This General Tso tofu recipe creates an amazingly flavorful and easy vegan dinner that tastes better than take-out. The sauce is perfectly balanced with sweet, spicy, tangy and aromatic flavors that coat deliciously crisp tofu.
Serve with rice and broccoli (or your favorite veggies) for a balanced meal any night of the week! This is one of my favorite ways to prepare tofu and it’s all done in one pan.
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Is General Tso Vegan?
General Tso, also called General Tao, is commonly prepared with chicken, meaning it’s not vegan. Non-vegan ingredients could also be used in the sauce, for example, chicken broth.
Creating a tasty vegan General Tso sauce is easy and is the perfect sauce for coating deliciously crisp tofu. This recipe was one of the first ways I ever enjoyed tofu, and it all comes down to how the tofu is prepped and the delicious sauce!
Ingredients to Make General Tso Tofu
The ingredients for this recipe are things I typically keep on hand in my kitchen! You’ll need:
- Tofu: Start with a block of extra firm tofu. The tofu I buy doesn’t release water when pressed; however, many brands of extra firm tofu need pressing (will release water when pressed). Start by pressing your tofu if needed for the best texture.
- Corn starch: Corn starch is the perfect ingredient to create a delicious, crisp coating on the tofu and thicken the sauce.
- Vegetable oil: For a crisp, golden brown tofu, pan-fry it before being cooking in sauce. Neutral-tasting vegetable oil is best for this step (I don’t recommend olive oil).
- Sesame oil: To add delicious flavor we’re also using some sesame oil. This is by far my favorite oil because of its rich and unique flavor. You’ll use this to cook green onion and ginger together as the sauce’s base.
- Ginger: I love cooking with ginger because its unique flavor enhances every dish. I like to grate ginger with the small grating side of a box grater and then freeze it in tablespoon-sized portions. This way, I always have easy-to-use prepared ginger on hand!
- Green onion: To create a delicious flavor in the sauce, finely chop some green onions. I like to use the onion’s white/ light green bottom half in the sauce and save the green tops for garnish. However, you can use the full onion (whites and greens) in the sauce if you like.
- Rice vinegar: To create a tart flavor and balance the sauce’s sweetness, rice vinegar is a great choice.
- Hoisin sauce: This is a tasty sweet sauce that’s boosts flavor and is a great addition to many recipes.
- Ketchup: This may sound like an odd ingredient, but it’s a tasty and convenient way to add some tomato flavor along with a bit of sweetness and tang.
- Soy sauce: This adds saltiness to the sauce along with a delicious flavor.
- Brown sugar: Brown sugar is a great choice to sweeten the sauce. You could use coconut sugar if you prefer, but the sauce won’t be as sweet and you may want to decrease your amount rice vinegar.
- Chili flakes: Add chili flakes to the sauce for some spicy kick! You can use as much or as little as you like. A small pinch truly enhances the sauce’s flavor and I recommend it. Serve topped with extra chili flakes if you like it spicy.
How to Make This General Tso Tofu Recipe
This recipe is quite simple to make and only requires one large pan. Just brown your tofu coated in corn starch, then prepare sauce in the same pan before adding the tofu back in.
Don’t forget to also prepare some rice and steamed broccoli (or other veggies) for serving. I typically cook brown rice which takes about 30 minutes, so start it at the same time as your tofu.
Step 1: Prep and Brown Tofu
If needed, press your block of extra firm tofu. I buy tofu that doesn’t require this step, so it’s not shown in my video.
Cut the tofu into bite-sized cubes. They can be as large or small as you like.
Place these tofu cubes into a container along with corn starch, then secure the lid and shake until your tofu is well coated in starch. Then, add vegetable oil to the tofu and shake it again to coat the tofu.
Warm a large pan over medium-high heat and brown the tofu on all sides. You can keep it a light golden brown or cook to a darker, crispier golden brown. Lower the heat to medium if the tofu becomes dark brown or burns at all.
Tofu, especially when covered in starch, tends to stick together. It’s easiest to work in 2 batches unless you have a very large pan.
When you’ve browned all the tofu, remove it from the pan and set aside.
Step 2: Prep and Cook Sauce
Cook your sauce in the same pan you cooked the tofu. However, the pan needs to cool to a medium or medium-low heat before adding the ginger and green onion. It’s best to remove the pan from the heat while you prep the sauce ingredients.
To prep the sauce, finely grate or mince the ginger and chop or finely mince some green onion. Whisk the sauce ingredients until well-combined.
Warm your sesame oil to medium heat, add the ginger and green onion, and cook for 1-2 minutes until soft.
Then, add the sauce and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
Next, add the browned tofu back into your pan and coat with sauce. Simmer for a few minutes until the sauce is thick.
Step 3: Assemble and Serve
Serve your prepared General Tso tofu hot alongside some cooked rice and steamed broccoli!
How to Create a Balanced Vegan Meal
To create a balanced meal, I look for a good source of plant-based protein, carbohydrates, fats and veggies (or fruit).
Tofu offers plant-based protein and some healthy fats. The sauce provides fats (from vegetable and sesame oils) as well as carbohydrates (from sugar and other sauces).
To balance this delicious tofu recipe, pair alongside some steamed broccoli or any other veggies you like! For extra complex carbohydrates, it’s also great to serve with some cooked rice; I like to use brown rice.
This is a very saucy recipe by design; there’s plenty of sauce to coat your rice and/ or broccoli along with the tofu!
How to Store Leftover General Tso Tofu
Leftover tofu (and rice and broccoli) should be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week. This recipe is a great for meal prep if you’re making food for one person (or double if you need to feed two people a few meals!).
If you make this recipe, please rate and comment below to help others benefit from your experience!
General Tso Tofu (Vegan)
- Large frying pan (non-stick)
- Tongs (optional)
- 350 grams extra firm tofu (pressed if needed)
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 ½ tablespoons ginger , grated or finely minced
- ¼ cup green onion , diced
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 ½ tablespoons soy sauce (low sodium)
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup water
- chili flakes (to taste; optional)
- rice , cooked
- broccoli , steamed
Step 1: Prep and Brown Tofu
- The tofu I buy doesn’t need pressing, but if yours does (if water comes out when pressed) start by pressing the tofu.350 grams extra firm tofu
- Next, cut your tofu into bite-sized cubes.
- Add cut tofu to a container or plastic bag along with corn starch and toss to coat (shake the bag or place lid on container to shake).2 tablespoons corn starch
- It’s best to brown the tofu in 2 batches. Warm a large pan over medium-high heat and add cooking/ vegetable oil. Brown the first half of the tofu on all sides.2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Then, heat the remaining vegetable oil and brown your second batch of tofu; if it browns very quickly or becomes dark brown rather than golden brown, turn down the heat.
- Set aside the browned tofu.
Step 2: Prep and Cook Sauce
- Finely mince or grate ginger.1 ½ tablespoons ginger
- Dice green onion (you can use the green and white parts).¼ cup green onion
- In a small bowl or jar, whisk together all the sauce ingredients: rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, water and chili flakes to taste.3 tablespoons rice vinegar, 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce, 3 tablespoons ketchup, 2 ½ tablespoons soy sauce, ¼ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup water, chili flakes
- In the pan used to brown your tofu, warm sesame oil over medium heat. Add ginger and green onion and cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant.2 teaspoons sesame oil
- Next, add your sauce and cook for about 1 minute before adding the browned tofu to the pan.
- Simmer the tofu in sauce, tossing regularly, until your sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.
Step 3: Assemble and Serve
- Serve the saucy tofu alongside steamed broccoli and cooked rice.rice, broccoli
More Vegan Main Meal Recipes
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About Nicole Stevens
Nicole is a vegan Registered Dietitian (RD) and founder of Lettuce Veg Out.
She helps people thrive on a vegan diet with balanced recipes and easy-to-understand nutrition science.
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