Does Tofu Go Bad? Unopened, Opened & Freezer Expiration
Tofu is a versatile and delicious protein source. Just a quarter of a block has about 9 grams of protein and only 90 calories. It comes in multiple textures from silken, which is great for smoothies, to extra firm, which soaks up sauces in stir fries.
Tofu is made of soy. More specifically, from coagulated soy milk pressed together into blocks. You may think about how shelf-stable soy milk is and wonder, does tofu go bad and how quickly?
Like any food, tofu will go bad eventually. How long it lasts depends on if it’s opened or unopened, and how it’s stored.
How Long Does Tofu Last?
|Tofu||How long it’s good for|
|Unopened tofu, refrigerated||2-3 months|
|Opened tofu, refrigerated||5-7 days|
|Cooked tofu, refrigerated||4-5 days|
|Frozen tofu||5 months|
Unopened tofu will typically last 2-3 months. Review the “sell by” date at the time of purchase. Tofu is good for 3-5 days after the sell by date, assuming it doesn’t show signs of spoilage, which we detail below. If the unopened package is bloated, it’s likely unsafe to eat. Bloating happens when contaminating microorganisms produce gas.
Raw tofu lasts about 5-7 days in the fridge once it’s opened. If it becomes slimy or begins to smell sour, it is no longer good.
How to Store Opened Tofu
Cover tofu in water and store it in an airtight container. This will prevent the tofu from drying out and keep it fresh for longer. It’s best to change the water regularly. While some people recommend changing it everyday, I typically change it every couple of days and it’s fine.
Cooked tofu lasts around 3-4 days in the refrigerator. If you’ve cooked the tofu in a dish with other ingredients, consider their expiration too. For example, if you stir fried tofu with vegetables that were about to expire, you probably want to eat the dish in the next couple of days.
Tofu can last in the freezer for 5 months. Freezing tofu will change it’s texture because tofu has a high water content. As the tofu freezes, the water in it expands, creating little pockets in the tofu. When the tofu is defrosted, the pockets remain, making it more spongey and chewy. It will absorb sauces better, too. Some people like to freeze tofu because defrosted tofu has a “meatier” texture.
How to Freeze Tofu
There are two ways you can freeze tofu:
- Freeze it in cubes. Cut the tofu into cubes and freeze it in an airtight container to freeze. To reduce the cubes sticking together you can flash freeze them. Put them on a plate or baking sheet in a single layer and freeze them for a couple hours until they’re frozen and then transfer them to a freezer-safe container.
- Freeze in blocks. You can freeze the whole tofu block. Either put the unopened package in the freezer or transfer the whole block to a freezer safe container. This method takes longer to defrost when you are ready to use your tofu.
How to Defrost Tofu
There are multiple ways to defrost tofu. It’s important to note that defrosted tofu may have a slightly yellow color. That doesn’t mean the tofu has gone bad.
- Place in refrigerator overnight. Move the tofu from the freezer to the refrigerator and wait. It will take about 8-12 hours to defrost.
- Place it in a bowl of water. Similar to defrosting chicken, you can place an airtight back in a bowl of water, swapping the water out every 20 minutes. It should take 30-60 minutes to defrost tofu cubes.
- Microwave: You can use the defrost setting on the microwave on 2-minute increments. This is my least favorite defrosting method because the cubes are small and it can be easy to overheat them.
How Long Can Tofu Sit Out?
According to the USDA, tofu that sits out at temperatures above 40℉ for more than 2 hours should be discarded.
How to Tell if Tofu is Bad?
There are multiple signs that tofu is bad. They include:
- Bloated packaging: If the top of your package is bulging, it’s likely bad. This is a sign of bacteria in the package feeding on the tofu and producing gas.
- Mold spots: Spots of mold, typically black, white, or grey, may form on your tofu. This often happens to open tofu stored in the refrigerator.
- Sour or fermented odor: Good tofu should have a neutral smell. If it’s giving off any type of pungent smell, typically a sour one, it’s no good.
- Dark color: Tofu may change from white to yellow or tan when it’s gone bad.
- Slimy feel: Tofu that feels like it has a layer of slime on it is no good.
- Different texture: The texture will vary depending on the type of tofu you bought. If your tofu should be extra firm and it’s soft to the touch, it’s bad.
Is it Safe to Eat Expired Tofu?
Like all foods, the expiration date is a suggestion. If your tofu is a few days after it’s expiration date, it’s likely fine. If it’s weeks or month past it’s expiration date, you should dispose of it. Check your tofu for the signs above to help you determine if it’s bad.
Tofu is a versatile and high-protein meat alternative. Even if you aren’t vegetarian or vegan, there are so many ways to add it to your rotation. Try it as a salad topping or stir fry it with sriracha shrimp and vegetables for a quick and healthy weeknight dinner.