This Orange Tofu is an easy weeknight meal made with tender-crispy tofu coated in a sticky-sweet orange sauce. It’s a healthy vegan dinner idea and you can make the tofu in the air fryer, oven or stove and so much better than takeout. Gluten-free, grain-free, vegan and low carb.
Updated February 2021
Healthy Orange Tofu Recipe
Looking for a delicious vegan dinner idea to rival those Panda Express cravings? This crispy Orange Tofu is healthy, flavorful and has all the flavors of the popular Orange Chicken dish that you get from North American Chinese takeout restaurants.
Extra firm tofu is battered, then coated in crispy grain-free crushed almond flour crackers and baked, air fried or pan-fried until crispy. It then gets coated in an Asian-inspired sweet and sticky orange sauce. Serve the orange tofu with this easy vegetable stir-fry, a side of cauliflower rice and you get a healthy and delicious plant-based dinner.
Why we love this easy tofu recipe
This healthy tofu recipe works with a number of special diets. It’s gluten-free, vegan, paleo and can easily be low carb depending on the crackers you use.
The sweet and savory elements give this meal an unforgettable flavor profile and totally kid and family friendly. And it’s all topped off with a sprinkle of sesame seeds, green onions and chopped parsley! You can easily make it ahead of time so it works great for Sunday meal prep too!
This orange tofu uses gluten-free ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen pantry. You can make the tofu using the air fryer, oven or on the stovetop. Serve with your favorite veggies or use different seasonings if you like.
We like to pair ours with cauliflower rice and finished off with a sprinkle of sesame seeds!
For the crispy batter:
- Tofu: Opt for extra firm tofu. For best results, be sure to drain and press beforehand. You can check out my post on how to cook tofu for a tutorial. The key to making this orange tofu mimic the look of orange chicken is to tear the tofu. That makes them look more like chicken nuggets.
- Arrowroot starch – works like cornstarch to make the tofu nice and crispy
- Apple Cider Vinegar: adds
- Unsweetened almond milk or preferred plant milk.
- Salt + Black pepper, to taste
For an extra crispy coating:
- Crackers – instead of panko crumbs to make the tofu extra crispy and keeping them grain-free, we used Simple Mills Almond Flour crackers but you can also use Hu’s Kitchen Grain-Free Crackers, Real Phat Foods crackers or any other low carb or keto cracker. If you don’t have crackers, you can also sub with any kind of crushed breadcrumbs.
For the sweet and savory orange sauce:
- Orange juice and orange zest: adds that bright orange flavor. You’ll need about 2-3 medium oranges. Be sure to wash and dry the oranges before using the zest.
- Coconut aminos: our favorite soy-free and gluten-free sub for Tamari and soy sauce.
- Apple cider vinegar: gives the sauce a nice tang. You can also use rice vinegar if preferred.
- Optional sweetener: we used coconut sugar for a touch of sweetness. You can skip the sugar or use date syrup OR Lakanto sugar-free maple syrup or yacon syrup for low carb / keto
- Sesame Oil: The nutty flavor of sesame oil is a must for this stir fry!
- Arrowroot starch – works like cornstarch to thicken the sauce (sub with 1/4 tsp xanthan gum for keto)
- Salt + Black Pepper + optional Red pepper chili flakes: for flavor, to taste.
- Garlic Cloves: You’ll need about 3.
- Ginger: Freshly grated ginger adds a wonderful warmth to this dish that intensifies the other flavors.
- Fresh herbs: We like to garnish with some freshly chopped green onions and parsley, for a touch of freshness.
- Cauliflower Rice: This gluten-free rice substitute is so quick and easy to make, with or without a food processor!
- Sesame seeds – Sprinkle some sesame seeds over your stir fry for a top-of-the-line garnish.
- Cauliflower rice
- Broccoli: Wash, dry and cut the broccoli into florets
- Bok Choy: You’ll want to wash and cut the bok choy into quarters, lengthwise.
How to Make Orange Tofu
This flavorful better than takeout dinner cooks up in no time. Then, just serve it over cauliflower rice and add the sesame seeds to finish it off!
- Prepare Tofu:
- Tear or cut the tofu into 1-inch chunks.
- Make the Batter: Mix together ingredients for the batter. Toss the tofu into the batter.
- For an extra crispy coating: Dip each piece of tofu into a bowl of finely crushed crackers, making sure each piece is evenly coated.
- Cook the tofu using your preferred method:
- Bake tofu in the oven: Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until golden and crispy, flipping each piece halfway through.
- Air fry tofu: Add the tofu into the air fryer basket in a single layer, (you will have to cook batches). Air Fry at 375F for 15 minutes, or until golden and crispy, flipping halfway through.
- Pan fry tofu: Heat 3 Tbsp avocado oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once the pan is nice and hot, add tofu, in a single layer (you may have to cook in batches) and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side until, golden brown and crispy.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce:
- In a large pot or wok, whisk together the sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-heat, allowing to bubble for 1 minute. Once boiling, bring the heat down to medium and cook until the sauce is thick and glossy, about 2-3 minutes. Add more water, as needed to thin out sauce to desired consistency.
- Coat tofu with sauce: Once tofu and sauce are done, add tofu to the pot and heat on medium. Use tongs or chopsticks to toss gently, until every piece is coated and heated through.
- Serve with Rice & Sesame Seeds: Remove from heat, sprinkle with green onions, parsley, sesame seeds and serve with cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles, or Jasmine rice, if not grain-free.
Want to tweak this recipe? No problem! It’s so easy to customize with your favorite ingredients. Here are a few tasty stir fry variations to try:
- Make it Spicier: If you’d like to add some heat to your stir fry, mix in some more red pepper flakes or chili paste, to taste.
- Serve Over Noodles or Pasta: Not feeling the cauliflower rice? This dish would taste great over your favorite grain-free or gluten-free pasta or zucchini noodles instead.
- Add Nuts: Need more crunch for your munch? Peanuts or walnuts would be a very yummy addition to this dish.
- Sub Tofu: If desired, you can replace the tofu any kind of vegan meat substitute you prefer. If you’re not vegan or vegetarian, you can totally use chopped chicken or beef instead of tofu. Don’t be afraid to play around with the protein in your stir fry.
Tips for the Best Orange Tofu
This recipe is fast and fabulous, especially if you bear in mind these quick tips and suggestions.
- Use Extra Firm Tofu: Extra-firm tofu has a low liquid content that makes it optimal for stir frying. Even so, I still recommend removing as much moisture as you can. Do this by applying pressure on the block of tofu with a paper towel for 5-10 minutes.
- Remove Moisture From Tofu: Before you make your stir fry, you’ll want to remove as much liquid as possible from your tofu. This will ensure that it cooks up nice and crispy. Draw out the moistre by sandwiching your block of tofu between two paper towels and weighing it down with a heavy plate or two.
This vegan stir fry is a hearty meal on its own, but there are also plenty of other dishes it goes great with, like these ones.
- Pair with Salad: This easy Kale Salad is always a great stir fry side dish. It’s vegan as well!
- Serve with Spring Rolls: You can’t go wrong by pairing your stir fry with some Authentic Chinese Spring Rolls. Bake them, fry them, or cook them in the air fryer.
- Pair with Potatoes: Nothing is more comforting than a hot, creamy serving of Mashed Potatoes. My Instant Pot recipe is so easy to throw together and such a great side for this tofu stir fry
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Leftover orange tofu should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. It will keep well for up to 5 days. You can reheat your stir fry in the microwave in 15-second increments or warm it over low heat on the stove.
Can I Freeze Extras?
You can definitely freeze your leftovers if you’d like. However, the texture of the veggies won’t be as crispy after they’ve been frozen. If you don’t mind this, then go ahead and freeze your stir fry for up to 2 months. Just thaw it out in the fridge before you reheat it.
More healthy tofu recipes:
This Orange Tofu is an easy weeknight meal made with tender-crispy tofu coated in a sticky-sweet orange sauce. It's a healthy vegan dinner idea and so much better than takeout. Gluten-free, grain-free, vegan and low carb.
- 1 14-ounce block extra-firm tofu, pressed and drained
- 1/2 cup unsweetened plant milk , I used unsweetened almond milk
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar , or regular vinegar
- 1/4 cup arrowroot starch
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup finely crushed grain-free crackers , I used Simple Mills Almond Flour Grain-Free Crackers - you can crush them in a ziplock bag using a rolling pin or pulse them in a food processor. Use Hu's Kitchen Grain-Free Crackers, Real Phat Foods Grain-Free Crackers or preferred keto crackers for low carb. If you don't have crackers, you can also sub with any kind of crushed breadcrumbs.
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice , about 2-3 oranges
- 1 1/4 tsp orange zest
- 1/4 cup coconut aminos
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar
- 1-2 tsp pure maple syrup , (or sub with coconut sugar, date syrup, Yacon syrup or preferred liquid sweetener)
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 tbsp freshly grated or minced ginger
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- Fine sea salt + black pepper
, to taste
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes optional or to taste
- 1/2 tbsp arrowroot starch , or tapioca starch
- Thinly sliced green onion, freshly chopped parsley and toasted sesame seeds
- Cauliflower rice , zoodles or Jasmine rice if not grain-free
Prepare Tofu: Tear or cut the tofu into 1-inch chunks. (Tearing the tofu makes them resemble chicken nuggets).
Make the Batter: Mix together all the ingredients for the batter. Toss the tofu into the batter.
For an extra crispy coating: Dip each piece of tofu into a bowl of finely crushed crackers, making sure each piece is evenly coated.
Bake tofu in the oven: Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until golden and crispy, flipping each piece halfway through.
Air fry tofu: Add the tofu into the air fryer basket in a single layer, (you will have to cook batches). Air Fry at 375F for 15 minutes, or until golden and crispy, flipping halfway through.
Pan fry tofu: Heat 3 Tbsp avocado oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once the pan is nice and hot, add tofu, in a single layer (you may have to cook in batches) and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, until golden brown and crispy.
Meanwhile, in a large pot or wok, whisk together the orange juice, orange zest, coconut aminos, vinegar, optional sweetener, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper and chili flakes. Bring to a boil over medium-heat, allowing to boil for 1 minute. Once boiling, bring the heat down to medium and cook until the sauce is thick and glossy, about 2-3 minutes. Add more water, as needed to thin out sauce to desired consistency.
Coat tofu with sauce: Once the tofu and sauce are done, add the tofu to the pot and heat on medium. Use tongs or chopsticks to toss gently, until every piece is coated and heated through.
Serve with Rice & Sesame Seeds: Remove from the heat, sprinkle with green onions, parsley, sesame seeds and serve with cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles, or Jasmine rice, if not grain-free.