Enjoy a bowl of this crispy orange tofu with sticky orange sauce rather than calling for takeout. This recipe delivers the best battered tofu served in a sweet and sour orange sauce. It’s an easy tofu recipe that you can fry in a skillet or even bake. Imagine this Chinese take-out classic, sauce and all, made in your very own kitchen. It’s the best way to go!
It’s fun ordering take-out from time to time, but for the most part, we choose to eat in. That’s because I love to make such amazing homemade foods where I can choose the ingredients. This orange tofu is a great example.
You’ll just have to trust me when I say, it’s perfect. If you haven’t tried tofu before, this would be a great first recipe, because it’s easy, orangey, crispy, and pretty darn tasty too!
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- A cornstarch coating makes the tofu extra crispy and delicious
- Using sesame oil adds depth of flavor to this recipe (toasted sesame oil is even better)
- The sweet orange sauce is made with fresh orange and adds deliciousness to every bite
Who would have thought that orange would taste so good in a savory dish? But sweet and savory flavors have been coupled together since humans first discovered they had taste buds. OK. I don’t actually know that for a fact, because I wasn’t there, but we do know for sure that savory and sweet has been around for quite a while.
What You Need
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:
- Tofu — I use extra-firm tofu for this recipe. Here’s more on how to buy tofu.
- Flaxseed — You’ll need some ground flaxseed.
- Cornstarch — We’ll use cornstarch to thicken the sauce. You can substitute arrowroot powder.
- Flour — You can use all-purpose flour or even gluten-free flour.
- Sesame oil — This oil is so flavorful. You can find it in the Asian section of most grocery stores and health food stores.
- Green onions — These create a more subtle onion flavor.
- Orange — You’ll need one orange, and we’ll be using both the zest and the juice.
- Tamari or soy sauce — If you have issues with gluten, you can use Tamari, otherwise soy sauce works just fine.
- Rice vinegar — You can find this in the Asian aisles of most grocery stores. You can substitute white wine vinegar.
- Agave — I use agave, but you can substitute maple syrup.
What Tofu is Best for Fried Tofu
Firm or extra-firm tofu is best for making fried tofu because it has a compact texture that produces the perfect mouth-feel. Tofu has a neutral flavor, allowing it to soak up the seasonings it’s cooked with. However, tofu comes packed in water, so pressing the packing water out of the tofu is the best way to make way for the flavors you’re about to cook it with. To press tofu, wrap it in a kitchen towel and place something heavy on it, like a pan or use a tofu press.
How to Make Crispy Orange Tofu Chicken
- Make the tofu batter by stirring together ground flax seeds, water, cornstarch, and flour.
- Dip the tofu in the batter and then fry it in a skillet.
- Make the orange sauce by combining the ingredients. Then pour the sauce over the tofu.
- Prepare the Sticky Orange Sauce by combining all the ingredients and cook until it thickens.
- Serve the tofu over brown rice with chopped green onions, orange sauce, and sesame seeds.
Here are more detailed step-by-step instructions.
Step One: Make the Tofu Batter
First, you’ll want to make the batter. This is what you’ll be dipping the pressed and cubed tofu in. Combine ground flax seeds, water, cornstarch, and flour.
Step Two: Cook Tofu
Dip the tofu in this tofu marinade recipe. This is what creates a crispy crust on the tofu. It’s a gluten-free mixture and since tofu is gluten-free as well, this is a great option for folks looking for vegan gluten-free recipes.
Fry the battered tofu in a skillet. Unless you have a large frying pan, it’s best to do this step in batches.
Quick Fix Tip
Skip the pan-frying and use Air Fryer Tofu! Prepare the air-fried tofu as recommended in the recipe, then add it to a skillet, coat with the sauce and serve with rice and the orange sticky sauce. Delicious!
Step Three: Add the Orange Sauce
- While the tofu is cooking, prepare the orange sauce by stirring together the ingredients.
- Once the tofu is done, return everything to the skillet and add the orange sauce.
- Cook it all for up to a minute or two to let the tofu sauce thicken. The combination of crispy and sticky in this pressed tofu recipe is pretty irresistible.
There are lots of ways to adapt this sauce to your particular tastes. For example, add 1 teaspoon of ground ginger to the sauce to make orange ginger tofu. Add 1 teaspoon red chili paste for a more spicy orange tofu.
If you’re curious about which tofu to buy, I recommend checking out my Tofu Buying Guide. For this recipe, I recommend extra firm tofu. The firmer the better.
What is orange tofu?
You make orange tofu by frying extra-firm tofu until crispy, then tossing it in a sticky orange sauce that’s both tangy and sweet. You can easily make orange tofu both vegan and gluten-free by using Tamari instead of soy sauce.
What is orange sauce made of?
Asian-style orange sauce is a sweet and tangy sauce made with fresh orange juice. You’ll also add things like sugar, soy sauce, and more. You can add additional flavorings such as ginger or red chili flakes.
How do you flavor and cook tofu?
Stir-frying tofu is a favorite way to add flavor to tofu. First, be sure to press the tofu to remove excess water, then chop it into cubes and add sauces and seasonings. The tofu will absorb the flavors of the ingredients it’s cooked with.
Is tofu gluten-free?
Tofu is made from soybeans, which means it is gluten-free. Be mindful of what you cook tofu in to keep your recipes gluten-free. For example, soy sauce is a common seasoning used with tofu. However, soy sauce is made from wheat. You can substitute Tamari, which is a gluten-free soy sauce.
Is tofu healthy?
Because tofu is made from soybeans, it’s a great source of protein that’s perfect for a plant-based diet! It also has iron, calcium, and other nutrients.
Calling for takeout is always a temptation, but when you’ve got something like this vegan orange chicken tofu recipe it doesn’t have to be. Here are some great options to serve alongside your tofu stir fry:
Vegan Asian Recipes
If you love this orange tofu recipe, here are even more vegan Asian-inspired recipes to try:
That’s it for this tofu a la orange!
Crispy Orange Tofu
- 14 ounce package extra firm tofu, drained and pressed dry (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
- ¾ cup water
- ⅓ cup cornstarch
- ⅓ cup flour (all-purpose or gluten-free)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (toasted sesame oil, olive oil)
Orange Tofu Coating
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (sesame, toasted sesame, or olive oil)
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- ½ cup chopped green onions
- zest of 1 orange (about 1 tablespoon)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (for gluten-free use tamari or coconut aminos)
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon agave syrup (substitute maple syrup)
Sticky Orange Sauce
- ¼ cup orange juice (the juice of one orange from the zest above)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon agave syrup (or maple syrup)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (for gluten-free use tamari or coconut aminos)
For the Fried Tofu:
- Press the tofu and then chop it into 1/2-inch cubes. (See notes for how to press tofu)
- Stir together the flax, water, cornstarch, and flour in a bowl until combined. Add the tofu (in batches works best) and thoroughly coat each piece. Use a fork to remove tofu pieces and gently tap on the bowl to remove excess batter. Add a tablespoon of additional water if the batter gets too thick.
- Place a skillet over medium to medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Place 2 to 3 sheets of paper towels on a plate on the counter near your skillet.
- Use tongs to place half of the batter-coated tofu in the heated oil. Allow space between each piece for all the sides to get browned. Cook the tofu on each side until browned. Place finished pieces of tofu on the paper towels to drain any excess oil.
- Add a little more oil to the pan and repeat with the remaining tofu.
For the Orange Tofu Coating:
- In a small bowl, stir together the orange coating ingredients.
- Return the tofu to the pan and add gently stir in the orange coating. Cook over medium heat until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes.
For the Sticky Orange Sauce:
- Prepare the sticky orange sauce by combining all the ingredients in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Stir to combine. Heat in the microwave in 30-second increments until thickened. It shouldn't take very long. If it gets too thick, add a little hot water and stir to incorporate.
- Serve the tofu over brown rice with additional chopped green onions, sticky orange sauce, and sesame seeds. A side of steamed broccoli goes nicely with this dish too!
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- You can substitute one batch of Air Fryer Tofu in place of the fried tofu from this recipe.
- To press tofu, remove it from the package and drain the liquid. Then wrap it in a kitchen towel or paper towels and place something heavy on top, like a heavy pan. Alternatively, use a tofu press. Allow 15 to 20 minutes to press tofu.
- Tofu packages come in different sizes, anywhere between 14 and 17 ounces is the norm and will work for this recipe.
The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
This post was originally published in 2018 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2021.