Sweet and Sour Tofu Recipe (Vegan) (2024)

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posted by Jessica Hylton on Jun 15, 2020 (last updated Dec 11, 2020) 312 comments »

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5 (from 306 ratings)

This Sweet and Sour Tofu is one of my favourite comfort foods ever of my favourite takeout! The tofu is crisp with a perfect texture and the sweet and sour sauce is unbelievably delicious! It comes together quickly and tastes amazing as meal prep too!

Sweet and Sour Tofu Recipe (Vegan) (1)

I’ve been making this sweet and sour sauce since the beginning of ‘Jessiker Bakes’. The first version of JITK, and where I started experimenting with savoury dishes. 10 years later (the sauce was always vegan) I’ve modified it a bit, made the entire dish vegan, and I am finally re-sharing it! I can’t count how many times I’ve made this but it is our #1 go to COMFORT meal.

Sweet and Sour Tofu Recipe (Vegan) (2)

None of my local Asian restaurants make sweet and sour tofu. Which is a bummer, but also motivation to make my own. Let me tell you – it is INCREDIBLE! The first time I made it for a blog recipe, Gav and I finished it all that night. I say that with pride. It embodies all the flavours you would expect from a sweet and sour sauce – sweet, tangy, umami filled and so rich in colour and flavour. It comes with my favourite usual add-ins of bell peppers, onions and pineapples, and of course, crispy tofu.

Sweet and Sour Tofu Recipe (Vegan) (3)

How to Make Tofu Crispy

After years of making tofu, I’m proud to say we know how to make it perfectly crispy. The short answer is: cornstarch. I go into full detail in my How to Cook Tofu 101 blog post, and I highly recommend that you read it. Cornstarch crisps up the tofu while wicking out any excess liquid. It’s also gluten free so works well for that.

My second tip is to always, always press your tofu. I also say it in my how to cook tofu 101 blog post, it’s not tofu’s job to have flavour. It’s up to us to season it, in fact, I’m glad it barely has a flavour. It takes on anything you want it to. Removing the liquid from tofu allows it space to absorb all the flavour you want it to have. Those two, plus a nice hot pan to crisp it up in will create perfect tofu for this dish and beyond!

Sweet and Sour Tofu Recipe (Vegan) (4)

Can’t have tofu?

If you’re allergic to soy, this recipe works perfectly on cauliflower too! Just bread it and crisp it up like in my orange cauliflower dish, then finish it like I do in this recipe in the pan. You could also do this on mushrooms or tempeh.

Sweet and Sour Tofu Recipe (Vegan) (5)

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Sweet and Sour Tofu Recipe (Vegan) (6)

Sweet and Sour Tofu Recipe (Vegan) (7)

Sweet and Sour Tofu Recipe (Vegan)

This Sweet and Sour Tofu is one of my favourite comfort foods ever of my favourite takeout! The tofu is crisp with a perfect texture and the sweet and sour is unbelievably delicious! It comes together quickly and takes amazing as meal prep too!

5 (from 306 ratings)

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Crispy Tofu

  • 1 16 ounce block of firm or extra firm tofu, pressed, and torn into 1 to 2 inch pieces*
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce, gluten free if needed, or liquid aminos or tamari
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup oil for frying

Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • 1/2 cup sugar, I use cane sugar, you can use brown or any granulated
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup vinegar, preferably rice or white
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce, gluten free if needed, or liquid aminos or tamari
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 medium bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped/cubed pineapple
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds, for garnish
  • chopped scallion, for garnish


Crispy Tofu

  • In a medium-sized bowl place the pressed and torn tofu pieces. Add the soy sauce and toss to coat. Add in the garlic powder, sea salt, ground black pepper and cornstarch and toss to thoroughly combine, ensuring all the tofu pieces are covered with the seasonings and the cornstarch.

  • Heat a pan or wok over medium-high heat, and add the oil. When hot, add the tofu and toss to crisp up on all sides until the tofu is cooked and crisped on all sides, about 5 to 8 minutes.Feel free to do this in batches if desired. Remove tofu pieces and set aside.

Sweet and Sour Sauce + Putting it All Together

  • In the same pan, lower the heat to over medium-high heat, and add in the onions, pineapples and bell peppers.

  • Saute until the onions are translucent and the pineapples are slightly browned, about 5 minutes.

  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, ketchup, vinegar, water, soy sauce, and garlic powder for the sweet and sour sauce and stir together until fully combined.

  • Pour in the sauce over the veggies. Bring to a slight boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened up. Add back in the crisped up tofu, and stir to combine. Taste test and add more sugar or soy sauce if you desire. Remove from heat until needed.

  • Remove from heat and top with sesame seeds and chopped scallions. Serve and enjoy!


I love enjoying this with some noodles or some hot rice, or fried cauliflower rice. It makes extra gravy on purpose!

*To tear tofu:

Take your pressed tofu and slice it in half length wise (so you end up with two large slices the same length and width as the original). Tear the tofu into 1 to 2 inch cubes. I like to use a ruler to help me measure the first tear, then use that as a guide, but it doesn't have to be exactly 1 to 2 inches.

You can also cube the tofu, but tearing it into pieces creates more edges for sauce and crispiness!

Calories: 391kcal, Carbohydrates: 50g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 868mg, Potassium: 392mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 35g, Vitamin A: 1008IU, Vitamin C: 49mg, Calcium: 74mg, Iron: 2mg

Disclaimer: Although jessicainthekitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Jessicainthekitchen.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Cuisine: Asian

Course: Dinner

Author: Jessica Hylton

Asian Dairy Free Dinner Egg Free Fall Gluten Free Lunch Recipes Spring Summer Vegan Vegetarian Winter

originally published on Jun 15, 2020 (last updated Dec 11, 2020)

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312 comments on “Sweet and Sour Tofu Recipe (Vegan)”

  1. Paulette Reply

    I tied it and every time I do I get so much compliments.
    Thank u 💓

  2. Shannon Reply

    I make this using Heinz No Sugar Added ketchup and have had great results every time! I love this recipe so much. Sometimes I air fry the tofu at 400F for 7 to 8 minutes in lieu of pan frying.

  3. Ben Reply

    Lovely recipe,Instead of the sugar i use the juice the pineapples came in the tin, and if need more sweetness then add in some exotic juice.Add in more peppers to bulk up the meal a little.I made this recipe twice now,Just read the comments and Someone suggested airfryring the tofu,next time.

  4. Ellie Reply

    this recipe is AMAZING I had never done crispy tofu before, it turned out perfect! I trippled the amounts & did mix of tofu & Quorn pieces. and made 11 portions which I’ll eat for the rest of the week, kept in fridge. the sauce turned out perfect. only thing I did different was keep the veg, tofu and sauce all separate. I also reduced the sugar by at least half. with the pineapple I used, it’s plenty sweet.

    I just reduced the sauce on its own at end to thicken up I didn’t want to continue cooking the veg within the sauce for all that time.

    I will be making this again!

    • Jessica Hylton Reply

      Thanks so much for sharing Ellie! Yay!!

  5. June Reply

    We are vegan but my husband has never enjoyed tofu. However, after making this recipe it’s top of his list of favourites. Very easy to make and really tasty. Chef’s kiss!

  6. Sasha Reply

    just saw this tonight and showed my husband, he said babe that look so good o would eat right now, and that what I did 9:30pm….
    Thanks we are 21 days in trying vegan no meat…the kids loved it.

    • Jessica Hylton Reply

      Aww so happy to hear this Sasha yay!!

  7. Steve Reply


  8. Barbara Reply

    My kids walked into the kitchen and asked if I had cooked real chicken. That’s how crispy the tofu looked. I’ve been cooking tofu for almost 5 years and had yet to find a recipe that yielded great texture. It always ended up soft. Thank you for sharing this recipe!!! The sauce was very good and easy to make. My family loved it, even the picky child who doesn’t like any sauces. I saved some plain fried tofu in case she didn’t like the sauce, and ended up eating some with salt, like you’d eat popcorn chicken.

  9. Sally S Reply

    Absolutely delicious! Made the recipe exactly as written the first time, then added another bell pepper the second time I made it. 100% recommend. You can’t go wrong with this!

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Sweet and Sour Tofu Recipe (Vegan) (2024)


How to make fried tofu like Chinese restaurants? ›

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. One piece at a time, dip the tofu into the cornstarch to coat both sides, then into the beaten egg. Immediately transfer to the skillet for pan frying. Cook until both sides turn golden brown.

Why won t my tofu get crispy? ›

If your crispy tofu isn't getting crispy, it could be because there is too much moisture in the tofu. Another issue could be the oil isn't hot enough to fry the tofu.

How to get tofu like the Chinese takeaway? ›

Pat each cube dry. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the tofu and cook on all sides until golden brown, 2-4 minutes per side, then remove from the pan and set aside.

How do you get the sourness out of tofu? ›

Blanch tofu for a fresher flavor

Some brands of tofu have a slightly sour taste that remains even after cooking. Blanching tofu in hot salted water brings out a fresher flavor while coaxing the tofu's inner moisture to the surface, making it easier to dry.

Should you marinate tofu before frying? ›

For the tastiest results, marinade the tofu overnight. Roll slices or cubes of marinated tofu in some rice flour, potato starch, corn flour or grated coconut before pan-frying for an extra-crispy crust. Be sure to use a non-stick pan with a generous amount of oil. Deep-frying is also an option.

What is the best oil to fry tofu in? ›

Type of oil to use for frying tofu: Canola is great and so are vegetable/soybean oil and refined peanut oil. In general, choose a neutral-flavored oil that has a high smoking point. That is, don't deep-fry with sesame oil.

What not to mix with tofu? ›

What to not serve with tofu? According to studies, a high volume consumption of tofu and spinach together can increase your risk of kidney stones. Tofu and spinach contain calcium and oxalic acid respectively and the combined can form kidney stones.

Can you coat tofu in flour instead of cornstarch? ›

Substitutions: If you prefer not to cook with cornstarch, you can substitute in an equal volume of all-purpose flour or potato starch. Tofu: This recipe can also be made with medium-firm tofu, but you'll need to be a bit more gentle while pressing and coating it.

What can I coat tofu with instead of cornstarch? ›

If you want a crispy outer coating for your tofu, flour can be a great substitute for cornstarch. Simply coat the tofu cubes or slices with a dusting of all-purpose flour before frying. The flour helps create a light and crispy texture while ensuring the tofu stays tender on the inside.

Why is restaurant tofu so good? ›

Restaurants understand the power of salt and use it liberally to ensure that tofu is well-seasoned. As masters of flavors, professional chefs know that tofu's porous nature allows it to absorb the flavors it's cooked with, and they use this to their advantage.

Why does tofu taste better at restaurants? ›

This difference in taste is largely due to one key ingredient: salt. In the culinary world, salt is a key flavor enhancer that unlocks and elevates the natural tastes of food. When it comes to tofu, which is naturally quite mild-tasting, salt becomes a critical component in transforming it into something delicious.

Why don't I like the taste of tofu? ›

If you're new to a plant-based diet you may think you don't like tofu, but chances are it's just been prepared wrong. In reality, plain tofu is not very flavorful at all (but that's the great thing about it!). Tofu, like chicken and these other mild-flavored meats, is a great vehicle for flavor.

What happens if you don't drain tofu before cooking? ›

This excess water can cause the tofu to crumble when you cook it, and it will also have a hard time crisping up. But when you press tofu, you remove the excess moisture. It takes on a chewier, firmer texture, which makes it super satisfying to eat and less likely to fall apart.

Why does my tofu taste like vinegar? ›

Taste: If the tofu tastes sour or off, it may have spoiled. Texture: If the tofu is unusually soft or crumbles easily, it may have spoiled.

Why is my tofu smelly? ›

Spoiled tofu tends to have a darker color of tan or even brown. Mold may form on the surface or you may see discoloration. Tofu that has gone bad also tends to be slimy and have a sour or rotten odor – fresh tofu has no odor. If you find any of these signs of spoilage, toss the tofu.

How do restaurants make tofu crispy? ›

Right out of the package, tofu is mushy, and if you toss it directly into a stir fry, it will stay that way. Most restaurants get around the mushy-factor by deep-frying it, which (while delicious), negates tofu's clean health benefits.

How is Chinese tofu made? ›

Tofu is made from dried soybeans that are soaked in water, crushed, and boiled. The mixture is separated into solid pulp (okara) and soy “milk.” Salt coagulants, such as calcium and magnesium chlorides and sulfates, are added to the soy milk to separate the curds from the whey.

How do you keep tofu crispy after frying? ›

Cornstarch – This is the secret to the most perfect fried tofu. Cornstarch forms a protective layer around each cube of tofu, which crisps up when added to heat. If you don't have cornstarch, arrowroot powder and tapioca starch also work. Garlic powder – This is optional but adds a delightful savory, garlicky flavor.

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