Tofu is a staple ingredient of vegetarian and plant-based diets as well as Asian cuisine, often used as a substitute for meat.
It’s a primary form of plant-based protein, made from soy milk that has been condensed in production.
Tofu is an excellent ingredient to cook with since it’s very versatile and can be baked, fried, or scrambled.
However, it’s also possible to consume tofu in its raw form without cooking it.
With that being said, a lot of people have concerns about the safety of eating tofu.
Read on to find out if it’s safe to eat uncooked tofu, whether there are any risks involved, and what you can do to mitigate those risks.
Can You Eat Tofu Raw?
The short answer to this question is yes, you can eat tofu raw.
Technically, tofu has already been cooked in production, so there’s no need to cook it again before you eat it if you don’t want to.
However, there are some reasons why you might want to cook your tofu before eating it, as well as some reasons why you might prefer to stick with raw tofu.
Are There Any Risks To Eating Raw Tofu?
While it’s normally safe to eat raw tofu, it’s worth bearing in mind that there is always a small risk of foodborne illness when eating raw tofu.
Now, your risk of getting food poisoning from raw tofu is much lower than if you were to eat raw eggs (a huge salmonella risk) or raw meat.
However, that risk still isn’t 0.
Although tofu is cooked during processing, it’s a commercially prepared food, which means that there’s always a small risk of contamination.
For example, if tofu were handled by a factory employee who had not washed their hands, you could contract an illness this way.
Cross-contamination with other foods that might have germs or bacteria on them could also lead to foodborne illness.
Another way you could end up getting sick from eating raw tofu is by consuming germs in the water tofu is stored in.
There was a case in the 1980s where a gastrointestinal infection spread through untreated water used to store tofu.
Bear in mind that some tofu is fermented with yeast, and this kind of tofu comes with an increased risk of pathogens.
Despite this, it’s fairly unlikely that you’ll get sick from eating raw tofu, especially if you follow the guidance we’ll be giving later in this guide for eating raw tofu safely.
However, eating tofu raw is something you may want to avoid if you’re over the age of 65, pregnant, or have an autoimmune condition.
Infants may also be at higher risk of contracting an illness from eating tofu raw.
Why Eat Tofu Raw?
Many people balk at the idea of eating tofu raw because of the reasons outlined above, as well as because tofu has a reputation for being bland unless it’s cooked with a lot of other ingredients.
However, you may be surprised to learn that eating raw tofu could benefit you in a number of ways.
First of all, eating tofu raw means you’re not cooking the tofu in oils.
Frying is a common method of cooking tofu, but it adds a lot of saturated fats, which you can avoid by eating tofu in its raw form.
Additionally, eating tofu raw can save you a lot of time since you’re cutting out the time you would need to spend marinating and cooking the tofu.
It may even save you money because if you’re not using oils and other ingredients to cook your tofu, you won’t have to buy these ingredients as frequently.
So, eating tofu raw can help you to cut back on excess fats and save you both time and money.
As long as you know how to eat raw tofu safely, you should also be able to avoid any of the potential risks.
How To Eat Raw Tofu Safely
How do you eat raw tofu safely?
Here’s what we recommend:
1. Refrigerate Tofu Under 40 Degrees
Tofu should be stored at temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or 4 degrees Celsius.
This means you should refrigerate your tofu and make sure it doesn’t reach above this temperature, since this is when tofu is most likely to grow bacteria.
2. Drain The Liquid
The water used to preserve tofu is a potential source of foodborne bacteria, so draining this away first can minimize the risk of you getting sick.
3. Wash Your Utensils
When cutting your tofu ready for eating, make sure the knife and chopping board you are using are clean.
This way, you can ensure that no bacteria is transferred from your utensils to the tofu.
Always use a clean cutting board rather than cutting tofu directly on your countertop.
4. Be Careful If You’re At Higher Risk
As we mentioned earlier, certain people are more likely to get sick from eating raw tofu if there are contaminants present.
For example, if you’re pregnant or over the age of 65, you may want to play it safe and cook your tofu before eating it.
Additionally, if you’re preparing tofu for an infant or young child, cooking it might put your mind at rest.
If you have an autoimmune condition, speak to your healthcare provider about whether eating raw tofu is safe for you.
For the most part, it is totally safe and can even be beneficial to eat tofu raw.
Raw tofu is free from the saturated fats in cooking oils and is much quicker and easier to prepare, as well as cheaper.
However, you should always drain your tofu thoroughly, keep it refrigerated at all times, and wash your cutting utensils when preparing raw tofu.
You should be especially careful to do these things if your immune system is weaker due to age or a medical condition, as well as if you are pregnant.
Otherwise, as long as you follow the precautions in this guide, eating raw tofu should not present a significant risk.
- 14 ounces extra-firm tofu
- ½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons tamari
- ½ teaspoon sriracha
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Place parchment paper on a baking pan and preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Mix the cubed tofu with the tamari, sriracha, and olive oil. Sprinkle the cornstarch over the tofu and gently toss to coat for additional crispy tofu.
- Onto the baking pan, distribute the tofu evenly. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the edges are golden. Remove and warmly serve.