This General Tso’s Tofu Recipe is vegan, gluten-free, low-fat and tastes better than takeout. Cooks in less than 15 minutes, this easy tofu recipe marries crispy, fried tofu with a sticky, spicy sweet and sour sauce.
Do you despise tofu? It may be because you’re not cooking it correctly. Tofu takes on the flavor of the sauce and/or seasonings you’re cooking it with, so, for example, if you deprive it of precious sauce or seasonings, it’s going to taste like crap! If you’re unconvinced that you can ever make a tofu recipe taste good, then you must try my General Tso’s Tofu. It’s the one recipe that will convince you to not give up on this spongy protein.
TIP: for the crispiest tofu ever, you MUST press the tofu before you fry it. And fry it you should if your end goal is to have the crispiest tofu you’ve ever eaten.
Why Make This Recipe?
Yup, there’s loads of blogs that feature General Tso’s Tofu, so why should you make this one? I think you’ll love my recipe because it’s:
- health and nutrient-friendly – this tofu recipe contains 4 grams of dietary fiber, 8 grams of protein, 138 milligrams of calcium, and 868 milligrams of potassium. Moreover, The Nutrition and Health Information Sheet: Soy created by scientists at University of California Davis, suggests that tofu may help lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers, improve symptoms of type II diabetes and increase bone mineral density reducing the risk of fracture in osteoporosis.
- quick and easy – after pressing the tofu, recipe takes less than 15 minutes to make.
- dietary restriction-friendly – with only 3 grams of fat per serving, this recipe is suitable for many diets, including low fat, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free.
- taste-friendly – this recipe is unbelievably delicious and friends for whom I’ve made it undoubtedly agree it is FAR BETTER THAN ANY TAKEOUT tofu recipe they’ve ever tried.
- equipment friendly – requires a tofu press (if you want the crispiest tofu ever) large mixing bowl, wooden spoon, small non-stick fry pan and large non-stick fry pan.
What You’ll Need
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- maple syrup – agave, or honey if you’re non-vegan, can be used instead of maple syrup.
- tomato paste – you may substitute with an equal amount of ketchup.
- tamari – if not gluten intolerant, regular or low-sodium soy sauce is the best substitute.
- red pepper flakes – may be substituted with Sriracha Hot Chili Paste.
How to Make General Tso’s Tofu Recipe
Step 1 – for the crispiest sticky tofu, start by pressing the tofu for at least 30 minutes to an hour. I use this fabulous bamboo Simple Drip Tofu Press by Glue Theory and it makes all the difference in the world in how crispy my tofu turns out. Alternatively, you can wrap tofu in a small, clean towel, or multiple paper towels, and place something heavy over it like a large textbook.
Step 2 – while tofu is pressing, prepare the sauce by heating olive oil over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. Sauté for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant.
Step 3 – add maple syrup, tamari, rice vinegar and tomato paste, and whisk until ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
Step 4 – add roux (cornstarch and water mixture; see instructions for how to make). Bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Simmer for one minute until thickened. Remove from heat. Cover and set aside.
Step 5 – Slice tofu down the center into two equal-sized, rectangular blocks. Next, slice 5 vertical sections per each block. Rotate tofu 1/4 turn, then slice horizontally into cubes.
Step 6 – Place cubes into bowl.
Step 7 – Add cornstarch, olive oil and tamari, and stir until evenly coated.
Step 8 – heat olive oil on medium-high heat then add tofu. Fry until tofu is extra-crispy, usually about 10 minutes. Turn cubes half way so they fry evenly.
Step 9 – reduce heat to low and add sauce to tofu.
Step 10 – with spatula, toss tofu and sauce together repeatedly until tofu is evenly coated. Serve this General Tso’s Tofu Recipe immediately on a bed of rice, garnished with sesame seeds, chopped scallions and fresh lime wedges.
FAQ About This Recipe
If your tofu isn’t as crispy as you expected, you can increase the amount of time spent in the tofu press and/or increase the amount of frying time, being careful not to burn it.
To retain it’s crispiness, this recipe is best served immediately after cooking. You may store leftover tofu in a separate, airtight container for up to 3 days and re-heat in microwave, but you should expect it to lose some crispiness during the storing and re-heating process.
I love this sticky tofu recipe with jasmine rice, but you can serve it with brown rice, rice noodles or on a bed of greens when making an Asian-inspired salad. It also pairs well with these fabulous Vegan Spring Rolls with Chili Ginger Peanut Sauce.
The best part about this recipe is the sticky, spicy sweet and sour sauce. I make mine extra thick on purpose. However; if you prefer a thinner sauce, simply add a tablespoon of water at a time, while stirring on low heat and before mixing sauce in with the tofu, until it reaches your desired consistency. Another option is to cut the corn starch in half when making the sauce.
If you love my General Tso’s Tofu Recipe and other quick and easy vegan dinner recipes, you’ll love my Vegan Tomato and Zucchini Tart,, One-Pot Chickpea Coconut Curry, my Creamy Tomato Macaroni and Cheese, and my Easy Vegan Enchilada Casserole.
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Better-Than-Takeout General Tso’s Tofu
- tofu press
- large bowl
- small non-stick fry pan
- large non-stick fry pan
- wooden spoon
For the Crispy Tofu
- 12 ounce extra firm tofu
- 6 tbsp corn starch divided
- 2 tbsp tamari
- 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
For the Sticky Sweet & Sour Sauce
- 1/2 cup filtered water to make roux
- 2.5 tbsp corn starch to make roux
- 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tbsp ginger coarsely grated
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 4 tbsp dark maple syrup
- 2 tbsp tamari
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- jasmine rice
- sesame seeds
- fresh lime wedges
- chopped scallions
First, Press the Tofu
- Open the package and drain the tofu. Then, using a tofu press, press it for at least 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can wrap in a clean towel or multiple paper towels and place something heavy over it, like a large textbook.
Then Make the Sauce
- Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Whisk and set aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, or until fragrant. Be careful not to burn.
- Add maple syrup, tamari, rice vinegar and tomato paste and whisk until ingredients are well-blended.
- Stir roux (cornstarch and water), then add to sauce pan and bring to boil while stirring constantly. Simmer for one minute while continuing to stir, remove from heat and cover. Set aside.
Finally Make the Crispy Tofu
- Once tofu is pressed, cut into cubes.
- Place into large bowl.
- Add cornstarch, olive oil and tamari and combine until tofu is coated evenly.
- Heat tablespoon of oil in large, non-stick fry pan over medium-high heat. Carefully add tofu and fry until your desired level of crispiness is achieved. I fry mine for 10-15 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low and add the sauce. Toss tofu and sauce together with spatula until all pieces of tofu are evenly coated and the dish is piping hot.
- Garnish with sesame seeds, chopped scallions, lime wedges and red pepper flakes. Serve immediately with jasmine rice or rice noodles.
- If your tofu isn’t as crispy as you expected, you can increase the amount of time tofu spends in the tofu press and/or increase the amount of frying time, being careful not to burn it.
- Agave, or honey (if you’re non-vegan) can be used instead of maple syrup.
- Ketchup may be substituted for tomato paste.
- Low-sodium soy sauce can be used instead of tamari if you’re not gluten-intolerant.
- Sriracha Hot Chili Paste can be used instead of red pepper flakes.
- To retain it’s crispiness, this recipe is best served immediately after cooking. You may store leftover tofu in a separate, airtight container for up to 3 days and re-heat in microwave, but you should expect it to lose some crispiness during the storing and re-heating process.
- If you prefer a thinner sauce, simply add a tablespoon of water at a time, while stirring on low heat and before mixing sauce in with the tofu, until it reaches your desired consistency. Another option is to cut the corn starch in half when making the sauce.
- Recipe can be served with white or brown rice, rice noodles or over a bed of greens for an Asian-inspired salad.