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Indulge in the comfort of Chinese-American cuisine with this homemade General Tso’s Tofu! It’s made with wholesome ingredients, yet packed with sweet and spicy flavor. Ready in under 1 hour. Gluten-free, grain-free option.
This General Tso’s Tofu is made with bites of crispy tofu that are coated in a simple cornstarch batter, oven-baked until crispy and golden, then doused in a homemade General Tso’s sauce that’s the perfect blend of sweet, spicy, tangy, and savory comfort flavors. It’s so delicious, you’ll want to eat it all straight out of the pan!
Table of Contents
What is General Tso’s?
While the definitive origin of General Tso’s Chicken, the original Chinese-American dish is disputed, it’s believed to have been created in New York City during the 20th century. The original dish was named after Tso Tsung-t’ang (Zuo Zongtang), a Qing Dynasty military leader from China. While General Tso had no connection to the creation of the dish, it is common practice in Chinese-American cuisine for dishes to be named after historical figures or places.
Over the last several decades, General Tso’s chicken has become incredibly popular throughout the United States. It’s known for its crispy battered protein that’s coated in a vibrantly reddish orange sauce that’s sweet, yet spicy.
Thankfully, it’s incredibly easy to make vegetarian and vegan-friendly using a single ingredient swap! The result is protein that’s equally crispy, chewy, and well-coated in a homemade sauce complete with the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. It’s the perfect easy recipe to whip up on busy weeknights or lazy weekends in!
Ingredients for General Tso’s Tofu
Making restaurant-style recipes at home shouldn’t require complicated or expensive ingredients. With just 10 ingredients, we’re making crispy tofu and a spicy sauce that’s got the right amount of sweet, spicy, and tangy. Here’s the key players:
- Tofu: If you’ve made one of my other takeout-inspired tofu recipes such as Sesame Tofu, Vegan Kung Pao Tofu, or Teriyaki Tofu, you’ll know extra firm tofu is the best tofu to use. It has just the right firmness that’s chewy, well-textured, and easy to make crispy.
- Cornstarch: In addition to helping the tofu become crispy, cornstarch also acts as a thickening agent in the general tso’s sauce.
- Hoisin sauce: This Asian condiment is incredibly thick and syrup-like and adds a deep, savory, slightly sweet flavor. Store-bought versions are typically vegan friendly and can be gluten-free friendly, too.
- Chili garlic sauce: Also known as Sambal Olek, this is the source of the spice and gives the general Tso’s sauce its notorious kick. Most store-bought versions are typically sold as a sauce or paste and can be found in most grocery stores or in your local Asian Market. In a pinch, leftover chili crisp from my Garlic Miso Eggplant Dip will work well here. Or, make your own Homemade Chili Garlic Sauce.
- Soy sauce: Adds much needed umami flavor and full-bodied depth. If gluten-free, tamari is a great alternative.
- Rice vinegar: The mild, tangy vinegar adds an acidic element to the sauce, helping to balance the sweet hoisin and spicy chili sauce.
How to Make General Tso’s Tofu
- Tear the tofu into bite-sized chunks, then toss with oil and tamari until well coated. Sprinkle cornstarch over top and toss again.
- Spread the tofu pieces out on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown.
- While the tofu bakes, whisk together the sauce ingredients. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, pan-fry the green onion and garlic for 3-5 minutes. Pour the general Tso’s sauce into the pan and simmer until thick and glossy.
- Add the crispy tofu and sesame seeds and mix to coat in the sauce. Cook until warm and saucy.
- Top with the remaining green onions and serve immediately as desired. Enjoy!
Caitlin’s Cooking Tips
- Bake your tofu on the top oven rack. This will place your tofu directly below your oven’s heat source. This gives the tofu direct heat exposure, and encourages browning, crisping, and the ultimate chewy texture. It also speeds up the cook time, meaning your General Tso’s tofu recipe will be on the table as fast as humanly possible.
- Invest in a tofu press. I know many home chefs out there get by just fine without a tofu press, but if you are a vegetarian or vegan that is eating tofu on the regular, a tofu press is well worth the investment. It is capable of pressing the excess water from tofu quickly, consistently, and more effectively than any of the DIY methods.
Serve General Tso’s Tofu while warm over a bowl of rice with a side of your favorite steamed veggies like broccoli florets or baby bok choy. I typically keep it simple and serve it over white rice, but brown rice, garlic rice, cauliflower rice, or sticky sushi rice would all work well. It’s also the perfect pair for a few of my favorite side dishes, including Garlic Green Beans or this Smashed Cucumber Salad.
How to Store General Tso’s Tofu
Crispy General Tso’s Tofu is best served fresh, but leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. This tofu dish can also be frozen, but will no longer be crispy and will change the texture of the tofu.
Reheat leftover tofu in a sauté pan or in the microwave until warm and serve, as desired.
Substitutions and Variations
- Gluten-free option: Use gluten-free hoisin sauce and gluten-free soy sauce or tamari to keep this recipe gluten-free.
- Grain-free option: Cornstarch can be replaced with equal parts arrowroot powder or tapioca starch.
- Chili garlic sauce substitution: If chili crisp or making your own homemade sauce aren’t options, replace the chili garlic sauce with sriracha or another hot pepper sauce of choice.
- Lower the sodium: Replace the soy sauce or tamari with low-sodium varieties.
The crispy tofu dishes you’re familiar with from Chinese restaurants, particular in the United States, are almost always deep-fried. This of course makes foods extra crispy, but it’s also not the healthiest. I find this crispy baked tofu to be just as good, while using significantly less oil.
General Tso’s sauce is meant to be on the spicier side, but a perk of making it at home is being able to fully control the spice. If you are sensitive to spicy food, lower the chili garlic sauce to just 1 teaspoon to start. Taste, and adjust the spice from there. You can always add more spice, but it is very difficult to reduce the spice once you’ve gone too far.
I have only tested this recipe using tofu, but readers have shared success making a few of my other popular tofu recipes using soy curls. If you’re interested in takeout-inspired recipes made without tofu, you’ll love this Saucy Vegan Sesame “Chicken” or this Vegan “Beef” and Broccoli.
Yes. Place the cornstarch-coated tofu cubes in the basket of your air fryer, making sure not to overcrowd it. Bake at 375F for 20-25 minutes, or until crispy on the edges.
Enjoy! If you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I would also love it if you could leave a comment below with a recipe rating! Thank you for the support 😊
General Tso’s Tofu
For the Tofu:
- 2 blocks extra firm tofu pressed
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
- ⅓ cup cornstarch
For the Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce or more to preference
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ¾ cup water
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 3 green onions white and green parts separated and sliced
- 3-5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 ” piece fresh ginger minced
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Tear the tofu into bite-sized chunks for a more meat-like shape and texture, or cut into small cubes.
- Tofu: Add the tofu to a medium bowl and add in the oil and tamari. Toss with a spatula until evenly coated, then sprinkle the cornstarch on top and toss again. Transfer to a baking sheet and spread out the tofu pieces so they aren’t touching. Bake on the top rack of the oven for 30 minutes, flipping the tofu halfway through.
- Sauce: Whisk the hoisin sauce, chili garlic sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, cornstarch, and water water, together in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Stir-Fry: Warm the oil in a large sauté pan, large skillet, or wok over medium heat, then fry the white parts of the green onion, garlic, and ginger for 3-5 minutes. Whisk the hoisin sauce well to make sure the cornstarch is dissolved, then pour into the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the sauce is thick and glossy. Add the cooked tofu and sesame seeds to the pan and mix well; cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, until warmed and coated evenly in sauce.
- Serve: Serve warm over rice and vegetables (or as desired) and topped with the remaining green onions. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Gluten-Free: use gluten-free hoisin sauce and gluten-free soy sauce to keep this recipe gluten-free.
- Cornstarch: cornstarch can be replaced with equal parts arrowroot powder or tapioca starch.
- Chili Garlic Sauce: Chili garlic sauce (or Sambal Olek) can be found in most grocery stores or in your local Asian market. If you cannot find it you can make your own, or replace it with sriracha or a similar hot pepper sauce.