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General Tso’s Tofu is one of our favorite recipes to make when we’re craving Chinese food. Golden, pan fried tofu that’s tossed in a General Tso’s sauce that’s the perfect balance of sweet, savory, and spicy. Serve this weeknight favorite over fluffy white rice for the ultimate taste bud bliss!
Table of Contents
- Ingredients You’ll Need + Substitutions
- Equipment Needed
- How to Make the best General Tso’s Tofu
- Serving Suggestions
- If you’re looking for a few sides to round out the meal, try one of these favorites:
- Storage Instructions
- Recipe FAQs
- More Tofu Recipes You May Enjoy
- The Best General Tso’s Tofu Recipe Recipe
What is General Tso’s?
This dish General Tso’s chicken is one of the most famous American Chinese takeout dishes we know today. It was invented by chef Peng Chang-Kuei in 1955 and was named after a 19th century military Hunanese general.
And although today’s fried, sweet version is nothing like the original version, it packs big and bold flavors that the whole family will love.
Today we’re swapping the typical chicken protein for super crispy cubed tofu and tossing it in a homemade General Tso’s sauce until sweet and sticky. It’s the best vegan version of General Tso chicken – we can’t wait for you to try this plant-based take!
Ingredients You’ll Need + Substitutions
- Tofu: Firm or extra-firm tofu cubes work best in this General Tso’s tofu recipe. Super firm tofu can also work, but it won’t be able to absorb the marinade as well and may taste less flavorful.
- Soy sauce: This savory condiment adds a salty, umami flavor to both the tofu and the homemade general Tso’s sauce. If you are gluten-free, opt for tamari.
- Cornstarch: Essential for crispy tofu and a thick, sticky sauce. If you are corn-free, opt for arrowroot powder but note that arrowroot cannot withstand high heats for long periods of time. If using, wait to stir the arrowroot powder into the General Tso’s sauce until the last couple minutes of simmering.
- Aromatics: You’ll need fresh garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, and white pepper. We highly recommend using fresh, minced garlic and freshly grated ginger. If preferred, opt for fresh chilies in place of the red pepper flakes or black pepper in place of the earthy, fermented white pepper.
- Broth: Vegetable broth is the savory base of the homemade general Tso’s sauce. We typically use our Homemade Vegetable Broth, but you can also opt for bouillon cubes, or a store-bought vegetable broth. If you are sensitive to sodium, use a low-sodium broth.
- Vinegar: Adding an acid to the sauce helps balance the savory, umami flavors and keep things light. Rice vinegar is our favorite, but white vinegar will work well, too.
- Hoisin: Hoisin sauce is a Chinese condiment commonly used to add flavor to stir fries, Mu Shu “pork,” noodle dishes, or as a dipping sauce for spring rolls. It has a uniquely sweet, spicy, and umami-rich flavor that really helps the General Tso’s sauce shine. Most hoisin sauces are vegan-friendly, but they can contain ingredients like fish sauce or honey. If you’re unable to find a store-bought hoisin sauce, try this homemade Vegan and Gluten-Free Hoisin Sauce recipe.
- Sugar: A good General Tso’s sauce is a good balance of sweet and savory. For the best deep, rich flavor, we like to use brown sugar. If you prefer a lighter flavor, try light brown sugar or even white sugar. Opt for organic to ensure it is vegan.
How to Make the best General Tso’s Tofu
- Press the tofu. Using a tofu press or our favorite hack for pressing tofu without a tofu press, press the excess water out of the block of tofu for at least 30 minutes. Once sufficiently pressed, cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and transfer to a large bowl.
- Coat the tofu. Into the same large mixing bowl, add the soy sauce, salt, and white pepper. Gently mix until the tofu is evenly coated. Sprinkle half of the cornstarch on top, mix to coat, then add the second half and repeat. Set aside.
- Pan fry until golden. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat, then add the oil. Once warm, add the cubed tofu and fry on each side until golden and crispy on the edges. Remove the tofu from the pan and set aside.
- Begin to prepare the General Tso’s sauce. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the vegetable broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, vegan hoisin sauce, and white pepper. Set aside.
- Toast the aromatics. Using the same skillet that you pan fried the tofu in, sauté the garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant. Add additional oil to prevent burning, as needed.
- Add the sauce. Once the aromatics are fragrant, pour in the General Tso’s sauce ingredients and bring to a boil.
- Add a cornstarch slurry. In the same small mixing bowl, combine the warm water and cornstarch. Mix together until smooth. Add it to the simmering General Tso’s sauce and whisk to combine. Simmer for another 6-8 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened to your liking.
- Add the tofu. Once thickened, add the pan fried tofu back to the pan and toss in the General Tso’s sauce until well coated.
- Serve. Season with additional salt to taste, then serve this General Tso’s tofu over rice with green onions and toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy!
General Tso’s Tofu is typically served over white fluffy rice or brown jasmine rice for a satisfying main dish. It’s suitable for quick weeknight dinners and can even be reheated for simple lunches.
Appetizers and Sides
Leftover General Tso’s tofu can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days. Before covering and refrigerating, allow the tofu to cool completely to room temperature. If you are prepping this General Tso’s tofu for meal prep, feel free to store in individual portion sizes over rice with desired sides.
Freezing this tofu dish isn’t recommended. Doing so will change the texture of the tofu and cause the excess moisture to drain upon thawing, resulting in soggy tofu.
Leftovers will reheat best in the microwave or in a large skillet until warmed through.
General Tso’s sauce is generally described as a sweet, savory, spicy sauce. The best part of making General Tso’s sauce from scratch is you can adjust the flavors to suit your own personal taste buds. For example, if you love a sweet sauce, add a teaspoon or two of additional brown sugar. If you prefer spicy food, add additional chili flakes.
If you are gluten-free, make sure to use a gluten-free soy sauce such as tamari as well as a gluten-free hoisin sauce. Most store-bought hoisin sauce contains gluten because it is made with soy sauce, but there are gluten-free versions available. Try this version by Kikkoman!
Yes! If you prefer to make crispy tofu in the air fryer, check out the method and cook times we use in our Easy Air Fried Herbed Tofu for a guide.
More Tofu Recipes You May Enjoy
- Easy Lemongrass Tofu – a quick and easy tofu dish that’s packed with flavor.
- Tofu Musubi – if you grew up loving spam musubi, you have to try this veganized version.
- Sheet Pan Tofu Taco Meat – a classic taco recipe that’s perfect for busy weeknights.
- Vegan Tofu Karaage – our Japanese fried “chicken” recipe that will blow your mind!
- Easy Crispy Tofu – a classic, basic tofu recipe for any kind of dish.
- Ginger Sesame Tofu – another gluten-free tofu recipe that’s packed with savory flavor.
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