Sweet and Sour Tofu

An irresistible fusion of crispy tofu triangles bathed in a sweet and tangy sauce. This sweet and sour tofu is a delicious plant-based alternative to traditional take-out sweet and sour chicken.
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Vegan Crispy Tofu Recipe with Sweet and Sour Sauce
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Three words are all you need to know about this ravishing recipe—tangy, textured, and super tasty! Wait, that’s four. Oh, well, you get the point. This crispy sweet and sour tofu recipe is totally worth a try, even if you’re a little intimidated by tofu.

If you’re attracted to a thick, flavorful sauce, you’re going to fall in love with this delicious dish. You get all the allure of an asian-inspired, take-out dinner without the expense or animal products. Pressing the tofu (or freezing it the night before) can really help to get the best final finish to the surface of your triangles.

Love tofu stir fries? Then, you must try this eggplant tofu recipe. Excellent for adding in extra veggies or using up a surplus of eggplant from the garden!

What do you say? Are you ready to give it a try? Come on, we’ll do it together!

Vegan Crispy Tofu With Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe

How To Serve Up Your Crispy Sweet and Sour Tofu

Tofu is so terrific, don’t you think? It’s as flexible as you want it to be, not only with texture, but with flavor, too. It seems like you can serve up some tofu with any side at all and it would still be scrumptious and satisfying. Here are a few favorite serving suggestions.

  • Rice Is Always Nice – Our first choice for a savory side would be good ol’ whole grains, specifically rice. This crispy tofu with sweet and sour sauce recipe is totally perfect for topping a scoop of steaming rice.
  • Well-Seasoned Salad Salute – You’ll love the addition of tantalizing tofu triangles atop your sultry salad greens. The combination of cool, crisp leaves and a warm, sweet sauce can be heavenly. Check out our salad guide for ways to create the most perfect pairing of vibrant vegetables!
  • Oodles of Nosh-Worthy Noodles – Noodles are another ingredient that goes wonderfully with most meals. You can use rice noodles, soba noodles, vermicelli noodles, or even kelp noodles—pretty much anything you like! The marvelous mixture of crusty, pan-fried tofu and luxurious, lengthy pasta ribbons is addictive.
  • A Side of Green Beans – Our popular Chinese green beans pair perfectly with this tofu!
  • Don’t Toil Over Your Oil – If you’re a little worried that your sesame oil will smoke, no worries. Instead, use your favorite vegetable oil to fry your tofu and then add a teaspoon or two to the finished dish to get that signature toasted sesame flavor.
  • If Spice Is Your Vice – When it comes to asian-inspired dishes, you may have a hankering for some extra heat. Feel free to add whichever vegan hot sauce you love in whatever amounts you wish. This crispy sweet and sour tofu will take whatever you top it with—guaranteed!
Steamed Sticky White Rice in a bowl with chopsticks.

Star Ingredients

Extra-Firm Tofu (10-ounce block): Choose an extra-firm tofu block, around 10 ounces, ensuring it’s thoroughly drained and pressed to remove excess moisture. Cutting it into triangular pieces allows for better absorption of flavors and a satisfying texture upon cooking. Tofu serves as the centerpiece of this dish, offering a hearty, protein-rich base.

A block of raw tofu on a cutting board.

High-Heat Oil (Toasted Sesame Oil): Harness the rich, nutty essence of toasted sesame oil. As an oil with a high-heat point, it’s perfect for frying and sautéing.

Aromatic Blend (Onion, Garlic, Ginger): The foundation of the sauce begins with a flavorful trio: onions, garlic, and ginger. One medium onion, finely chopped, infuses a savory sweetness. Mince a clove of garlic to release its pungent aroma, complemented by the warmth of grated ginger, approximately a 1-inch piece. Together, they form a fragrant base that enhances the overall complexity of the dish.

Sweet and Sour Sauce (Tamari or Soy Sauce, Maple Syrup, Rice Vinegar, Lemon Juice): The sauce marries sweet, salty, and tangy notes, creating a harmonious blend of flavors. Start with tamari or soy sauce for its rich umami depth. Balance the saltiness with maple syrup (or sugar), providing a natural sweetness. Introduce rice vinegar for a bright, acidic kick, complemented by the juice of half a lemon for freshness. This combination results in a sauce that tantalizes the taste buds with its nuanced profile.

Thickening Agent (Cornstarch): Achieve the desired consistency of the sauce by incorporating 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. This thickening agent transforms the liquid components into a luscious coating, ensuring that it adheres perfectly to the crispy tofu and coats every bite with its irresistible flavor.

Garnish (Scallions and Sesame Seeds): Elevate the visual appeal and freshness of the dish with chopped scallions and sesame seeds as a garnish.

Ingredients for sweet and sour tofu with labels.

How To Cut Tofu Into Triangles

Friends, we can describe to you how to cut tofu into triangles (and we will), but sometimes a quick video is your best bet. This video shows how to cut tofu in four different ways, just in case you don’t like triangles. You can also do it this way:

  1. Cut the tofu block vertically into 2 thick slices.
  2. Then, cut through the center of these so that you have 4 thick blocks.
  3. Turn each block on its end and cut through it diagonally – making two long triangular shapes.
  4. Slice each of the two long triangular shapes into 1/4″ thick slices. Repeat for the other 3 blocks.
Knife resting on a cutting board next to partially sliced tofu block.

Alternatively, you can rip the tofu into chunks that resemble pieces of chicken, so the finished dish will look very similar to sweet and sour chicken.

Simple Storage

This recipe is best eaten the same day, but you can store any leftover tofu in a covered container in the fridge for a few days. If there’s any remaining sauce, try to store that in a mason jar so that you can use it to help heat up your tofu another day. Not recommended for freezing.

To make cooking quicker, you can prep the sauce and cut the tofu into triangles the day before. Keep each in a separate, sealed container until ready to use. Check out our Tofu Guide for the Tentative Cook for more tips on tofu!

If you try this vegan Crispy Tofu with Sweet and Sour Sauce recipelet us know what you think by leaving a comment and rating below! Be sure to follow along on PinterestInstagram and Facebook for even more vegan recipe inspiration.

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Crispy Tofu With Sweet and Sour Sauce

Author: Maria Gureeva
5 from 10 votes
With so many ways to prepare and enjoy tofu, you’re not going to want to skip out on this delicious recipe for crispy tofu with a sweet and sour sauce. Comforting, chewy, and delightful when enjoyed with a side of rice, served atop a salad, or thrown into a noodle soup—this recipe is perfect any time of day or year!
Vegan Crispy Tofu With Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 10-ounce block extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into triangles, (283 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil, (10 ml)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1-inch piece ginger, grated
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped into matchsticks
  • 3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce, (45 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, (30 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, (30 ml)
  • Juice of ½ of a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste, (16 grams)
  • ¼ cup water, (60 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, (8 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, (18 grams)
  • Chopped scallions, for garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the tofu triangles on the lined baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until a light brown color.
  • Meanwhile, heat the sesame oil in a nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and carrot, sautéing for 4 to 5 minutes, until the vegetables soften and the onion is translucent.
  • Make the sauce by stirring together the tamari (or soy sauce), maple syrup, rice vinegar, lemon juice and tomato paste. In a separate bowl, whisk together the water and the cornstarch.
  • When the baked tofu is done, add it to the frying pan and fry it for 5 minutes, rotating each triangle frequently. Then, Pour the sauce into the frying pan and stir well to coat all the tofu triangles. Allow to simmer lightly for 2 to 3 minutes, then pour in the cornstarch slurry and continue to stir until the sauce thickens.
  • During the last minute of cooking, stir in the sesame seeds, garnish with scallions and serve with a side of your choice.

Notes

It’s important to get as much water as possible out of the tofu. Depending on the brand you use, pressing may be necessary. You can also freeze it overnight to get a firmer and chewier texture.

Nutrition

Calories: 107kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 800mg | Potassium: 204mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 2610IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 1mg
Course — Side
Cuisine — asian
Love this Recipe? Leave a Rating!And follow @Vegan on Instagram for more.

We want to thank our amazing recipe testers Annie Sparks & Aston Martin for helping us perfect this recipe!

This vegan Crispy Tofu With Sweet and Sour Sauce recipe was reprinted with permission from the Earthy Vegan Eats by Maria Gureeva (Page Street Publishing, April 6, 2021). Photography by Maria Gureeva.

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5 from 10 votes

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Recipe Rating




11 comments
  1. 5 stars
    Sweet and Sour sauce is too good, I am so happy I can try out this tofu recipe to get the sweet and sour “chickn” effect!

  2. 5 stars
    I’m always so happy to find more vegan tofu recipes 🙂

  3. Andrea White says:

    5 stars
    I’ve been looking for a new sauce for tofu. This is perfect!

  4. 5 stars
    What a delicious sauce! I’m not a huge fan of tofu, but I really liked this dish. Might try it with tempeh next time. Give it a try!

  5. 5 stars
    Delicious melding of flavors…the sauce is delicious. Love crispy tofu!

  6. Beatriz Buono-Core says:

    5 stars
    I seriously need to try this ASAP! All my favorite things combined 😀

  7. 5 stars
    This tofu is SO flavorful and scrumptious. I also like cutting the tofu into cubes instead of triangles because it makes the recipe just a little bit faster and easier for me 🙂

  8. 5 stars
    I love a good sweet and sour dish, especially when tofu is involved! Yum!

  9. 5 stars
    This was really delicious! But the steps of the recipe are quite confusing. What do you do with the vegetables in step 2? Just leave them in the pan? How does this relate to the tofu in a (separate?) pan in step 4? Step 4 says the tofu is in cubes, not triangles, and I think cubes would be a better shape for this dish. The vegetables in step 2 need to be added at the end of step 4, unless we are using the same pan throughout. I solved these odd directions by cooking vegetables and then adding the baked tofu and the sauce–I didn’t see the point of frying baked tofu. I used super firm tofu and tapioca starch instead of cornstarch. I will definitely make this again using cubes of tofu!

    • So glad you liked it, Rebecca! And thanks so much for your feedback, I adjusted how the recipe is written to try to make it more clear for others who make this dish 🙂 Cheers!!

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