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Mind-Blowing Red Lentil Tofu (soy-free, easy, 1 ingredient)

My Mind-Blowing Red Lentil Tofu will rock your world! It is soy-free, high protein, super-easy, versatile, & made with 1 ingredient (plus water, and optional salt).

two white bowls on a marble countertop, one filled with red lentils and the other with red lentil tofu

Soy-Free Tofu made with Lentils

I am so excited about this post!

I wrote about my renewed affection for tofu a few years ago when I published my recipe for chickpea flour tofu (also known as Bumese tofu). It is a game changer! Soy-free, easy-to-make, and delicious, it opened a wealth of new eating options.

Now I’ve created a brand new, soy-free tofu that is 100% my creation. It is delicious, versatile, and neutral in flavor, perfect for any and all recipes that call for tofu. It is also easy to make, requires no special equipment, and is made with one inexpensive, readily-available ingredient.

Introducing my Mind-Blowing Red Lentil Tofu!

It’s pretty in pink, too.

white dish filled with cubes of red lentil tofu

Recipe Benefits

You will want to run to the store to purchase a bag of red lentils ASAP because this remarkable tofu is:

  • Soy-free
  • Vegan (no eggs, no dairy)
  • Grain-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Oil-free
  • Nut-free
  • Seed-free
  • High in protein (9 grams per serving)
  • High in fiber (10.5 grams per serving)
  • Low calorie (128 calories per large serving)
  • Easy to make
  • Frugal
  • Made with 1 ingredient (plus water & optional salt)

Ingredients for the Red Lentil Tofu

A complete list of the ingredients, with amounts and instructions, is located in the recipe card below.

over head shot of two glass bowls, one filled with red lentils and one with salt

The only ingredient needed to make this tofu is dried red lentils.

The red lentils available in the United States are typically labeled “red lentils,” but they are actually split red lentils (see the photo above).

If you live in another country, or purchased your red lentils at an International or Indian market, you might have whole or split red lentils. Both varieties work. The recipe does not need to be adjusted, but for accuracy, weigh the lentils (141 grams, whether split or whole).

Making the recipe also requires regular tap water. I recommend adding salt to the tofu, but it is optional (and/or adjustable) depending on your needs and tastes.

Step by Step Instructions

Let’s make some tofu! It is super-easy.

Step One: Rinse the Lentils

Place the lentils in a colander or mesh sieve and rinse under cold water. This removes any dust or debris from the dried lentils.

Step Two: Quick-Soak the Lentils

a blender container filled with soaked, plumped red lentils

Combine the lentils and boiling water in the container of blender (regular or high-speed). Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes until the lentils are plump and the water has cooled.

I specifically designed this recipe to be made without the use of specialty equipment. Hence, instead of grinding the lentils into a fine flour (which would require a high speed blender or spice grinder), I quick-soak the lentils in boiling water, which allows for easy blending in a regular blender.

Step Three: Blend the Lentils

Blend the lentil-water mixture on high speed until completely smooth, stopping several times to scrape down the sides of the blender container.

glass bowl filled with blended red lentils

Step Four: Cook the Lentil Mixture

Pour the lentil mixture into a medium-size, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk in the remaining water and optional salt until blended.

Whisk over medium-high heat for 6 to 8 minutes until the mixture is thick, glossy and coats the bottom of the pan (turn heat down to medium, as needed–the batter starts to bubble up hot bits).

red lentil tofu mixture cooking in a stainless steel saucepan

Step Five: Pour Lentil Batter into Pan

Scrape the batter into an 8-inch (20 cm) square glass or ceramic baking dish, smoothing the top.

white baking dish filled with red lentil tofu mixture

The pan does not need to be oiled or sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. The tofu will release (with ease) from the pan once it is set.

Do not worry if you do not have an 8-inch dish. Use any nonreactive pan of similar shape and size, or divide the mixture between two or more smaller containers (I like the tofu to be roughly 1-inch/2.5 cm in depth).

Step Six: Chill the Tofu

Refrigerate the tofu, uncovered, for at least 60 minutes until very firm. Alternatively, leave the tofu in the refrigerator for up to 5 days until ready to use.

The surface of the tofu will be slightly darker in color and look dry once it is set.

set, chilled tofu in a white baking dish

The tofu releases some of its liquid as it sets, so if you want an extra-firm tofu, consider making the tofu at least one day in advance.

Step Seven: Unmold and Cut the Tofu

Run a dull knife around the edge of the baking dish before inverting the tofu onto a cutting board. The upended side of the tofu will be shiny and smooth.

Cut the tofu into the desired shapes and sizes you prefer for recipes and/or storing in the refrigerator.

It’s official. You’re a tofu-maker.

unfolded chilled lentil tofu on a cutting board, cut into cubes

What is the Taste & Texture of the Red Lentil Tofu?

Red lentil tofu is smooth, firm and creamy. The flavor is neutral (more so than soy tofu or chickpea tofu), making it ideal for any and all added flavors.

How to Serve Red Lentil Tofu

Use the red lentil tofu as you would soy tofu, in stir-fries, scrambles, soups, sandwiches, kebabs, or as an ingredient in baking or dessert recipes.

I think it is delicious plain, with a favorite dipping sauce on the side. Lightly frying, baking or broiling the tofu, with just a smidge of oil, is crispy-creamy heaven! Even my resident carnivores give it big thumbs up!

lightly fried red lentil tofu on a white plate with scallions and a dipping sauce alongside

FAQ & Tips

Can I Use Other Varieties of Lentils?

Yes! But there is a catch.

Other lentils (green, black, tan) work beautifully in the same proportions–no modifications are needed. Just make sure to use the same weight (141 grams). The cup measurement (3/4 cup of red lentils) may vary slightly depending on the variety of lentils.

Here’s the caveat: the taste and texture will be different.

Here is a photo of the tofu made with the common variety of tannish-green lentils:

a small black plate with cubes of tofu made from greenish-tan lentils, surrounded by dried lentils

The tofu was still delicious BUT, unlike the red lentil tofu, it had a noticeable lentil flavor. I like the flavor, but it is not the uber-neutral flavor that red lentils produce.

The texture was less smooth, too. This is likely due to the skins of the whole lentils and might be overcome by longer blending, perhaps in a high-speed blender.

The taste and texture differences are not necessarily downsides, especially depending on how you use the tofu (e.g., the addition of strong flavors and marinades), but they are features to consider.

For the most neutral flavor and light, creamy-smooth texture, stick with red lentils.

How Far in Advance Can the Tofu Be Made?

You can make the tofu up to 5 days ahead. Leave it in the original dish, or unmold it, cut into pieces, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Note that the tofu will become firmer with each passing day due to the release of liquid.

How Should I Store the Red Lentil Tofu?

As mentioned above, simply leave the prepared tofu in the baking dish, or cut and store in an airtight continuer, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Can I Add Flavorings Directly to the Tofu?

Absolutely! Fresh herbs, dried herbs, spices, chiles, sriracha, pepper, you name it! Simply whisk in the flavorings of your choice in step four (when the extra water and optional salt are whisked in).

Happy Cooking! I would love to know what you think of my new invention!

Yield: about 2 lbs (907 g)

Mind-Blowing Red Lentil Tofu (soy-free)

white dish filled with cubes of red lentil tofu

My Mind-Blowing Red Lentil Tofu will rock your world! It is soy-free, high protein, super-easy, versatile, and made with 1 ingredient (plus water, & optional salt)

Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 11 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (141 grams) red lentils
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (375 mL) boiling water
  • 2 cups (500 mL) room temperature water
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Place the lentils in a colander or mesh sieve and rinse under cold water. This removes any dust or debris from the dried lentils.
  2. Combine the lentils and boiling water in the container of blender (regular or high-speed). Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes until the lentils are plump and the water has cooled.
  3. Blend the lentil-water mixture on high speed until completely smooth, stopping several times to scrape down the sides of the blender container.
  4. Pour the lentil mixture into a medium-size, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk in the remaining water and optional salt until blended.
  5. Whisk over medium-high heat for 6 to 8 minutes until the mixture is thick, glossy and coats the bottom of the pan (turn heat down to medium, as needed).
  6. Scrape the batter into an 8-inch (20 cm) square glass or ceramic baking dish, smoothing the top (the dish does not need to be oiled).
  7. Refrigerate the tofu, uncovered, for at least 60 minutes until very firm. (Alternatively, leave the tofu in the refrigerator for up to 5 days until ready to use.)
  8. Run a dull knife around the edge of the dish; invert the tofu onto a cutting board. Cut the tofu into the desired shapes and sizes you prefer for recipes and/or storing in the refrigerator.

Notes

Storage: The tofu can be prepared up to 5 days ahead. Leave it in the original dish, or unmold it, cut into pieces, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. Note that the tofu will become firmer the longer it sets.

Tip: Use the red letnil tofu as you would in any recipe calling for soy tofu.

Other Varieties of Lentils: Other varieties of lentils can be swapped in for the red lentils. However, the taste (lentil flavor, not neutral) and texture (slightly less smooth) will change with darker skinned, whole lentils. See the blog post for example.

Nutrition Information

Yield

4

Serving Size

1/4 of entire recipe (about 8 oz/227 g)

Amount Per Serving Calories 128Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 0mgCarbohydrates 21 gFiber 10.5gSugar 0gProtein 9 gramsg

Did you make this recipe?

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Deborah

Saturday 8th of January 2022

Hi, I am so excited to try your recipe. I have needed a firm "soy free" tofu recipe to make vegan meatballs.

But, I was hoping you might have a suggestion. The recipe also calls for 3/4 c of ground soy curls. Any soy free suggestions for the ground soy curls?

Thanks

Cass

Monday 3rd of January 2022

Wow, fab new food for me and my husband! DELICIOUS. Would never know it's made from legumes. Mine did not keep its pinkish color. It's an off white and yes, I did use the red lentils. Perhaps I added a bit too much water because it was difficult to fry them with them sticking and falling apart.

Sara Roboubi

Monday 13th of December 2021

Thank you for sharing this recipe but I need help haha. I made it and it firmed up but I tried pan frying and air fryer and both just melted. Yours look nice and cubed still after you fried it. What did I do wrong?

Camilla

Wednesday 15th of December 2021

Hi Sara! Oh no, sorry that you had problems cooking the tofu. Definitely weird that it melted--it sounds like the heat may have been far too intense. This is more the texture of a firm silken tofu ( so firm, but not like the ultra-firm blocks of soy tofu one might buy).

I'll add more notes to the recipe, but in general, cooking this tofu is the same as for soy tofu--pat it dry (even press, as needed, to make it more firm). When I pan-fry the lentil tofu, I pat it dry like soy tofu and cook over medium-high heat in a tiny bit of oil. Allow each side to brown a little bit before flipping it.You can also bake it (pat dry, bake at 400F on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray or lightly brushed with oil--I like to spritz the tofu for extra browning). Then bake about 15-20 minutes until golden. I've never cooked any kind of tofu in an air-fryer

The tofu will become firmer and firmer each day as water continues to off, so it is worth waiting a day or more before using in more hearty stir fries.

Donna

Wednesday 8th of December 2021

I can’t thank you enough for this recipe! Will be making this on a regular basis.

Camilla

Thursday 9th of December 2021

It thrills me to pieces that this suits you, Donna! :) xo

Alicia

Sunday 5th of December 2021

Hi there

I'm only able to use tinned lentils because of IBS, would one tin of lentils be enough? I've had a look online and it looks like a tin will be slightly less than when using dried lentils.

Thanks you very much

Camilla

Monday 6th of December 2021

Hi Alicia! Alas, the recipe will not work with lentils that have already been cooked--so sorry. I know it seems like it should work, but I tried it out of curiosity and it does not. It would be like trying to making scrambled eggs out of hard-boiled eggs.

are you sure you cannot do this with the method as written (regarding IBS)? You could soak the lentils overnight and then drain the excess liquid into a measuring cup. Replace the drained liquid with the same amount of liquid you just drained off as well as the remaining 2 cups of water per the recipe. The lentils get cooked (so not raw) when whisked over the stovetop. Cheers.

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