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Easy 2-Ingredient Hemp Tofu (high-protein, soy-free)

Fast, versatile, and easy 2-ingredient hemp tofu, made from hemp hearts (shelled hemp seeds)! Smooth, firm (no pressing required) and delicious, hemp tofu is loaded with protein and other vital nutrients. It is soy-free, vegan, keto, and Paleo, too.

overhead shot of hemp heart tofu on a distressed metal background

DIY Hemp Tofu

Following the publication of my easy, 2-ingredient pumpkin seed (pepita) tofu a few months ago, I received several inquiries about another soy-free tofu: Hemp-fu (tofu made from hemp seeds).

I had never heard of it, but a quick Google search revealed it is an Italian made product. Could I make an easy DIY version? I gave it it a go, and the answer is yes!

This tofu is DELICIOUS –mild, creamy and faintly nutty. I love it most plain, or in salads, but it can be sautéed, too.

What are Hemp Hearts?

To make hemp tofu, you need hemp hearts. Note: no surgery required. A trip to the health food section of the grocery store, or any number of online purveyors, will do.

Hemp hearts are the shelled seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant. They do not contain any CBD properties, but are packed with nutrition. Specifically, they are rich in protein, fiber, antioxidants, and healthy fats, including Omega-3 and Omega-6.

Hemp hearts have a mild creamy flavor (much like cashews, in my opinion). They are an ideal substitute for nuts in recipes, or can be added to salads, oatmeal, baked goods for a healthy boost.

I love to use them in dessert, too, including my Pumpkin Hemp Heart Cheesecake and Strawberry Hemp Heart Ice Cream.

a glass bowl filled with hemp hearts

Recipe Benefits of Easy 2 Ingredient Hemp Tofu

  • Soy-free
  • Vegan (no eggs, no dairy)
  • Grain-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Oil-free
  • Nut-free
  • High in protein
  • Rich in Omegas 3 & 6
  • Fast & easy to make (no straining, no pressing)
  • Made with 2 ingredients
  • Keto
  • Paleo
close up of hemp tofu on a sage green plate

Ingredients for Easy DIY Hemp Tofu

The exact amounts of each ingredient are indicated in the recipe card at the end of the post.

2 glass bowls, one filled with hemp hearts,the other with agar powder

Two ingredients are needed to make my version of pumpkin seed tofu:

  1. Hemp hearts (shelled hemp seeds)
  2. Agar agar powder

You will also need regular water (I use filtered tap water) and optional salt. You can adjust or omit the latter to suit your preferences and needs.

What is Agar Agar?

Agar agar (sometimes called agar, singular) is a vegetarian alternative to gelatin. It is derived from red algae (a form of seaweed) and has been used in a wide range of dishes in Asia, both for thickening and gelling, for centuries. If you have not used it before now, it is a remarkable ingredient.

Agar agar is available in flakes or powder and is used in much the same way as gelatin: dissolve/hydrate in water, heat to thicken, and then set until firm.

Getting the ratios right can be very tricky: too much, and what you are making may bounce to the ceiling when dropped. But if you get it right, agar agar can add perfect structure and firmness that would otherwise be impossible.

That is precisely what it does with this hemp tofu.

Step by Step Instructions

Step One: Quick-Soak the Hemp Hearts

Place the hemp hearts in a medium bowl. Add enough boiling water to cover the seeds by 1 inch (2.5 cm).

  • If you prefer, you can soak the hemp hearts overnight: Use cold or room temperature water. Let soak for a minimum of 8 hours or up to 24 hours.
hemp hearts, soaking in boiling water, in a white bowl

Step Two: Select a Dish for Setting the Tofu

It is not so much about the dish you choose as it is making sure the dish is chosen in advance, prepared, and ready to use as soon as the tofu mixture is blended. Why? Because the agar agar will begin to set almost immediately. You will need to work relatively quickly to pour it into the dish and smooth it out.

  • Choose a shallow dish made out of glass or ceramic. I used a 5×5-inch (12.5×12.5 cm) glass storage container. It can be almost any shape, so use what you have (e.g., a pie pan, small loaf pan, etc.).
  • Lightly spray the dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Step Three: Drain the Hemp Hearts

Drain the hemp hearts in a mesh sieve (discard soaking water). Rinse the seeds under cold water and drain again.

drained soaked hemp hearts in a mesh strainer

Place the drained hemp hearts in a blender.

Step Four: Prepare the Agar Agar

This next step is very fast and simple, but also critical for making the hemp tofu work.

Combine the agar agar powder and the specified amount of water in a small saucepan. Let stand for 30 seconds to hydrate the powder.

thickened agar powder mixture in a saucepan with a metal whisk

Turn on the heat to medium. Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture comes to a low boil. Continue to stir for about 30 to 60 seconds longer. You should see the mixture beginning to thicken and gel, so keep stirring (a silicone spatula works best) until it thickens slightly.

The agar mixture needs to (1) come to a boil, and (2) thicken slightly in order to work in a given recipe.

Remove from the heat and immediately add to the blender with the hemp hearts.

Step Five: Blend the Hemp Hearts

Very Important: If you are using a high speed blender, set it to the function that allows for blending hot foods, such as soups. If you are using a regular blender (or any blender that does not have a hot foods setting, do as follows:

  1. Remove the center piece (feeder cap) of the blender lid.
  2. Place the blender lid (minus the feeder cap) securely on the blender.
  3. Cover the blender lid with a clean kitchen towel.
  4. Hold the lid on securely and start blending on lowest speed. Gradually increase the speed (for example, after stopping to scrape the sides of the blender container).

Blend the hemp hearts and agar agar mixture on high speed until completely smooth, stopping several times to scrape down the sides of the blender container.

blended hemp hearts in a blender container

The hemp heart mixture will have a consistency similar to thick cream when lifted with a spatula. It looks like vanilla bean ice cream!

hemp hearts, blended into a thick cream

Step Six: Spread Hemp Mixture into Prepared Pan

Scrape and spread the hemp tofu mixture into the prepared pan or dish, smoothing the top.

hemp tofu mixture spread into a glass container, with a pink spatula alongside

Step Seven: Chill the Tofu

Refrigerate the tofu, uncovered, for at least 2 hours, or until very firm (and springy). Agar agar sets much more quickly than traditional gelatin. Alternatively, leave the tofu in the refrigerator for up to two days until ready to use.

Step Eight: Unmold and Cut the Tofu

Unlike my Red Lentil Tofu, Chickpea Flour Tofu, and Easy DIY Dried Bean Tofu, this hemp tofu does not release its liquid as it sets. This is due to the super-power binding properties of the agar agar.

Invert the set tofu onto a cutting board.

unfolded hemp tofu on a grey marble cutting board

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

easy hemp tofu, cut into pieces, on a grey marble cutting board

Hemp tofu, done!

How to Serve Hemp Tofu

Hemp tofu is delicious and versatile! Here is how I suggest trying it:

Chilled (No Cooking)

This is my favorite way to enjoy this tofu. It is also the easiest.

Enjoy the hemp tofu (chilled, no cooking) plain, perhapss with a favorite dipping sauce. Pair it with salads of all varieties, spiralized vegetables, atop a variety of bowls (e.g., grain bowls or vegetable bowls), and in sandwiches (thinly sliced, or chopped, as an egg replacement for egg salad).

easy 2-ingredient hemp tofu on a metal plate, accompanied by carrot salad

Fried / Baked / Air-fried

You can also sauté, bake or air-fry hemp tofu. Just take some care when cooking. This is not a sub for super-sturdy extra-firm tofu. A nonstick skillet works best.

For cubes of tofu, it is essential to

  1. Lightly toss the cubes in starch. I use tapioca flour. Sweet potato starch, arrowroot, potato starch, or cornstarch will also work. Coat the cubes on all sides and keep the cubes chilled before frying. The tofu needs this added starch in order to sear the sides (without breaking down the tofu).
  2. Coat the cubes in nonstick cooking spray (or use a small amount of oil). Gently fry in a nonstick skillet until golden or bake/ airy at 400F (200C) for about 10 minutes. Do not overtake or the insides will dry out (not a terrible thing, but you want to keep the creamy texture inside).
  3. It may look like the cubes are melting a tiny bit when you first add them to the hot pan. Do not worry! It will just blob out (is that a thing? With hemp tofu it is 😂) a tiny bit. Let that side of the tofu brown, and then flip and brown the other sides. See the fried tofu photo below.
3 photo collage showing how to coat and fry hemp tofu

Add to Sauces, Curries & Stir-Fries

I recommend adding cubes or large crumbles of the hemp tofu to sauces, curries and stir-fries at the very end of cooking, simply to warm through. The agar agar will eventually break down if the tofu is kept over the heat for too long.

FAQ & Tips

What is the Taste & Texture of Easy 2-Ingredient Hemp Tofu?

The tofu has a firm, smooth consistency. The hemp hearts give the tofu a light, neutral, faintly nutty flavor that can be paired with just about any flavor combinations you like (= major versatility for all kinds of meals).

2 fingers squeezing a piece of hemp tofu

Can I Vary the Texture of the Tofu (extra-firm or silken)?

No, I do not recommend it.

This recipe produces a firm tofu. The following methods for making the tofu more firm do not work well (I have tried!):

  1. Decreasing the water or increasing the amount of hemp hearts: this makes the tofu mixture thicker/denser, but it also makes the mixture very difficult to blend until smooth (resulting in chunky or gritty tofu). If you still want to give it a try, make small adjustments (e.g., 1 tablespoon less water or 1 tablespoon more hemp hearts).
  2. Adding more agar agar: It sounds like a simple solution. It is not. Whether it is for hemp tofu, or any other preparation using agar agar to gel foods, adding too much (even a tiny amount too much) can yield a weird (make that WEIRD) plastic-like consistency.

For Silken Tofu: You can experiment with adding slightly less agar agar if you wish to have a less firm texture. It may take several test batches to achieve the results you want.

Can I Freeze the Easy 2-Ingredient Hemp Tofu?

Yes! Hemp tofu freezes well. Cut the tofu into cubes and place in an airtight container. Defrost the tofu in the refrigerator. Gently blot the tofu with paper towels, if needed (there is very little moisture after thawing).

How Far in Advance Can the Tofu Be Made?

You can make the tofu up to 2 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.

I do not recommend making the tofu much farther ahead than that, unless you plan to freeze it for future use.

How Should I Store the Easy 2-Ingredient Hemp Tofu?

As mentioned above, simply leave the prepared tofu in the baking dish, or cut and store in an airtight container, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Can I Add Flavorings Directly to the Tofu?

Yes!

  • Flavorings: Fresh herbs, dried herbs, spices, chiles, sriracha, pepper, you name it! Simply add in the flavorings of your choice in step five (when the soaked hemp hearts and agar agar mixture are blended).
  • Flavored liquids: Replace some (or all) of the water in the agar agar mixture with flavorful liquids. For example, consider using vegetable broth in place of the water.

Can I Use Agar Agar Flakes in Place of the Powder?

I do not recommend it (I have had inconsistent results with flakes, including lumpy gel).

For optimum results, use agar agar powder, which dissolves almost instantly (flakes take several minutes to dissolve). Agar agar powder can be found in health food stores or ordered online from any number of online vendors.

If you (nevertheless) want to try this recipe with flakes, use 1 tablespoon flakes for every 1 teaspoon of powder.

Happy Cooking!

More Easy, Soy-Free Tofu Recipes

Yield: 12 ounces (340 g)

Easy 2-Ingredient Hemp Tofu (high-protein, soy-free)

overhead shot of hemp heart tofu on a distressed metal background

Fast, versatile, and easy 2-ingredient hemp tofu, made from hemp hearts (shelled hemp seeds)! Smooth, firm (no pressing required) and delicious, it is loaded with protein and other vital nutrients. It is soy-free, vegan, keto, and Paleo.

Ingredients

  • 140 g (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) hemp hearts
  • boiling water to cover hemp hearts
  • 1 cup (237 mL) water
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons (4.5 g) agar agar powder
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

    1. Place the hemp hearts in a medium bowl. Add enough water to cover the seeds by 1 inch (2.5 cm).
    2. Set aside a small, shallow dish made out of glass or ceramic (I used a 5x5-inch (12.5x12.5 cm) glass container). Lightly spray the dish with nonstick cooking spray.
    3. Drain the hemp hearts in a colander or mesh sieve. Rinse the hemp hearts under cold water and drain again. Place the drained hemp hearts in a blender.
    4. Combine the agar agar powder and the water in a small saucepan. Let stand for 30 seconds to hydrate the powder.
    5. Turn the heat under the saucepan to medium. Cook and stir over until the mixture comes to a low boil (This is critical for making the pepita tofu set). Continue to stir for about 30 to 60 seconds longer. You should see the mixture beginning to thicken and gel.
    6. Remove from the heat and immediately add to the blender with the hemp hearts. SEE NOTES BELOW FOR SAFELY BLENDING HOT INGREDIENTS.
    7. Blend the hemp hearts and agar agar mixture on high speed until completely smooth, stopping several times to scrape down the sides of the blender container.
    8. Scrape and spread the hemp mixture into at the prepared pan, smoothing the top.
    9. Refrigerate the tofu, uncovered, for at least 2 hours, or until very firm (and springy). Alternatively, leave the tofu in the refrigerator for up to two days until ready to use.
    10. Invert the set tofu onto a cutting board. Cut the tofu into the desired shapes and sizes you prefer for recipes and/or storing in the refrigerator.
    11. Enjoy the tofu right away (no need to cook it) with dipping sauces, on sandwiches, or in salads. For cooking directions (frying, air-frying, baking), see the post above this recipe card.

Notes

Storage: Leave the prepared tofu in the baking dish, covered, or cut and store in an airtight continuer, in the refrigerator, for up to 2 days.

Freezing the Tofu: Cut the tofu into cubes and place in an airtight container. Defrost the tofu in the refrigerator. Gently blot the tofu with paper towels, if needed

Very Important Blender Safety: If you are using a high speed blender, set it to the function that allows for blending hot foods, such as soups. If you are using a regular blender (or any blender that does not have a hot foods setting, do as follows:
1. Remove the center piece (feeder cap) of the blender lid.
2. Place the blender lid (minus the feeder cap) securely on the blender.
3. Cover the blender lid with a clean kitchen towel.
4. Hold the lid on securely and start blending on lowest speed. Gradually increase the speed (for example, after stopping to scrape the sides of the blender container).

Overnight Soaking Option: If you prefer, you can soak the hemp hearts overnight: Use cold or room temperature water. Let soak for a minimum of 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

Nutrition Information

Yield

4 (3 oz/ 85 g each)

Serving Size

3 oz (85 g)

Amount Per Serving Calories 194Total Fat 17gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 15gCholesterol 0mgSodium 2mgCarbohydrates 3gFiber 1gSugar 1gProtein 11g

The nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although powerhungry.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates. Varying factors such as product types or brands and optional ingredients can change the nutritional information in any given recipe.

Did you make this recipe?

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Annalisa

Friday 2nd of December 2022

Oh, this is so good! I've just tried it and is much better than the commercial hempfu, richer in fibers and nutrients, too. Thank you so much, Camilla, you're for sure one of my favorite vegan blogger!

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