Is It Safe to Eat Raw Tofu? We've Got Tips and Tricks for the Plant-Based Protein


Nov. 26 2023, Published 7:22 a.m. ET

Pair of hands holds blue and white bowl with a block of tofu in sauce with seasonings
Source: Sherman Kwan/Unsplash

The Gist:

  • Tofu is generally safe to eat "raw," though it generally never is sold truly raw.
  • There are very few risks involved in consuming raw tofu.
  • Tofu takes on the flavor of whatever you decide to cook it with.
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Tofu is well-loved and respected food amongst the plant-based community and beyond. The soy-based meat alternative is high in protein and can take on any number of shapes and flavors, depending on how you choose to prepare it.

We’ve all been warned of the potential health risks related to consuming uncooked foods like meat or fish. Should the plant-based community exercise the same caution when preparing tofu?

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Salad with raw vegetables and seasoned tofu.
Source: Anh Nguyen/Unsplash

There are little to no risks associated with eating tofu raw.

Tofu is not technically a “raw” food, so you are generally safe to eat it unheated, or straight out of the package. Soybeans are fully cooked prior to being processed into tofu and packaged.

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According to World of Vegan, any potential threats are eliminated in the heating process prior to being packaged. So when referring to “raw” tofu, in reality, this just means it hasn’t been heated yet.

Unheated square tofu on a white plate.
Source: Christina Deravedisian/Unsplash
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You can eat raw tofu — but should you?

This doesn’t mean you shouldn't be careful when preparing your food. Healthline suggests always washing your hands before cooking, and frequently washing your kitchen surfaces to avoid cross-contamination, which could lead to food poisoning.

According to Healthline: “While most people are at a low risk of becoming ill from eating raw tofu, very young children, older adults, pregnant women, or individuals with weakened immune systems may want to practice extra caution when eating tofu without cooking it again at home.”

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There are plenty of other ways to eat tofu. It’s all up to preference.

Because the sponge-like substance is so versatile, it’s up to you about how you choose to consume it. If you’re in a pinch for some protein, you can add raw tofu crumbles to just about any cold meal of your choosing — try adding tofu crumbles to your favorite salad recipe, or opt for a five minute cold tofu dish with peanut sauce and veggies.

If you’re a fan of #tofutok, you might find users, such as @nutritionbykylie, who share their raw tofu recipes that can be ready using just a few common kitchen ingredients.

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There are several different types of tofu to choose from. “Regular” tofu is available in soft, dry, silken, firm and extra firm varieties. If you’re not a big fan of the soybean but want to give tofu a try, check out Burmese tofu, which is made from chickpeas.

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Tofu is not exclusively made for vegans and vegetarians.

Tofu is a very nutritious food high in protein and calcium. It has a fairly versatile flavor, so if you choose to heat it rather than eating it straight from the package — it will typically take on the flavor of whichever sauce you pair it with. Popular sauces to pair your tofu with include teriyaki sauce or flavored with barbecue sauce.

While the texture of tofu sometimes gets a little pushback, this all depends on how you prepare it. If you have some time to spare or are looking to meal prep some protein for the week, try baking your tofu in the oven. Add it to your stir-fry or pop it in the air fryer for a well-done dish.

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