Kung Pao Tofu

Restaurant Style Kung Pao Tofu is very easy to make at home. I am confident this Vegan Kung Pao Tofu recipe will be one of the best Chinese food you have ever made.

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 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.

Chopsticks holding piece of crispy tofu coated with spicy sauce.

Kung Pao is traditionally a dry stir fry. The sauce however is super flavorful. It is one of those lick the bowl clean type recipes. Most Chinese restaurants in the USA offer various dishes with Kung Pao Sauce. Kung Pao Tofu is a perfect vegetarian option.

YOU WILL LOVE THIS RECIPE

  • VEGAN
  • GLUTEN-FREE
  • EASY TO MAKE
  • USES EASY TO FIND INGREDIENTS
  • HEALTHY WITH CLEAN LIST INGREDIENTS
  • WHOLESOME MEAL
  • AMAZINGLY FLAVORFUL

A dinner serving with bowl of kung pao tufu, white rice and red chili sauce along with two fortune cookies.

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 ?

A cast iron skilett with colorful veggies and crispy tofu.

What Are Sichuan Peppers ?

Traditional Kung Pao recipes are made with szechuan peppers also known as sichuan peppercorns. They 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.

Recipe Substitutions

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 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 have included the Amazon links to buy all the required sauces used in this dish in the recipe card below.

A black round plate with kung pao tofu, white rice and two spring rolls. A chopstick is on the side and dinner napkin under the plate.

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.

Process shot collage to show how to make crispy tofu.

Meanwhile, cut the veggies and make the sauce by combining all the ingredients listed under sauce. Whisk it well.

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. Serve hot. Enjoy !

Process shot collage showing how to make kung pao tofu with colorful veggies and peanuts.

HOW TO MAKE CRISPY TOFU USING AIR FRYER

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.

INGREDIENTS

For the Tofu

14.5 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

Kung Pao Sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce 15 ml
1 tablespoon rice vinegar 15 ml
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce or sriracha or any hot sauce, 5 ml, adjust to taste
1 tablepoon toasted sesame oil 15 ml
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch or rice flour

Vegetable for Stir-Fry

4-5 whole dried red chilies or more to taste
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

Ingredients used in the recipe displayed on black counter.

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.

HERE ARE SOME OF OUR FAVORITE CHINESE / ASIAN RECIPES. TRY THEM AT HOME FOR HEALTHY BETTER THAN TAKE OUT DINING. 

Pinterest image with text overlay.

Join us on Pinterest and FACEBOOK . You will love all our delicious, wholesome, plant based recipes from around the world.

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.

A black round plate with kung pao tofu, white rice and two spring rolls. A chopstick is on the side and dinner napkin under the plate.

Kung Pao Tofu

Yield: 6 CUPS
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

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. 

Ingredients

For the Crispy Tofu

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

Instructions

    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 and make the sauce by combining all the ingredients listed under sauce. Whisk it well.

    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 !

Notes

There are many good quality tofu press available to buy. Here is a link to buy it on Amazon. It also is useful to have if you make Paneer at home. You can also keep a heavy object over the block of tofu ( I use stone mortal and pestle) and let the water drain for 20 minutes.  Blot excess water with paper towel and then cut it for recipe.

HOW TO MAKE CRISPY TOFU USING AIR FRYER

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.

Cook on high heat

As you must have seen in most asian resturants, cooks make stir fry dishes on high flames. * To retain the perfect crunch to the cooked vegetables, cook this recipe on high flame entirely.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 390Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 0mgCarbohydrates: 63gFiber: 4gSugar: 8gProtein: 13g

Nutritional values are provided as a courtesy and the values are approximate. The values will change depending on the exact ingredients, measurements and brands used. As always, for specific health issues and dietary requirements please consult medical professional.

Did you make this recipe?

Join us on Instagram @Profusioncurry. Share your photos and tag us with #profusioncurry. Use the social share buttons below to share this recipe across Facebook, Pinterest and Yummly. Thanks a bunch.

Sharing is caring!

3 thoughts on “Kung Pao Tofu”

Leave a Comment