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Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

How Long Does Tofu Last



When you want to enjoy the health benefits of tofu, but you don’t want to get sick by eating expired tofu, then you must be wondering, how long is tofu good for before you can no longer use it?

a white bowl of cubed grilled tofu with small beans scattered around it
How long does tofu last? Store yours correctly for a long life.

Tofu is a soy product that is sold in different shapes and styles. You can season and prepare it many different ways to give it textures and flavors, but soy tofu is naturally odorless and tasteless. But does tofu go bad? How long does tofu last? What is the shelf life of tofu?

Here you’ll learn some tips about the difference between soft and firm tofu, refrigerated and frozen tofu, and how long tofu lasts.

How to Tell if Tofu is Bad

Does tofu go bad? Yes; it’s a soy product and not storing it correctly will make tofu go bad.

It’s pretty easy to tell if tofu is bad before taking a bite. One of the best tips is to simply take a look at it. If your tofu looks brown or yellow, or there are signs of mold, your tofu has gone bad. Don’t consume it; you can get food poisoning.

If it looks okay, then smell the tofu. If tofu has gone bad, it will have a bad odor, with a sour smell. Since tofu is supposed to be odorless, if you smell anything at all, that could be a sign that the tofu is no longer edible.

Finally, you can always take a look at the package. The manufacturer should have placed an expiration date on the packaging. In most cases, the date for tofu will be accurate and you shouldn’t risk eating the tofu beyond the sell by date.

Always make sure that your tofu has been frozen or refrigerated or stored properly before you use it, even if you’re opening it before its sell by date. The last thing you want is to get sick from tofu that’s spoiled, and it’s easy enough to check for freshness.

How to Extend Shelf Life of Fresh Water Tofu

If you can’t use all the freshwater tofu in the plastic wrap in one sitting, there’s no need to throw it out. You can extend the shelf life of your tofu with some fresh water, making it last 3 to 5 days in refrigerator storage.

Keep the tofu in an airtight container with some fresh water, and make sure to replace the water daily to extend your tofu’s life. Keep it refrigerated. We recommend using distilled water if you want to see the best results.

If your freshwater tofu is unopened and you want to extend its freshness, storage in the refrigerator is the best way to do so. This will keep bacteria and mold away longer.

The fresh water helps to preserve the tofu while refrigerated so it won’t go bad. If you try to store the tofu in a container without fresh water, you run a higher risk of mold and bacteria growth. The same is true if you don’t change the water on a daily basis.

Water keeps tofu fresher because tofu loves to absorb any moisture around it. If your tofu has moisture in it, it will continue to be safe. When the tofu dries out, then you’re in trouble–the tofu will quickly spoil.

How to Extend Shelf Life of Frozen Tofu

Tofu naturally spoils pretty quickly once it’s opened. You don’t want it to go bad before you can use it. No one wants to get sick off of expired tofu, especially if it’s been a long time in storage.

One smart way to extend the shelf life of your unopened tofu is to freeze it. If it has remained unopened before the sell by date, your tofu can last for a long time in the freezer: up to three months!

The common complaint about freezing food is that it often loses its taste. The benefit if you freeze tofu is that it has no natural taste to lose anyway. In fact, freezing tofu actually makes it better at absorbing flavors.

If your tofu has been opened and you want to freeze and store the leftover unused tofu, you should follow a few easy steps to make sure it freezes properly.

Cut your uncooked tofu into cubes first. Then, place the cubes on a baking sheet, separating them slightly, and place the baking sheet in your freezer until the tofu is frozen. Then, transfer the frozen cubes to a freezer-safe container for the best results.

Cutting tofu into cubes is the best way to save tofu when it comes to freezing, as cubing it creates more surface area of the tofu, allowing the tofu to freeze evenly and properly before it goes into storage in the freezer.

How to Store Tofu

The best way to store unopened tofu is to leave it in its original packaging. When you purchase it from the store, it will be wrapped in airtight packaging. Place the package in storage in your fridge until you’re ready to prepare it; the shelf life of unopened tofu is a pretty long time.

You shouldn’t open the stored container until you’re ready for your tofu, and the best plan is to eat it all in one sitting.

If you do have leftover tofu, however, you have a number of choices when it comes to storing it. Let’s take a look at the most effective ways to make your tofu last.
fresh water unopened
If your freshwater tofu is unopened, that’s good news.

You can put the package in the fridge and it will last up to three months. Alternatively, you can freeze it and save it for up to three months after the printed expiration date.

Lastly, the container can go in the pantry up until the tofu expiration date on the package.
fresh water opened
Once you open the tofu, your window to consume it gets smaller.

You can leave it in the fridge for up to five days. Put the leftover tofu in an airtight container along with distilled water to keep it fresh. Change the water daily to ensure it stays good longer.

You may also freeze the tofu for up to three months. In this case, you simply put the tofu in an airtight bag or container (with no liquids). As stated above, we recommend you cube the tofu before freezing it.

It’s not recommended for you to store opened tofu in the pantry. It might last one or two days, but it spoils really quickly.
When you freeze tofu, you need to keep a few things in mind.

Firstly, try to dry the tofu as much as possible before putting it in the freezer. Some people recommend leaving the tofu on a paper towel in the fridge for a few hours before freezing it to absorb the excess moisture.

You also need to remember to cube the tofu before freezing it, as we recommended above.

This method ensures that your tofu will last as long as possible. Most tofu stored this way will last up to 3 months.

When you’re ready for tofu again, make sure you give it plenty of time to thaw and defrost so it won’t go bad after all your hard work.
leftover (cooked)
Cooked tofu can be stored the same way as freshwater opened tofu. The only exception here is that you should never put cooked tofu in the pantry–it will spoil way too quickly.

You can put seasoned and cooked tofu in the fridge or freezer just as you would any other leftovers to save it until you can enjoy it later.

What Happens if You Eat Bad Tofu?

healthy salad with tofu on top in white bowl with half an avocado and lemon slice beside bowl
Tofu can be a tasty part of a well-balanced diet.

If you eat bad tofu, you can get sick.

Just as with any other food, when tofu goes bad it contains harmful bacteria and mold. Consumption of these contaminants is what causes you to become sick.

The most common symptoms after eating spoiled tofu are:

  • Bloating and gas
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Headaches
  • Nausea

It’s not worth the risk to consume questionable tofu. If you can’t tell if the tofu is good or bad, it’s better to throw it out. Tofu is inexpensive enough that it shouldn’t break the bank too much to pick up a new package.

With that being said, even “raw” tofu is cooked to an acceptable level before it’s packaged. That means that you don’t have to worry about food poisoning from eating raw tofu.

Unlike with raw meat, you’re not very likely to get sick from eating raw tofu. The real problem is when you ingest moldy or bacteria-ridden tofu that has been sitting out for too long or that has not been stored properly.


It’s important to understand how long your tofu will last in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer so you can avoid getting sick. There are a lot of different ways to store tofu, but remember that you should avoid opening the package until you’re ready to eat it. Now, get out there and eat some tofu!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Will raw tofu make me sick?

Probably not. Unlike raw meat, raw tofu doesn’t have a high likelihood of making you sick when it’s eaten raw. Raw tofu is slightly cooked before being packaged.

Can I buy contaminated tofu?

Like other foods in the industry, you can wind up purchasing a bad batch of tofu. It will make you sick because there was some type of contamination at the plant that it was manufactured in. As with any other food, trust your eyes and your nose when examining your tofu before you prepare it.

Is the expiration date on tofu ever wrong?

Though these are rarely wrong, you should always check for yourself to see if the tofu is good. Check for brown, yellow, or moldy spots on your tofu. Also, you should not be able to notice any smell at all from raw tofu, so if it has any odor at all, then you should throw it out. Don’t eat smelly or moldy tofu simply because the package says that it should be okay.

Additional Resources:

Taste of Home: 16 tofu recipes that are actually delicious

YouTube: 3 delicious tofu recipes

Women’sHealthMag.com: 7 ways to make tofu taste good

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: Rose Reinhard

Rose Reinhard is a Thai-American foodie from Chiang Mai, Thailand. She's been a creative writer since she could speak and enjoys making vegetarian/vegan dishes and reading about food science. She claims her air-fryer is the best purchase she’s ever made to date.

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