This crispy vegan orange tofu is sweet, tangy, and easy to make. It is inspired by the Panda Express orange chicken, and will make anyone a tofu lover!
This is the recipe for you if you want an addictive new favorite that’s easy to put together! My crispy vegan orange tofu will definitely have you skipping takeout and feasting in at home. Panda Express' orange chicken that I used to love before going vegan inspired me to make this recipe. I know it will convert any tofu skeptic into a tofu lover!
Sweet, tangy, and easy to make, this recipe for vegan crispy orange tofu is great for meal prep and is easy to clean up since it only uses one pot (if pan frying). You’ll be delighted to indulge in restaurant-style food at home that’s sure to impress anyone!
So, read on to learn how to make crispy vegan orange tofu that will satisfy you any night of the week.
What's Orange Tofu?
“Orange tofu” typically refers to tofu that’s prepared in the style of orange chicken, a classic of many Chinese restaurants including Chinese fast-food chain Panda Express.
If you follow this recipe and make it yourself at home, you’ll reap the benefits of a much healthier dish, as Panda Express dishes are commonly loaded with sodium, sugar, and fat. However, you won’t be sacrificing when it comes to taste by any means with this recipe!
Keep reading to learn about some of the key ingredients for this crispy vegan orange chicken.
Crispy Vegan Orange Tofu Ingredients
Many of these ingredients are vegan staples so you’ll probably already have a lot of these on hand!
- Extra firm tofu – You can get any kind of tofu you prefer, but firm or extra-firm works best. This kind of tofu also tends to require minimal pressing as it has already been pressed to reduce water content and create a firmer tofu block. Tofu is a vegetarian and vegan staple thanks to its high protein content and ability to soak up flavors. Plus, you get fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron, and more!
- Cornstarch – Cornstarch works as a thickener and is completely vegan. It’s used twice in this recipe. First, I use it to roll the tofu in so you get that super crispy outer layer. Then, I use it in the orange sauce to thicken it.
- Salt – If you try to be health-conscious like me, it can be tempting to skip or reduce the salt, but don’t! Adding even a little salt really helps bring out the other flavors.
- Oil – Any oil of your preference will work fine in this recipe.
- Orange juice – You should definitely use fresh-squeezed here! You might need around 3 or 4 juicy oranges or more at home to make 1 cup of juice. You can always use store-bought as well, of course. Oranges are rich in vitamin C, which is famous for helping boost our immune system!
- Maple syrup – Maple syrup is a common sweetener in vegan recipes. A little goes a long way, so just ¼ cup here!
- Rice vinegar – Vinegar in moderation is a healthy part of any diet, and rice vinegar is an incredibly common ingredient in Asian cuisine. This is a great vegan staple to keep in your pantry!
- Soy sauce – Soy sauce is an ancient food that is well known all around the world now for its salty and savory qualities. If you have an issue with gluten, simply substitute tamari for the soy sauce in this recipe!
- Chinese five spice – This blend of five spices is very common in Chinese cuisine and is great to keep on hand! It consists of Szechuan pepper, cinnamon, fennel, star anise, and cloves.
- Ginger – Ginger is a powerful spice that’s full of anti-inflammatory compounds and is also great for aiding digestion or easing an upset stomach!
- Garlic – Garlic belongs to the allium family. Allium vegetables are rich in organosulfur compounds, which research shows may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure!
Tofu Cooking Tips
Tofu can be a little tricky and/or mysterious to people who are unfamiliar with it, especially if you're new to eating vegetarian or vegan. For example, tofu is a huge staple in Asian cuisine, but the Americanized Panda Express chain of restaurants doesn’t even serve it! (Which is all the more reason to learn how to whip it up yourself at home.)
When it comes to cooking tofu, the type of tofu you buy is essential. Silken tofu, for example, is full of moisture and is great to blend for sauces, dressings, dips, etc. On the other end is extra-firm tofu, which has had most of its water content pressed out. This creates a much firmer hunk of tofu that is basically ready to cook and soak up tons of flavor!
If you buy tofu that’s not extra-firm, you’ll likely want to press it. You can either use a dedicated tofu press or simply place the block in between two heavy objects for 10-20 minutes.
Once you've pressed your tofu, it’s ready for cooking! If you like, you can choose to soak it in a marinade first. Or you can simply cook it in a pan with sauce. The options are really wide open with tofu. You can bake it or pan-fry it for this recipe, for example. You can chop it up into cubes or you can tear it apart roughly to mimic more of the look of chicken.
Before you cook the tofu, you’ll want to coat it with cornstarch as this allows it to get extra nice and crispy!
Last step? Enjoy!!
What Do You Serve with Orange Tofu?
Great question! Orange tofu is super versatile and goes great with all kinds of options.
You can do a classic combo or orange tofu and white rice and pair it with a vegetable such as steamed broccoli.
For a garnish, I love sesame seeds and scallions (i.e. green onions), plus red pepper flakes and sriracha for spice.
You can substitute cauliflower rice, brown rice, rice noodles (or zucchini noodles) for white rice if you prefer.
This is even great on its own as an appetizer, and it also pairs wonderfully with all kinds of vegetables, so you can use it as the protein in a veggie stir fry as well!
Step-by-Step Recipe Instructions
- First prep the crispy tofu. In a large bowl, toss the tofu with the cornstarch and salt until it's well-coated. If pan-frying, preheat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu to the pan (being careful to not overcrowd the pan), and fry each side for about 3-5 minutes until the tofu is crispy. Remove the tofu from the pan and place it on a plate with a paper towel to soak up the extra oil. Whip the pan clean to use for the orange sauce. If baking, preheat your oven to 400°F. Place the tofu on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Now prep the orange sauce by whisking together the orange juice, maple syrup, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and Chinese five-spice if using together in a bowl. Set aside.
- Add the oil, garlic, and ginger to a pan and sautee for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Then, pour in the orange juice mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil.
- In a small bowl mix together the cornstarch and water to make a paste. Once the orange juice mixture comes to a boil, turn off the heat and mix in the cornstarch paste. Continue to mix the mixture and let it thicken for about 5 minutes.
- Toss in the crispy tofu and the orange zest and mix until all of the tofu is well-coated in the orange sauce.
- Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds, and serve over rice. Enjoy your homemade takeout!
Why You'll Love This Vegan Dinner Recipe
This is a perfect recipe for an easy weeknight dinner. It works great as a meal in itself, plus it’s warm, savory, and sweet all in one! This recipe is…
- Warm – I love orange "chicken" year-round, but it’s especially nice as a warm and cozy meal during the colder months.
- Simple – Just six steps and ready in under an hour! You can also make this entire recipe in one-pot, which means cleanup is a breeze!
- Filling (thanks to plant protein) – This recipe is packed with nutrition thanks to its starring ingredient: tofu! Tofu is full of protein and other beneficial nutrients.
- Like eating out at home! – You will be perfectly happy eating at home and maybe even proud of your feat once you bite into this addictive crispy vegan orange tofu!
Let me know if you try this recipe for vegan orange tofu, and if you do, I would love it if you left a rating and review below! Make sure you are also following along on Instagram and Pinterest for more food inspiration.
Try more vegan entrees below:
- Chipotle burrito bowl
- Yellow curry
- Pineapple fried rice
- Creamy pink pasta
- Tofu Poke Bowl
- Pumpkin Pasta
- Grilled Tofu Burger
- Mediterranean Buddha Bowl
- Spicy Noodle Stir Fry
- Pumpkin Soup without Stock
- Beyond Sausage Paella
- Greek Lemon Soup
- Broccoli Leek Soup
- Pesto Pasta Salad
- Shepherd's Pie with Beyond Beef
- Quinoa Lentil Meatloaf