One of the most popular Chinese American dishes, we’re making vegan! This absolutely delicious and full of flavor vegan general tso’s tofu is incredible!
If you love Chinese food, you will love this vegan General Tso’s tofu!
General Tso’s is typically a sweet and spicy fried chicken dish at North American Chinese restaurants. Despite being served so widely, there is no record of any connection to General Tso Tsung-t’ang, the leader the dish is named after.
While there are some slight variations depending on cultures and region, the basis of the dish is the sauce, batter, and the main – which is usually chicken. Broccoli is also usually served along side it.
The sauce is the main component and made up of soy sauce, rice wing vinegar, sugar, cornstarch, dried whole red chili peppers and garlic.
We are taking the same base sauce and pairing it with tofu for a vegan General Tso’s that is simply amazing.
We don’t claim that this is an authentic recipe, however, we will show you how to make a delicious recipe easy and accessible to all!
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VEGAN GENERAL TSO’S TOFU INGREDIENTS:
Below are notes about the main ingredients before we get into the full recipe located lower in this post on how to make this vegan tofu dish:
- Tofu – The star of the show! You want to use an extra firm block of tofu for this recipe
- Brown sugar – Beyond adding just a little bit of sweetness to the marinade, sugar helps to neutralize spice as the sugar crystals absorb some of the capsaicin oils and balance the flavors well
- Garlic and Ginger – the aromatics for this dish.
- Red Chili Flakes – many places use actual red chilies, but they can be hard to locate, so we are using red chili flakes instead
- Soy sauce, Hoisin, Rice Wine Vinegar and Chili Paste – These are like the seasonings for this recipe. We recommend adding each and not making many changes besides a swap for the soy sauce if you need a soy free or gluten free variety
Substitutions and Variations:
- Tofu – obviously this whole dish is based around tofu, but you could also use seitan, jackfruit, oyster mushrooms, chickpeas, cauliflower and more with this recipe
- Red Pepper Flakes – you can use red chilis if desired or omit entirely if you don’t want this to be spicy
- Brown sugar – swap with coconut sugar if needed
- Cornstarch – Can be swapped with arrowroot powder
- Soy sauce- See below in the frequently asked questions for soy sauce swaps!
Frequently Asked Questions:
It has a kick, but we don’t think that it’s too hot. If you would like a more mild flavor, you can reduce the amount of red pepper flakes.
If you already made this and just finding out it’s spicy, you can add avocado or vegan sour cream to your dish to help level out the spice.
For even spicier flavor, add more!
We’ve tried both and the flavor is great either way. Grilled tofu gives some of those smokey grill flavors into the tofu which is delicious. Pan frying is also delicious and easier than heating up the grill.
Alternatively, you could oven baked this tofu as well. We’d recommend 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
Yes! Make sure the sauce is at room temperature, then place into a freezer safe container or bag. We recommend using within 6 months of freezing.
This dish is tofu based so soy is in the main ingredient but you could swap the tofu for something else like mushrooms, jackfruit, or cauliflower.
For the soy sauce, swap with coconut aminos, tamari sauce or a no soy soy sauce depending on your allergens.
General Tso’s is traditionally served with broccoli and rice! Enjoy!
Tips for making the perfect tofu:
WHAT IS THE BEST TYPE OF TOFU TO USE?
We prefer extra firm tofu for this recipe and would highly recommend using that.
This recipe will also work with firm tofu if needed.
We do not advise using silken or soft tofu for this recipe.
WHY SHOULD I FREEZE TOFU FIRST?
Freezing tofu gives it a more meat-like texture. While this isn’t a requirement, we highly recommend doing it this way.
Freeze the tofu in the store packaging. Then remove and let thaw completely before adding it to a tofu press to drain (see below).
HOW DO I PRESS OUT TOFU?
The easiest way to press out tofu is to use a tofu press. We use this tofu press because it’s easy to use and works great.
However, if you don’t have a tofu press then you could wrap the block of tofu in a kitchen towel, place it on a plate, and then put something heavy on top like a cast iron skillet.
Pin this Vegan General Tso’s tofu for later!
Vegan General Tso’s Tofu
- 1 14-16oz block extra firm tofu, frozen, then thawed and pressed
- 1/3 cup soy sauce (see above for substitutions)
- 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1 1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar (sub with white wine vinegar)
- 2 tsp chili paste
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup + 1 tbsp cornstarch, divided
- 3 tbsp brown sugar (can sub lime juice)
- 3/4 cup vegetable stock
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
Stir Fry Sauce
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil , optional
- 2 tsp ginger, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp red chili flakes, optional
Optional to Serve with
- 1 head broccoli, steamed
- sliced green onions, for garnish
- sesame seeds, for garnish
- Freeze and thaw tofu. Then, use a tofu press to get the water out. *See Notes in post for why and how to do this if needed.
- Once pressed, cube tofu (or slice if desired). Add tofu into a shallow dish with a lid or a sealable bag.
- To make marinade, in a small bowl, add soy sauce, hoisin, rice wine vinegar, chili paste and sesame oil. Stir together well.
- Spoon 3 tablespoons of marinade over tofu, Set rest of marinade aside. Add ginger and garlic to tofu, mix, then marinate 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, add 1 cup cornstarch to the tofu and toss to coat. Shake off any excess.
- To the remaining marinade, add 1 tbsp cornstarch, brown sugar, and vegetable stock. Whisk together.
- Add 3 tbsp vegetable oil over medium heat to a large skillet. Cook the tofu for about 8-9 minutes, turning every 2 minutes or so to ensure all sides are crispy and golden. Remove the tofu.
- In the same skillet, add more oil if needed (start with 2 tbsp). Add in 2 tsp minced ginger and 2 cloves garlic, and red chili flakes if adding. Saute for 30 seconds. Add remaining marinade sauce and bring to a simmer. Stir occasionally until it begins to thicken.
- Add tofu and toss to coat. Immediately remove and transfer as soon as it's coated to remain crispy.
- Serve over rice, quinoa, noodles etc. with steamed broccoli as a side. Top with green onions and sesame seeds if desired.
Let’s see your creations!
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