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Crispy Tofu gets tossed with nutty cashews and a sweet and savory sauce to make this Vegan Cashew Chicken totally delicious!
Let’s talk about this Vegan Cashew “Chicken” – crispy chunks of baked tofu “chicken” get slathered in a sweet & savory sauce with bits of nutty cashews and fresh green onions…need I say more? Well this is a food blog, so you know I will 😉 But seriously friends, this is one recipe you don’t want to skip!
This hearty and delicious vegetarian main is a great way to save money on takeout, without sacrificing flavor.
INGREDIENTS + INSPIRATION
This recipe is inspired by the takeout classic Cashew Chicken – which is actually a Chinese-American fusion dish that first gained popularity in the midwest in the 1940s. My version is vegan – obviously – and takes a few ingredient “shortcuts” to help cut down on your prep time.
This recipe could also be named Cashew Tofu because starts with protein-packed tofu that gets coated in soy sauce, cornstarch, and oil, then baked in the oven until crispy. Vegan or not, this tofu is delicious and makes the perfect animal-free chicken substitute!
Like most great recipes, the stir fry sauce brings the dish together. This one has pretty simple ingredients: soy sauce and rice vinegar add salt and tang, while hoisin sauce adds the perfect amount of spice and sweetness and toasted sesame oil adds a burst of umami flavor. Toss this finger-licking sauce with soft and crunchy cashew nuts, your tofu, and some green onion, and you’ve got the ultimate flavor and texture combination!
HOW TO MAKE VEGAN CASHEW CHICKEN
This Cashew “Chicken” really only requires a few minutes of prep time – the oven does most of the work!
- Prepare the tofu and toss it in the oven to bake, flipping halfway
- Sauté aromatics in a large pan or wok, then add all of the sauce ingredients and simmer until thick.
- Add the crispy tofu to the sauce and mix well, then stir in the green onions and sesame oil.
- Serve over rice, then enjoy!
I like to serve this Vegan Cashew Chicken with a side of steamed broccoli for a little extra color! If I have a little extra time I also like to make some stir fried veggies with red bell pepper, snow peas, and mushrooms. Typically I serve this with some fluffy jasmine rice, but you could also serve it over ramen or rice noodles for a fun take!
COOKING TIPS + FAQ:
- Do I need to use cashews? No, not necessarily! Peanuts would also be delicious here too, or you could simply leave the nuts out if you have an allergy – you could also add 1-2 tablespoons of sesame seeds for a nut-free crunch!
- Can I pan-fry the tofu instead? I recommend baking the tofu for the best meaty texture and hands-off prep, but you can pan-fry it if you wish. Press the tofu and coat it in the soy sauce and cornstarch, then pan fry in a cast iron or similar pan with a couple tablespoons of oil over medium high heat until crispy on all sides.
- Can I make this gluten-free? Substitute the soy sauce with liquid aminos or tamari, and get a gluten-free hoisin sauce instead!
- Storage: this recipe is best served fresh, but will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. If you plan on having leftovers I recommend keeping the crispy tofu and sauce separate and combining just before serving to keep the tofu crispier.
Vegan Cashew “Chicken”
Crispy Tofu gets tossed with nutty cashews and a sweet and savory sauce to make this Vegan Cashew Chicken totally delicious! An easy way to make takeout, at home.
- Prep Time: 15 Minutes
- Cook Time: 35 Minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: Serves 3 to 6 1x
- Category: Main
- Method: Oven, Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegan
For the Tofu:
- 2 blocks extra firm tofu, pressed
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 tablespoon lite soy sauce or tamari
- 1/3 cup (43 g) cornstarch
For the Sauce:
- 1 teaspoon avocado oil
- 8 green onions, white and green parts separated and cut into 1” pieces
- 3–5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) hoisin sauce*
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) water
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lite soy sauce or tamari
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 3/4 cup (107 g) roasted & salted cashews
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- Rice and/or vegetables, for serving (Optional)
- 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, water, vinegar, soy sauce, and cornstarch 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 and the garlic for 1 minute, then add in the cooked tofu. Pour the hoisin sauce mixture over the tofu and stir well; bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the sauce is thick and glossy. Reduce the heat to low, then stir in the cashews, reserved green onions, and the sesame oil.
- Serve: Serve over rice and vegetables, or as desired. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Hoisin Sauce: some hoisin sauce is made with wheat, so if you are gluten-free make sure to purchase a gluten-free version! You can also make your own, though I prefer the ease of store-bought.
Keywords: vegan cashew chicken, vegan cashew tofu, vegan tofu recipes, vegetarian cashew chicken