By Little Northern Bakehouse

This Soy-Free Tofu edition of the Little Northern Bakehouse Gluten-free Test Kitchen is dedicated to the many for whom gluten isn’t the only problem protein to avoid on the menu of daily life.

Because we know allergies to egg, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, and soy add an extra challenge when they travel together—especially when your food allergen combo includes soy and takes simple swaps (like trading egg or dairy for tofu) off the table.

That’s why we went on a quest to find the best soy-free tofu recipe you can use to make our collection of gluten-free, plant-based recipes soy allergy-friendly!


Tofu is made with soy—a common allergen—and is used to swap out egg and dairy in countless gluten-free, plant-based recipes. For people with egg and dairy allergies, also having a soy allergy takes a lot of recipes off the table.

We want to know:

What is the best way to make soy-free tofu at home to use in egg- and dairy-free recipes that call for firm tofu?

  • Control Ingredients: For each soy-free tofu, we used only three ingredients:
    1. Dried soybean alternative
    2. Water
    3. Salt
Soy-Free Tofu
Rating Criteria: What Qualities Make a Soy-free Tofu a Winner?

To determine the best recipe for soy-free tofu we tested three versions using two types of beans (fava beans and chickpeas) and red lentils. We rated them in three different categories:

  • Texture + Mouthfeel: Does the soy-free tofu match the texture of regular firm soy-based tofu when sliced into cubes and crumbled? And does it match regular firm tofu texture when eaten on its own?
  • Convenience: How easy was the soy-free tofu to prepare using a simple three-ingredient recipe?
  • Taste: How does the soy-free tofu taste when eaten on its own?
Additional Rating Criteria: The Sandwich Test

We tasted and rated each soy-free tofu in this Gluten-free Test Kitchen as an unaltered and unseasoned stand-alone bite so we could review their taste and texture as an ingredient swap to replace regular tofu.

But most recipes don’t call for tofu straight up. So, we also reviewed each soy-free tofu in a real recipe as a pass/fail test to make sure it had the swapping power to welcome more of you to our allergy-friendly, gluten-free recipe table.

Rating Criteria
1. Bean-based Soy-Free Tofu with Chickpeas

Chickpeas produced a tofu with a firmness comparable to the soy-based firm tofu it was meant to replace, but reviewers found it dry and gritty when tasting the sample cubes out of the pan.

Comments were mixed as to whether this soy-free tofu had an almost tasteless or neutral flavour or whether it tasted distinctly like chickpeas.

If you’re someone who thinks chickpea flour brings essence of chickpea to every gluten-free recipe you bake with it, you will likely have similar opinions about chickpea tofu. But if you think chickpeas disappear into recipes or you love a good sesame-free hummus, you’ll appreciate the flavour of this soy-free tofu.

  • You can find dried chickpeas almost everywhere!
  • Chickpea tofu has a cheerful yellow hue that would add yolk-like appeal as a plant-based swap for eggs.
  • Every reviewer commented on the grainy texture of this soy-free tofu, using less-than-appetizing adjectives from gritty to mealy to dry.
  • Unlike fava beans, chickpeas have skins—and removing them adds an extra step if you seek a smoother soy-free tofu (see tip on the Soy-Free Tofu recipe page).
Chickpea Tofu
2. Bean-based Soy-Free Tofu with Fava Beans

Smooth was the word of the day when reviewers tasted the soy-free tofu made from fava beans! Our fava bean tofu had a consistent, sturdy texture very close to firm soy-based tofu; the block sliced easily, and the cubes crumbled like regular tofu.

As with our chickpea tofu, reviews were split as to whether the flavour was mild and neutral or had a stronger fava bean taste.

(Interestingly, those who found the chickpea stronger tasting found the fava bean tofu neutral, and the opposite was true for reviewers who found the chickpea tofu mild!)

  • Fava beans produced a smooth soy-free tofu that closely matched the properties of regular firm soy-based tofu.
  • Of the three cheap and cheerful proteins in our soy-free tofu test, dried fava beans were the hardest to find. Although not uncommon, our team had to visit a few grocery stores to get our hands on a bag. (Fava bean availability varies by retailer and location, so this may be more or less true for you).
  • As the fava bean tofu set, the colour turned from light green to light grey, which might be off-putting if used as a star ingredient where colour and visual appeal matters.
Fava Bean Tofu
3. Lentil-based Soy-Free Tofu with Red Lentils

With a smooth, almost fudgy texture, and a pretty pinkish hue, reviewers of this soy-free tofu all agreed—red lentil tofu definitely tastes like red lentils!

The red lentil tofu sliced nicely and held together well. After setting for 5 – 6 hours* in the fridge, our test block had a firmness similar to regular firm soy-based tofu.

Less dry than the chickpea tofu, the red lentil tofu had a small challenge on the opposite end of the moisture spectrum—it had a slightly softer centre that was a bit on the creamy (mushy?) side when crumbled. (Though its fudginess was not enough to impair its performance in the Sandwich Test!)

* Unlike the bean-based soy-free tofus where changing the water volume adjusts the firmness (see tip on the Soy-Free Tofu recipe page), red lentil tofu firms up over time as it sets.

  • Quick cooking red lentils let you skip the overnight soak and they don’t need to be sieved, so prep is faster and easier than the bean-based soy-free tofus we tested.
  • This soy-free tofu tastes like red lentils—it is not a neutral flavour on its own.
  • Because the degree of firmness is determined by time, not water volume, if you need a specific softness from your soy-free tofu, you’ll need to plan the set time relative to the schedule for the meal you’re making.
Red Lentil Tofu

As standalone bites, the fava bean soy-free tofu came in first overall, earning winning marks in both the Texture + Mouthfeel and Taste categories. But the red lentil soy-free tofu was a close second, sweeping the convenience category unanimously as the easiest and fastest to make.

And although our reviewers sent the chickpea soy-free tofu to a third-place finish, we all agree: when it comes to which soy-free tofu is best, context and personal preference are everything!

The smooth texture and neutral flavour of the fava bean soy-free tofu might be a better choice in a delicately seasoned recipe that leaves little room for a stronger-tasting tofu to hide, while the more assertive flavours of the red lentil or chickpea soy-free tofus might bring star power to a savoury or fried tofu situation.

And the Sandwich Test is telling, too. Every soy-free tofu we reviewed in this Gluten-free Test Kitchen passed with flying colours!

With only four ingredients in the filling, the Gluten-free Egg(less) Salad Sandwich is about as simple as it gets. Vegan mayo, sliced green onion, a generous pinch of turmeric for colour, and salt and pepper to taste is far from an overpowering sauce!

But once each soy-free tofu was crumbled into the mix and sandwiched between slices of gluten-free Seeds & Grains, the differences were so subtle, our team couldn’t pick a first or last place protein.

The verdict? All three soy-free tofus we tested are viable swaps for regular firm soy-based tofu in recipes. So, make your choice based on the dish you’re making, your personal taste, and whatever other food allergy factors you need to consider beyond soy.

Check out our other Gluten-free Test Kitchens for helpful tips on everything from the best way to cook veggie burgers and toast gluten-free buns to the best way to reheat leftover gluten-free pizza.


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Dried bean soy-free tofu recipe adapted from:

Red lentil soy-free tofu recipe adapted from: