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crispy sweet & sour tofu

crispy sweet & sour tofu_hot for food

Sometimes tofu gets a bad rep from omnis. But I’m pretty sure that’s because they were eating tofu that wasn’t cooked or seasoned well! I cook with it a lot in the hot for food kitchen. I’ve made cream cheese, eggs benedict, and tofu scramble and that’s just for starters! Try this simple recipe and prepare to ditch any haterade you were sippin’ on.

The trick for this dish is to rid it of excess moisture (no one likes soggy tofu!) and fry it up real nice. This recipe also includes has a super irresistible sweet and sour sauce to coat the crispy tofu in. Serve it up on a fresh bed of rice like I did, or on top of some cooked veggies! 

crispy sweet & sour tofu_hot for food
4.77 from 17 votes
Print Recipe

crispy sweet & sour tofu

Bring on the ultimate comfort food… crispy sweet and sour tofu with rice is as simple and easy as it gets!

Course Main Course
Keyword crispy tofu, sweet and sour sauce, tofu
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4
Author Lauren Toyota


sweet & sour sauce

  • 2 tsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tsp water
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes
  • 1/3 C unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1/2 C agave nectar (or maple syrup or sugar)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

tofu & batter

  • 1 brick of medium firm tofu (or firm tofu)
  • 3 C vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 C brown rice flour
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 C cold soda water


  1. Drain the brick of tofu from the packaging water and cut into bite size cubes. Allow the cubes to sit on a clean tea towel or paper towel to get rid of excess water while you prepare the sauce.
  2. To make the sauce, mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl and set aside.

  3. In a small saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil over medium-low heat. Add minced garlic, ginger, and chili pepper flakes. Stir for 30 seconds to 1 minute until fragrant, being careful not to burn the garlic or ginger. Add in the remaining sauce ingredients and whisk together over medium heat until just bubbling. Then whisk in the cornstarch and water mixture. Whisk frequently for 10 to 12 minutes until thickened and reduced. Remove from the heat and set aside while you prepare the crispy tofu.

  4. Heat vegetable oil in a heavy bottomed pot to 355°F to 365°F.

  5. Prepare the batter by combining rice flour, cornstarch, sea salt, garlic powder, and ground black pepper together in a mixing bowl. Do not add the cold soda water until your frying oil is ready.

  6. When you’re ready to fry, stir in soda water to the flour mixture and combine well. If the mixture seems too thin, add a little bit more rice flour and combine. It should be a smooth, slightly thick pancake batter consistency. You want it to stick and coat the cubes of tofu.

  7. Place the tofu cubes in the batter and toss to coat evenly. Drop each one at a time in the frying oil delicately. Fry in batches of 5 to 6 pieces and do not overcrowd the pot.

  8. Fry for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. If some stick together, you can gently separate them in the frying oil with a slotted fryer spoon. Remove crispy tofu from the oil with the slotted spoon and let them sit on paper towel to absorb excess oil. Continue this process with remaining tofu cubes.

  9. Heat up the sauce again if needed right before serving. In 2 to 3 batches, you can coat the crispy tofu with sauce by adding some sauce to a large bowl and tossing crispy tofu cubes until coated evenly. Serve over rice or vegetables.

Recipe Notes

If you want to bake the tofu, toss the cubes in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in a large bowl and lay out in an even layer slightly spaced apart on a large parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 425°F oven for 30 to 40 minutes until crispy and golden brown. Finish by coating in warm sweet and sour sauce right before serving!


  • Kay Smith 4 years ago

    hey guys, kinda silly question here…what is soda water? like club soda?

    • Lauren Toyota 4 years ago

      yes club soda!

  • Karyn 4 years ago

    So, I made this on a whim and I loved it so much! The sauce was great too! Now I know what to make when im craving sweet and sour chicken 😀

    • Lauren Toyota 4 years ago

      glad you loved it!

  • Katelyn 4 years ago

    I made this and it was delish! I didn’t have any tomato paste so substituted the agave + tomato paste for ketchup and it turned out great!

  • Kara Piergentili 4 years ago

    Can I sub all purpose flour for the brown rice flour?

    • Lauren Toyota 4 years ago

      Yes. All purpose will always work as it has gluten in it!

  • Jennifer 4 years ago

    Used brown sugar instead of agave.. is that why the sauce was a bit strong? or are some people’s taste more sensitive than others? 😮

    • Lauren Toyota 4 years ago

      might be yes. Brown Sugar has more of a molasses-like flavour when cooked down. Agave is more neutral.

  • M 4 years ago

    Do I have to use club soda?

    • Brenn 4 years ago

      I didn’t have any so I just made it with about a teaspoon of baking soda and a splash of vinegar. it was so good!

  • Jenny Samuel 4 years ago

    Can I use distilled white vinegar instead of rice vinegar?

    • Jenny Samuel 4 years ago

      Don’t worry I just used rice vinegar. And I love this so much! Gonna be one of my favorites Thank You!

  • Jo 4 years ago

    Do I have to use soda water?

    • Brenn 4 years ago

      I didn’t have any so I just made it with about a teaspoon of baking soda and a splash of vinegar. it was so good!

  • Audrey Mi 3 years ago

    This recipe was excellent! The tofu was crispy and even my omni husband said it taste like chicken. The only thing I should have done is double the sauce, there was not enough for all the crispy tofu! Two thumbs up! 🙂

    • Lauren Toyota 3 years ago

      OH YA! we love converting the omni-husbands. Seems to be a lot of them 😉

  • D 3 years ago

    can you use just plain sugar instead of agave?

    • Michelle 3 years ago

      Maybe if you made a simple syrup with the sugar? The sauce wouldn’t be sauce without the liquid. I use maple syrup in place of the agave. If you want to try a simple syrup, use 1/2 cup warm water (in replacement of the 1/2 cup agave), and add 1/2 cup sugar to it. Stir until dissolved. That creates a simple syrup! Hope you don’t mind that I answered 🙂

      • D 3 years ago

        Thanks for replying. I can’t find agave, but I do have maple syrup, so I’ll try it with that. Thanks again!

  • Cassie Tran 3 years ago

    YUM, Asian-style tofu is the best!

  • Michelle 3 years ago

    This dish pleases everyone in the family! Mentioning tofu in our household used to be met with turned up noses, and groans. Now they know it means yummy! I always double the sauce recipe so that there is some leftover after tossing the tofu. We like to drizzle it on our rice!

  • Nellie 3 years ago

    absolutely loved it!!! even my non-vegan boyfriend loved it

  • shelbs 3 years ago

    I made this sauce over tofu tonight and absolutely loved it. I used a different recipe for the tofu since I was air frying it and the overall dish was perfect.

  • Ori 3 years ago

    Can someone help me?

    3 C vegetable oil in grams?
    Is that not a little bit too much?

    • Ori 3 years ago

      *3 C vegetable oil in ml?

    • Amber 2 years ago

      You are cooking it in that.Im not sure why you see that as too much.

  • Cosmic Rainbow Kitty 2 years ago

    I made this! My thoughts: the sauce was fantastic!!!! Will be making again for sure!!!! The deep fry was an utter fail. Instead I just cut a second bath of tofu into cubes and baked at 425 for 20 minutes.

  • Shazaa 2 years ago

    Thank you Lauren for this super deliciousss recipe…

  • Emilie 2 years ago

    Thanks for the youtube video on this recipe!! 🙂 I don’t think I would have made it otherwise 😀 I am eating it for lunch right now and it’s soooo good! 😀 thanks a lot ! xxx

  • Jill Amanda 2 years ago

    I would rather do these in the oven.. Could I batter them then stick them in the oven?
    (I know in the video she mentions just doing corn starch and spray oil)

    Can’t wait to make these tonight!

    • Lauren Toyota 2 years ago

      it says in the post
      NOTE: if you want to bake the tofu all you need to do is toss the cubes in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in a large bowl and lay out in an even layer slightly spaced apart on a large parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 425 F oven for 30 to 40 minutes until crispy and golden brown. Then coat in warm sweet and sour sauce right before serving!

  • Melissa Green Curit 2 years ago

    I’ve made this twice, baking the tofu (adding salt, pepper, and garlic granules to the cornstarch coating), and it’s so good. Ate it with rice and broccoli the first time, and rice and sauteed greens the second. Definitely a go-to recipe!

    • Jenn 9 months ago

      Do you still use the sod’s water if you bake? Or just the corn starch and flour mix?

  • Kate Brewer 2 years ago

    Just made this! Back when I was an omnivore I would N E V E R get sweet and sour chicken because I always felt guilty (being that it is not the healthiest choice) but I definitely do not feel guilty eating this! I opted to bake the tofu and it turned out beautifully. The only alteration I made was the tomato paste– instead I used leftover pizza sauce and there is no way anyone would ever be able to tell. Thanks for yet another great recipe, Lauren 🙂

  • Maira Meniuk 2 years ago

    Wasnt’t expecting much… this was AH MA ZINNNNNGGGGGG. Holy fuck! Worth the frying trouble and calories… the crisp that dreams are made of! <3

  • Brittany Adams 2 years ago

    I just made this for dinner and it was delicious! When I was reheating the sauce to stir with the tofu I was worried it wouldn’t be enough, so I just added 1/2C of water and cooked it down a little. It worked out perfectly and I got extra sauce to add to my rice!
    Thanks Lauren, I’m such a fan!

  • Sdaf2 9 months ago

    The sauce was amazing, but the batter just did not work and the deep fry was mostly a fail. Will definitely use this sauce for sweet and sour recipes in the future though

    • Lauren Toyota 9 months ago

      deep frying takes some practice!

  • Victoria 8 months ago

    Just tried the baked-fry version of this and it turned out phenomenally! I added the corn starch, garlic, pepper and salt together in a large bowl then tossed the pressed tofu cubes into it dry rub. On an oiled baking sheet, I baked it at 425 for 35 mins. Results were pure perfection! Thanks for the idea!

  • Emily 6 months ago

    Baked the tofu and it turned out amazing

  • Britttheshit27 4 months ago

    I’ll be honest we didn’t make the sweet and sour sauce as we had some already! But omg the coating for the tofu made them so yummy and my fiancé knows I like it crispy so we cooked them a little longer then the recipe required! I am so thankful he stumbled upon your recipe as I think this batter would be good on most veggies as well! 🤗 yay thanks again! I definitely say fry over bake as the taste is different for sure.

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