Tofu originated in China over 2,000 years ago as a plant-based protein made from soybeans and is now a staple in many cuisines and plant-based diets. There are hundreds of ways to prepare tofu, from fried to stewed, and even raw! Especially if you order a delicious tofu dish from your local Chinese restaurant, you will have leftovers because of the generous portions.
Fortunately, tofu reheats well in many different preparations. Air fryer, stovetop, and microwave are all tried and true methods to revive your tofu leftovers.
Methods To Reheat Tofu
Choosing a reheating method will depend on the preparation, what other ingredients are in the dish, and how much patience you have! Reheating tofu after the initial preparation does not degrade the flavor or integrity, so save your leftovers with no fear.
Reheating in an Air Fryer
The air fryer method is best for fried or crispy tofu, found in nuggets, sandwiches, or on its own. The hot circulating air quickly reheats the tofu and crips the outside, so you’d never know they were leftovers. Especially if the tofu was breaded, this removes all of the moisture from the coating.
- Preheat your air fryer to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and then place the tofu directly into the basket.
- Reheat for 5 to 7 minutes, frequently checking for your optimal cook. If you have small pieces, give the air fryer basket a toss every couple of minutes to ensure each side gets nice and crispy.
Reheating on the Stovetop
This method is best for saucy preparations with veggies or other components in the dish. Tofu acts like a sponge, soaking up all the flavor you add to it. Reheating in a pan on the stovetop gets all the juices flowing and maximizes the taste of your dish.
- Choose a pan or pot depending on the amount you want, and preheat the pan for a couple of minutes.
- Add a drizzle of oil (no more than a tablespoon), and once that is sizzling, gently add your tofu, careful not to get sprayed by the dancing oil. The oil not only keeps everything from sticking but emulsifies the sauce that may have separated while being stored in the fridge.
- In case the tofu looks too wet, fry it on its own to make it crispy before adding the sauce or vegetables.
- Stir consistently for several minutes, ensuring that the sauce does not get too thick.
- Once everything is steaming and bubbling, remove from heat and serve!
The great thing about tofu is that it is virtually impossible to overcook, so don’t worry about reheating it for too long!
Reheating in the Microwave
Sometimes there is no patience or energy for any food preparation that lasts more than 5 minutes. In that case, your microwave is your friend! Reheating tofu in the microwave is best for non-crispy tofu since it will not achieve the same crispiness as an air fryer.
Simply empty your tofu leftovers into a microwave-safe dish, and heat for a minimum of 3 minutes if stored in the fridge. This allows for the heat to penetrate to the center of the tofu. Although this method is the easiest, please note that it will not yield a crispy exterior, and if the tofu is battered, it might cause the batter to separate from the sides.
How to Store Tofu
Storing tofu leftovers is very easy. If you have a crispy preparation, store it in an airtight container in the fridge, or freeze in a resealable bag. Frozen tofu reheats just as well as refrigerated; it just needs more time in the air fryer, stovetop pan, or microwave. Preparations with sauce and other ingredients can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days, but freezing is not recommended. The extra moisture from the vegetables or sauce makes reheating these preparations difficult.
Tofu has been a staple in Asian cuisines for centuries due to its high nutritional content and ability to soak up any flavor. It can be used as a meat replacement in virtually any preparation and is popular among those who do not consume meat.
When you find yourself with tofu leftovers, store them in the fridge or freezer as outlined above. They can be stored for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer.
You can reheat tofu dishes in the air fryer, on the stovetop, or in the microwave. All of these methods yield great results, depending on how much time you have to reheat.