General Tso’s Tofu

March 16, 2022

Entree

By: Chris Petrellese 

General Tso’s goes vegan by adding the sweet, spicy, and savory sauce we know and love to crispy tofu instead of chicken. 

close up of saucy vegan generalo tso's tofu in a bowl with rice

General Tso’s Chicken is one of the most famous American Chinese takeout dishes we know. It packs big and bold flavors and can easily be made vegan by swapping the chicken for super crispy tofu. Today, we will show you how to make both the base recipe for the extra crispy tofu and the sticky, sweet, spicy, and savory General Tso’s sauce. 

ingredients for vegan general tso's tofu recipe

Here is What We Need to Make This General Tso’s Tofu

  • Tofu: Firm tofu is ideal for this recipe, but you can also use extra-firm tofu. Firm tofu cubes stay together while cooking and, when appropriately pressed, can absorb flavors well during the marination process. To press tofu, you can either use a store-bought tofu press or use this method here
  • Soy Sauce: Soy sauce has two applications in this recipe. First, it’s is used to marinate the tofu before frying. It’s also used in the orange sauce to add a salty and umami flavor. If you want to make your recipe gluten-free, you can swap soy sauce for tamari.
  • Cornstarch: This will help get our tofu extra crispy and allow our sauce to get nice and thick. If you prefer not to use cornstarch, you can swap it for arrowroot powder. 
  • Aromatics + Spices: Fresh ginger and garlic are our aromatics in this recipe. We recommend finely grating the ginger and mincing the garlic to maximize flavor. To add some heat to this dish, we use red pepper flakes, but you can also use fresh chilies if desired. Additionally, we are adding white pepper to our sauce which has a slightly earthy and fermented flavor. 
  • Oil: To fry our tofu, we use neutral high-heat oil like avocado oil. Additionally, we like to add a drizzle of toasted sesame oil to our finished tofu to add an extra pop of flavor. 
  • Broth: Vegetable broth is used as a base for our General Tso’s sauce. You can use homemade vegetable broth, bullion paste or cubes, or a store-bought liquid veggie broth. 
  • Vinegar: Adding vinegar to our sauce will balance the flavors with an acidic element. We recommend using rice vinegar, but if you don’t have any white vinegar. 
  • Hoisin Sauce: To really help our General Tso’s sauce shine, we use hoisin sauce, which is a sauce made using fermented soybeans and spices to add a sweet, spicy, and umami flavor. It’s commonly used in stir-fry and is popular in many Chinese dishes. Most hoisin sauce is suitable for vegans.
  • Sugar: To give our sauce a deep and rich flavor, we like to use brown sugar, which contains molasses, in our recipe. To ensure the brown sugar, or any sugar is vegan, we recommend using organic. 
  • Garnish: Finishing off our General Tso’s tofu with toasted sesame seeds and green onions not only adds some additional flavor but takes the presentation to the next level. 

Equipment Needed:

close up of saucy vegan generalo tso's tofu in a skillet

A Bulleted History of General Tso’s Chicken

  • General Tso’s Chicken was invented by chef Peng Chang-Kuei in 1955.
  • It’s named after a 19th century military Hunanese general.
  • The original dish is nothing like it is today and was not deep-fried or sweet. 
  • The version we know today more closely resembles a dish cooked by New York City chef Tsung Ting Wang. 

A Few Final Thoughts

  • We recommend serving this recipe over a fluffy bed of warm white or brown jasmine rice. It’s also delicious served with steamed or roasted broccoli. 
  • General Tso’s Tofu makes excellent leftovers, which also makes it ideal for meal prep. Store in a refrigerated airtight container for 5-7 days.
  • This recipe can easily be made gluten-free by swapping out the soy sauce for tamari.
saucy vegan generalo tso's tofu in a bowl with rice

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Make sure you tag us on Instagram @sweetsimplevegan and @consciouschris and hashtag #sweetsimplevegan if you recreate any of our recipes, we love to see your photos!

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close up of saucy vegan generalo tso's tofu in a bowl with rice

General Tso’s Tofu


  • Author: Jasmine @ Sweet Simple Vegan
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

General Tso’s goes vegan by adding the sweet, spicy, and savory sauce we know and love to crispy tofu instead of chicken.


Ingredients

Base Tofu Recipe

  • 1 block firm tofu, pressed
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of white pepper
  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil for frying

Sauce

  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vegan hoisin
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Remaining Ingredients

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions, for garnish optional
  • Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Press the tofu for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Once pressed, cut into 1-inch cubes and transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Add the soy sauce, salt, and white pepper, and gently mix. Sprinkle over half of the cornstarch, mix, add the second half, and mix. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet over medium-low, add the oil. Once heated, add the tofu and fry until golden. Remove tofu from pan and set aside.
  4. To a small bowl, mix together all of the ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.
  5. In the same skillet that you fried the tofu, add in the garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Add additional oil as needed. Sauté until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add the sauce and bring to a boil.
  7. In a small bowl, mix together the warm water and cornstarch until smooth. Add it to the simmering sauce and whisk through. Allow the sauce to simmer, mixing often, until thick, about 6-8 minutes.
  8. Add in the cooked tofu and sesame oil. Mix until well combined. Season with additional salt as needed.
  9. Serve over rice with green onions and toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy!
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: North American Chinese

Keywords: Panda Express, Orange, Tofu, Plant based, Vegan, Entree, sweet, savory

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Recipe rating

  1. Louis says:

    Hi! So I made this one tonight; I screwed up on my skillet hahaha It was my fault the tofu stuck. Nevertheless, I loved it! Unfortunately, I didn’t have hoisin around, so I skipped it. It was a hit here. I know I didn’t reproduce the same recipe, but it turned out great, so I believe your version should be even better. Thank you, Jasmine and Chris! 🙂 Cheers from the other Vancouver up north.

  2. Sherry says:

    Have made this two times and it was amazing both times. I recently had this from a Chinese restaurant and there was no competition. Thanks for a great recipe!

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