Skip to Content

Does tofu need to be refrigerated?

Sharing is caring!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

When it comes to storing tofu, the opinions about refrigerating are mixed. With proper refrigeration, tofu lasts long and does not alter the taste or color. 

But, does tofu need to be refrigerated? Yes, tofu is a perishable food that needs to be refrigerated or it will go bad. However, there are some brands that manufacture shelf stable tofu that does not need to be refrigerated until opened. 

Unopened packages of fresh tofu stored in the refrigerator can last up to a week after the expiration date. Tofu kept in the freezer can last for 2 months passed the official printed date on the packet, which is true for both silken and regular tofu.

Once you open a package of tofu, it needs to be stored in the fridge and will go bad in 3-5 days.

Keeping tofu in the fridge is best way to store for a short period of time because it does not require thawing or any other procedure for cooking. Before consuming, checking the visual appearance, smell for foul odors, and then taste a small bite to determine that the tofu has not gone bad.

This article talks about best way to store tofu in the fridge to prevent it from going bad. Answered below are frequently asked questions about refrigerating opened and unopened tofu , and how long it will stay fresh.

How do you store unopened tofu?

The optimal way to store tofu is fully submerged in water inside a sealed container either placed in the refrigerator or freezer. Unopened package of tofu is much easier to store than once the seal has been broken. 

When stored in the refrigerator, tofu can last for 3-5 days after the sell-by date printed by the manufacturer.

If you want to keep tofu for longer, or bought more packages than you plan to use at once, store unopened packages of tofu in the freezer. 

As a matter of fact, when tofu is stored in the freezer, it may last for 2 months after the sell-by date printed by the manufacturer. Defrost frozen tofu by leaving it in the refrigerator for 24 hours, then proceed as normal.

Refrigerating Tofu

Tofu must be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Depending on whether the tofu is cooked or raw, the refrigerating method may vary.

If you have already marinated and cooked the tofu, make sure it has cooled before putting it in the refrigerator. But if you are storing unprepared tofu, it is best to keep in fresh water to prevent it from drying out.

Tofu only remains good for 3-5 days after the package is opened. To store tofu, place it in an airtight container, fill with fresh water, and place in the fridge. 

In order to keep the tofu fresh for longer, replace the water it is stored in every day.

On the other hand, unopened packages of tofu can last for a week after the sell-by date when stored in the refrigerator. 

Before using, visually check to see whether the tofu is still good, then proceed with smelling if there is any sour odor. If still uncertain, taste a small piece. 

Any hint of sour or rotten flavor indicates that the tofu has gone bad and needs to be thrown out.

Does tofu go bad if not refrigerated? 

Yes, tofu goes bad if it is not kept in the refrigerator. At room temperature, tofu can quickly become a breeding ground for all types of bacteria that can cause food borne illness.

Unopened containers of tofu in water will last about 1 week after the sell-by date when kept in the refrigerator. If stored in the freezer, tofu in water may last about 2 months after the sell-by date.

If you have cooked the tofu and want to store it, keep in an airtight container in the fridge for no more than 3-5 days, after which it should be eaten or thrown out.

Does tofu need to be refrigerated before opening?

Yes, tofu needs to be refrigerated before opening. Just like any perishable food items, avoid leaving tofuat room temperature in the temperature danger zone for more than two hours.

If the tofu was refrigerated when purchased, it needs to be stored in the refrigerator. But if you purchased shelf-stable tofu, like canned or boxed tofu, it is a shelf stable food that can be stored in a cool, dark and dry pantry.

If stored properly, tofu can last about 1 week after its sell-by date. Tofu that is not canned may also be stored unopened in the freezer where it may last for 2 months passed its sell-by date.

Does tofu need to be refrigerated after opening?

Yes, tofu need to be refrigerated after opening. Store the tofu in a container filled with cold water, and place in the fridge.

Most tofu needs to be refrigerated even before being opened. However, there are some brands of pasteurized tofu that are shelf stable when sealed, and only need to be refrigerated after opening.

Tofu is a perishable food item that will spoil if exposed to the temperature danger zone of 40℉ to 140℉ for longer than 2 hours. The 2 hour rule states that perishable food should only remain out for 1 hour if the temperature is above 90℉.

After tofu opened, it needs to remain refrigerated and consumed within 3-5 days, regardless of the sell-by date.

The container should be airtight to extend freshness, and unsealed packages or plastic wrap may jeopardize the longevity of opened tofu in the fridge.

Does tofu need to be refrigerated after cooking?

Yes, cooked tofu needs to be refrigerated within an hour or two if not consumed. Cooked tofu is a perishable food that should be stored in the fridge for it to be safe to consume for 3-5 days after being cooked.  

If you don’t eat all of your cooked tofu, it needs to be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Wait until it has cooled before placing it in the refrigerator. 

Due to the temperature danger zone of 40 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, tofu can spoil within a few hours if left out of the refrigerator, even if it is cooked. 

Cooked tofu stored properly in the fridge should be safe to eat for 3-5 days. If the leftover tofu has hung around longer than that, consider disposing of it and cooking a fresh batch to avoid potential food safety hazards.

How long does tofu keep unrefrigerated?

It is not recommended to store tofu unrefrigerated unless it is a sealed package that is pasteurized and shelf stable. If tofu has been left out more than two hours at room temperature, it is best to discard. 

Tofu is a perishable food item, therefore it is best to not leave the bean curd out for longer than one hour when the room temperature is 90 degree Fahrenheit or above

It is important to store tofu that you don’t plan to eat immediately in a sealed container in the refrigerator. In fact, tofu grows harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning when left out for too long.

How long can you leave tofu out to dry?

Depend on the recipe and personal preferences, tofu can be dried or served fresh. However, if the recipe indicate dried tofu, it takes about 30-60 minutes for tofu to dry completely.  

If you want tofu to hold its shape, it needs to be pressed or dried before cooking. Start with firm or extra-firm tofu stored in water.  

Before cooking, drain the water and press the tofu to get the excess water out of it. To press tofu, stack paper towels on top and underneath the curd on a plate, and leave in the fridge to avoid extended exposure to the temperature danger zone.

Alternatively, dry tofu without pressing it, although pressing is the preferred method. This method requires you to slice the tofu into pieces and put the slices in between sheets of paper towels. 

Leave it for 30-60 minutes before it will be dried and ready to cook.

Can you eat tofu left out overnight?

No, you should not eat tofu left out overnight. Tofu is a perishable food that may harbor bacteria growth when left at room temperature for too long.

Whether opened or unopened,  cooked or uncooked, tofu can go bad quickly if left outside of the refrigerator. Longer than 2 hours at room temperature and the health department recommends that the tofu be discarded.

It is only safe to eat tofu that has been properly stored in the refrigerator or sealed packages of shelf stable tofu. Generally, tofu in a shelf-stable, pasteurized, unopened container, does not need stored in the refrigerator until it has been opened.

If you leave tofu out overnight, it can grow bacteria that may result in food poisoning.

Does tofu need to be refrigerated?

Refrigerating Tofu: Conclusion

Some tofu is sold in shelf-stable packaging, while others are sold in the refrigerated section of the grocery store because they need to be kept in the refrigerator before opening. It is important to note which type you purchased before leaving it out of the fridge.

Once opened and left at room temperature without refrigeration, tofu can go bad quickly as harmful bacteria can multiply within a few hours. 

Remember to store any unused tofu in the refrigerator within 2 hours. If you forget and leave tofu out for too long, it should be discarded so that it doesn’t make anyone sick.

When tofu that has been properly stored, it is typically safe to eat for a week beyond the sell-by date listed on the packaging. 

After opening tofu package, it is highly suggested to cover with cold water and store in the fridge inside an airtight container. Opened tofu should be eaten with 3-5 days, regardless of the label date on the packaging.

Furthermore, cooked tofu also needs to be refrigerated if not consumed within an hour or two. Ensure to cool down completely, transfer into the fridge and eat within 3-5 days.. 

If the cooked or uncooked tofu is accidentally left out overnight, it is best to throw away since tofu can go bad quickly which results in potential food poisoning.

In general, the best place to store tofu is the fridge for absolute convenience. When properly stored in the refrigerator, tofu stays fresh for 3-5 days after opening or a week after the sell by date when the container remains sealed.

Sharing is caring!