Kung Pao with tofu makes a wonderful vegan dinner recipe. If you love Chinese flavours you are going to love this vegan Kung Pao. You don’t have to use chicken to make this. A vegetarian Chinese inspired dinner with tofu is just as good! If you are looking for a Chinese food tofu recipe, this is for you!
This tasty Chinese food tofu recipe is easy enough for a beginner to make and it tastes impressive! I used a soy sauce, lemon and honey marinade to add a sweet, zesty and salty combo of flavours to the tofu.
Unlike with meat, tofu doesn’t need to marinate for hours to absorb flavour. It’s like a sponge! You can let it marinate for a couple hours for a stronger flavour if you want.
What is Kung Pao?
Sometimes spelled Kung Po or Gong Bao, this Chinese dish is typically made with chicken. It’s a spicy stir-fry which includes peanuts, chillies and vegetables. It originated in the Sichuan Province of China.
Authentically the recipe is made with Sichuan peppercorns which are veeerrrrry spicy! There are other regional variations though which pack less heat!
This Kung Pao with tofu is a simplified version. Rather than add a lot of heat, the focus is on the marinated tofu as well as the colourful vegetables. I wanted to make a vegetarian Chinese inspired dinner which was healthy and tasty. And this one certainly is!
Ingredients for this Vegan Dinner Recipe
Along with the tofu and marinade ingredients, this Chinese food tofu recipe calls for onion, ginger, garlic, bell peppers, broccoli, green onion, and cashews.
I like to serve it over boiled white rice and garnish the vegan Kung Pao with cilantro, sesame and lime. If you want to add some spice, thinly cut red chillies would work. If you want to add more spice, you can use chillies in the sauce instead of just the garnish.
How to Make Kung Pao with Tofu
This vegetarian Chinese inspired dinner is simple to make. The first thing to do is prepare the tofu. Put it on a plate and put paper towels on top. Now put some bowl on top or a heavy pot and let it sit for 20 minutes. This drains excess liquid off the tofu.
Combine the ingredients for the marinade, chop the tofu into cubes and mix it in. You can let the tofu marinate for 20 minutes while you prepare the vegetables. Fry the tofu in a skillet and then remove it and fry the veggies and nuts.
Add the sauce and tofu back in and serve with rice. I love this Chinese food tofu recipe – it’s better than takeout!
Vegan Kung Pao Variations
There are some variations you can try with this Kung Pao with tofu recipe. Swap the tamari (I like because it is gluten free) for soy sauce if you like or use different vegetables. Oyster mushrooms would be good, or cauliflower, carrot, or zucchini. You might prefer peanuts to cashews.
The honey in the sauce/marinade can be switched for sugar or agave syrup. If you aren’t a fan of tofu, you can make this vegan dinner recipe with another protein. Chickpea protein, seitan or tempeh should work perfectly if you prefer not to make your Kung Pao with tofu.
How to Store Leftover Vegan Kung Pao
If you have leftovers, let them cool completely before storing. This vegetarian Chinese inspired dinner will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to a month. You should put it in an airtight container first.
What to Serve with Vegetarian Kung Pao
Boiled or steamed white rice are perfect with this. You could try brown rice if you prefer or even noodles. If you want a vegan friendly appetizer, you might like to make vegan spring rolls or something similar.
Authentic Kung Pao vs Westernized Kung Pao
You might be curious how this recipe differs from the original Chinese recipe. In the West it’s common to stir fry chicken in a sweetened orange and ginger-based sauce and add vegetables other than onion.
In China Kung Pao usually only has onion as a vegetable and is made with chicken. Western versions are sometimes made with pork, fish or duck, as well as with tofu.
If you are a fan of this Kung Pao with tofu, you might also like Gluten Free Tofu Thai Wrap with Coconut Almond Butter Dip, Miso Ramen with Chicken, Tofu and Spicy Tahini or Gluten Free Vegan Ramen.
Vegan Kung Pao with Tofu, Vegetables & Cashews Recipe
Vegan Kung Pao with Tofu, Vegetables & Cashews
Kung Pao Marinade
- 1/2 Cup tamari sauce or soy sauce
- 1 Juiced lemon
- 2 Tbsp. Honey
Tofu Kung Pao
- 1 Block Tofu
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil divided
- 1 onion
- 1 Tbsp. ginger minced
- 1 Tbsp. garlic minced
- 1 green bell pepper cored, seeded and diced
- 1 red bell pepper cored, seeded and diced
- 1 1/2 Cup broccoli
- 1 Bunch green onion
- 1/2 Cup cashews
- Combine soy sauce, lemon juice and honey in a cup. Stir to combine and set aside.
- Press tofu to remove excess of water then cut in cubes. Place in a bowl which has a cover. Pour marinate in the bowl and cover. Gently turn the bowl upside down and back again. Make sure all tofu cubes are coated. Marinate for about 20 minutes.
- Heat a non-stick pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Remove tofu carefully from sauce then fry until crispy on each side. Don't throw away the sauce. Place tofu on a plate and set aside.
- In a large non-stick pan, heat the rest of olive oil over medium heat. Stir fry onion, ginger and garlic until they begin to soften. Add bell peppers and cook until half soft. Turn heat to low-medium and add broccoli, green onion and cashew nuts.
- Stir fry for about 1 minute then add tofu and kung pao sauce. Combine all together.
- Bring to simmer until the sauce has thickened.
- Remove and serve immediately with rice.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.
I love this Kung Pao with tofu because it’s easy to make and really filling. The recipe is foolproof too. Use firm or extra-firm tofu so it holds its shape and vary which veggies you use if you want. This vegan dinner recipe is much better than takeout. Try it and you’ll agree!