Vegan Kung Pao Tofu

GFGluten FreeGRGrain FreeVVegan

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Crispy Tofu gets tossed with peanuts, veggies, chiles, and a sweet spicy and savory sauce for a plant-based twist on a classic takeout dish!

We’ve been on a takeout-but-make-it-at-home kick recently, and this Vegan Kung Pao Tofu is an all-time favorite. This Chinese-inspired dish is packed with chunks of crispy tofu, a sweet and spicy sauce, peanuts, and lots of fresh veggies! It feels like an indulgent and delicious takeout meal, but is surprisingly wholesome and balanced thanks to colorful veggies and protein-packed peanuts and tofu.

Kung pao tofu in bowl over white rice and topped with green onion

INGREDIENTS + INSPIRATION

Kung Pao Sauce originates from the Sichuan province of China but has become popular in Western culture, and thus now has many many variations – one of the most popular being Kung Pao Chicken. My version lies somewhere in the middle and takes inspiration from both the traditional Chinese and Chinese-American fusion recipes (what you would commonly enjoy in takeout). If you are looking for a traditional Kung Pao sauce I recommend this recipe by China Sichuan Food!

ingredients for kung pao tofu arranged on marble countertop

The main ingredients for this recipe can be found in most grocery stores, but there are a few specialty items. You should be able to find both hoisin sauce and rice vinegar in the Asian section, plus the dried chilies could be in either the Asian section or the Mexican section.

The dark soy sauce and sichuan peppercorns may be a little harder to come by, but you can find them at your local Asian market or purchase online! They are both listed as optional ingredients because the recipe will taste delicious without them, but I recommend using them for the full umami–packed and mouth-tingling experience 🙂

HOW TO MAKE KUNG PAO TOFU

side-by-side photos of baked crispy tofu and the veggies and peanuts in sauté pan

This recipe comes together in only a few simple steps – and with a little multitasking you can have this mouthwatering dish ready in just over half an hour! The tofu bakes for 30 minutes total, which gives you the *perfect* amount of down time to chop your veggies and prepare the sauce.

  1. Bake the tofu until crispy
  2. In the meantime, prep the veggies and toast the peppercorns
  3. Sauté the aromatics, then add in the veggies, chilies, and peanuts
  4. Add the sauce ingredients and cornstarch slurry, then toss with the baked tofu
  5. Serve warm and dig in!

Kung Pao Tofu stir fry in sauté pan with wooden spoon

This dish is honestly the ultimate flavor and texture combination! You have…

  • chewy/tender/crispy/crunchy from the baked tofu, peanuts, and lightly sautéed veggies, and
  • sweet/savory/spicy/umami from the simmer sauce!

Seriously, what more is there to want?! I love to serve this Kung Pao Tofu over some fluffy jasmine rice, but it’s also great on its own or over noodles. Again – you really can’t go wrong here.

Piece of tofu with bite taken out of it held with chopsticks over bowl of stir fry

COOKING TIPS + FAQ:

  • Can I pan-fry the tofu? You can, but I’d really recommend baking it for the best chewy, crispy, and fuss-free texture.
  • Can I add more vegetables? This recipe is already pretty veggie-packed, but I do think adding some sliced mushrooms would make this recipe even more delicious!
  • How spicy is this? The good news is that this recipe’s spice level can be totally customizable. The dried chilies are pretty mild if you don’t cut them in half and release the seeds. I wouldn’t recommend eating them if you’re sensitive to heat, but you can still add in a few whole peppers without it being too spicy.

Piece of tofu with bite taken out of it held with chopsticks over bowl of stir fry

If you’re looking for more takeout-inspired recipes, you’ll also love this Vegan Orange Tofu, this Vegan Beef & Broccoli, and this Vegan Sesame Chicken!

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 Kung Pao Tofu

Crispy Tofu gets tossed with peanuts, veggies, chiles, and a sweet spicy and savory sauce for a plant-based twist on a classic takeout dish!

  • Author: Caitlin Shoemaker
  • Prep Time: 10 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 Minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Oven, Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

Scale

For the Tofu:

  • 1 14 ounce (396 g) block extra firm tofu, pressed*
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil (or another high-heat cooking oil)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
  • 3 tablespoons (29 g) cornstarch

For the Stir Fry and Sauce:

  • 1 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 3 green onions, chopped; white and green parts separated
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1” fresh ginger, peeled and grated (~2 tsp)
  • 1 red bell pepper, large dice
  • 1 green bell pepper, large dice
  • ½ cup (80 g) roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 510 dried red chiles (cut in half for more spice)
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce (see notes for substitutions)
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce (optional, for color) 
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch 
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

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. Toast the Peppercorns (Optional): Bring a large sauté pan or wok to medium heat. Add the whole peppercorns and toast for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant. Remove from the pan, crush using a mortar and pestle, and set aside.
  4. Aromatics & Veggies: Add the avocado oil to the same pan over medium heat. Once warm, add the white parts of the green onion, garlic, and ginger; sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Toss in the green and red bell peppers, peanuts, chiles, and crushed peppercorns. Mix well and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Make it Saucy: Add hoisin sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, and dark soy sauce to the center of the pan and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Dissolve the corn starch into the ½ cup (120 ml) of water, then pour into the pan and bring to a simmer, stirring well. Cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the sauce has thickened to your liking.
  6. Final Touches: Turn the heat to low, then stir in the baked tofu and sesame oil. Divide the Kung Pao Tofu and vegetables between serving bowls, then top with green onions and serve warm. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Notes

  • Pressed Tofu: use a tofu press to remove the excess liquid from your tofu, or wrap the tofu in a clean towel or paper towels, place a heavy object on top, and let sit for at least 30 minutes
  • Peanut Free: use cashews for a fun twist!
  • Gluten-Free: use gluten-free hoisin sauce and gf soy sauce or tamari

Keywords: vegan tofu recipe, vegan kung pao tofu, kung pao tofu

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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.

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Comments

  1. This turned out so good! I made the tofu in my air fryer (370 degrees for 14 minutes, shaken halfway through) and the texture was amazing. It honestly reminded me of takeout chicken. I highly recommend making this!

  2. First recipe I have tried from here and it was great! Have never cooked tofu in that way before and it was definitely the best at home tofu I have ever made, will be using that method for other recipes! 👍🏻 Can’t wait to try more

    1. So glad you enjoyed the first ever recipe you’ve tried here, Emily! We’re sure you’ll love all the future recipes you decide to try! Thank you so much for the review ♥

  3. My mouth is still watering from this dish. I will 100% be making this again. I love the technique for preparing the tofu. Thank you!!!

  4. Made this last night and it was SOOOO good!
    Had to sub the rice vinegar for APV and used a gluten-free flour blend instead of cornstarch (bc I had those ingredients at home and didn’t want to buy more things) and the recipe still turned out delicious.
    Will be making this often ;]

  5. This was fantastic. I substituted Soy Curls for the Tofu and I didn’t have peanuts, so I subbed cashews.
    My son said that it was the best thing I have made for a long time. Absolutely going to make this again!!
    Thanks so much.

  6. 10/10 so good, and i forgot peppercorns and red chilis. I prepped this for my work lunches this week! The crunch from the peppers and crispy tofu are so nice with the sauce. Will be making again!

  7. Made this dish for the first time & my family just loved it. Thank you so much for sharing the love for food 😊

  8. This was amazing! I made some slight mods with the veggies adding snow pea pods and baby Bella mushrooms, leaving out the green bell pepper, but otherwise followed the recipe. I love tofu prepared this way!