Skip the Chinese takeout and make this saucy vegan orange tofu chicken instead! Featuring crispy pan-fried tofu cooked in a rich, flavorful orange sauce, this dish will please both vegans and omnivores. Easy to make and is ready in 30 minutes.
Whenever I am craving some hearty Chinese takeout, this easy vegan orange chicken is always one of my go-to ! Particularly love serving it along with some black bean tofu and vegan dumplings for the best vegan Chinese fakeaway. 😉
Back to this recipe. To veganize it, I am using tofu in place of chicken, which is traditionally used. The tofu cubes are first pan-fried to make them super crispy, before cooking them in a rich vegan orange sauce. All this can be done in under 30 minutes, making it a great easy meal if you don't wanna spend hours in the kitchen !
💚Why you will love this recipe
- Flavorful and delicious - The tofu is coated in cornstarch then pan fried to make it extra crispy. As for the sauce, this recipe calls for freshly squeezed orange juice as it is much bolder and brighter in flavor!
- Easy and quick to make - Only simple everyday ingredients are used and this recipe is ready in 30 minutes from start to finish.
- Kid friendly and meat-eaters approved - This dish is definitely a crowd pleaser that will feed both vegans and omnivores!
🍊What you will need
📓Notes / substitutions
- Tofu - It is recommended to use extra firm tofu that have been pressed and drained to yield the crispiest tofu. Firm tofu is the second best choice.
- Orange juice - I highly recommend using freshly squeezed orange juice, but feel free to use packaged orange juice instead !
- Cornstarch - Can be substituted with potato starch.
- Soy sauce - Use gluten-free soy sauce, if needed. Tamari and coconut aminos can also be used in place.
- Maple syrup - I choose to use maple syrup to keep it refined sugar-free, but you can use white / brown sugar or other sweeteners in place. Sugar substitutes can also be used, but amounts may vary according to the type used.
- Oil-free - Simply pan-fry tofu in a well-seasoned cast iron pan or non-stick pan without oil. You can also bake them for 20-25 minutes at 200 C / 400 F until golden, flipping them halfway through.
🔪How to make
Combine cornstarch and salt, and mix well. Pat dry tofu cubes using paper towel.
In a zip-top bag, place in tofu cubes and cornstarch mixture. Toss until the cubes are well-coated.
Heat up about ½ tablespoon of neutral oil over medium high heat in a cast iron pan or non-stick pan. Place in tofu cubes and cook for 4-5 minutes on each sides, or until most sides are golden. A flexible spatula will aid the flipping process. Set aside.
While tofu is cooking, make cornstarch slurry by combining 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with ¼ cup of water.
In the same pan, pour in another ½ tablespoon of oil. Add in garlic and ginger, and saute until fragrant for 1-2 minutes.
Next, pour in orange juice, ½ of the soy sauce ( 1 tablespoon ) , vinegar and maple syrup. Bring mixture to a simmer, then add in slurry. Cook until sauce has thicken and is glossy. Turn off heat, give it a taste and add in the rest of the soy sauce and more seasonings, if needed.
Lastly, stir in pan-fried tofu until they are well-coated. Top with with chopped green onions and sesame seeds, if desired. Serve it with some fluffy rice and enjoy !
- If you are using orange zest ( an optional ingredient ), do make sure to stop zesting when you get to the white parts as it tends to be quite bitter.
- Make sure to use tofu that have been pressed and drained to yield crispy tofu. This can be done by either using a tofu press or by stacking something heavy on top of tofu block. Do check out this blog post on how to press tofu for more detailed instructions.
- Be patient while cooking tofu as it takes some time ( roughly 4-5 minutes per side ) for tofu to be perfectly browned.
🍚How to serve
This vegan orange chicken is seriously super versatile and goes well with almost any kinds of grain! You can serve them with rice of any kind, quinoa or even cauliflower rice if looking for a lower carb version. Here are a few more ways to serve it :
- Serve them on salads or in salad bowls.
- Pair them with some freshly cooked noodles like soba, wheat noodles or rice noodles. Or, you can cook up some stir-fry vermicelli or gochujang noodles.
- They works really well as a filling for lettuce wraps.
- Pair them with some Asian inspired fried rice like Tom Yum fried rice or green curry fried rice.
- Asian brown rice salad, rice paper rolls and Thai peanut salad are some sides that pairs well with this dish.
- Tofu - If you are not a fan of tofu, tempeh or seitan is the next best alternative. Meat replacements like soy curls or vegan chicken tenders can also be used, but do prepare it according to package instructions before adding them into the orange sauce.
- Baking tofu - If you prefer your tofu baked, drizzle with neutral oil first before coating them in cornstarch mixture. Then, bake them for 20-25 minutes at 200 C / 400 F until golden brown, flipping them halfway through. For oil-free version, skip the oil.
- Chili flakes - add in a generous pinch if you would like to give some kick to this dish.
- Vegetables - You can add in vegetables like cabbage, carrot, bell peppers or broccoli into this dish. You can add them in after sauteing your ginger and garlic. You might need to double the sauce for everything to be fully coated.
- Make it your own - Feel free to add more seasonings to make this dish saltier, tangier or sweeter to suit your taste buds!
- Saucy - If you prefer them to be extra saucy, feel free to double the sauce.
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days. To regain the crispiness of tofu, heat orange tofu up on stove for a few minutes until thoroughly heated. You might need to add a splash of water to thin the sauce.
You can also freeze this dish in sealed containers for up to 3 months. Let them thaw in the fridge the night before or on countertop for a few hours before reheating it on stove. The texture of tofu might change slightly after freezing but still delicious regardless !
❔Commonly asked questions
As orange sauce is mainly made from orange juice, sweetener of some sort, seasonings and spices, store-bought orange sauce are oftentimes vegan. However, sometimes animal product like milk and honey might be added, so be sure to read the label before purchasing. Some brands of vegan-friendly orange sauce includes the Kikkoman and Panda Express ones.
You can also make your own homemade vegan orange sauce by following this recipe !
As there are no chili peppers used in orange sauce, it is not spicy and suitable for those who are sensitive to spicy foods.
However, you can add in some chili flakes if you like yours to be spicy !
Yes, the vegan orange sauce in this recipe is actually freezable ! Double or triple the sauce and you will have it ready to go the next time you make vegan orange chicken.
To freeze, first let orange sauce cool down completely. You can then portion them out using ice cubes tray or small zip-top bags. They can be frozen for up to 3 months.
To reheat, let it thaw completely in the fridge overnight or on countertop for a few hours. You can then use the sauce as per recipe instructions, or use them in vegetables stir-fry.
There are 113 calories per serving for this orange tofu chicken.
🍽More Chinese inspired vegan recipes
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Flavorful Crispy Vegan Orange Tofu Chicken
For the tofu
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch *
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 15 oz block extra firm tofu drained, pressed and cut into 1 inch cubes
For orange sauce
For cornstarch slurry
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ¼ cup water
- Combine cornstarch and salt, and mix well. Pat dry tofu cubes using paper towel.
- In a zip-top bag, place in tofu cubes and cornstarch mixture. Toss until the cubes are well-coated.
- Heat up about ½ tablespoon of neutral oil over medium high heat in a cast iron pan or non-stick pan. Place in tofu cubes and cook for 2-3 minutes on each sides, or until most sides are golden. A flexible spatula will aid the flipping process. Set aside.
- While tofu is cooking, make cornstarch slurry by combining 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with ¼ cup of water.
- In the same pan, pour in another ½ tablespoon of oil. Add in garlic and ginger, and saute until fragrant for 1-2 minutes.
- Next, pour in orange juice, ½ of the soy sauce( 1 tablespoon ) , vinegar and maple syrup. Bring mixture to a simmer, then add in slurry. Cook until sauce has thicken and is glossy. Turn off heat, give it a taste and add in the rest of the soy sauce and more seasonings, if needed.
- Lastly, stir in pan-fried tofu until they are well-coated. Top with with chopped green onions and sesame seeds, if desired. Serve vegan orange chicken with some fluffy rice and enjoy !
Nutrition info calculated is just a rough estimate and is provided as a courtesy. Bear in mind that value will vary based on variables like specific brand or type of product used. To obtain the most accurate representation, it is highly recommended that you calculate it on your own with the actual amount and type of ingredient used.