Sweet and Sour Tofu Recipe (Vegan)

By Jessica Hylton - - Updated

This Sweet and Sour Tofu is one of my favourite comfort foods ever of my favourite takeout! The tofu is crisp with a perfect texture and the sweet and sour sauce is unbelievably delicious! It comes together quickly and tastes amazing as meal prep too!

Sweet and sour tofu on white rice in a bowl with a fork beside it on a napkin.

I’ve been making this sweet and sour sauce since the beginning of ‘Jessiker Bakes’. The first version of JITK, and where I started experimenting with savoury dishes. 10 years later (the sauce was always vegan) I’ve modified it a bit, made the entire dish vegan, and I am finally re-sharing it! I can’t count how many times I’ve made this but it is our #1 go to COMFORT meal. 

Tofu battered with cornstarch.

None of my local Asian restaurants make sweet and sour tofu. Which is a bummer, but also motivation to make my own. Let me tell you – it is INCREDIBLE! The first time I made it for a blog recipe, Gav and I finished it all that night. I say that with pride. It embodies all the flavours you would expect from a sweet and sour sauce – sweet, tangy, umami filled and so rich in colour and flavour. It comes with my favourite usual add-ins of bell peppers, onions and pineapples, and of course, crispy tofu.

Crispy tofu on a cutting board.

How to Make Tofu Crispy

After years of making tofu, I’m proud to say we know how to make it perfectly crispy. The short answer is: cornstarch. I go into full detail in my How to Cook Tofu 101 blog post, and I highly recommend that you read it. Cornstarch crisps up the tofu while wicking out any excess liquid. It’s also gluten free so works well for that. 

My second tip is to always, always press your tofu. I also say it in my how to cook tofu 101 blog post, it’s not tofu’s job to have flavour. It’s up to us to season it, in fact, I’m glad it barely has a flavour. It takes on anything you want it to. Removing the liquid from tofu allows it space to absorb all the flavour you want it to have. Those two, plus a nice hot pan to crisp it up in will create perfect tofu for this dish and beyond!

Ingredients for sweet and sour add ins red onions, bell peppers and pineapples.

Can’t have tofu?

If you’re allergic to soy, this recipe works perfectly on cauliflower too! Just bread it and crisp it up like in my orange cauliflower dish, then finish it like I do in this recipe in the pan. You could also do this on mushrooms or tempeh.

Sweet and sour tofu in a pan with a grey silicone spatula in it.

Related Recipes

Sweet and sour tofu on white rice in a bowl with a fork beside it on a napkin.

Sweet and sour tofu on white rice in a bowl with a fork beside it on a napkin.

Sweet and Sour Tofu Recipe (Vegan)

This Sweet and Sour Tofu is one of my favourite comfort foods ever of my favourite takeout! The tofu is crisp with a perfect texture and the sweet and sour is unbelievably delicious! It comes together quickly and takes amazing as meal prep too!
by: Jessica in the Kitchen
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Dinner
Cuisine Asian
Ingredients

Crispy Tofu

  • 1 16 ounce block of firm or extra firm tofu pressed, and torn into 1 to 2 inch pieces*
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce gluten free if needed, or liquid aminos or tamari
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup oil for frying

Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • 1/2 cup sugar I use cane sugar, you can use brown or any granulated
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup vinegar preferably rice or white
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce gluten free if needed, or liquid aminos or tamari
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 medium bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped/cubed pineapple
  • 1/2 medium red onion chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds for garnish
  • chopped scallion for garnish
Instructions

Instructions

Crispy Tofu

  • In a medium-sized bowl place the pressed and torn tofu pieces. Add the soy sauce and toss to coat. Add in the garlic powder, sea salt, ground black pepper and cornstarch and toss to thoroughly combine, ensuring all the tofu pieces are covered with the seasonings and the cornstarch.
  • Heat a pan or wok over medium-high heat, and add the oil. When hot, add the tofu and toss to crisp up on all sides until the tofu is cooked and crisped on all sides, about 5 to 8 minutes. Feel free to do this in batches if desired. Remove tofu pieces and set aside.

Sweet and Sour Sauce + Putting it All Together

  • In the same pan, lower the heat to over medium-high heat, and add in the onions, pineapples and bell peppers.
  • Saute until the onions are translucent and the pineapples are slightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, ketchup, vinegar, water, soy sauce, and garlic powder for the sweet and sour sauce and stir together until fully combined.
  • Pour in the sauce over the veggies. Add back in the crisped up tofu, and stir to combine. Bring to a slight boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened up. Taste test and add more sugar or soy sauce if you desire. Remove from heat until needed.
  • Remove from heat and top with sesame seeds and chopped scallions. Serve and enjoy!
NOTES
I love enjoying this with some noodles or some hot rice, or fried cauliflower rice. It makes extra gravy on purpose!
*To tear tofu:
Take your pressed tofu and slice it in half length wise (so you end up with two large slices the same length and width as the original). Tear the tofu into 1 to 2 inch cubes. I like to use a ruler to help me measure the first tear, then use that as a guide, but it doesn't have to be exactly 1 to 2 inches.
You can also cube the tofu, but tearing it into pieces creates more edges for sauce and crispiness!

Nutrition

Calories: 391kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 868mg | Potassium: 392mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 1008IU | Vitamin C: 49mg | Calcium: 74mg | Iron: 2mg
by Jessica

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Recipe Rating




180 comments

  1. Lynn says:

    5 stars
    This is the second time I have made this Sweet & Sour Tofu–IT IS AMAZING! I got the tofu perfectly crispy and I can easily see using the tofu coating and making a batch of just the tofu to snack on or throw on a salad. Love it!

  2. Ann E says:

    5 stars
    Over the past 10 years or so I first went gluten free, then I went dairy free. Cutting dairy out of my life was the most difficult because I was, and always will be, a cheesaholic. I walk by the cheese displays at stores and just stare. Anyway, the dairy thing has pushed me towards vegan recipes, and I’m definitely enjoying them. Tofu was a bit of a hard sell, but I made your Sweet and Sour Tofu recipe today, and it’s delicious! A real keeper! Coating the tofu made all the difference. It was super easy, and that crispy texture along with the sauce – well, I had 2 servings. 😋 Thank you so much!

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      Oh wow thanks so much for such a well thought out and sweet review. We’re so happy that you like it.

  3. Lizzie Friedman says:

    5 stars
    I absolutely LOVE this recipe!! I never even liked sweet-and-sour take out even back before I was vegan, but something about Jessica’s amazing photo of this recipe made me curious. I did modify by using less sugar then card for, just based on my personal taste preferences, and it came out so so good. The texture of the tofu is just perfect. I can’t wait to make this again. Thank you!

  4. Sam Fellows says:

    5 stars
    I think I have already commented on this recipe but had it again last night, like pretty much every other week and my whole family loved it.

    When I made the decision to be vegan I found it difficult to get easy to cook and understand recipes but stumbled across this recipe which led me down the rabbit hole of all your other recipes. I have now found a love for cooking your meals and enjoy the half of the week I cook.

    • Aww thank you so much for sharing this with me Sam! I’m so so happy to hear this and truly appreciate you letting me know and so happy I could play any part in making your vegan journey easier!! All the best!!

  5. CS says:

    5 stars
    Love your recipes!! Can you incorporate some more with Miso? I love Miso!

    • Aww thank you CS!! I haven’t really worked with miso before yet I love the flavour so much so thanks for that idea!! Will def put it on the list!! 🙂

  6. Shanna says:

    5 stars
    I tried pressing and marinating tofu for the first time today, and new things always feel so intimidating. But your recipes are so useful and clear, it came out great!

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      Thanks you so much Shanna! We’re so happy that you enjoy it!

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