Chewy tofu cooked till crisp then coated in a sweet, tangy sauce. This sweet and sour tofu is an easy and delicious plant-based dish!
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. 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:
This air-fryer sweet & sour tofu is made with 11 plant-based ingredients:
- Tofu ⟶ Frozen tofu or extra firm tofu. Frozen tofu has more of a meaty, chewy texture.
- 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. Frozen tofu has a chewy, spongy texture.
- Cornstarch* ⟶ All purpose flour, gluten-free all purpose flour, or potato starch will work as well.
- Tomato Paste ⟶ The base of the sweet & sour sauce. Or you can use ketchup.
- Apple Cider Vinegar* ⟶ Adds tang, a.k.a. the “sour” part of the sauce.
- Sweetener ⟶ Brown sugar, granulated sugar, maple syrup, or whatever sweetener you prefer.
- Soy Sauce* ⟶ Use tamari to make this gluten-free.
How to Make
- Cook Tofu ⟶ First, we make the crispy tofu by coating the tofu pieces in starch/flour, then pan-frying, air-frying, or baking until crispy and golden.
- Make Sauce ⟶ Add sauce ingredients to skillet and simmer about 1-3 minutes to thicken (it will thicken more with the tofu and as it cools).
- Coat Tofu with Sauce ⟶ Add the crispy tofu to the sauce and mix until coated all over. Serve warm!
How to Serve
- 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.
How to Reheat Leftovers
To make them crispy, 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 crisp. If you don’t have an air fryer, you can bake them in the oven at 375°F for 5 minutes, or just microwave them (they won’t get crispy but still delicious!).
More Tasty Tofu Recipes!
- Ankake Tofu
- Tofu Mochi Isobeyaki
- Mapo Tofu
- Japanese Tofu & Eggplant Ginger Stir Fry
- Chili Sauce Tofu and Broccoli
If you make this 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!
*Recipe updated April 10, 2023.
Sweet and Sour Tofu
- 14 oz firm tofu frozen and thawed**
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- ¼ tsp garlic powder or 1 tsp grated fresh garlic
- ¼ tsp ground ginger or 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 3 tbsp
- 1 tbsp
olive or vegetable oil
- Press tofu (see notes**) to remove excess liquid.
- Cube or tear tofu into pieces. Place in a large bowl and mix in soy sauce, garlic, and ginger.
- Sift in cornstarch and toss to coat the tofu.
- Drizzle oil over and toss again to coat.
- Pan Fry: Add tofu chunks to a large skillet, keeping space between each piece. Heat over medium heat and cook 3-5 minutes on each side until golden brown.
- Air Fry: 375°F for 10-15 minutes until golden and crispy.
- Oven: Bake at 400°F on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet for 25 minutes, flipping the tofu halfway.
- Transfer tofu to a plate and add the sauce to the skillet. Bring to a simmer, then stir constantly for 1-3 minutes until slightly thickened.
- Add tofu and mix until all the tofu is coated in sauce. The sauce will thicken more as it cools.
- For crispy sweet and sour tofu, add the tofu back to your air fryer or oven and bake another 3-5 minutes until crisp.
- Garnish with green onions, toasted sesame seeds, or a drizzle of sesame oil if desired.
OR, you can forego the heavy object and just use your hands to press down on the plate with your bodyweight. Press slowly so you don’t completely smash the tofu.
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