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)
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!
Thursday 9th of March 2023
I made this, it set up perfectly, it tastes good, and I've baked and seasoned it.....but I'm almost to afraid to eat it after all the warnings about how dangerous it could be to eat if I did it wrong! There was the slightest grit (almost like little sand granules) that settled on the top of my block but otherwise the mixture was smooth. I'm afraid to eat it now though cause I don't want to die of cyanide poisoning (I used Lima beans as suggested). I would love it if someone could help ease my concerns because tofu doesn't do well with me and I'm trying to eat a vegetarian diet.
Saturday 11th of March 2023
Hi Keeyah, I am sorry to alarm you with all of my warnings--I really felt I had to after several people mentioned that they tried to eat the tofu even though it had not set up. And same with the bean bits: a few people asked by email if they could coarsely grind the tofu mixture and /or whether it was ok to leave larger pieces of beans in the mix (no and no).
It sounds like you made the tofu perfectly. If the tofu is firmly set, as you describe, it has been cooked properly!
If you need reassurance: people have been eating a version of this style of tofu for centuries (Shan tofu/ Burmese tofu) made from dried chickpeas (raw dried chickpeas that have been ground into raw bean flour). My version allows for most any bean--since not everyone has a high speed blender that can make fine bean flour, I developed my version with the soaking so that beans can be pulverized ultra fine without the separate step of first making them into water. Raw bean flour (chickpea flour) is used in multiple cuisines around the world--it cooks in a fraction of the time as whole beans
Wednesday 1st of March 2023
Hi! I am pretty new to plant based and have been to a zillion websites and pouring over cookbooks…but your website is my absolute favorite by far!! What a treasure you have provided! Thank you soooo much for sharing your obvious labor of love!
My newbie question is .. what in the world can make you sick about eating lumps of beans or not thoroughly cooked beans? I had no idea!!
Also, can you PLEASE add me to your newsletter?
Thank you very much!
Lori, Pittsburgh PA
Wednesday 1st of March 2023
Hi Lori, welcome! I just added you to the newsletter list. Thank you so much for the compliments, I am so happy to hear that you are finding inspiration here.
On to the question of the beans. Yes, raw and undercooked beans can make people very sick. That's why I am erring on the side of caution with the bright yellow sections in this post. A few people people commented that their tofu did not set up (which is definitely due to not cooking it long enough. It will become very firm so lang as it is cooked until very thick)---but they mentioned that they ate it anyway. I was very concerned, hence the warnings. Similarly, I added the warning abut the pieces of beans: if the beans are not completely pureed and there are pieces of whole beans, those whole bean pieces will not cook all the way in the time it takes to thoroughly cook the pureed beans (so those pieces of not fully cooked whole bean pieces could cause major distress). I hope that clarifies! :)
Saturday 25th of February 2023
I have been through and come back to your website many times and will be giving this one a go. I know that this is a bit weird but can I use soy beans to make this form of Tofu? Much cheaper than store tofu. Yes I understand they are different products but I prefer a whole food approach. Awesome recipes BTW so thanks. FYI the phytic acid released by soaking the beans is high in phosphorous so don't discard it. Pour it onto your plants instead and they will love you back.
Sunday 26th of February 2023
Ooh ooh, ooh, thank you for that great tip about saving the water for plants, Julz!!!
Yes, I am sure that would work beautifully with dried soy beans. It will be different than store bought soy tofu regardless (since the latter is a curd style tofu (solids removed, liquids blended with a coagulant); this version is made from the entire beans (inspired by Burmese style chickpea flour tofu). Enjoy!
Tuesday 14th of February 2023
Hello, thank you for the recipe. I tried it with lima beans, but the mixture on the stove never thickened up and globbed onto the whisk. I stood over the pot whisking away for 25 - 30 minutes. Eventually the mixture cooked down to almost nothing and it still didn't thicken. What did I do wrong?
Friday 17th of February 2023
Hi Rebecca! Oh wow, that is very odd. I apologize , but I am stumped for ideas of why that could have happened. Just checking: you are using uncooked (raw) beans, yes? I can imagine this happening with cooked beans (the recipe will not work with cooked beans).
Monday 30th of January 2023
At first I was thinking, "Oh NO! This is going to kill someone who uses the wrong bean or doesn't know you have to cook. It appeared in the beginning like take dry beans and water, add to blender, pour into mold, chill, then cut and eat....somehow the cooking part seemed missing.....BUT THEN (thankfully) there were multiple descriptive warnings on when NOT TO EAT this......THE COOKING IS IMPERATIVE (and the soaking helps a LOT) as some beans raw can KILL you if you simply eat 3-5 of them R-A-W.....Soaking and Cooking break down and convert the deadly chemicals.
I will absolutely be trying thiS!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks PH! _John
Wednesday 1st of February 2023
You are very welcome, John!