Ever wonder how long tofu lasts? Find out how long refrigerated tofu lasts in the fridge or even the freezer plus how long the shelf-stable variety lasts. Now you’ll always have a block of this scrumptious, plant-based protein ready for your latest recipe!
The sturdy block of tofu barely jiggles as you place it on the cutting board. You make perfect slices, down and across, admiring the smooth cubes that fall away from your knife blade.
You could do this all day.
In fact, you do, in this daydream. You’re in a professional kitchen. And Gordon Ramsay is nearby, shouting orders to others, leaving you in peace.
That is, until he takes a good look (and a sniff) at the uncooked tofu chunks you proudly handed over.
“These cubes are garbage! What’s that rotten smell?! What were you thinking?!” he squawks in his loud British accent.
Your imagination automatically censors his profanities.
But he’s right.
You bend over to study the texture of the blocks closely and the smell almost knocks you down.
Suddenly, you’re back in your own kitchen, with the crushing reality that dinner is not going to happen.
Bad tofu. Is there such a thing?
Unless you’re avoiding soy products, tofu is a superfood with a high nutritional value. It’s also delicious, versatile, affordable, and easy to prepare.
But it could spoil if you don’t store it at the right temperature or keep it too long.
Back in the 1300s, street vendors in Japan made and sold their bean curd delicacy only during the coldest months, when it lasted the longest. Outside of those months, fresh tofu had to be eaten the same day it was made.
Luckily, you can buy and enjoy tofu anytime you want because there are many ways to increase the shelf life of tofu.
Let’s find out how long tofu can last, whether it’s shelf-stable, unopened, opened, or cooked, and how you can even freeze it!
Now, that might have saved dinner.
How long does tofu last in the refrigerator?
The type of tofu we’ll talk about here is the fresh version, not smoked, fermented or deep-fried.
If you buy tofu in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, pay attention to the expiration date. Then, keep it in the fridge when you get home. The ideal temperature is 40℉ but here is a guide on how long it will last:
Tofu will last, unopened, for 5-7 days in the fridge, until you’re ready to use it.
Usually, you’ll take the whole block and make a meal out of it. But if you only need a small amount at a time, the tofu will stay, opened, for 3-5 days in the fridge.
To keep it from drying out and to limit bacterial growth in the fridge, here are a few tips:
- Leave it in its original container or transfer to an airtight container
- Change the water daily, covering the entire tofu block
- Secure the container tightly with plastic wrap
- Do not store in the fridge door as the temperature rises whenever the door opens
If you bought the shelf-stable version in the aseptic containers (e.g. Tetra Pak), it does NOT need to be refrigerated until you open it. Store, unopened, in a cool, dry place for up to three months.
And how long does the aseptic tofu last after opening in the fridge? Once you open it, you can either cook with it immediately or refrigerate it for 3-5 days.
Or you can freeze it!
If you made too much of a spectacular tofu dish, store the leftover tofu in the fridge for 3-4 days at the most.
Now that you know how long tofu lasts in the refrigerator, why not experiment with making your own version from scratch? Try this fun recipe that uses easy-to-find ingredients.
Homemade tofu lasts about the same as store-bought: 3-5 days in the fridge.
How to tell if tofu has gone bad
To determine tofu’s freshness, check if your block of tofu has any of these signs. If so, it’s spoiled and you need to throw it out immediately:
- Sour Smell: Unless you’re indulging in stinky tofu, fresh tofu should have very little smell.
- Thick, Cloudy Water: If the water doesn’t look clean or has bits of brown tofu pieces floating around, toss it.
- Darker Color: Fresh tofu is usually off-white but if you see brown spots or signs of mold on the surface of the tofu, get rid of the entire block.
- Bloated Packaging: Once bacteria grows, the commercial packaging has a bloated look because the gasses can’t escape. At this point, do not attempt to eat the tofu.
- Bitter or Sour Taste: If it smells and looks good but the taste is off, stay on the safe side and toss it out.
Will eating bad tofu make you sick?
Raw tofu is safe to eat since it has been pasteurized. Many people use raw silken tofu in their smoothies, desserts, and quick meals.
Unfortunately, eating any type of tofu that has spoiled or been contaminated may give you food poisoning (nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, etc.)
Check for the tell-tale signs above before you risk it.
How long does tofu last at room temperature?
We know how long shelf-stable tofu in aseptic packaging lasts in the pantry (about 3 months).
But how long does fresh or cooked tofu last at room temperature?
The USDA does not recommend leaving refrigerated food out for longer than 2 hours (and 1 hour on a hot day). Otherwise, you increase the risk of bacterial growth and contamination.
Take the fresh tofu out of the fridge only when you plan to cook it.
And when you are serving it to others, follow the USDA guidelines above.
Can tofu be frozen?
Yes, all types of tofu can be frozen! It will stay in the freezer for 3-4 months.
What type of consistency does frozen tofu have?
Many people prefer the coarse, sponge-like texture of frozen, defrosted tofu instead of the smooth, creamy, fresh tofu. It gives a chewier texture for sauces and soups.
Ways to freeze tofu
- Simply toss the original, unopened tofu container (with water) straight into the freezer.
- Or you can drain the container and transfer the solid block to a freezer-safe container (airtight plastic or glass bowl, or a heavy-duty freezer bag).
- For convenience, you can cut the block into desired portions and use a tofu press or blot with a paper towel to remove excess water; then, freeze as you wish.
Garlic Delight has an amazing side-by-side comparison of the freezing techniques for the best quality tofu.
How to defrost tofu
When you pull it out of the freezer, it will have a darker brown color but once it defrosts, the color will resemble the original off-white.
And no matter how you froze your tofu, defrosting it is easy! It all depends on how much time you have.
- The best way is to leave in the fridge for 24 hours before using.
- You can also thaw in a water bath in warm water.
- Or run cool water over it in a bowl for a short time.
- You can also microwave it.
Once thawed, prepare it immediately or leave it in the fridge for 3-5 days. Do not refreeze.
Different Ways to Cook Tofu
Tofu arrived in America through Chinese and Japanese immigrants but over the years, tofu lovers learned to cook tofu dishes in a multitude of cuisines and techniques beyond the soy sauce classic.
A perfect example is my Baked BBQ Tofu, using a store-bought vegan BBQ sauce. If you want a high-protein breakfast, try my Cheesy Vegan Tofu Scramble that looks similar to scrambled eggs using extra firm tofu or my Cheesy Broccoli Vegan Quiche, using silken tofu.
You can also grab your silken tofu and make a batch of Vegan Ranch Dip - it’s a good way to impress your guests at your next party! And here is an easy recipe for your next family meal: Air Fryer Tofu.
Here are some more tofu recipes that you would love:
- Crispy Blackened Tofu
- Oven-baked Crispy Tofu Nuggets
- General Tso’s Tofu with Sweet & Sour Sauce
- Silken Tofu Chocolate Pudding
Be sure to check out these tofu recipe collections too!
Now you know how long the tofu lasts! It’s easy to store tofu in the fridge or unopened in the pantry for a long time (if you go for the Tetra Pak packaging). Plus, you can toss it in the freezer for months until you need it.
And the next time you’re prepping your fresh tofu for dinner with NO signs of spoilage, don’t worry - Gordon Ramsay will be happy!
More "How long does it last?" resources
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- How long does cooked quinoa last?
- Does nutritional yeast go bad?
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