Vegan Cashew “Chicken” (with Tofu!)

GFGluten FreeVVegan

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.

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.

hand using chopticks to hold piece of tofu over bowl of cashew "chicken"

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.

ingredients for cashew "chicken" in small bowls on kitchen countertop

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

side-by-side photos of crispy tofu on baking sheet next to tofu tossed with cashews and sauce in skillet

This Cashew “Chicken” really only requires a few minutes of prep time – the oven does most of the work!

  1. Prepare the tofu and toss it in the oven to bake, flipping halfway
  2. Sauté aromatics in a large pan or wok, then add all of the sauce ingredients and simmer until thick.
  3. Add the crispy tofu to the sauce and mix well, then stir in the green onions and sesame oil.
  4. 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!

vegan cashew chicken in bowl served over steamed broccoli and white rice

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 in bowl with rice and steamed broccoli

If you’re like this vegan cashew chicken stir fry, you’ll also love this Crispy Orange Tofu, this Vegan Kung Pao Tofu, and this Black Pepper Tofu!

Finally, if you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I love seeing your delicious recreations 🙂

Print

Vegan Cashew “Chicken”

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 32 reviews

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.

  • Author: Caitlin Shoemaker
  • 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

Ingredients

Scale

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 
  • 35 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)

Instructions

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. Sauce: Whisk the hoisin sauce, water, vinegar, soy sauce, and cornstarch together in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. 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.
  5. Serve: Serve over rice and vegetables, or as desired. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Notes

  • 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.

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag us — we can't wait to see what you've made!

About the Author

Hey there, I’m Caitlin! I make easy-to-follow, wholesome, and budget-friendly vegan recipes that are mostly gluten-free and refined sugar-free. I’m also an avid yogi, love the great outdoors, am chocolate-obsessed, and enjoy eating almond butter straight off of the spoon.

Learn More

FREE GUIDE: 5 Tips for Quick & Easy Vegan Dinners

Plus, get all of my recipes sent straight to your inbox!

You May Also Like

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. Hi Caitlin great site, I am about to try this recipe and I was wondering if you could freeze the finished meal, For sure I will make too much!

    Thank you in advance.

  2. Hi Caitlin!
    This was the first recipe I tried from your blog and boy, it didn’t disappoint! Super easy to put together, really versatile (I add broccoli, red capsicum and purple cabbage to it), and definitely my new favourite way to cook tofu – it ends up so crispy!
    My partner is not vegan, but as I do the cooking, he eats a lot of vegan meals, but some dishes I make are a hit and miss for his taste buds, but he really loved this one, and wants it in our weekly meal rotation.
    Thanks for a great recipe, and I look forward to trying more from your blog.
    From your fan in Australia, Stacy xx






      1. Yes, any oil with a high smoke point would work, like canola oil and some high heat olive oils 🙂

  3. Passed the very tough doesn’t like tofu husband test! He said it’s a keeper!
    Thank you for amazing recipe ❤️






  4. OMGosh! This was absolutely amazing! If there was a 10-star rating, this recipe would get it! Love your recipes. I sit on our porch on Sunday mornings and look for recipes to make for the week and I always go to your site first. Thank you so much for your blog!!






  5. Hands down the best tofu I’ve ever had!! I paired with some common stir fry veggies and rice. I can’t wait to make this for my family and friends!






  6. My husband LOVES everything I make of yours! As do I. He’s always saying, you need to tell that girl how great her recipes are! So here I am, being more reliable about passing on the compliments. 🙂






  7. Wow! This was so good! I doubled the sauce and I do think it would have been a bit dry without double the sauce. I would half the vinegar next time as it was quite vinegary. Left overs for lunch tasted even better! Soooooo good!






  8. This was very good and will be added to our dinner rotation!

    I did have to add an additional 15 minutes or so to get the tofu as crispy as I wanted it and the sauce could definitely stand to be doubled in the future when I make it again. I added a couple of teaspoons of siracha to the sauce for a little heat too. My vegetable was about a 1/3 of a head of green cabbage sliced into 1/4” slices and pan fried with the green onions.

    I will definitely add the technique of tearing the tofu and baking it to my skill bank for other recipes!






  9. This was wonderful!
    I really enjoyed the cornstarch / Tofu mixture, because it really filled the space of the breaded meat but it didn’t feel like it was trying to impersonate chicken so much as it was just delicious being what it was.






  10. This was fantastic! We hardly have any leftovers and I wish we did because I’m craving it again today haha. Tofu came out super crispy and I am officially a convert when it comes to breaking up the tofu into pieces instead of cutting it up like normal – the texture was unreal!! Will definitely make this again! I’m excited to try the orange “chicken” tofu recipe as well!!






  11. Love this! I added in broccoli and sugar snap peas while cooking the spring onions, and they were a great addition. I only used one block of tofu too, and I love the way it came out! I’ll be using that method in other dishes. Thanks for another great recipe.

    (We’ve been having a bit of a From My Bowl week over here … spinach/artichoke pasta last night, this recipe tonight, and curried chickpea salad from your book for lunch. After my husband started eating dinner, he said, “Is this a Caitlin recipe?” 😂 he gets it.)






  12. Followed the recipe exactly and it came out so delicious! Super easy to make too and perfect for meal prep. I’m excited for leftovers!






  13. I can’t believe this turned out so well and was so easy to throw together. I’ve never looked forward to leftovers so much before.






  14. This was super easy and delicious! I used the link provided to make my own gf hoisin sauce. I just found it a tad dry, so next time I will double the sauce recipe and it’ll be perfect so still 5 stars!






  15. We made it tonight, and it got five stars from everyone! Because we have to be careful from a health standpoint, I didn’t use the oil for the tofu. Instead, I used two tablespoons of aquafaba, one tablespoon of lite soy sauce, and the cornstarch, and it worked out perfectly! The tofu was wonderfully crispy!!






  16. This wasn’t bad. Plus I only needed to go buy green onion. I only had raw cashews so I roasted mine in the air fryer for 10 minutes and over did it. Next time I’ll keep it to 7 minutes, and add and extra tablespoon of tamari with the tofu for the salt. Can’t wait to try the other 2 recipes for Chinese takeout! Love this blog!

  17. Hello, Caitlin! I believe you’re speaking of Springfield style cashew chicken, created by Mr. Leong! I am from Springfield! I couldn’t help but try this recipe! It was only slightly different from t original and delicious! Thanks for the recipe and for paying homage!






  18. You know it’s a good day when your favorite food blogger releases a new recipe, you already have all the ingredients and you now have a simple delicious meal for dinner!
    This recipe was so simple and delicious and a perfect comfort food after a long week.

    For those who don’t have a tofu press like me, I squish the tofu between two plates and then usually add 10-15 min on the baking time for any crispy tofu recipes. Turns out perfect!






  19. I’m definitely going to try this.
    Trader Joe’s has SUPER FIRM TOFU. I didn’t even to press it to get dense, like chicken.