  • Smoothies – Silken tofu blends well into fruit or vegetable smoothies.
  • Dips and spreads – Blended into hummus, ranch dressing, or dessert dips.
  • Protein shakes – Blended with protein powder, juice, milk, or yogurt for extra protein.
  • Chia pudding – Mixed into chia seeds for added protein and creaminess.
  • Overnight oats – Cubed raw tofu can be stirred into overnight oats.
  • Salad topping – Diced firm raw tofu on top of salads provides protein.

Tofu straight from the package works well in chilled preparations where the texture is less noticeable versus being the star of a hot dish. Blending it provides protein and creaminess to smoothies and dips.

Should You Rinse Tofu Before Eating?

Whether or not to rinse tofu before eating is a matter of personal preference. Generally, rinsing is only needed if using the tofu in a recipe uncooked. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Tofu is pasteurized during processing, so rinsing is not needed for safety.
  • The water in the package helps keep the tofu fresh.
  • Rinsing removes some of the water logging the texture.
  • A rinse can help remove excess soy whey or coagulants.
  • Pat dry after rinsing to prevent diluting flavor when marinating.

If you find the flavor of plain tofu unappealing, rinsing under cold running water for 30 seconds can help freshen it up. Just make sure to gently pat it dry before marinating or using in a recipe. There is no need to rinse if you will be cooking the tofu anyway.

How to Rinse Tofu

If rinsing, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the block of tofu from the package.
  2. Hold over a sink and gently rinse under cool running water for about 30 seconds per side.
  3. Carefully pat dry with paper towels or a clean dish towel.
  4. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.


While safe and edible straight from the package, tofu generally benefits from additional preparations to make it tastier and give it a better texture. Simple seasoning and cooking techniques transform plain raw tofu into a delicious ingredient. Tofu straight from the package works best blended into dips, smoothies, and shakes or diced as a salad topping where the texture is less noticeable. For the best flavor and experience, take the extra step to drain, marinate, bake, fry, or sauté this versatile soybean product.

Leave a Comment