This sweet and sour tofu recipe has all of the comforting flavors of your favorite takeout, while being healthier and easy to prepare! With bell pepper, onion, broccoli, golden crispy tofu, and pineapple, this simplified sweet and sour tofu is always a hit! Vegan, nut-free, and easily made gluten-free.
This sweet and sour tofu recipe comes to us courtesy of Dianne Wenz's cookbook Eating Vegan: A Plant-Based Cookbook for Beginners. Right off the bat I need to tell you, I'm in LOVE with this cookbook.
Dianne is a certified vegan health and lifestyle coach and has been a plant-based chef, food blogger, and vegan for almost twenty years. So to put it plainly, she knows her stuff!
The book was written with beginners in mind, but the recipes are anything but basic or boring. These are classic vegan recipes you'll return to again and again! This healthier homemade sweet & sour tofu is only the beginning.
About the Recipe
Though this is not an authentic Chinese recipe, I think you'll agree it has its perks. The sweet and sour flavors come from a few key ingredients you probably already have on hand, like soy sauce, rice vinegar, and maple syrup.
In fact, this dish is surprisingly pantry-friendly. You can even substitute frozen vegetables for the fresh produce!
I love how versatile sweet and sour tofu is. Almost any vegetable you have in the fridge that needs to be put to use will be right at home in this flavorful sauce - think broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, or snow peas. See the Variations section below for ideas.
And the tofu crisps up nicely with a bit of oil and soy sauce. It's firm, chewy, savory, and oh so satisfying.
- tofu - I like super firm tofu for this dish since it doesn't need to be pressed. Extra-firm is also great, but you'll want to press it for about 30 minutes before cooking.
Time-saving tip! Use baked tofu, which doesn't need to be pressed AND is already seasoned. This means you can skip Step 1 in the recipe instructions.
- onion & bell pepper - I used a sweet onion and green and red bell peppers; feel free to use other varieties.
- pineapple - canned pineapple adds wonderful sweetness and flavor to the dish and helps keep it pantry-friendly.
- soy sauce - or use certified gluten-free tamari
- maple syrup - this combines with the pineapple juice to create a sticky, thick glossy sweet sauce!
- rice vinegar - critical to the overall flavor of the dish, rice vinegar adds acidity to the sweet & sour sauce.
- corn starch - a small amount of added starch helps thicken the sauce; feel free to substitute arrowroot, if needed.
See the recipe card below for amounts and full instructions.
How to Make Sweet and Sour Tofu
Sweet and sour tofu is a classic dish everyone knows and loves, but you might not realize how EASY it is to make at home.
The basic process looks like this:
Press and cube the tofu (no need to press if using super firm tofu), and chop the vegetables.
Season and cook the tofu in a large pan until golden brown, then transfer it to a plate.
In the same pan, sauté the onion, peppers, and canned pineapple. Return the crispy tofu to the pan.
Whisk together the vegan sweet and sour sauce in a small bowl, and pour into the pan. Cook until thickened, and serve.
Serve sweet and sour tofu with your favorite rice. It's also delicious over quinoa or noodles.
Garnish with fresh green onion and sesame seeds, if desired.
I had a small amount of broccoli that needed to be used, so I tossed that near the end of cooking. Sweet and sour tofu is one of those great dishes that can take on pretty much any vegetable you have on hand.
Other vegetables you can include in sweet and sour tofu:
- green beans
- snow peas
- baby corn
- Swiss chard
- spicy peppers
Oil-free - If you follow an oil-free diet, sweet and sour tofu can easily be made without oil. Simply sauté the tofu and veggies in your favorite non-stick pan, and use a bit of broth or water as needed to prevent sticking.
Refined sugar-free - opt for tomato paste over ketchup, or use my favorite healthy barbecue sauce.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Tip: since sweet and sour tofu reheats so well, it's a great recipe to add to your weekly meal prep rotation.
I hope you enjoy this sweet and sour tofu. If you try the recipe be sure to comment below and let us know!
More Asian-Inspired Vegan Recipes
Sweet and Sour Tofu
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided - See Notes section for oil-free tips.
- 3 Tablespoons low-sodium tamari or soy sauce, divided
- 3 Tablespoons rice vinegar or white wine vinegar, divided
- 1 (14 ounce) package extra firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cubed - or super-firm tofu (no need to press)
- 1 small sweet onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 cup canned diced pineapple, juice reserved
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste or ketchup - I had an open bottle of BBQ sauce in the fridge so I used that instead.
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 Tablespoon corn starch
- 4 cups cooked rice of choice
- Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, along with 1 tablespoon tamari and 1 tablespoon vinegar. Add the tofu to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the tofu to a plate.
- Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil to the pan along with the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers and the pineapple to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 10 more minutes. Add the tofu back into the pan.
- Whisk together the tomato paste, maple syrup, cornstarch, remaining 2 tablespoons tamari, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and ½ cup of the reserved pineapple juice in a small bowl. Pour the mixture into the pan and gently stir to coat everything well. Cook for a few more minutes, until the sauce thickens and is heated through.
- Serve over the cooked rice.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.