This General Tso’s Sticky Tofu recipe is a vegan and healthier take on the popular sweet & spicy Chinese takeout chicken dish. It’s quick and easy to make in under 20-minutes, loaded with plant-based protein and can be easily made gluten-free by using tamari sauce!
The perfect quick & easy weeknight dinner!
As you may have noticed, I’m a huge fan of any Asian food. So I’m happy to share another delicious recipe with you, inspired by the “General Tso’s Chicken” but made vegan with tofu. It is actually a very simple recipe and can be served in different ways. So it makes a great weekend dinner for anyone and anytime that is versatile, too!
You can serve the sticky Tofu over rice as I did, but it goes also very well with healthy vegetables for a low-carb option. Typical Asian veggies like Bok Choi, cabbage, daikon radish or shiitake mushrooms as well as local veggies like carrots or broccoli are perfect to make a quick stir-fry served with this spicy glazed Tofu!
What is „General Tso’s Tofu“?
The traditional General Tso’s chicken is a very popular Chinese takeout dish that is often served in North American Chinese restaurants. While the classic version calls for deep-frying chicken pieces, I made this recipe vegan and healthier by using tofu instead of meat and just pan-fried the cubes.
The crispy pan-fried tofu cubes are then tossed in a spicy, sweet and sour General Tso’s sauce which has a rich flavor from soy or tamari sauce, garlic, ginger, and chili. Since Tofu has a pretty neutral flavor like Chicken, it makes the perfect meat substitute in this dish!
Tips for the best crispy tofu
Tip 1: Choose the right kind of tofu
Firstly, I highly recommend using firm or extra-firm Tofu because anything less won’t crisp up as fast or as well.
Tip 2: Pressing the tofu
Secondly, it is very important to get all the moisture out of the tofu. To do this, take two layers of paper towels and place one under the tofu and one on top of it. You can either press it just with your hands or place something heavy on top like a cast-iron skillet. Then let the tofu sit like this for a few minutes, or until it seems to be dry enough.
When you freeze tofu, the water in the tofu becomes ice and separates from the soybean protein fibers creating a sponge-like texture. So once thawed, you’ll be able to press out most of the water in only a few seconds. Simply freeze the whole block of tofu for at least 8 hours, then allowed to thaw at room temperature or defrost in the microwave.
Step 3: Cooking the tofu properly
Some recipes call for baking the tofu in the oven, but I prefer to keep it simpler and cook it on the stove. I recommend using a non-stick pan or cast-iron skillet to make sure the crispy tofu bites won’t stick to the bottom. When cooking the tofu cubes, it is also very important to not flip them over too soon. Otherwise, you would risk getting only half-crispy tofu. Let each piece get nicely browned before flipping it to the other side for the best crispy tofu!
How to make General Tso’s Tofu
Step 1: Make the sauce
I prefer to make a larger batch of the sweet-sour sauce ahead of time because it’s also great to use for other dishes. However, you can also stir together just the amount of ingredients as instructed in the recipe card below. Then add it to the crispy pan-fried tofu and cook until thickened.
Step 2: Cook the Tofu
Drain and press the tofu as instructed above. Cut it into cubes and place the tofu cubes in a bowl. Add the cornstarch, soy sauce (or tamari) and oil, and mix until well combined. Alternatively, you could also place the tofu cubes along with the ingredients into a freezer bag, then seal and shake until coated.
Heat some oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the prepared tofu bites and cook each side for about 3 minutes, until crispy all around. Reduce the heat to low, add the prepared sauce and toss to coat.
Step 3: Serve and enjoy!
Serve the crispy sweet-sour Tofu over rice and garnish it with chopped scallions and some sesame seeds or other toppings you like! I also love to drizzle a squeeze of lime juice for fresh flavor over my dish but that is just optional!
This General Tso’s Sticky Tofu recipe is:
- Vegan (dairy-free, egg-free)
- Gluten-free (if using tamari sauce)
- Sweet Sour
- Easy to make
- Fun to eat!
Storage & freezing instructions
This General Tso’s Tofu dish tastes best when served immediately! But if you have any leftovers, I recommend storing the sauce separate from the crispy tofu or it will get soft. When stored in sealed containers in the refrigerator the sauce and the tofu keep for up to 4 to 5 days. When ready to serve, you can reheat the tofu bites in an oven or on the stove, until crispy again. Then toss with the sauce and enjoy hot!
If you freeze the tofu, the consistency will slightly change. You can read the text above for details.
Tomato paste or Ketchup?
While some tofu recipes call for ketchup as an ingredient for the sticky sweet-sour sauce, I recommend using tomato paste. I mean, ketchup may be the tastier option but it also contains a lot of refined sugar and more calories. So if you want to be on the healthier side, please make sure to use organic tomato paste or pure tomato pureé and agave or maple syrup to sweeten.
Looking for more Asian, Chinese, Japanese or Thai recipes? Then you will love the following dishes for sure:
- Vegan Pad Thai
- Thai Peanut Ramen Noodle Soup
- Chinese Eggplants with Chili Garlic Sauce
- Vegetable Dumplings (Vegan Gyoza)
- Scallion Pancakes (Chinese flatbread)
- Asian Peanut Noodles with Crispy Tofu
- Crispy Sesame Tofu with Tahini Peanut Sauce
- Spinach Artichoke Wontons
If you try this spicy recipe for General Tso’s Sticky Tofu, please leave me a comment and rating! Your feedback is always very helpful for me and other readers. And if you take a photo of your sticky Tofu, please make sure to tag me on Instagram @biancazapatka #biancazapatka because I love seeing your remakes! Enjoy!
General Tso’s Sticky Tofu
Sweet & Sour Sauce
Sweet & Sour Sauce
- Mix the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and set aside.
- Heat the 2 teaspoons of oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger, and chili pepper flakes and sauté for a few seconds until fragrant. Then whisk in the remaining sauce ingredients and the cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil. Cook for a minute until thickened, then remove from the heat and set aside while you make the tofu.
Crispy Tofu (*see step-by-step photos above)
- Drain and press the tofu as instructed above (or use a tofu press), then cut into cubes. (I highly recommend reading my blog post for helpful tips on making the best crispy tofu!)
- Transfer the tofu cubes to a bowl, add the cornstarch, soy sauce (or tamari) and oil, and mix well.
- Heat some oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu cubes and cook for about 3 minutes each side, until golden brown and crispy all over.
- Add the sauce, toss to coat and cook for about 1-2 minutes over low-medium heat until hot.
- Serve the tofu over rice and garnish with chopped scallions, sesame seeds and lime wedges on the side. Enjoy!
- You can basically use any oil, starch, vinegar or sweetener you like.
- Tomato paste can be substituted with tomato purée or ketchup.
- Use tamari sauce for a gluten-free option.
- The instruction time does not include the time you may need to press the tofu.
- Please read my blog post for "Crispy Tofu Tips" and further helpful details!
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