Dried beans in your pantry? If yes, you are all set to make a batch of my easy DIY dried bean tofu! It is soy-free, high protein, a cinch to make, versatile, & made with 1 ingredient (plus water, and optional salt).
Soy-Free Tofu made with Dried Beans
Many of you asked if my Mind-Blowing Red Lentil Tofu could be made with dried beans.
I did not know. But I put it on my to-do list of recipe testing.
That was (ahem) several months ago. Oops and apologies. But also, better late than never.
Part of what kept my dried bean tofu mission on the back burner is that I wanted to know if I could use my red lentil tofu method with almost any kind of dried beans. That would mean a lot of tofu, and a lot of refrigerator space.
With fair warning to my husband and son, I finally got to it. And (drumroll, or dried bean shaker)…SUCCESS!
With only a few tweaks to my newfangled method, I can state with confidence that you can make tofu–with ease and swift efficiency — from just about any dried beans!
Recipe Benefits of Easy DIY Dried Bean Tofu
A few details regarding this humble recipe include the following:
- Can be made with (almost) any dried beans
- Vegan (no eggs, no dairy)
- High in protein (on average, 9 to 10 grams per serving)
- High in fiber (on average, 10 to 11 grams per serving)
- Low calorie (on average, 125 to 130 calories per large serving)
- Easy to make
- Made with 1 ingredient (plus water & optional salt)
Ingredients for Easy DIY Dried Bean Tofu
The exact amounts of each ingredient are indicated in the recipe card at the end of the post.
The only ingredient needed to make this tofu is dried beans.
I tested my method using six varieties of dried beans:
- Black beans
- Pinto beans
- Lima beans
- Adzuki beans
- Great Northern beans
- Red beans (smaller than kidney beans; I do not recommend other larger red beans, such as red kidney beans)
Use the dried beans you prefer! I have a favorite, which I will share later in the post.
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
For reasons of simplicity (as well as my own sanity), the steps below feature one type of beans. However, the same steps apply to all of the dried bean varieties.
Step One: Rinse the Beans
Place the beans in a colander or mesh sieve and rinse under cold water. This removes any dust or debris from the dried beans that may be present as a result of processing and packaging.
Step Two: Quick-Soak the Beans
Place the rinsed and drained beans in a medium bowl. Pour enough boiling water over the beans to cover by at least 1/2 inch (1.25 cm). Let stand for 20 minutes until the beans are somewhat plumped and the water has cooled.
Long Soak Option
Alternatively, cover the beans with cool temperature water at least 12 hours (or up to 24) before making the tofu. Drain the plumped beans and proceed as directed.
Step Three: Drain the Beans
Drain the soaked beans through a sieve or colander, discarding the soaking water. If using black beans, the water will be dark and inky; if you are new to soaking black beans, this is completely normal.
Step Four: Blend the Beans
Place the soaked, drained beans, fresh water, and optional salt in the container of a regular or high-speed blender.
Blend the bean-water mixture on high speed until completely smooth, stopping several times to scrape down the sides of the blender container.
It is very important that the blended bean mixture be 100% smooth for it to cook properly. Any larger pieces will not cook properly using this method for cooking and could make you ill. If your blender does not have the power to blend the bean mixture until completely smooth, do not use. Alternatively, if there are only a few small pieces, strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and discard the pieces.
Step Five: Cook the Bean Tofu Mixture
Pour the bean mixture into a medium-size, heavy-bottomed saucepan.
Whisk over medium-high heat (whisk the entire time) for 6 to 8 minutes until VERY THICK. Turn the heat down to medium, as needed, especially if the bubbling gets intense :).
After 6 to 8 minutes, the tofu mixture should be very thick, glossy and will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. It will glob onto the whisk when lifted from the saucepan. If not, continue to whisk for a short while longer.
Note: It is extremely important that the bean mixture be cooked until it is very thick and glossy. It will be sticking to the sides of the pan and will adhere (very thick) to the whisk, as pictured above. If not, it is not cooked all the way through. You must continue cooking until it is very thick. The tofu mixture should start to set up, easily, before it is placed in the refrigerator. If not, it is not cooked, and you should not, under any circumstances, eat it.
Step Six: Pour Bean Tofu Batter into Pan
Scrape and spread the batter into an 8-inch (20 cm) square glass or ceramic baking dish, smoothing the top.
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, but there are no rules here). I do not advise using a deep pan (e.g., loaf pan). However, you could divide the tofu between two loaf pans
Step Seven: Chill the Tofu
Refrigerate the tofu, uncovered, overnight, or for at least 8 hours, until very firm. Alternatively, leave the tofu in the refrigerator for up to 5 days until ready to use.
The surface of the set tofu will look dry and may have a few cracks. The tofu will look like it is pulling away from the sides of the pan.
Note: If your tofu did not set up, as pictured above, it was not cooked long enough. You must not eat it.
Step Seven: Unmold and Cut the Tofu
The tofu releases some of its liquid as it sets. This means that it will become firmer and firmer the longer it sits (less liquid=firmer tofu).
Drain away some of the liquid by tilting the pan over the sink. Run a silicone spatula or dull knife around the edge of the baking dish before inverting the tofu onto a rimmed plate (to catch any additional liquid) or 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.
FAQ & Tips
What is the Taste & Texture of the Bean Tofu?
The bean tofu will vary in flavor and texture depending on the type of dried beans used to make it.
White beans produce a neutral, go-with-anything flavor with a silky, creamy finish.
- Baby Lima Beans
- Great Northern
You cannot go wrong with any of the above options. But if you want to know which one is my hands-down favorite, it is Baby Lima Beans. It is exceptionally creamy, but it also sets up super-firm. Baby lima beans are the beans featured in my step-by-step photos above.
Use Darker Beans for a Unique Flavor & Texture
Tofu made from beans with darker skins–such as the red, adzuki, black and pinto–is slightly less silky due the thicker, tougher skin of the beans. Though still mostly neutral in flavor, tofu made from these beans has the faint flavor of the beans from which they are made.
Use these unique taste and texture qualities to your advantage! Darker bean tofus pair especially well with bolder flavor profiles and make hearty fried cubes and crumbles. Grill or pan-fry a slab for a newfangled tofu sandwich, slathered with your favorite sauce.
Can I Vary the Texture of the Tofu (extra-firm or silken)?
This recipe produces a firm tofu. The tofu will become more firm with each day it sits in the refrigerator as it drains off water. But you can manipulate the texture at the front end, too.
For Extra Firm Tofu: Reduce the amount of fresh water added to the blender in Step 4 by 1/4 cup (60 mL).
The extra-firm texture holds up better to stir-frying (and sometimes you just want/need a firmer texture).
Keep in mind that frying any protein, including this tofu, works best when it is (a) patted dry (use paper towel or a clean dish cloth), and (b) you allow one side to sear off (get browned) before moving it around/flipping it. A little patience is all that you need!
For Silken Tofu: Increase the amount of water added in Step 4 by 1/3 cup (75 mL). I recommend using white beans for silken tofu because of the finer texture and neutral flavor.
I have notes for these two texture options in the recipe card.
Can I Freeze the Tofu?
Yes. If you are planning ahead, make the extra-firm variety (it freezes best). Cut the tofu into cubes and place in an airtight container. Defrost the tofu in the refrigerator.
The tofu will feel wet and springy once defrosted. Place the cubes between layers of paper towels to remove excess water (very gently press, as needed). Do not press hard or the tofu will fall apart.
Following comments from several readers, this recipe will very likely not work, as written, at higher altitude. Instead of a quick soak, the beans will need to be given a long soak in cool water (12 to 24 hours) for proper water absorption.
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 Bean 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?
Yes! 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!