Salty, sweet and spicy kung pao tofu. This easy, high-protein meal is ready in 40 minutes and perfect for weeknight dinners.
Kung pao tofu is something that I have eaten at restaurants a lot, but until now I had never made it at home.
I don’t know what I was waiting for because restaurant-worthy kung pao tofu is so easy to make at home.
It looks really impressive but it’s really simple, and ready in around 40 minutes, so it’s perfect for a weeknight dinner.
Kung pao tofu is the vegan version of kung pao chicken. It’s made with dried red chilies, but don’t be scared off even if you’re not a fan of hot food, you can totally make it mild too.
And if you love a good tofu dish, try our General Tso’s Tofu recipe too.
How To Make Kung Pao Tofu
You will find full instructions and measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post. This is a summary of the process to go along with the process photos.
You start off by pressing the tofu. A tofu press is a great thing to have especially if you’re a fan of tofu recipes in general!
But if you don’t have a tofu press, you can press the tofu by placing it onto a plate, with another plate on top of it and then place something heavy on top of that, like a heavy pot.
Let it press for 20 minutes and while it’s pressing chop up your veggies and mix the sauce ingredients together.
Once the tofu is pressed, cut it into cubes.
Add the tofu to a frying pan or skillet with some sesame oil, turning over the squares carefully so they don’t break up, until the tofu is nicely browned. Then you take the tofu out of the pan and set aside, so you can fry up some dried red chilies in that pan!
Add sesame oil and dried chilis to the pan and fry them for 2 minutes. Then add crushed garlic, minced ginger, sliced red bell pepper, chopped green onions and peanuts. Stir fry for 2 minutes.
Add the tofu back to the pan, pour over your sauce and stir fry until the sauce has thickened.
How Spicy Do You Want It?
Kung pao tofu is a dish that can be super spicy or just mildly spicy. We fry the dried red chilies in sesame oil for two minutes. The chilies release some nice spiciness into the oil and then we add in the other ingredients and stir fry it all together.
You can then either remove the chilies, they have done their part and added in some lovely flavor and spiciness, or if you’re totes crazy you can leave them in for some super hot chili surprises!
The other option would be to slice the chilies open before frying, this would result in a really, really spicy dish, so we didn’t go with that option. We fried them up whole and then removed the whole chilies from the dish before eating it, and it was still deliciously spicy, but not overpoweringly so.
We love spicy food, but definitely lean towards the milder side of things.
Serve your kung pao tofu over basmati rice with some chopped green onions sprinkled on top for a simply delicious dinner.
It’s also delicious over brown rice or rice noodles.
Chef’s Notes & Tips
- Use extra firm tofu and then press it as well to get the best results.
- Make sure the oil is hot. The oil must be hot before you add your tofu cubes to the oil and fry them until browned. This will prevent them from breaking up while frying.
- Gluten free. Make sure you use a gluten free soy sauce or switch it for tamari if you’d like this to be entirely gluten free. Also make sure your hoisin sauce is gluten free.
Storing and Reheating
Leftovers keep very well in the fridge in a covered container for 3-4 days and can be reheated in the microwave or on the stove.
More Delicious Tofu Recipes
- Our marinated tofu recipe is also a super quick and easy meal that is perfect for weeknight dinners as is our veggie packed tofu stir fry.
- Tofu satay is served with a divine peanut dipping sauce and makes a wonderful appetizer and tofu burgers are topped with a to-die-for mushroom sauce.
- If you’re up for a delicious tofu scramble in the morning then our ‘super eggy’ vegan tofu scramble comes pretty damn close to mimicking scrambled eggs, with delicious tofu as the main ingredient.
- You’ll also love our grilled tofu, baked tofu and crispy fried tofu. Our air fryer tofu is also a winner.
Did you make this recipe? Be sure to leave a comment and rating below!
Kung Pao Tofu
For the Tofu:
- 16 ounces Extra Firm Tofu (450g)
- 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
For the Kung Pao Sauce:
- 1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Hoisin Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup
- 1 teaspoon Cornstarch
For the Veggies:
- 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
- 5 Dried Red Chilies
- 1 teaspoon Crushed Garlic
- 1 teaspoon Minced Ginger
- 1 Medium Red Bell Pepper Sliced
- ⅓ cup Green Onions Chopped
- ¼ cup Roasted Salted Peanuts (37g)
- Basmati Rice
- Chopped Green Onions
- Press the tofu for 20 minutes. Either use a tofu press or place the tofu on a plate, with another plate on top of it and then place something heavy on top, like a heavy pot.
- While the tofu is pressing, chop up the red bell pepper and green onions and add all the sauce ingredients to a measuring jug and whisk them together.
- When the tofu is pressed, slice it into cubes. Heat sesame oil in a frying pan or skillet and then add the tofu cubes and fry, gently turning over the tofu until it's nicely browned. Remove the tofu from the pan.
- To the pan add sesame oil and dried chilies and fry for 2 minutes. Then add the crushed garlic, minced ginger, red bell pepper, chopped green onions and peanuts. Stir fry for 2 minutes.
- Add the tofu back to the pan, pour over the sauce and stir fry until the sauce has thickened.
- Serve over basmati rice topped with a sprinkle of green onions.
- Chilies – you can remove the whole chilies before serving if you want to avoid a very spicy surprise while eating this meal. If you like eating whole spicy chilies then leave them in.
- Green onions – are also called spring onions, salad onions or scallions.
- Gluten free – use a gluten-free soy sauce or switch it for tamari if you’d like this meal to be gluten-free. Also make sure your hoisin sauce is gluten free.
- Storing – keep leftovers stored in the fridge (covered) for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove.
- Nutritional information is for 1 serve of 4 excluding rice.
Melony Skeldon says
I found this to be a very easy recipe to make. It is absolutely delicious, I would make more next time as I like bigger portions 😋
Alison Andrews says
So glad you enjoyed it Melony!
Absolutely delicious and the excellent step by step instructions made it so much easier to make. Would definitely recommend and will be making this meal on a regular basis 😋 Thank you Alison.
Alison Andrews says
You’re so welcome Jonathan. Thanks so much for the awesome comment and review.
I’ve used your recipes before so when I was looking for a recipe for Kung Pao Tofu (we are doing a vegan culinary tour of the world) I chose yours instantly- there are always bewilderingly many recipes to choose from online but the choice was easy. The recipe was absolutely fantastic, we really enjoyed it. A couple of tweaks I made- I used cashews instead of peanuts as we prefer them, and I didn’t fry the tofu, I pressed the tofu for a few minutes between towels, then sliced it into cubes, and then tossed them in a mixture of olive oil and cornflour then put them on a baking sheet and cooked for about 10-15 minutes in a hot oven until golden and crispy- for me that works better than frying as they always break up when frying, probably because I am impatient and don’t press the tofu for long enough!
My son (a life vegan) said this was now one of his favourite meals- well done and thanks for such a great recipe. X
Alison Andrews says
Thanks so much Sarah! That sounds awesome and I’m so glad it’s a new favorite! 🙂