white rice with kung pao tofu on top in a bowl

This Kung Pao Tofu (宫爆豆腐) recipe is a lighter and healthier take on the classic Chinese take out! Featuring crispy tofu, roasted peanuts and bell peppers all tossed in a sweet, salty and slightly spicy sauce. The perfect quick and easy high protein vegan meal.

close up of kung pao tofu in a wok

Say hello to this ultra easy and ultra delicious Kung Pao Tofu recipe!

What is Kung Pao Tofu? Well, it’s a popular spicy Chinese stir-fry dish made with dried red chili, peppers, peanuts and a protein (tofu we’re using here). The sauce is savory, sweet, salty, spicy and SO flavourful. The beauty of making Kung Pao Tofu at home is that you can control the spice level to your tolerance.

It’s truly just a really fun dish, poppin’ with flavour that I think you’ll absolutely loveeee.

Alright friends, let’s make the BEST Kung Pao Tofu!

kung pao tofu ingredients on a brown marble countertop

What is the sauce made of?

Kung Pao sauce is a sticky sauce that is sweet, sour, salty and slightly spicy. Typically, store bought Kung Pao Sauce is vegan. However, we’re going to be making homemade kung pao sauce for this recipe consisting of: light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, chinese vinegar, maple syrup and sesame oil. Of course, we can’t skip the essential spicy element which traditionally comes from dried chili peppers– which can also be substituted with red chili flakes or samal oelek.

To make kung pao tofu, you’ll also need a block of tofu, bell peppers, green onions garlic and ginger.

step by step photos of how to make kung pao tofu

How to Make Kung Pao Tofu

Kung Pao Tofu is super duper easy to make and depending on the method of how you cook your tofu, it can be a quick meal as well. Heres how it goes down:

  1. Marinate the tofu for 15 minutes and then coat the tofu in corn starch.
  2. To cook the tofu, you can go about it in 3 ways: air fry, bake or pan fry. Air frying and baking is my preferred option for the crispiest kung pao tofu but if you’re in a hurry, pan fry works very well too!
  3. Make the kung pao sauce
  4. Heat a wok over high heat and fry the garlic and ginger. Add the bell pepper and white parts of the green onions.
  5. Stir the sauce in until it slightly thickens.
  6. Add in the tofu, green parts of the green onions and peanuts, and toss until everything is well coated in the sauce.

Kung Pao Tofu pairs really well with some rice but you could totally go for your favourite grain like quinoa, brown rice, mixed rice or even cauliflower rice! Heck, not traditional but I think it’d be really good in hearty grain salad too.

asian vegan stir fry in a wok with tofu and bell peppers

Tips to Making Kung Pao Tofu

  • Tofu: I always freeze tofu as soon as I purchase it because it naturally removed the extra water without having to press it for hours. I typically use extra firm tofu for stir-frying but medium firm or firm works well if baking or air frying (just be more gentle).
  • Make it Gluten Free: While dark and light soy sauce does enhance the flavours of this dish, you can also use tamari. As well, substitute the Chinese vinegar with rice vinegar.
  • Chili: If using whole dried red chilies, start with 3 and chop them up into small pieces . If using sriacha or sambal oelek start with 2 tsp.
  • Make it Ahead/Meal Prep: You can prep the sauce in advance and then make the stir fry in the pan to save time. If you have left overs, it will keep well in a air tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
close up shot of crispy stir fried tofu

If you love tofu and spice… this recipe is calling your name! I hope you try and love this vegan kung pao tofu recipe as much as I do. It’s such a great way to switch up the flavour of your meals and also great for a high protein vegan meal prep!

asian stir fry with bell peppers, tofu and peanuts in a bowl on top of rice

More Tofu Recipes to Try!

close up shot of spicy tofu stir fry with vegetables on top of rice in a bowl

If you recreate this Kung Pao Tofu recipe let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment and rating below or by tagging me on Instagram @Okonomikitchen, I love seeing all of your tasty recreations!
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close up shot of crispy stir fried tofu

Kung Pao Tofu

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5 from 4 reviews

  • Author: Lisa Kitahara
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


Kung Pao Tofu is a lighter and healthy take on the classic Chinese take out! Crispy tofu tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce for the perfect high protein vegan meal.



Tofu Marinade:


Additional Ingredients

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (7g)
  • 1/2 tbsp ginger, minced (10g)
  • 1/4 tsp sichuan peppercorn powder
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or 4 dried red chilies, cut into small pieces)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper (110g)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper (110g)
  • 4 green onions, cut into 3/4 inch pieces and green parts separated rom the white (46g)
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanut (30g)


  1. Add all the marinate ingredients into a glass container. Cut tofu into 1 inch pieces and place into the glass container and let it marinate for at least 15 mins. Coat tofu with corn starch.
    • To air fry: air fry for 15 minutes at 400 F (shaping basket half way).
    • To bake: Place coated tofu onto a silpat/parchment lined baking pan and bake for 20 minutes (flipping half way).
    • To Pan fry: Heat skillet with 1 tbsp of oil over medium heat and add tofu. Cook on one side for 2 minutes. Flip the tofu and cook for another 1-2 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Transfer to another plate and set aside. 
  1. In the meantime, mix sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside. 
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, peppercorns (if using) and fry for 30 seconds, until fragrant. 
  3. Add the bell pepper and white parts on the green onions and fry for 30 seconds.
  4. Stir the sauce in and stir. Add the tofu and toss until the sauce thickens and coats all the tofu pieces. 
  5. Turn off the heat and add the peanuts and green parts of the green onions in and stir. Serve immediately and garnish with more green onions. 


  • Helpful Equipment: wok, air fryer, wooden stir fry spoon
  • Nutritional Information Disclaimer: Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated on an online tool (Cronometer).
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: entree
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: vegan, chinese


  • Serving Size: 1 serving
  • Calories: 266
  • Sugar: g6
  • Sodium: 1002mg
  • Fat: 10.9g
  • Saturated Fat: 2g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 6g
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 25.5g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 17.6g
  • Cholesterol: 0


kung pao tofu recipe pinterest graphic

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About Lisa

I'm Lisa, a home cook, recipe developer and founder of Okonomi Kitchen. Here, you'll find a mix of classic and modernized Japanese recipes, and creative, plant-forward meal inspiration using seasonal ingredients. I hope to share more about Japanese cuisine and culture through food and recipes.

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  1. Okay – I never comment on recipes BUT I have to let everyone know they should make this.
    Your recipes are truly a delight and this one is no exception.

    THANK YOU! <3

  2. This was delicious! My mom and I had it for dinner and both loved it. I added some extra vegetables (broccoli) and we had it with brown rice 🙂

  3. Your recipes are amazing! This recipe is delicious, the bittersweet sauce is simply perfect and the Tofu was crispy and super tasty

  4. This is the first recipe I’ve tried from Lisa. I cant wait to try so many of her recipes.
    Its bomb. Easy to follow and tasty.
    Save yourself from spending money on Chinese take out and make this at home. Tastes so legit!!

  5. Really nicely balanced sauce that caramelized well. Worked out well with some veggie substitutions too. Will definitely be making this again.