Plant-Based Whole30 compatible sweet and sour tofu! Crispy tofu gets coated in a tomato-y, naturally sweetened, soy-free sauce.
Sweet and sour is one of my favorite flavor combos and I think most people can agree! There are lots of ways to make a sweet and sour sauce – some use sugar and vinegar, pineapple juice, ketchup, etc. I personally like sweet and sour sauces with a tomato base (ketchup or tomato paste) since the tomato adds a bit of umami. To keep this recipe Plant-Based Whole30 friendly, we’re using tomato paste, dates, and coconut aminos in lieu of ketchup, sugar, and soy sauce – if you’re not doing the Plant-Based Whole30, check out my regular sweet and sour tofu recipe.
- Firm Tofu ⟶ Regular firm or extra firm if you like a chewier tofu. You can also freeze and thaw the tofu for a meatier texture.
- Potato Starch ⟶ For thickening the sauce and coating the tofu so the tofu gets a crispy, chewy skin.
- Veggies ⟶ Onions + bok choy, bell pepper, broccoli, snow peas…whatever you like!
- Tomato Paste, Vinegar, Coconut Aminos, Medjool Dates ⟶ This is the base of the sweet and sour sauce.
- Tomato paste for body and umami.
- Vinegar for acidity – I prefer apple cider vinegar but you can also use rice vinegar.
- Coconut aminos for umami and a bit of sweetness.
- Medjool dates for natural sweetness.
Tips for Success
Freeze tofu for a chewier texture ⟶ I love using frozen and thawed tofu to give my dishes a “meatier” texture. Freezing tofu helps remove a lot of the water, making the tofu more dense and chewy. I’ve recently been loving frozen soft tofu* since it produces tofu with flaky layers (as opposed to the spongy texture of frozen firm tofu).
Drain tofu well ⟶ Cut the tofu out of its packaging, drain the water, then place the tofu back in the box on its side. Let it stand for about 10 minutes and you’ll notice a few tablespoons of water be released. Alternatively, you can press the tofu if you’d like, but I’m usually too lazy and I enjoy the softer texture of the tofu.
Switch up the veggies ⟶ You can use any vegetables you like in stir fries. I just use whatever’s in my fridge, which happened to be bok choy when I took the photos. But I also like using bell peppers and broccoli.
Sweet and Sour Tofu FAQ
How long does sweet and sour tofu last?
It’s best to eat this tofu right after making since the coating on the tofu will get soggy the longer it sits in the sauce. However, it is safe to eat for up to 5 days (but the sooner the better).
Can I use another vinegar?
You can replace apple cider vinegar with rice vinegar.
Can I use a different starch?
You can replace potato starch with tapioca starch or arrowroot starch, though I find potato starch to make the crispiest coating.
Is soy allowed on Whole30?
Soy is not allowed on the regular Whole30, but minimally processed forms of soy are allowed on the Plant-Based Whole30 – like tofu, tempeh, natto, and miso. Soy sauce and tamari are not allowed.
More Plant-Based Whole30 Dishes
If you make this Plant-Based Whole30 Sweet and Sour Tofu, don’t forget to leave a comment/rating down below and tag me in your photos on instagram @ellielikes.cooking. I love seeing all of your tasty recreations!
Sweet and Sour Tofu (Plant-Based Whole30)
- 1 lb firm tofu drained
- ¼ tsp salt
- pinch of black pepper
- 3 tbsp
- 1 tbsp olive/avocado oil
- 2 tsp olive/avocado oil
- ½ small onion chopped
- 2 bok choy** chopped
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- To drain tofu: Cut the tofu out of its packaging, drain the water, then place the tofu back in the box on its side. Let it stand for about 10 minutes and you'll notice a few tablespoons of water be released. Alternatively, you can press the tofu if you'd like a firmer texture.
- Tear tofu into chunks and place in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle salt and pepper over and gently toss to combine. Set aside if not ready to cook yet, otherwise proceed to next step.
- Preheat air fryer to 375°F/oven to 400°F.
- If the tofu has released any excess water, drain the liquid, then sprinkle potato starch over. Use a spatula to gently mix. Drizzle oil over and gently mix.
- Transfer tofu to air fryer basket or a lined baking sheet if cooking in the oven. Leave space between each tofu piece so they crisp up – you may need to cook in two batches. Cook for 15-25 minutes until golden brown and crisp (it's faster in an air fryer).
- About 5 minutes before the tofu is done cooking, prepare the stir fry. Add all sauce ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Heat oil in a wok or deep pan over medium high heat. Add onions and bok choy and stir fry until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Reduce heat to medium low. Give the sauce a quick stir then pour into pan. Simmer for 3 minutes until thickened.
- Turn off heat, add tofu, and toss to combine. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and drizzle with sesame oil. Serve as is, with cauliflower rice, or in lettuce cups.
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