This Crispy Orange Tofu recipe is the best kind of weeknight dinner — fast and full of flavor. Even the pickiest of eaters can’t resist tofu when it’s pan-fried to a crisp and tossed in a sweet-and-spicy sauce!
Tofu is often regarded as a mere meat substitute — something for vegetarians or vegans to eat because chicken and beef are off-limits. This is unfortunate, because tofu is good stuff! It’s an affordable protein option, kids love it (for real, Maple Tofu is one of my son’s favorite meals), and it’s a cinch to prepare. Plus, tofu takes on whatever flavors you add to it, which means it tastes as good as the sauce you toss it in.
In the case of Crispy Orange Tofu, that sauce is a sticky, piquant orange sauce. If you’ve had orange chicken before, you’re already familiar with the way it tastes — it’s sweet, salty, citrusy, and just spicy enough to make things interesting. (Of course, if fiery sauce is your thing, feel free to go all in and add extra sriracha.)
What You’ll Need
This Crispy Orange Tofu recipe has a relatively short ingredient list, and you probably have a lot of the ingredients sitting in your pantry already! Here’s what you’ll need:
For the Tofu
- Extra-firm tofu – A firm tofu will work in a pinch, but any other variety will crumble when frying. Also, be sure to buy the tofu that’s refrigerated in water, not shelf-stable silken tofu.
- Cornstarch – This is what creates that gloriously crispy exterior.
- Soy Sauce – Tamari or coconut aminos can be used for a gluten-free option.
For the Stir Fry
- Agave – If you don’t have agave on hand, you can swap in honey instead.
- Soy sauce
- Sriracha – The recipe calls for 1/2 tablespoon, but you can omit it for a milder sauce or add more if you like things spicy.
- No-pulp orange juice
- Peanut oil – Or another neutral oil with a high smoke point, like avocado or canola.
- Steamed rice – Unless you’re using instant rice, the rice will take longer to cook than the tofu, so be sure to get it started on the stove or instant pot before you begin the Orange Tofu recipe. My Maple Tofu post has instructions on how to cook rice.
How to Make Orange Tofu
Get all your ingredients ready and follow these step-by-step instructions for making Crispy Orange Tofu:
Prepare the tofu. Tofu is all about how you prepare it, so this is the most critical step in the process! Press the tofu, then cut it into cubes. Place the cubes in a large bowl and toss them with the soy sauce, then coat them in cornstarch.
Make the sauce. Combine the agave, soy sauce, sriracha, orange juice, and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Whisk well, making sure there are no clumps of cornstarch, then set aside.
Cook the tofu. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Carefully add the tofu to the oil (it might spatter a bit!); once it’s golden on the bottom, turn the cubes. Repeat until all sides are crispy and golden. Don’t rush the process, otherwise your tofu will be soft instead of crisp!
Add the sauce. Push the tofu to the sides of the skillet. Place the garlic and ginger in the middle and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly. Whisk the sauce again, then pour it into the skillet with the tofu. Make sure all the tofu is well-coated, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and sticky.
Serve. Divide the white rice into bowls, then top with the tofu and sauce.
Tips for Success
Making orange tofu is a breeze, but here are some steps to make it even better:
- Press the tofu. One of the little idiosyncrasies of tofu is that it needs to be pressed to get the liquid out, which is how the flavor soaks in. If you cook with tofu a lot, I recommend investing in a tofu press. If not, place a few folded sheets of paper towels on a large plate, then put the block of tofu on top of them. Place a few more sheets of paper towels over the top of the tofu, then top those with another plate or a small cutting board. I put a few cans of beans on the plate to add some weight, too. Press the tofu for at least 30 minutes — I usually get this started just before I start gathering and preparing the rest of the ingredients for the recipe.
- Be patient. Don’t be tempted to stir the tofu once you place it in the oil. Let it sit and only flip it once it’s lightly browned. This helps keep the tofu from sticking to the pan and ensures that it’s nicely crisped.
- Add some garnishes. Have some leftover cilantro or basil in the fridge? It’s a great addition to orange tofu! Sesame seeds or chopped cashews in the pantry? Throw them in too! Thinly sliced green onions or snow peas are also good add-ons.
How to Store and Reheat Orange Tofu
Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container. To reheat, transfer to a microwave-safe bowl or plate, then microwave for one to two minutes, or until the tofu cubes are warmed through. I don’t recommend freezing this recipe; it doesn’t reheat from frozen very well.
Can You Make Orange Tofu in an Air Fryer?
You sure can! Although some people make crispy tofu in the air fryer without cornstarch, I think it turns out crispier if you include it. To use the air fryer method, prepare the tofu as instructed in the recipe, then cook the tofu in the air fryer at 400ºF for about 10 minutes. You’ll only need to add about a tablespoon of oil to the skillet to cook the ginger and garlic; add the tofu and sauce, stir to coat, and simmer until the sauce thickens.Print
Crispy Orange Tofu
Crispy cubes of tofu are tossed with a sticky, sweet-and-spicy orange sauce to make a tofu recipe the whole family will devour!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Asian
For the tofu:
- 1 16-oz package extra firm tofu, pressed and cut into cubes
- 5 tablespoons corn starch
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
For the stir fry:
- 1/4 cup agave
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon sriracha
- 1/4 cup no-pulp orange juice
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons ginger, minced
- Plus steamed rice for serving.
Prep the tofu:
Press the tofu and cut it into cubes. I usually will cut the tofu brick lengthwise along the edge, so that the larger brick is cut into 3 thinner bricks. Then I stack those and slice them lengthwise 4-5 times, then width wise 5-6 times, depending on how big I want each cube to be.
Place the cubed tofu in a large bowl. Pour the soy sauce on top and mix it around gently with a spoon. Add the corn starch and use the spoon to gently coat the cubes. Set aside.
Make the sauce:
In a medium bowl combine the agave, soy sauce, sriracha, orange juice and corn starch. Set aside.
Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu and cook, turning with a spatula after a few minutes. The tofu should be crispy and golden. Don’t worry if some pieces stick together, you can break them apart as you go.
When the tofu is cooked, make a space in the center by pushing the tofu off to the side. Add the garlic and ginger, cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Give the stir fry sauce a good stir and pour it over the tofu. Reduce the heat to low and let it cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens.
Serve over white rice.
Keywords: tofu recipe, crispy tofu, easy tofu recipe