Kung Pao Tofu

Easy and delicious kung pao tofu! A healthier and lighter take on the popular take-out dish. With a sweet yet savory sauce, tons of veggies and it cooks in one skillet. Vegan & gluten free.

A white bowl filled with Kung Pao Tofu and brown rice with chopsticks on the side.

It’s time to stir-fry it up! With this easy and delicious kung pao tofu!

Or otherwise known as the vegan / vegetarian version of kung pao chicken.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t eat a ton of tofu, but every so often I like to switch things up and use it in stir-fry. Because, umm, we enjoy a whole lot of stir-fry at our house and variety is the spice of life.

But anyway. Let’s talk today’s recipe specifically.

So, I wouldn’t call this a super authentic version of kung pao sauce … BUT it is pretty darn tasty and made with all pantry staples that you’re likely to have on hand.

And it still has that savory, slightly sweet / almost syrupy flavor with a touch of spice and tang (i.e. like the original), thanks to the use of some balsamic vinegar and sriracha. Again, not authentic but it does the trick.

Not to mention that I couldn’t help but pack this dish full of tons and tons of veggies. We’re talking way more than what you get in the take-out version. Because more veggies = always a good thing.

It’s a healthy, simple dinner coming right up!

Chopped red onion, zucchini, bell pepper and bok choy on parchment paper, plus cooked tofu in a bowl.

How To Make This Kung Pao Tofu Recipe

So, let’s talk about how this dish goes down.

First, we whisk together that aforementioned sauce made with all pantry staples like soy sauce (or tamari), sriracha and maple syrup.

Next, we cook up some pressed tofu in a large skillet until lightly golden and slightly crisp. We remove it to a bowl and then use the same skillet to saute plenty of veggies, like red onion, bell pepper, zucchini and bok choy, until perfectly tender.

The tofu, sauce and some peanuts get added back in, cooked for about one minute until thickened and then dinner is served! Over some delicious brown rice, please and thank you.

A large white bowl filled with Kung Pao Tofu and brown rice with chopsticks in the plate.

Tips & Tricks for This Kung Pao Tofu

  1. One of the great things about this dish is that it is super customizable. So, let’s talk options. First up – the veggies. While I love the combo listed down in the recipe, you could change this up based on what you have on hand. Just be sure to use the same overall amount and keep in mind the cook time (i.e. I wouldn’t go with something like sweet potato here since it will take much longer to cook!).
  2. Not feeling the tofu? Use chickpeas instead! Drain and rinse one (15 ounce) can, then add to the skillet when you would the cooked tofu. Easy peasy and it will cut down on the overall recipe time if you go this route.
  3. Raw cashews make a great substitute for the peanuts.
  4. And finally, let’s talk spice. As written, I don’t find this dish overly spicy (and almost not at all if you use less sriracha than what’s listed). If you find you want more spice, add in extra sriracha or red pepper flakes at the very end after it’s finished cooking – this way you can tweak the heat level to your taste.

How To Store

Let the stir-fry cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container (you can store with or without the brown rice for serving).

It will keep like this for about 3 to 4 days in the fridge. 

An overhead photo of Kung Pao Tofu with brown rice, cashews and chopsticks.

Additional Vegan Stir-Fry Recipes You Might Enjoy!

Did you make this recipe? Rate and review it down below! I’d love to hear from you.

Easy and delicious kung pao tofu! A healthier and lighter take on the popular take-out dish! With a sweet yet savory sauce, tons of veggies and it cooks in one skillet! Vegan & gluten free!

Kung Pao Tofu

Yield: about 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Easy and delicious kung pao tofu! A healthier and lighter take on the popular take-out dish! With a sweet yet savory sauce, tons of veggies and it cooks in one skillet! Vegan & gluten free!


For the sauce:

  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha, or less to taste
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

For the stir-fry:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 (14 ounce) package organic extra firm tofu, rinsed, pressed and cubed*
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • 1 medium-large green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 medium-large zucchini, halved lengthwise, then sliced
  • 14 ounces bok choy or baby bok choy, ends trimmed, stems and leaves separated, then sliced
  • ⅓ cup peanuts, roughly chopped

Serving ideas:

  • thinly sliced green onion and / or sesame seeds
  • cooked brown rice


For the sauce:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.

For the stir-fry:

  1. Add ½ tablespoon of the oil to a large nonstick skillet set over medium heat. When hot, add in the tofu cubes and arrange as best as possible in an even layer. Cook for about 5 to 6 minutes, until lightly golden on one side and a crust has started to form.
  2. Flip the tofu over as best you can (a fork helps here) and continue to cook for about 5 more minutes, until the other side is lightly golden and slightly crisp. Remove from the skillet to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Set the skillet back over medium heat and add in the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons oil. When hot, add in the onion and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, until it starts to soften.
  4. Add in the pepper, zucchini and bok choy stems and cook for about 5 minutes, until crisp tender. Stir in the bok choy leaves and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until wilted and all the veggies are tender to your liking.
  5. Stir in the tofu, the peanuts and the sauce (give it a quick whisk first). Continue to cook for about 1 minute, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat and serve as desired!


*Tofu press time is NOT included in the recipe time. 

**Additionally, let’s talk how to prep the tofu for this dish without the use of a tofu press. Rinse the tofu with cold water then gently pat dry. Cut the tofu crosswise into about 8 even slices (about ½ inch thick). Lay two dish towels on your counter, then place the tofu slices on top. Cover with two more dish towels, then top with a cutting board. Place a few heavy books on top of the cutting board, then let the tofu sit for about 20 to 30 minutes. Cut into cubes / chunks for use in the recipe.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 310Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1138mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 6gSugar: 11gProtein: 13g

Nutrition data shown is an estimate provided by an online calculator and is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered a substitute for a medical professional’s advice.