Crispy Sweet and Sour Tofu (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

This sweet and sour tofu is an easy, healthy, and delicious plant-based meal. Air-fried to crispy perfection and coated in a sweet, spicy, tangy sauce.

Crispy, chewy tofu coated in a sticky, savory sauce. It’s easy-to-make comfort food that’s actually good for you. Made completely from plants but so hearty and satisfying! This sweet and sour tofu has made it onto my weekly meal rotation, and sometimes I make it multiple times a week because it’s just so darn good! I always keep a block of tofu in the freezer in case I get a hankering for a hearty tofu dish, like this tofu karaage or tofu katsu. But if my freezer were bigger I would keep multiple blocks of tofu in the freezer because honestly, I can eat an entire package of tofu with this recipe. It’s a simple recipe with simple ingredients, so what makes it so good? Let’s take a look:

INGREDIENTS TO MAKE CRISPY SWEET & SOUR TOFU

This air-fryer sweet & sour tofu is made with 11 plant-based ingredients:

  • frozen tofu ⟶ Take the block of tofu out of its packaging, drain, and place into a freezer safe bag. Freeze at least 3 hours. Thaw in the fridge overnight or during the day, or defrost in the microwave if you need it immediately. Frozen tofu has a chewy, spongy texture.
  • gluten-free all purpose flour ⟶ you can sub regular all purpose flour
  • tomato paste ⟶ the base of the sweet & sour sauce
  • apple cider vinegar ⟶ adds tang, a.k.a. the “sour” part of the sauce
  • maple syrup ⟶ I prefer maple syrup for its flavor and natural sugars, but you can also use coconut sugar, brown sugar, regular sugar, or even agave. Use your preferred sweetener and adjust to taste.
  • soy sauce ⟶ for umami and Asian flavor. Use tamari for gluten-free.
  • sesame oil ⟶ adds flavor and helps the tofu become crispy. You can use 1-3 tsp.
  • additional seasonings ⟶ garlic powder, onion powder, ginger powder and red pepper flakes (omit if you’re not good with spice)

HOW TO MAKE VEGAN SWEET & SOUR TOFU

Air-Fry Tofu ⟶ First, we make the crispy tofu by coating the frozen tofu pieces in flour, then popping in the air fryer until lightly golden and crispy. If you don’t have an air fryer, you can bake the tofu in the oven for twice the amount of time (same temperature), or deep fry them for ultimate crispy-ness.

Make Sauce ⟶ While the tofu is cooking, prepare the sauce by combing the ingredients in a sauce pan over medium low heat. Simmer to warm and thicken the sauce. If you want a really thick sauce, you can add a cornstarch slurry (about 1 tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp water) once the sauce starts boiling. Stir constantly.

Coat Tofu with Sauce ⟶ Add the crispy tofu to the sauce and mix until coated all over. Serve warm!

HOW TO REHEAT LEFTOVERS

Pop leftovers into your air fryer, keeping space between each piece of tofu so they don’t stick. Air fry at 350°F for about 5 minutes, or until crispy.

HOW TO SERVE SWEET & SOUR TOFU

This flavorful crispy tofu pairs perfectly with plain steamed rice and some veggies.

You can turn it into a teishoku kind of set meal by serving it with steamed rice, miso soup, a small salad, and some tsukemono or this tsukudani.

For more inspiration, check out these side dishes.

HELPFUL COOKING TOOLS

STILL HUNGRY?

Check out these other tasty tofu recipes!

I hope I’ve inspired you to make this crispy sweet and sour tofu! If you do try it out, don’t forget to tag me in your photos on instagram @ellielikes.cooking, leave a comment/rating down below, and let me know how you liked them! I love seeing all of your tasty recreations 🙂 Happy cooking♡

Crispy Sweet and Sour Tofu

This sweet and sour tofu is an easy, healthy, and delicious plant-based meal. Air-fried to crispy perfection and coated in a sweet, spicy, tangy sauce.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian
Servings: 2

Ingredients

Crispy Tofu

Sauce

Instructions

Crispy Tofu

  • Cube or tear thawed tofu into pieces. Drizzle with sesame oil.
  • Mix together garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and gluten-free flour. Dip each piece of tofu in the flour mixture and coat all sides. Gently tap off excess flour.
  • Place tofu in air-fryer at 350°F and cook for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned and crispy.

Sauce

  • While the tofu is cooking, make the sauce. Add all ingredients to a saucepan over medium low heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes to warm and thicken. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Turn off heat and cover to keep warm until the tofu is ready.
  • Taste sauce and add salt if needed. Add tofu to the sauce. Mix until the tofu is well coated in the sauce. Serve warm and garnish with green onions and sesame seeds, if desired.

Notes

*To freeze tofu, take the block of tofu out of its packaging, drain, and place into a freezer safe bag. Freeze at least 3 hours. Thaw in the fridge overnight or during the day, or defrost in the microwave if you need it immediately.

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