What's for dinner tonight? Craving a Chinese tofu recipe that is easy, quick, and family-friendly? This Air Fryer General Tso's Tofu is a game-changer - it's delicious, healthier than takeout, and perfect for that tofu lover, or tofu skeptic. Ready in under 30 minutes for another easy weeknight meal!
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If you're anything like me, the daily question of "What's for dinner?" can feel like a daunting task. With a busy schedule and a family to feed, it's easy to fall into a rut of the same old meals. But fear not, I've got one of my favorite tofu recipes to share with you today - a delicious Chinese tofu recipe that's easy to make and sure to impress: Air Fryer Chinese General Tso's Tofu.
Having worked in restaurants for many years, I've seen firsthand the amount of oil, sugar, and other not-so-healthy ingredients that can go into our favorite dishes. That's why I love recreating popular Chinese dishes at home, where I can control the ingredients and make healthier versions without sacrificing flavor.
This General Tso's Tofu recipe is a perfect recipe. It's a healthier spin on a classic dish you'd find in many Chinese restaurants but without all the extra oil and sugar. Plus, it's vegan and gluten-free, making it a crowd-pleaser for all types of diets.
👪Why Your Family Will Love This Tofu Recipe
This Chinese tofu recipe is easy to make, packed with flavor, and adaptable to various dietary needs, making it a hit with the whole family. Here's why:
- Healthy Version: It's a healthier version of a popular Chinese dish, allowing you to enjoy your favorite takeout meal when navigating food allergies or preferences.
- Amazing texture: The tofu is crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and coated in a delicious sauce that's sure to please everyone's taste buds.
- Versatile: add in your family's favorite veggies or serve it over different grains to suit everyone's preferences.
- Fun Tofu Recipe: It's a fun way to introduce tofu and plant-based proteins to kids or anyone new to vegan eating.
🥒Will picky eaters like this
As a mom of three boys, I've navigated the choppy waters of the "picky eater" stage more than once. This Chinese tofu recipe has been a lifesaver because of its flexibility. Here's why:
- Nice texture: The tofu is air-fried to a perfect golden brown, giving it a crispy texture that's similar to chicken nuggets - a familiar favorite among many picky eaters.
- Sweet Sauce: The General Tso sauce is sweet and savory, but its flavor can easily be adjusted to suit different taste buds. You can make it milder for those who prefer less spice or ramp up the heat for those who like it spicy.
- Customizable: The tofu and sauce can be served separately, allowing picky eaters to control how much sauce they want on their tofu.
- Change the side: Pairing the tofu with familiar sides like rice or their favorite veggies can make the dish more appealing and customizable to their tastes.
Creating a Well-Balanced Recipe
When it comes to meal planning, I like to follow a simple formula to ensure a well-balanced meal: a veggie, a grain, and a protein. For this dish, we've got our protein covered with firm tofu, a staple in many plant-based diets. Pair this tofu with some steamed broccoli or colorful stir fry for your veggie, and serve it over rice or quinoa for your grain. Voila! A balanced, wholesome meal that's as nutritious as it is delicious.
You can read more about how to create a well-balanced diet (especially when facing dietary restrictions like being vegan or gluten-free) here. And the Canadian food guide has a great visual on how to ensure you are getting all the necessary food groups here.
⏲️ Time-Saving Tip
While this recipe is already quite straightforward, here are a couple of tips that can save you even more time:
- Prep in Advance: You can press and cube the tofu in advance and store it in the fridge. You can also prepare the sauce ahead of time and store it in the fridge. When it's time to cook, half the work is already done!
- Double the Recipe: If you have a large air fryer, consider doubling the recipe. It doesn't take much more time, and you'll have leftovers for another meal. Just remember to cook in batches to avoid overcrowding the air fryer.
When it comes to Chinese tofu recipes that are easy and delicious, the ingredients you choose can make all the difference. Here are the main ingredients you will need for this recipe:
- Firm tofu: I always opt for firm tofu in this recipe. It holds its shape well during cooking and absorbs the flavors of the sauce beautifully.
- Tapioca flour: This is my secret weapon for getting that perfect crispy exterior on the tofu. If you can't find it, arrowroot works just as well.
- Soy sauce: A staple in Chinese cooking, it adds that savory umami flavor we all love. I use tamari when I want to keep things gluten-free.
- Sesame oil: It adds a wonderful nutty flavor to the dish.
- Maple syrup: A touch of sweetness to balance out the savory elements.
- Garlic powder: For that extra punch of flavor.
- General Tso Sauce Ingredients: This is where the magic happens. It's a mix of vegetable broth, minced garlic, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, maple syrup, rice vinegar, lime juice, ginger powder, and tapioca flour.
- Toasted sesame seeds: For that extra crunch, pop of flavor, and garnish!
For full quantities, see the recipe card below.
💡Tofu Recipe Tips & Tricks
- Prepping the Tofu: The key to getting that perfect, crispy exterior on your tofu is to press it well before marinating. This removes excess moisture and allows the tofu to absorb the marinade better. You can use a tofu press or just wrap the tofu in a paper towel and place a heavy object on top.
- Making the Sauce: When preparing the General Tso sauce, make sure to mix the tapioca flour with water in a separate bowl before adding it to the sauce. This prevents the flour from clumping and ensures a smooth, thick sauce.
- Cooking: When air frying the tofu, make sure to arrange the cubes in a single layer and flip them halfway through. This ensures even cooking and that golden brown color we're aiming for. Also, when adding the tofu to the sauce, be gentle to prevent the tofu cubes from breaking.
- Flavor Tip: If you like your Chinese dishes with a kick, don't hesitate to add some red pepper flakes or a dash of sriracha to the sauce for a spicy version of this tofu stir-fry.
Step 1: Prepare the Tofu
Start by preheating your air fryer to 375 degrees. Then, take your firm tofu, then drain tofu, and press it gently to remove excess moisture. This is where the "drain tofu" part comes in. Wrap it in a paper towel and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Once it's drained, cut it into small, bite-sized tofu cubes.
Pro tip: Pressing the tofu helps it absorb the marinade better, resulting in more flavorful tofu.
Step 2: Marinate the Tofu
While your tofu is draining, grab a small bowl and mix together the soy sauce, maple syrup, sesame oil, and garlic powder. This is your tofu marinade. Add your cubed tofu to this marinade and let it rest for about 5 minutes.
Pro tip: The longer you marinate, the more flavorful your tofu will be.
Step 3: Air Fry the Tofu
After marinating, remove the tofu from the marinade and toss it with the tapioca flour. This will give your tofu a nice, crispy exterior. Arrange the tofu cubes in a single layer in your air fryer and cook for 12 minutes, flipping halfway through. You're aiming for a golden brown color on your tofu cubes.
Step 4: Prepare the General Tso Sauce
While your tofu is cooking, it's time to prepare your General Tso sauce. Mix all the sauce ingredients (except the tapioca flour and sesame seeds) in a small bowl until you have a smooth texture. In a separate bowl, mix the tapioca flour with 2 tablespoons of water. Set this aside for later.
Step 5: Cook the Sauce
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add your General Tso sauce mixture. Let it cook for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce starts to boil. Then, stir in your tapioca flour mixture. This will thicken your sauce. Let it cook for about 5 more minutes, or until the sauce has thickened to your liking.
Step 6: Combine Tofu and Sauce
Once your sauce is ready, add your air-fried tofu to the saucepan and mix gently to coat the tofu in the sauce. Turn off the heat and let it sit for about 5 minutes. This allows the tofu to absorb all the delicious flavors of the sauce.
Step 7: Serve
Finally, sprinkle your dish with toasted sesame seeds, serve it over rice, garnish with some green onions, and enjoy your homemade, healthier version of General Tso's Tofu.
Pro tip: Letting the tofu sit in the sauce for a few minutes helps it soak up all the flavors, making every bite a delight!
🥬Substitutions & Variations
When it comes to Chinese tofu, our General Tso's Tofu recipe is a winner. Here are some substitutions and variations and different ways you can try this recipe:
- Firm Tofu: If you prefer a softer texture, you can use soft tofu however be careful as this type of tofu will fall apart easier. If you want something chewier, go for extra-firm tofu.
- Tapioca Flour: If you can't find tapioca flour, cornstarch is a great alternative for getting that crispy tofu exterior.
- Soy Sauce: For a soy-free version, you can use coconut aminos. It's a fantastic substitute that still gives you a rich, savory flavor. You can also opt for a light soy sauce if you want to reduce your sodium intake.
- Sesame Oil: If you're allergic to sesame or just don't have it on hand, a little bit of olive oil or another neutral oil will work.
- Maple Syrup: Honey or agave nectar can be used in place of maple syrup for a different kind of sweetness.
- Garlic Powder: Fresh minced garlic can be used instead of garlic powder for a more robust flavor.
- General Tso Sauce: If you're in a pinch, a store-bought General Tso's sauce or even a hoisin sauce can be used. Just be mindful of the added sugars and sodium in store-bought sauces.
- Spicy General Tso's Tofu: If you like your Chinese dishes with a kick, add some red pepper flakes or a dash of sriracha to the sauce for a spicy version of this tofu stir-fry.
- General Tso's Tofu with Veggies: Add some color and extra nutrients to this dish by stir-frying some veggies like bell peppers, green onion, bok choy, or broccoli along with the tofu.
- Low-Carb General Tso's Tofu: Swap out the white rice for cauliflower rice for a low-carb version of this dish. It's just as satisfying but lighter on the carbs.
The best part about cooking at home is making the dish your own. Feel free to experiment with these substitutions and variations to suit your taste and dietary needs.
🥡Storage For Chinese Tofu
This General Tso's Tofu recipe is not just delicious but also perfect for meal prep. Here's how you can store it:
Fridge: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. The flavors actually deepen over time, making the leftovers just as delicious!
Reheating: To reheat, you can use a microwave, but for the best texture, I recommend reheating it on the stove. Add a little bit of oil to a pan, add your tofu and sauce, and stir gently on medium heat until it's heated through. If the sauce has thickened too much in the fridge, you can add a splash of water or vegetable broth to thin it out.
Freezer: This dish freezes well, however, the texture of the tofu will change slightly. To freeze, let the tofu cool, and then freeze it in an airtight container. Freeze the sauce separately and thaw both overnight in the fridge. Then cook as the recipe suggests. You can read more about freezing tofu over on The Woks of Life.
Remember, food safety is crucial. Always store your leftovers as soon as they've cooled to room temperature, and always reheat them until they're steaming hot all the way through. Enjoy your meal prep with this easy Chinese tofu recipe!
es, you can use extra-firm tofu depending on your preference. I don't recommend using soft tofu as it is more delicate to handle and may break apart easily.
o problem! You can also cook the tofu in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat with a little bit of oil until it's golden brown on all sides.
Yes, if you don't have tapioca flour, you can use cornstarch or arrowroot as a substitute.
I hope you enjoyed this General Tso Tofu recipe. An easy Chinese tofu recipe that is fun, family-friendly, and delicious! If you are looking for more delicious recipes, be sure to check out these:
Oh and if you make this recipe I would love your thought in the comments! Or can find me on instagram and let me know @at.my.table!
Air Fryer Chinese Tofu Recipe (Gluten-Free & Vegan)
- 1 Firm tofu drained, pressed, cubed
- 2 tablespoon tapioca flour (or arrowroot)
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
General Tso Sauce
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari)
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon ginger powder
- 1 tablespoon tapioca flour (mix with 2 tablespoon water)
- 2 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- Preheat your air fryer to 375 degrees. Then remove the tofu from the package and drain. Wrap the tofu in a clean kitchen towel (or paper towel) and let it rest for 10 minutes. Then dice into small 1-inch cubes.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl add 2 tablespoon of soy sauce,1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, and 1 teaspoon garlic powder and mix (do not add the tapioca flour yet). Then add in your cubed tofu and let it rest for 5 minutes.
- Remove the tofu from the marinade and toss with the tapioca flour. Then place the tofu cubes into the air fryer in a single layer. Cook for 12 minutes flipping halfway.
- While the tofu cooks, prepare your General Tso sauce. Add all the ingredients (except the tapioca flour and sesame seeds) into a small bowl and mix. To a separate bowl add the tapioca flour and 2 tbsps of water and mix. Save for later.
- Then over medium heat in a medium sauce pan add in the General Tso sauce. Cook for 5 minutes or until the sauce starts to boil. Then add in the tapioca mixture.
- Cook until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.
- Next, add in your tofu and mix gently. Turn off the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes to absorb the sauce. Remove from the heat and top with the toasted sesame seeds. Serve over rice with some green onions and enjoy :0)