Kung pao tofu is a tasty vegan dish made with tofu, bell peppers, peanuts, and Kung pao sauce. Restaurant Style Kung Pao Tofu is very easy to make at home. This spicy tofu dish is a vegan version of a Kung Pao chicken dish and is super delicious.
Learn to make best Kung Pao Tofu with this easy recipe. I am confident this Vegan Kung Pao Tofu recipe will be one of the best Chinese takeout meals you have ever made at home.
Stir-fried crispy tofu, colorful peppers, peanuts, and green onions tossed in a delicious salty, sweet, and spicy kung pao sauce – we are talking food nirvana with tofu fry right here !
For a highly satisfying meal, serve it over hot cooked rice. Impress your family and friends with this lip smacking delicious Chinese food made under 30 minutes. We also love our Smoky Tofu , Air Fryer Tofu and Tofu Scramble recipes.
Kung Pao is traditionally a dry tofu stir fry. The sauce however is super flavorful. It is one of those lick the bowl clean type recipes. This recipe makes best Vegan Kung Pao Tofu perfect for easy weeknight dinners.
This Kung Pao Tofu Recipe is
- Easy to Make
- Uses easy to find , simple and inexpensive ingredients
- Healthy and wholesome
- Amazingly Flavorful
My family and I love Chinese food but I always worry about the quality of ingredients while ordering. Since we are gluten intolerant household, there always is that extra concern.
I instead prefer to make Chinese food at home. Food made from scratch is also healthier since you know you are using clean and quality ingredients to make it.
Kung pao always been one of our favorite things to order. Kids love the saucy peanuts in the stir-fry. They happily eat the veggies with it as well. 100% Score isn’t it ?
What are Are Sichuan Peppers?
Traditional Kung Pao recipes are made with Szechuan peppers also known as Sichuan peppercorns. These dried chili peppers provide bold spicy heat when you sauté them in oil.
They are served as a garnish and you do not want to eat them. These fiery peppers will burn your tongue off.
You can find them in Asian grocery stores or specialty food stores. You can skip adding them if you don’t have them easily available. Any Chinese flavored hot chili sauce can be used instead.
Exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here’s the breakdown of what goes in this tofu kung pao recipe
- Tofu Ingredients : Extra-firm tofu cut into cubes, Cornstarch or rice flour : to make it crispy and Sesame oil
- Sauce Ingredients : Mix together soy sauce, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, chili garlic sauce or sriracha or any hot sauce, toasted sesame oil , brown sugar and cornstarch or rice flour
- Vegetable Stir Fry Ingredients : whole dried red chilies, garlic cloves and ginger, red bell pepper and green pepper cut in squares, shallot quartered, green onion chopped and roasted peanuts.
I like to make recipes without complicated long list of ingredients. Making simple and accessible recipes is very important for me. So, I am suggesting several alternatives/ substitutes to make this recipe using basic ingredients that are easily available.
- Instead of using light soy sauce and dark soy sauce, just use whatever soy sauce you have in hand. You can also use tamari or liquid coconut amino.
- Same goes for Mirin ( rice wine vinegar similar to sake) chances are you don’t have it in your pantry. Don’t worry, use rice vinegar, white vinegar or lemon juice instead.
- You can also add in diced celery, sliced carrots or zucchini.
- I am using sesame oil for intense Asian flavors. You can use other cooking oils including canola or avocado oil.
Why press tofu before cooking?
Tofu is usually sold in a packet filled with water. It has smooth texture with a lot of water content.
If you don’t press it and remove excess water, anything you make with it will be watery. For stir-fry recipes where you expect it to be crispy, pressing the tofu helps tremendously.
There are many good quality tofu presses available to buy. You can also do it without press. Put it in a colander ; keep a heavy object over the block of tofu ( I used my stone mortal pestle) Let the water drain for 20 minutes. Blot excess water with paper towel and then cut it for recipe.
How To Make Kung Pao Tofu?
Press tofu with tofu press or heavy object for 20 minutes. This will drain excess water. Cut tofu into 1″ cubes. Sprinkle cornstarch, salt and pepper. Gently toss the tofu so the cornstarch coats the tofu cubes.
Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet or non stick pan on medium heat. Add the tofu cubes to the pan.
Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Using spatula or tongs, flip the cubes upside down. Cook another 3-4 minutes so tofu gets golden brown from both sides. Remove from pan and drain on paper towel.
Meanwhile, cut the vegetables and make the tofu marinade by combining all the ingredients listed under the sauce. Whisk it well.
Add the dried red chilies and minced garlic and ginger to the same pan . Sauté for a minute.
Then add the chopped veggies and peanuts. Sauté on high for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the sauce. Mix well. Keep stirring as the sauce starts to thicken immediately.
Add in the pan fried tofu and mix until all the tofu is well coated with the sauce. Cook for 1 minute.
Turn off the heat. Garnish with cut green onions. Serve hot. Enjoy !
This delicious tofu tastes amazing simply served over rice. You can also pair it with Vegetable Lo Mein Noodles , Chili Garlic Noodles , Rice Noodles Stir Fry or Vegetarian Fried Rice or Curry Fried Rice for elaborate Asian Dinner fare.
Prepared kung pao tofu meal will stay well in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Store it in air tight glass container. Reheat in microwave for 2 minutes in 30 second intervals.
I usually do not freeze this recipe because the the texture changes significantly and becomes mushy.
How to Make Air Fryer Crispy Tofu?
Instead of pan frying, you can use air fryer to make crispy tofu. Prepare the tofu as explained above by removing the excess water, cutting in cubes and dusting with corn starch and salt and pepper. Lightly spray the oil on air-fryer grill. Arrange the tofu cubes in single layer.
Use air-fry / bake setting at 350 F and set 10 minutes. Check once, rotate the cubes for even air frying and let it cook for another 5-10 minutes. The cubes should be golden brown all around. Use them in stir fry as above.
Easy Chinese Recipe
Skip the take out and make this incredibly easy and delicious homemade kung pao tofu. The crispy tofu and colorful veggies tossed in absolutely perfect sauce. You will love this most flavorful, versatile meatless meal.
Extra firm tofu is best for stir frying. It holds it’s shape without crumbling. Do not use silken tofu to make this recipe.
The key to crispy tofu is well pressed and drained tofu. If it has too much moisture in it, it crumbles and can stick to the pan. Also make sure to cook it on high heat in well oiled pan to prevent sticking.
Kung pao tofu is a tasty vegan dish made with tofu, bell peppers, peanuts, and Kung pao sauce. This spicy tofu dish is a vegan version of a Kung Pao chicken dish
★ If you make this HOMEMADE KUNG PAO TOFU RECIPE do let us know how you like it by ★ star rating it and leaving a comment below.
Kung Pao Tofu
For the Crispy Tofu
- 14 oz extra-firm tofu cut into cubes
- 1/4 cup cornstarch or rice flour
- 2 tablespoons oil – I used sesame oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
To make Kung Pao Sauce
Vegetable for Stir-Fry
- 4-5 whole dried red chilies
- 1 tablespoon grated garlic
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 medium green pepper cut in squares
- 1 medium red pepper cut in squares
- 1 medium shallot quartered
- 2-3 stalks green onion chopped
- 1/4 cup roasted peanuts
- Press tofu with tofu press or heavy object for 20 minutes. This will drain excess water. Cut tofu into 1" cubes. Sprinkle cornstarch, salt and pepper. Gently toss the tofu so the cornstarch coats the tofu cubes.
- Meanwhile, cut the veggies in to bite size pieces. Make the sauce by combining all the ingredients listed under sauce. Whisk it well.
How to make Kung Pao Tofu
- Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet or non stick pan on medium heat. Add the tofu cubes to the pan. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Using spatula or tongs, flip the cubes upside down. Cook another 3-4 minutes so tofu gets golden brown from both sides. Remove from pan and drain on paper towel.
- Add the dried red chilies and minced garlic and ginger to the same pan . Saute for a minute.Then add the chopped veggies and peanuts. Saute on high for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the sauce. Mix well. Keep stirring as the sauce starts to thicken immediately. Add in the pan fried tofu and mix until all the tofu is well coated with the sauce. Cook for 1 minute.
- Turn off the heat. Garnish with cut green onions and extra peanuts. Serve hot. Enjoy !