This Sweet and Sour Tofu recipe with vegetables is an incredibly tasty and simple Thai dish made with crispy pan seared or “air fried” tofu cubes that are finished in a luscious vegan sweet and sour sauce, veggies and if you fancy it: pineapple! Perfect served with a bowl of tropical rice or alongside our favorite garlic spicy noodles.
Sweet and Sour Tofu
A perfect meatless weeknight meal that comes together quickly and easily, you can seriously forget about that greasy take-out with this amazing tofu recipe in your back pocket. Just remember to press your tofu in advance and the rest is a breeze.
In a nutshell you’ll sautee or sir fry some bell peppers and scallions or red onion (whatever you prefer). Mix up the sauce and bring to a bubble just until thick, toss to coat your veggies and crispy tofu and a delicious dinner is served!
The Sweet and Sour Sauce
- Tamari (soy sauce or coco aminos) – for both the salty and umami factor.
- Ketchup – for both sweetness and tanginess, trust me, you want a little touch of It here.
- Brown sugar (or maple syrup etc..) – this is where the depth of the sweet layer comes from.
- Rice vinegar – to balance the sweetness.
- Red chili flakes – optional for some attitude to wake up the taste buds.
- Water – to thin out the sauce before thickening it down.
Add Ins Ideas
- Pineapple – If you fancy this tropical fruit in your savory dishes make sure to wait and add it at the very end in its fresh form or grilled. Never sautee! Warm pineapple is only amazing when it has been grilled and the natural sugars get to caramelize. You can do this inside a cast iron grill pan after lightly crushing the pineapple slices with a little oil to prevent sticking. Once nice dark grill marks form on both sides you are good to go!
- More Veggies – Broccoli florets, asparagus, blanched baby bok choy, stir fried shiitake mushrooms, cabbage or eggplant.
How to Press Tofu + Make it Crispy
- Remove the tofu from its package, drain and pat dry with a lint free tea towel or paper towel. (for a faster press you can slice the tofu block in half lengthwise at this point).
- Line a large plate with a fresh dry lint free cotton towel. Place the tofu in the center and wrap it with the sides of the towel.
- Place a heavy skillet or large can on top. Allow the tofu to press at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes. (If pressing overnight make sure to place it in the fridge).
- Once pressed you can cut it Ito cubes or use your hand to tear it into irregular bite size pieces. Transfer to a bowl and dust to coat in tapioca or cornstarch.
Tofu Cooking Methods
- Air Fryer – For a healthy no oil WFPB recipe simply coat the tofu pieces and air fry @375″F for 15 minutes until crispy.
- Oven Method – Bake @400″F on a parchment lined baking sheet for 15 to 25 minutes until golden. This timing will depend on how well the tofu was pressed / its moisture content and the size of the pieces. Check early to avoid drying it out.
- Pan Fry – Preheat a cast iron skillet and add just enough oil to coat the bottom and prevent sticking. Pan sear the tofu on all sides until golden crispy. For the crispiest most indulgent result you can choose to fry it in about 1/4 cup of oil before transferring into the sauce.
What Exactly is Tofu?
A high plant protein food made using soy curd that is pressed into blocks and packed in water or vacuum sealed. It is low in calorie and contains all eight essential amino acids, an excellent nutritious food with way more benefits than its protein content. The flavor profile is neutral and the texture is ideal for soaking up whatever flavor you want to give it. It can be soft, silken, firm or extra firm in texture, each variation serving its purpose beautifully in the culinary world. Try to purchase organic non-gmo whenever possible.
Sweet and Sour Tofu Recipe (Vegan)
Sweet and Sour Sauce
- Add all of the sauce ingredients to a bowl and whisk them together. Set aside.1/3 cup filtered water, 3.5 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tbsp tamari, 2 tbsp ketchup, 3 tbsp brown sugar
Prep the Tofu
- Try to drain and press the tofu in advance. Use a cotton tea towel to pat it dry as best as you can. Slice it lengthwise and pat dry again. Continue cutting the tofu into small cubes and pat them dry some more. If prepping tofu in advance you can place it in the fridge at this point and allow to air dry overnight. This step will really help your tofu get extra crispy.14 oz block extra firm tofu
- Just before cooking dust the tofu cubes with the tapioca or cornstarch and use your hands to toss it well to coat all over.4 tbsp tapioca flour
Pan fry Method
- Preheat a large cast iron skillet over medium flame and add a drop of olive oil, enough to coat the entire bottom. Start adding the tofu cubes and pan sear on all sides until golden. Transfer to a bowl until needed. Make sure to work in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan.14 oz block extra firm tofu
Air Fryer Method
- After pressing the tofu and tossing it in the tapioca place it on a parchment lined baking sheet or air fryer basket. Air fry between 375" and 400"F for 14 minutes flipping it half way. (If the tofu is well pressed the 375" temperature is perfect, otherwise air fry at 400"F). Add it to the pan with the sauce and vegetables and cook everything together until the sauce starts to thicken and tofu is nicely coated all over. Enjoy!
Oven Baked Method
- Follow the exact recipe above and bake the tofu at 400”F on a parchment lined baking sheet for about 20 to 25 minutes (or until golden) tossing it half way. Meanwhile prepare the sauce and toss everything together.
Cook the Veggies + Assemble your Dish
- Cut the bell peppers and scallions into one inch pieces, discard the core from the peppers.2 bell peppers, 3 scallions
- Add the peppers and scallions to the skillet together with a drizzle of oil (or a splash of water) and pinch of sea salt. Stir fry a few minutes until the peppers just begin to soften.
- Pour the sweet and sour sauce over the peppers and bring to a simmer. Add the tofu and give it a good stir. Cook everything together until the sauce starts to thicken and tofu is nicely coated all over, about a minute or two.
- Serve hot over a bed of rice or tossed with soba or ramen noodles and a pinch of red chili flakes .1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Add Ins Ideas
- Pineapple - If you fancy this tropical fruit in your savory dishes make sure to wait and add it at the very end in its fresh form or grilled. Never sautee! Warm pineapple is only amazing when it has been grilled and the natural sugars get to caramelize. You can do this inside a cast iron grill pan after lightly crushing the pineapple slices with a little oil to prevent sticking. Once nice dark grill marks form on both sides you are good to go!
- More Veggies - Broccoli florets, asparagus, blanched baby bok choy, stir fried shiitake mushrooms, cabbage or eggplant.