Orange tofu is easy. Make it in less than 30 minutes for an Asian-inspired everyday dinner.
This easy vegan dish is the best alternative to orange chicken. We use crispy oven-baked tofu coated in a sticky, sweet and sour orange sauce. It's tasty, tangy, and delicious.
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Our easy orange tofu recipe is the vegan alternative to a popular Chinese-American dish called orange chicken.
You can make vegan orange chicken at home, with basic ingredients, in less than 30 minutes. No frying, no pressing the tofu, no complicated steps. Just dice, cook and eat.
The taste of this dish is incredible! The oven-baked tofu is moderately chewy and crispy but still soft and juicy.
The sauce is sweet, slightly sour, tangy, zesty, garlicky, sticky, and tongue-tickling. We absolutely love it. If you like spicy food, you can even add a little heat to it.
Eat this vegan orange tofu recipe with jasmine rice, cauliflower rice, or steamed broccoli to round up the flavor and make it a complete meal.
To make this dish with pan-fried tofu instead, check out the "variations" chapter below.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Tofu: use firm or extra firm tofu, based on your preference. Do not use soft or silken tofu. It will fall apart. We do not press the tofu before cooking it. We don't find it necessary, it's quicker, and we actually prefer it not pressed. It gets less dry this way.
We tried making vegan orange chicken with oven-baked tofu, pan-fried tofu, frozen and thawed tofu, and pressed tofu, in all possible combinations. Our favorite turned out to be the simplest and quickest one. Not pressed, not frozen, simply oven-baked tofu.
To make this recipe with fried tofu, check out variation chapter below.
- Olive oil, soy sauce, and cornstarch: we season the tofu in these three ingredients before baking it. The tofu gets extra crispy thanks to the olive oil and the cornstarch, and tastier thanks to the soy sauce.
We use extra virgin olive oil (it's healthier than regular oil), and low-sodium soy sauce. Other good oils are avocado oil, canola oil, and vegetable oil.
- Orange Juice: we use freshly pressed juice. We pass it through a sift to remove orange bits. As an alternative, you can use storebought 100% pulp-free orange juice.
- Orange zest: before juicing the orange I like to zest half of it and add the zest to the sauce to give it an extra flavor boost. If you are doing this with store-bought orange juice, you can skip this ingredient.
- Ginger: peeled and grated. It adds that zesty flavor.
- Garlic: finely minced or grated. I recommend cutting it in half lengthwise first and removing its core. It's more digestible and less pungent this way.
- Sugar: any sugar is ok. White, brown, coconut sugar, palm sugar. If you are not into sugar, you can replace it with maple syrup or agave syrup. Not exactly the same, but still tasty.
- Soy sauce: it adds flavor and umami to the sauce. We use low-sodium soy sauce but any other will work. For gluten-free, use tamari instead.
- Vinegar: rice vinegar or white wine vinegar are both fine for this easy orange tofu.
- Corn starch and water: corn starch is a thickening agent and we use it to thicken the sauce. Together with the melted sugar, it creates a sticky/creamy texture that coats the tofu perfectly.
We mix the cornstarch with water before adding it to the sauce so that it doesn't create lumps. This is called corn starch slurry, and it's often used in Chinese and Asian cooking to thicken soups and stews.
- Red pepper flakes: if you like your orange tofu a little spicy, then you can add a pinch of red pepper flakes, or a teaspoon of sriracha sauce.
- Spring onions and rice: we serve this dish with steamed or boiled rice. Jasmine rice or regular long-grain rice are both good. We also add some freshly chopped scallions (green onions) on top, and a pinch of sesame seeds.
Oven-bake the tofu
Note: to make this recipe with fried tofu, see our "variations" chapter below.
Preheat the oven to 390F or 200C. Drain, pat dry with a paper towel, and cut the tofu into dice. Transfer the tofu into a bowl, and add oil, soy sauce, and corn starch.
Toss the tofu with your hands till the corn starch has melted in the liquid and the tofu is fully coated.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the tofu on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes at 390F or 200C, then turn around and bake for another 5 minutes. Whilst the tofu bakes, you can prepare the orange sauce.
Make the orange sauce
To a large pan able to contain both the sauce and the baked tofu add the orange juice, orange zest, grated ginger, grated garlic, sugar, soy sauce, and vinegar.
We prefer freshly squeezed orange juice for this vegan orange chicken recipe. Best if passed through a sieve to remove larger bits. Store-bought orange juice, 100% pure, is also great.
Let simmer on medium to low heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In the meantime, mix corn starch and water in a separate bowl. Stir until the corn starch is fully dissolved in the water, then add the cornstarch slurry to the pan with the orange sauce.
Stir constantly and keep cooking on medium to low heat until your vegan orange tofu sauce thickens. It should take 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the crispy baked tofu to the pan, stir, and coat it in the sauce. Cook for another minute or two until you reach your desired sauce consistency.
By the end, the tofu should be completely coated in sauce.
The best way to enjoy this crispy orange tofu is with a bowl of steamed or boiled rice. We use either jasmine rice or long-grain rice.
You can also add some freshly chopped spring onion and sesame seeds on top, or serve it with:
- Healthy grains such as a side of couscous, just let it sit for 5 mins and your couscous is ready.
- With bread, for example with Italian piadina or flatbread, it'd be a great way to sop out all the orange sauce leftovers!
- Increase your veggie intake, and serve the tofu on cauliflower rice, it's a fresh and healthy side dish.
Make this recipe yours by adding your favorite vegetables to it. This way it's even a healthier and more complete meal.
Our favorite addition is lightly steamed broccoli or steamed asparagus. We add them to the boiled rice, before adding the tofu on top. I know, broccoli sounds boring, but together with the flavor of the sweet and sour orange sauce, they are just perfect.
Other veggies that are good to go with vegan orange chicken are carrots, snap peas, snow peas, red bell peppers, and green bell peppers. In this case, stir fry veggies on medium-high heat, for a couple of minutes, with a touch of oil and a pinch of salt before adding them to the rice.
Don't want to turn on the oven? No problem. We also tested this recipe with our 12-minute pan-fried tofu recipe. This way it's actually even faster as the tofu cooks in literally 12 minutes.
The result is still absolutely delicious, and some people might even prefer it. The tofu is softer this way, tastier, jucier, and coated in a crispy shell. All you have to do is follow our 3-step instructions to make fried tofu, and use it instead of the oven-baked tofu in this recipe.
This picture below shows how fried tofu looks like, just before adding it to the orange sauce. Don't worry, we don't use much oil to pan-fry the tofu. It's still a quite healthy recipe.
- To press or not to press? We prefer not to press the tofu. It turns out juicier this way. If you like drier and tougher tofu you can press it. To do that, wrap it in paper towels, and put it under a heavy object for 30 minutes.
- Make it crispier: if you like super crispy orange tofu, you can bake it for up to a total of 30 minutes. Do not bake more or it starts to get bitter. We think 20 minutes is the perfect baking time.
- Add some heat: if you like your orange tofu spicy, you can add a pinch of red pepper flakes or half a teaspoon of sriracha sauce.
- Thicker sauce? One tablespoon of cornstarch is enough to thicken this amount of liquid. However, if you like a denser, thicker sauce, then add another tablespoon of cornstarch. Before adding it, dilute it in 1 tablespoon of water so that it doesn't lump up.
A portion of our baked orange tofu served on a big portion of white rice has around 390 calories. It also contains 16 grams of plant-based protein, 62 grams of carbs, 9 grams of fat, and no cholesterol.
Our vegan orange chicken is made with crispy oven-baked or fried tofu and an easy and delicious vegan orange sauce. You can make this in less than 30 minutes with simple ingredients.
Vegan orange chicken was popularized by Chinese-American food chain Panda Express.
Join the tofu fan club - we love easy tofu recipes with BIG flavors. Here are some of our favorites:
- Healthy and light tofu salad with creamy dressing
- 15-minute pan-fried mushroom tofu
- Marinara sauce lover? Try our tofu meatballs in tomato sauce
- Easy pan-fried lemon tofu
- Ultra creamy tofu curry
- 20-min tofu soup
What are your family's tofu favorites? We'd love to hear from you, let us know in the comments below!
Store crispy orange tofu in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat it with a dash of water on a pan, or in the microwave.
We do not recommend freezing this vegan chicken recipe.
- 16 ounces tofu firm or extra firm
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- ½ cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 teaspoon ginger grated
- 1 clove garlic grated
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce reduced salt
- 1 tablespoons vinegar rice vinegar or white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- ¼ cup water
- 4 cups cooked rice
- 3 tablespons spring onions
- Preheat oven to 390F (200C).Drain and pat dry the tofu, and cut it into dice. Transfer to a mixing bowl, add olive oil, soy sauce, and corn starch. Mix with your hands till evenly coated.
- Arrange on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 390F (200C) for 15 minutes. Turn dice and bake for another 5 minutes.
- To a large pan add all ingredients except corn starch and water: orange juice, orange zest, grated ginger, grated garlic, soy sauce, sugar, and vinegar. Cook for 3 minutes on medium heat.
- When the tofu is ready, mix cornstarch and water into a small bowl till corn starch is fully dissolved. Add corn starch slurry to pan and cook while stirring for about a minute, or until the liquid thickens.
- Add in the oven-baked tofu, stir until fully coated, and cook for just a minute.
- Serve on rice with green onion on top, and optionally some steamed veggies on the side.
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