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DIY Tofu: Just Soymilk, Lemon, and Water!

Make your own tofu at home with only soymilk, fresh lemon juice and water! Fresh, homemade tofu is so much better tasting than the store-bought stuff and super easy to make. And don’t worry, it doesn’t taste like lemons at all. You don’t need anything special other than cheesecloth.
Click here for the printable recipe.

Store bought soymilk usually contains a bunch of additives so you won’t want to use that for this recipe. Use homemade soymilk or brands that only contain soybeans, water and maybe salt. Soymilk is really easy to make too; here’s the recipe. You’re welcome. 😉

By the way, this recipe makes “regular” style tofu; the firm kind that you can stir-fry easily without it breaking apart. Click here for how to make Silken Tofu, also known as smooth tofu.

Video Tutorial for Homemade Tofu

 
You may have heard some rumours about soy, but this legume has been consumed in China for centuries! Soy is one of the “5 Sacred Grains” and is one of the most healthful sources of complete protein. Check out this article from Dr. M Greger on the healthfulness of soy.

homemade tofu slices on bamboo board

Check out this quick recipe for Chinese Five-Spice Tofu, one of my favourite ways to eat up fresh, homemade tofu.

Printable recipe for DIY Tofu

Homemade Tofu
Serves 3
Make your own tofu at home with only soymilk, fresh lemon juice and water! Fresh, handmade tofu is so much better tasting than the store-bought stuff; milder and with a different bite. Plus it's super easy to make. And don't worry, it doesn't taste like lemons at all.
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Ingredients
  1. 5 cups plain soymilk (Soymilk Tutorial here) [1180ml]
  2. 1/2 cup water [118ml]
  3. 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice [22ml]
Instructions
  1. Combine the water and lemon juice.
  2. Separately, heat the soymilk to 160F (71C) in a large pot. Be sure to stir constantly to keep the soymilk from burning on the bottom. If you don't have a thermometer, you can bring it just to a boil, then remove from heat and stir for a minute or two to cool.
  3. Remove the soymilk from heat and immediately stir half of the lemon mixture into the soymilk for 1 or 2 minutes with a wooden spoon or spatula.
  4. Stand the spoon or spatula straight down into the milk to cause the spinning motion of the milk to stop.
  5. Add the rest of the lemon mixture and stir the spatula in a back and forth motion or a figure eight motion. The intent is to mix the lemon juice coagulant in thoroughly but gently.
  6. After a minute or two, the soymilk should start to separate and curds will begin to form. Stop stirring and cover the pot with a lid.
  7. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. Afterwards, the soymilk will have completely separated into bits of soybean curd and liquid. The Liquid should be rather clear and yellowish. If it is still milky looking, it has not completely curdled. In that case, add a few drops of lemon juice and stir them in well.
  9. Prepare a colander or seive lined with a few layers of cheesecloth over a bowl, or use a steamer pot.
  10. Ladle the soy curds into the cheesecloth.
  11. Pull up the sides of the cloth to allow most of the water to drain out. Gather the sides of the cloth and twist at the top to squeeze out more water.
  12. Untwist the cloth and re-wrap the curds so that it forms a loaf shape.
  13. With the curds securely wrapped in the cheesecloth, place a a couple pounds of weight on top. You want to press the curds evenly to force the water out. A cutting board with a few books on top would work well. Alternatively, use a tofu press device.
  14. Let sit for 30 minutes to an hour.
  15. Carefully unwrap the tofu and place in a bowl of very cold water. This will help the tofu firm up further.
  16. Now it's ready to use! Otherwise, store it in water, in the fridge, for 1 to 2 weeks. It can also be frozen.
Notes
  1. This recipe can be multiplied to make larger batches. This recipe makes about 350g (12 ounces) of firm tofu using 8 lbs of weight over 45 minutes. The weight of your finished product will depend on how much water is pressed from your tofu.
  2. Store bought soymilk usually contains a bunch of additives so you won’t want to use that for this recipe. In fact, these additives are sometimes added specifically to prevent curdling which is exactly the opposite of what we're trying to do. Use homemade soymilk or brands that only contain soybeans, water and maybe salt.
Mary's Test Kitchen http://www.marystestkitchen.com/
Showing 56 comments
  • narf77
    Reply

    Hi Mary, I love your recipes, especially your non dairy cheeses. I just started following you in my RSS Feed Reader and get excited to see what you have shared every time I see a new post. Just one little thing, you forgot to say what the 1 1/2 tbs (22ml) was for in your recipe. It is obviously lemon juice but people tend not to think before they type and you are bound to end up with people asking what the ingredient is that is missing. Cheers for a most excellent website and thank you for sharing all of your wonderful recipes.

    • Mary
      Reply

      Thank you so much, dearie! Both for your kind words AND for catching my mistake! I am so glad you noticed that. <3

  • saniel
    Reply

    ccan an other organic GMO free non dairy milk be used? almond, hemp, coconut, sunflower

    • Mary
      Reply

      To be honest, I do not know. For almond, it’s a probably not. Almond milk doesn’t tend to curdle in the same way. I have heard that hemp milk will work though! Someone shared this recipe (http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/2012/01/31/hemp-tofu/) with me and said it was not bad. I am going to try is ASAP so I’ll let you know when I do. Or if you try it first, please let me know! 🙂

  • Connie
    Reply

    I just made the soy milk and then made the tofu. It turned out great!!! and soooooo easy !! thanks – great videos 🙂 Now, I am moving on to the “sea burgers” using the okara from the milk. Can’t wait to try them

    • Mary
      Reply

      Oh yay!!!! Connie, that is so great to hear. I am so happy that you tried the recipe and that the video was useful for you. Please let me know how the sea burgers work out for you. <3 Thank you so much for commenting and letting me know about your results! 🙂

  • APARTMENT2504.WORDPRESS.COM
    Reply

    yumm I just bought a tofu maker set so I can’t wait to try it out

  • afsar ghori
    Reply

    Hi,

    I soaked soya bean for 10 hrs then granded, and then i strain the milk whi i boiled and added 3 small lemons juice added in water, it did not cuddled/caugultes (not breakup)then i added s1/2 tbs salt still didnt caugulted then added two more small lemons directs still didnt caugulated rather it is turning into thick liquid like starch why?

    Regards

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi dear, I cannot tell why your soy milk did not coagulate at first. What did it look like when you added the lemon juice?

      Salt is not in the recipe here. Flavourings should only be added after you have separated the soy curds from the water.

      Other than those things, here are some important points:
      – the soy milk needs to be good quality. Well made soy milk is creamy and thick, the okara (soy bean pulp) will be fine and quite dry.
      – the soy milk needs to be the correct temperature before coagulant is added. The best thing is to use a correctly calibrated thermometer.
      – make sure the lemons you use are sour lemons. There are types of lemons which are sweet and not sour. Do not use those kinds.

      I hope that helps! Good luck!

    • Awura ama
      Reply

      At which point will you get the okara from the soymilk and which stage will you get the tofu and the soymilk. Other recipe that I saw they had three recipes. The okara, tofu and the soymilk. Pls help me am confused

      • Mary
        Reply

        Okara is the pulp from straining the blended soy beans; the stuff leftover in the nutmilk/mesh bag. Tofu is made from finished soy milk.
        Hope that answers your question!
        Cheers,
        Mary

  • Nya
    Reply

    What is the health information for this recipe?

    • Mary
      Reply

      This isn’t a health blog and I have limited time so I don’t include nutrition information. However, with so few ingredients, it should be pretty easy to enter the recipe into a free service like Cronometer if you want to find out. Cheers!

  • Amy
    Reply

    Mary, what’s your favorite store bought tofu? I love the tofu at our local Chinatown but pretty sure it’s not non gmo stuff. Thanks!

    • Mary
      Reply

      I buy whatever is the least expensive. The two brands available at my local stores are Sunrise Tofu and Superior Tofu. Both brands use non-GMO soybeans. I don’t really have a preference; they both offer good quality tofu. Further to that, I don’t purposely avoid GMO products either. Those nothing is as great as home-made tofu 😉

  • Kim sae hyon
    Reply

    Hi Mary… I used your recip to make tofu… thank you soo much.. but my mixture is not separating.. what shoul I do.. shall I keep it until it separate..??? Please help me…??????

  • Roz
    Reply

    Thanks for your recipe. I haven’t eaten my first batch (any but a small taste) yet, but I was wondering about the “whey” which separates from the curds of the tofu. If it were dairy cheese, a lot of the protein from the original milk would be in that liquid, but of course this isn’t dairy milk so maybe it’s different?
    Any idea??

  • Chad
    Reply

    Hey Mary, I’ve been trying to make tofu, and have made a couple batches so far. While I’ve been able to get the end product, during the separation of the curds, the coagulant i use(Nigari Flakes aka Magnesium Chloride) does not get the curds to quite the same consistency as you do. I use to Teaspoons of the stuff to about 6-ish cups of soymilk. What i mean when the texture is off, is that i can’t pick up the curds with a spoon, and they seem to be fairly fine and will stick to the cheesecloth i use to separate the curds(which is a pain) they are fine enough that trying to use a wire strainer causes them get stuck in it and not drain very well, as well as being annoying to pull out of the strainer.

    I would really appreciate some advice, as being the only man with an interest in cooking, i’ll be having no help from my mates. Thanks in advance for any light you can shed on this, as i am lost.

    • Chad
      Reply

      Sorry, Two Teaspoons of Nigari flakes, not “to”. My English teacher would cry if she saw that!

    • Anastasia
      Reply

      I have the same problem as Chad. I used Gypsum, because i couldn’t get the lemon to work at all. It’s as if it doesn’t separate properly. The whey is still quite milky and the curds are small.. what are we doing wrong?

  • Freda
    Reply

    Pls can I use apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice?

    • Mary
      Reply

      I haven’t tested with apple cider vinegar. Please let me know the results if you decide to experiment with it!

  • Agnès
    Reply

    Hi Mary. I made your tofu recipe yesterday, with store-bought soymilk that contains only water and soybeans. I have encountered a problem : when, after 15 min of rest for my lumpy mixture, it was time to drain it, using a regular cotton cloth because that’s all I had, it was too hot for me to squeeze with my hands. Therefore, I had to use a spoon to “press”, but the end result is closer to silken tofu. I cannot use it as I would with firm tofu because it breaks apart too easily in my hands. I am still very happy to have made my own silken tofu, and will use it, but I wish I could make firm tofu without getting third-degree burns on my hands ^^
    So I was wondering if I could either let the mixture sit for longer than 15 min in the pot, so that it cools down in the pot, and then drain it like you showed in the video, or, pour it on the cloth, and wait at this stage, long enough for me to handle it and effectively press it.
    I’m counting on your experience for this, but if you don’t know, which I totally understand, I’ll just have to try these options myself.
    At least, I know how to do silken tofu ^^
    Thank you if you answer me, and even if you don’t, because I respect your work, I know it’s good because I watch all your videos and often get inspired.
    God bless,
    Agnès

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Agnes,
      I’ve already answered your comment on on the YouTube page, but just wanted to add it here in case any readers get confused 🙂

      “Be careful and DON’T burn yourself. After scooping the curds into your cloth, draining away excess water by simply pulling on the edges of the cloth, you can let it cool enough for you to handle properly.

      When first gathering up the cloth, you should have only squeezed gently. Don’t use anything else to press the curds. We don’t want to break them up. Instead, just let the weight do the work!

      The tofu is made firm by the weight on top, slowly pressing and forcing the water to drain out. Do not add extra force by squeezing with your hands; this breaks the curds and your tofu will become crumbly.

      You would not have made silken tofu, though you might’ve thought so if your tofu was soft. Silken tofu is made with whole soy milk, not separated into curds and whey like in this process.”

      I’m working on my silken tofu blog post still. Hopefully, I can get that up sooner rather than later so I can show you the difference. Thanks so much for giving this recipe a try. I know it can be intimidating <3

      Cheers,

      Mary

  • Honey
    Reply

    HI!

    I just made your soymilk and tofu and both turned out perfectly!

    I hand squeezed the remaining okara, mixed it with cumin, coriander, salt pepper, garlic, onion, and a little flour and friend up some falafel. They did, somehow, have a very distinct fishy flavor. I imagine they are similar to your sea burgers. I’ll be having these with tartar sauce next time I’m in a mood for something from the sea.

    Thanks for these easy recipes, beautiful blog post, and great video!

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Honey! Thanks for your lovely comment 🙂 I’m so happy to hear about your success making soy milk and tofu and your own okara cakes! <3 Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

  • Kathleen R
    Reply

    Hi Mary,

    I just tried this recipe but I don’t know where I went wrong. It wasn’t as lumpy as shown in your video. I still tried to drain it out etc and it ended up being crumbly…I will keep trying to get this right. Would like some some advice on what I went wrong. Thank you for the simple easy recipe!

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Kathleen. Thanks for your question. Did you use homemade soy milk?

  • Kathleen
    Reply

    Hi Mary. Yes I did. I used a soymilk maker which just requires me to put in the beans and water.

    • Mary
      Reply

      It might be the soymilk. Some readers have told me their soy milk maker doesn’t extract enough to make good tofu. However, that might not be the problem. Was the liquid still milky looking after coagulation (just before removing the curds)?

  • Kathleen
    Reply

    The liquid was clear just like the video.

    • Kathleen
      Reply

      Is it possible that I used too much soy milk instead? My one cup is 250ml so 5cups would hv been 1250ml..i will keep trying tho 🙂

      • Rachael Roberts-Toler
        Reply

        Hi Mary! My husband and I had so much fun making the home made soy milk and tofu! The recipe was easy to follow and kinda therapeutic. The soy milk turned out great- it reminded me of the soybean milk my host mom would make for me in China years ago. We made a double batch of the tofu recipe but only got a small amount of tofu. Do you have any suggestions for getting a higher yield? We ended up with a LOT of okara, not sure if that indicates anything

        • Mary
          Reply

          Hi Rachael,
          Was the leftover liquid milk or clear? If milky, you could heat it up again and dose it with coagulant again; see if you can get the remaining protein to curdle. If clear, you did a good job on the coagulation part but maybe didn’t blend the beans enough to get everything you could out of them. You can try blending the okara with more water and see what you can get out of them. It’s a tricky balance between blending enough to get everything out and blending too much and making it hard to strain. Honestly, though you don’t get a whole lot of tofu out of one batch. As you can see the block in the video isn’t very big at all and I started with 5 cups of soy milk. Good luck!
          -Mary

  • Catherine
    Reply

    Can you use this tofu to make your “fried chicken” recipe?

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Catherine,

      Good question. It’s better to use commercially sold tofu since its texture is more consistent. The tofu I made in the video would not be suitable since it was pressed quite firm. You need medium firm tofu for the recipe to turn out with all the flaky layers. While it’s possible to make medium-firm tofu at home, I don’t have such specific instructions for that.

      -Mary

  • Lauren
    Reply

    Hi, Mary! As an aspiring low-waster, I really appreciate this recipe. I use my organic cotton nut milk bag for both straining out the okra and shaping the end tofu block, and it works very well! I also use a strainer pot to press the tofu because I don’t feel like buying a tofu press 😉 I have made your recipe three times, starting from the soybeans and going all the way to putting my tofu in recipes, and it gets better every time as I get more comfortable with the process! Everyone should try this recipe…thank you so much, it’s delicious!

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Lauren,
      Thanks for all the kind words and the tips! I’m so happy you’re getting good use out of this recipe 🙂
      -Mary

  • Bret
    Reply

    Hi Mary.

    Could I use vinegar as a coagulant? I’m not having any luck with the lemon juice.

    Thanks.

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Bret,
      Yes, white vinegar should work. But if you’re not having luck with lemon juice, I’d take an extra look at your soy milk– it’s usually the milk and not the lemon. Good luck!
      -Mary

  • Erika Leinung
    Reply

    Thank you for your receipe, would like to subscribe to more..

  • Robert
    Reply

    Sadly, this is the first recipe on Mary’s website that did not work. The tofu came out grainy and loose. I have switched to Nigari as my coagulant and am getting better results.

  • CEB
    Reply

    I used your soy milk 2.0 and then this tofu recipe and the milk was bitter and it didn’t curdle. Very disappointing. This was my first try making vegan milk.
    Does anyone here know another recipe?

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Cecilia,
      That sounds frustrating. I don’t know why your soy milk would’ve turned bitter no matter which recipe you used. It may be that your soy beans were rancid. They should not have any strong smells. However, this tofu recipe calls for my original soy milk recipe (http://www.marystestkitchen.com/diy-soy-milk-recipe/), not the 2.0 version. The reason is that the quick-boiled soy beans in recipe 2.0 are more difficult to strain, causing some people to have a more watery soy milk with less protein and fat to make into tofu. I recommend using the original soy milk recipe that I linked in this recipe.
      Good luck!

  • Shawn Chong
    Reply

    Thank you for this awesome recipe, Mary! It uses metric measurements (my favourite) and is well-written and clear… also contains all the information necessary (such as how much tofu is produced from the how much soya milk). Thank you so much!!!

  • Von
    Reply

    Thank you Mary for this video. A made a double batch of your recipe it came out really good! Can hardly wait to make more! Fam likes tofu!

  • TAI-CHEN LIN
    Reply

    Tried your tofu recipe, didn’t work out so well for me, i guess maybe my soymilk was too watery?
    or i didn’t commit to make enough.
    or my strainer clothes was too pores?
    the “tofu” residue just got squeezed right through.

    nevertheless, never knew soymilk with lemon juice taste so delicious.
    good thing tofu are really cheap to buy i guess.

    it was good fun, thank you anyway.

    • Mary
      Reply

      You might need to layer up your cloth so only the liquid goes through. Personally, I really like using a nut milk bag which is quite fine and strong enough to squeeze thoroughly. It sounds like you did end up with some tofu at the end and I’m glad you enjoyed that. Good luck for next time!

      – Mary

  • DarcieD
    Reply

    I have been making cheese for years. First try at making tofu. Made the soy milk exactly to the letter. IN fact, I have a VitaMix, so a lot went into that milk. Heated to 160 using my perfectly tested candy thermometer. Added lemon as directed, timed the stirring and everything.

    NO coagulation at al. Nothing. I’ve never heard of such a thing until now – with so many people saying this, I’d say there is something wrong. I sure don’t know what. But I have wasted a lot of soy and time and washing and scrubbing and time. Don’t know what to do with the destroyed soy milk – toss it out, right?

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Darcie,
      That sounds frustrating; let’s see if I can help troubleshoot. I’m not sure what you mean by since you have a VitaMix a lot went into it. It should not make a difference whether you use a regular or high powered blender. What matters is that you get a good extraction of protein and fat from the blended soaked uncooked beans. You should have a good amount of okara left over – it should resemble play-doh. Extra fiber in the soy milk is not desired for this recipe.

      Assuming your temp and process was good, lack of coagulation could be due to your soy milk not being properly extracted. The other variable is lemon juice Since lemons are from nature, their acidity can vary. Get around this by using good quality bottled lemon juice; they are usually very consistent. For even more consistent results, try using calcium sulfate (food-grade gypsum).

      Since you said nothing happened at all (so not even a bit of coagulation) it’s probably the milk not the lemon juice though.

      Definitely do not throw away your soy milk. If made correctly, you can use it for baking or any cream sauces that could use a touch of lemon.

  • Dan
    Reply

    Thanks for the recipe! I used the homemade soy milk from your other recipe and it worked perfectly. The tofu tastes amazing, way better than store bought! Very satisfying to make.

    • Mary
      Reply

      That’s great to hear, Dan. Thanks so much for your comment.
      Cheers,
      Mary

  • Samira Johnston Jones
    Reply

    I spent hours making your soy milk, which tasted great, and then when trying to make the tofu it didn’t work at all. No proper curdling, literally only tiny floating bits, nothing workable. I’ve no idea what went wrong. I now have ruined soy milk that I can’t use for anything else and I’m gutted. 🙁 can’t put lemony soy milk in my tea!

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Samira,
      That’s so frustrating and I’m so sorry I didn’t see your comment until now.
      The main reasons for tofu not curdling is

      your soy milk not hot enough. It should be at 160°F
      poor quality extraction, meaning there wasn’t enough protein/fat in the milk to begin with
      poor quality or old beans

      If the remaining whey was clear and yellowish (not milky) that means coagulation did happen. No matter how grainy the bits looked, you could put it into a cloth + mold and let the excess water drain out. Small grains usually means too much stirring which broke up the curds.

      If the remaining whey was milky, this means incomplete coagulation. You could heat the soy milk back up to 160°F, get it off the heat, cover and let it sit. If that still didn’t work, you could add a little more coagulant.

      If you did everything right and it still didn’t work, I could conclude that it was the beans and not your process.

      I’m sorry these tips are too late for the batch you just made. And by now, the grainy soy milk has come to the end of its shelf life. If it’s still OK, you can use it to make pancakes or other cakes! Use it as you would buttermilk.

      I hope that helps and again I apologize for the late reply. I check my Instagram DMs daily so if there is anything urgent, you can reach me there.
      Good luck!

      Mary

  • Bill Fry
    Reply

    I followed directions perfectly. Made Soymilk from soaked beans. Refrigerated overnight and this morning I put the 5 cups of milk in a pan, brought it to 160 deg F and then removed from heat and added lemonwater. Stirred for 3 min in the figure 8 and no curd. Let it sit covered stirred no curd. added lemon juice stirred no curd let set no curd What did I do wrong?:

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Bill,
      That sounds frustrating.
      Try to bring it up to temperature again and let it sit for 10 minutes. Are there any curds? If not, your soy milk was probably not extracted properly OR the beans were too old OR the lemons you used were not sour (there are sweet lemons which are not acidic at all).
      I hope that helps to figure out what went wrong.
      Stay well and safe,
      Mary

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