Vegan Kung Pao Tofu

GFGluten FreeGRGrain FreeVVegan
5 from 34 votes
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Crispy Tofu gets tossed with peanuts, veggies, chiles, and a spicy savory sauce in this Kung Pao Tofu! A vegan twist on a takeout classic.

We’ve been on a takeout-but-make-it-at-home kick recently, and this Vegan Kung Pao Tofu recipe is an all-time favorite. This Chinese-inspired dish is packed with chunks of crispy tofu, a sweet and spicy sauce, peanuts, red chilies, 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.

Table of Contents
  1. What is Kung Pao Sauce?
  2. Ingredients for Kung Pao Tofu
  3. How To Make Kung Pao Tofu
  4. Serving Suggestions + How to Store
  5. Vegan Kung Pao Tofu Recipe
Kung pao tofu in bowl over white rice and topped with green onion

What is Kung Pao Sauce?

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

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.

ingredients for kung pao tofu arranged on marble countertop
  • Extra Firm Tofu: Tofu is our plant-based protein swap for this recipe. Make sure to press your tofu well so it crisps up in the oven!
  • Cornstarch: Cornstarch is used to coat the crispy tofu and to thicken the stir fry sauce. You can also use arrowroot powder or tapioca flour for a similar effect!
  • Cooking Oil: To coat the tofu and sauté our aromatics! I used avocado oil, but peanut oil or another high-heat cooking oil will work well.
  • Tamari or Soy Sauce: adds salt and flavor to the tofu and stir fry. I prefer to use low-sodium soy sauce to control the sodium levels. I also like to use a little Dark Soy Sauce to color the stir fry sauce, but if you don’t have it on hand you can omit it.
  • Aromatics: Green onion, ginger, and garlic add a lovely base flavor to this tofu recipe 
  • Bell Peppers: add lovely color and some healthy veggies to the recipe
  • Dried Chilies: Dried red chili peppers are what make this recipe spicy, but if you prefer a milder heat you can remove their seeds. You can find dried peppers in the international aisle of most grocery stores.
  • Sichuan Peppercorns: sichuan pepper has a unique pepper flavor and tongue-tingling spice. I purchase my peppercorns from my local Asian market, but you can also find them online! 
  • Hoisin Sauce: this spiced Chinese adds a subtle sweetness to the stir fry
  • Rice Vinegar: adds a subtle tang to the sauce
  • Peanuts: a classic Kung Pao stir fry ingredient! I recommend using roasted and salt-free peanuts. They add the perfect soft-but-crunchy texture to this stir fry!

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 and prepare the stir-fry sauce
  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 enjoy!
Kung Pao Tofu stir fry in sauté pan with wooden spoon

Serving Suggestions + How to Store

I love to serve this Kung Pao Tofu over a large scoop of fluffy jasmine rice, but it’s also great on its own or over noodles. Or, make this Instant Pot Garlic Rice for an extra garlicky kick! 

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can reheat leftovers in the microwave or on the stovetop – I recommend adding a small splash of water to the sauce to thin it out a bit. 

You can also freeze this Kung Pao Tofu, but keep in mind that the tofu will not be as crispy as when you make it fresh. It will keep well in the freezer for up to 2 months.

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

Recipe FAQs:

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!

Is Kung Pao Tofu spicy?

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.

Kung pao tofu stir fry with tofu, bell peppers, and peanuts in large pan

If you’re looking for more takeout-inspired recipes using tofu, you’ll also love this Vegan Orange Tofu, this Saucy Gochujang Tofu, and this 30-Min Vegan Teriyaki Tofu! 

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 😊

Kung Pao Tofu stir fry in bowl

Vegan Kung Pao Tofu

5 from 34 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 People
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!


For the Tofu:

For the Stir Fry and Sauce:


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Stir-Fry Sauce: In a large glass measuring cup or jar add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, dark soy sauce (if using), water, and cornstarch. Whisk until the cornstarch is dissolved, then set aside.
  • 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.
  • Make it Saucy: Give the stir fry sauce a final whisk, then add to the pan with the veggies. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the sauce has thickened to your liking.
  • Serve & Store: Turn the heat to low, then stir in the baked tofu and sesame oil. Serve the Kung Pao Tofu and vegetables over rice (or as desired), then top with the reserved green onions and serve warm. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Recipe 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


Calories: 315kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 15gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 0.2mgSodium: 958mgPotassium: 474mgFiber: 3gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 1132IUVitamin C: 65mgCalcium: 66mgIron: 2mg
Keyword: kung pao tofu, vegan tofu recipe, vegan tofu recipes
Course: Main
Method: Oven, Stovetop
Cuisine: American, Chinese
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

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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      1. 5 stars
        Simple and full of flavor! Made some small adjustments for what I had on hand (added broccoli and subbed cashews), worked out well.

  1. 5 stars
    This was so good and satisfied our take out craving! Even my two toddlers loved this. Will definitely be making this again!

  2. 5 stars
    Very good.I didn’t have peanuts so I added a little bit of peanut butter in the sauce. And to cut the time I did everything in the skillet. Fast and easy dinner.

  3. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner and absolutely loved it! Thank you for this recipe, it’s so much better than takeout and I will be adding this to my rotation! I did not have the peppercorns but it still turned out great!

  4. 5 stars
    This recipe is amazing!! I made it for some non-vegan friends last night and they loved it. My local grocery store only had dried guajillo peppers, which were pretty mild but still super good!

  5. 5 stars
    I’m new to plant based eating and wanted to try something more adventurous than lentils and this hit the spot! I didn’t do the dark soy sauce or peppercorns and it still was delicious. Great for that Chinese flavor when you don’t want takeout!

  6. 5 stars
    This recipe is fantastic! I’ve made it twice now and it’s excellent for meal prepping. It tastes delicious 🙂 Thanks for the recipe!

  7. 5 stars
    SO GOOD! I’ve made this almost every week since discovering it about 3 months ago. I love the technique of baking the tofu, and I’ve been doing that with a buncha other recipes at home – so cronchy! I also love that I can use up entire peppers and an entire block of tofu without having extra lying around. I’ve made it when I’m out of hoisin, using a mix of tahini, soy sauce, brown sugar, and five spice to approximate, and it still comes out great. I think this is my favorite recipe I’ve tried all year!

  8. 5 stars
    Delicious!! My family loved this. Will definitely repeat this recipe. But aim low on the numbers of chilis if your family doesn’t love heat. THANK YOU Caitlin

      1. 5 stars
        This was really good!! However this was my first time using sichuan peppercorns I realized I can’t handle the tongue tingles of them LOL. I will definitely make this again but without the peppercorns!

      2. Glad you liked it, Madison! You can definitely lessen or omit the sichuan peppercorns altogether depending on your spice tolerance. Thank you so much for the review!

      1. Just the regular roasted and unsalted peanuts. Glad you liked it!

  9. 5 stars
    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!

  10. 5 stars
    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 ♥

  11. 5 stars
    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!!!

  12. 5 stars
    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 ;]

  13. 5 stars
    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.

  14. 5 stars
    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!

  15. 5 stars
    Made this dish for the first time & my family just loved it. Thank you so much for sharing the love for food 😊

  16. 5 stars
    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!