Sweet and sour tofu is a plant-based version of a classic Chinese takeaway dish. Crispy bits of tofu are smothered in a sticky sweet and sour sauce, and you can have your dinner ready in just 30 minutes. There's really no reason to order in!
Homemade sweet and sour tofu is better than any takeaway. You get delicious bits of tofu that are crispy on the outside yet juicy on the inside and a sauce that will make everyone ask for seconds.
This vegan sweet and sour tofu recipe is a proper treat that will easily satisfy your cravings for Chinese.
It's also a great choice for those who are only transitioning to a plant-based diet because it replicates a well-known takeaway favourite. With this recipe, you basically make sweet and sour chicken vegan.
Ingredients for sweet and sour tofu
Extra-firm tofu — I like to press all my tofu, even if it's the extra firm kind. Just 30 minutes of pressing will make a lot of difference when it comes to crispiness.
Vegetable oil — Any vegetable oil works well here: sunflower, canola, sesame or groundnut oil.
Garlic and ginger — Fresh garlic and ginger are essential for that unmistakable flavour; don't use the stuff you get in jars because the flavour will simply not be the same.
Canned pineapple — Use a small can of pineapple chunks together with their juice for this recipe. Choose pineapple in natural juice if possible, not the kind that has sugar added.
Brown sugar — While four tablespoons of sugar may seem like a lot, this is a sweet and sour vegan sauce, and it wouldn't be sweet without the sugar.
Ketchup — Tomato ketchup is a classic ingredient in any vegetarian sweet and sour recipe, but you can substitute it with tomato paste if you want.
Cornstarch — You need some cornstarch to create a crunchy texture for the tofu and some more for thickening the sauce.
How do you make it?
Start by making the tofu.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add the tofu cubes to a large mixing bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and soy sauce.
- Toss until the tofu is coated evenly, then sprinkle with cornstarch, salt and pepper.
- Toss gently to coat the tofu cubes in the mixture, then arrange them in a single layer on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until crispy, flipping the tofu bites halfway through.
Meanwhile, make the sauce.
- Heat the remaining vegetable oil in a large, deep pan and fry the spring onion and red pepper for 2-3 minutes over medium heat.
- Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute until fragrant.
- Next, add the tomato ketchup, brown sugar, and pineapple (together with the juice.
- Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and let the sauce bubble until slightly thickened.
- Stir in the rice vinegar and cornstarch mix and cook for another minute.
- Transfer the baked tofu to the pan and toss to coat.
- Serve with fried or boiled rice and topped with sesame seeds if you like.
Extra recipe tips
- Use any other veggies you have on hand. Ideas include broccoli, cauliflower florets, snap peas, and bean sprouts.
- Leftovers will keep well in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- This sweet-sour tofu tastes great with rice, but you can also enjoy it with noodles or go for a low-carb option and serve it over cauliflower rice.
- If you'd like your vegan sweet and sour tofu more on the saucey side, you can double the sauce recipe but use the same quantity of tofu.
If you liked this sweet and sour tofu recipe, you might also like some of my other easy vegan tofu recipes: