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




193 comments

  1. Susanne says:

    5 stars
    Wow! I was skeptical (ketchup really?) but man this recipe turned out amazing! I did struggle with getting the tofu crispy as it was my first time cooking it. This recipe is definitely going into the make again category for me. Perfectly flavorful and easy enough for a busy weeknight.

  2. Riya says:

    5 stars
    My go to tofu recipe!!! The flavors really are so incredible, and everything pairs together so nicely. Not too much effort to make, and I’m addicted!

  3. Rebecca says:

    5 stars
    This has become a family favourite, even for the non-vegans, and the tofu-hating 11 year old! Easy and delicious, I love making it, and eating it!

  4. Shonda says:

    5 stars
    I’ve made this recipe twice and it’s perfect! It completely satisfies my desire for Chinese food. I use half the amount of sugar but that’s just my preference. Try it and I know you’ll love it.

  5. Lilyann Savage says:

    5 stars
    Such a great recipe! The sauce is spot on and absolutely delicious. With the exception of freezing my tofu overnight and thawing it, I followed the recipe to a T and I swear it’s better than takeout/restaurant sweet n sour.

  6. Kathi says:

    5 stars
    Another amazing receipe, that my whole family enjoyed. Top! Will have it regularly. Thank you!

  7. Kim Anderson says:

    5 stars
    The most amazing sweet and sour. Everyone really enjoyed it. Lovely mix of flavours. It is so hard finding a tofu recipe where the tofu is the real hero. We are also absolutely sold on your butter chicken “amazing tofu” too. Only fault I can find is I never can make enough! Even when I double the ingredients. Thank you

  8. Sasha says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is a favourite in our house. The crispy tofu is unbelievably good and proves that vegan dishes can be just as good (if not better!) than meat-based ones. We find that the recipe makes a lot of sauce so sometimes we add a few extra vegetables and have found that broccoli works really well. Highly recommend that you share this dish with your loved ones!

  9. Ellie says:

    5 stars
    truly scrumptious!!!!!

  10. Lynn says:

    5 stars
    Jessica, this was the first recipe of yours I tried, and WOW, amazing flavors. I will definitely be making this again. Simple to make, but flavors are complex and pleasing! Thank you!

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