Saucy, sweet, and spicy, this creamy Bang Bang Tofu is a fun vegan twist on a popular appetizer. It’s so protein packed and easy to make that it can be enjoyed as a snack, appetizer, or even as a main course.
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Hey Internet, I first heard about bang bang sauce as a pop culture reference and had to know what it was with such an interesting name, hah. Unfortunately I heard about it AFTER going vegan, so I never had the original dish: bang bang shrimp.
However, thanks to the internet (thanks y’all), I was able to find many recipes and articles, enabling me to discern what it was supposed to taste like and give me a jumping off point to make my own recipe.
The sauce is simple, it’s pretty much just Thai sweet chili sauce (which can be bought at most stores or homemade), (vegan) mayo, and added sriracha because hello, spicy!
The fact that shrimp is mainly what this sauce is supposed to go with is just semantics. I was ready to make a vegan bang bang sauce and throw it on tofu that night!
And of course, you could just make the sauce and use it as a dip, or coat other things in it like tempeh, soy curls, seitan, or even cauliflower wings.
But the (ridiculously) easy way I make baked (or air fried) crispy tofu is just delicious and I thought I could show you both the awesome sauce and the awesome tofu technique at the same time.
Ready? Let’s go.
What You’ll Need: For the Baked or Air Fried Tofu
- Super firm tofu: We’re talking about the kind that comes vacuum sealed in plastic, not in a tub of water. If all you can find is firm tofu submerged in water, drain the package and press the tofu for about a half hour in a tofu press or between two cutting boards or plates and a heavy weight.
- Arrowroot powder or cornstarch: It’s not an absolute necessity to bread the tofu but it does give it a crisp crust and something for the sauce to cling to. I use arrowroot powder or cornstarch as half of the equation for a nice crispy crust.
- Panko: Regular panko or gluten-free panko (or any other bread crumbs or rice crumbs are fine) is the other half of the equation. For a less crispy crust, try using nutritional yeast instead. Great flavor.
- Garlic and onion powder: Optional, but nice to season the tofu with since you’re going to the trouble of breading it, though my method is so ridiculously quick and easy that you’ll laugh at me.
What You’ll Need: For the Vegan Bang Bang Sauce
- Thai Sweet Chili Sauce: This sauce is easily found in the Asian section of grocery stores, at Asian markets, or in health food stores. You can also buy Thai Sweet Chili Sauce online or try making it yourself. I found this recipe online that looks pretty good--I’d use organic sugar to keep it vegan (non-organic sugar is sometimes filtered through animal bone char).
- Vegan mayo: You can buy it at the store, but I also have a really good vegan mayo recipe on my site. Use tofu as suggested or use cashews, sunflower seeds, or even hemp seeds as the base and make it in less than 5 minutes.
- Sriracha: It’s optional, but I highly recommend adding some sriracha to taste.
- Nutritional yeast: This is NOT traditional but I liked the savory boost a little nutritional yeast added to the sauce, plus it helped thicken it up some.
- Sea salt: This may not be necessary if you use store bought vegan mayo, but I found that I was just missing a little saltiness in this recipe so I added a pinch. Feel free to omit if desired.
How to Make Bang Bang Tofu:
- If using the oven method (see below), preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (218 degrees Celsius) and line a baking tray with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
- Mix the arrowroot powder or cornstarch, panko, garlic powder, and onion powder in a large (gallon size) reusable food storage bag or ziplock bag. OR, add to a large container (preferably with a lid so you can just shake it, but a bowl will work with a utensil or your hands to mix it with).
- Prepare the tofu by cubing it and immediately adding it to the bag or bowl (while it’s still wet so the breading will stick), then shake the bag or stir the tofu until completely coated in the mixture.
- Oven method: Bake tofu for 30-40 minutes (or until crispy enough for your liking), flipping each piece at the 20 minute mark and placing the tray in, rotating it from the original position it was in.
- Air fryer method: Add prepped tofu (see above) to the air fryer basket and cook for 12-18 minutes (or until crispy enough for your liking), shaking the basket every 5-6 minutes or so.
- While the tofu is cooking, mix the sauce ingredients in the base of a large bowl so you can add your cooked tofu directly to the bowl.
- When tofu is fully cooked, toss with the sauce and serve immediately. I like to let mine cool for 5-10 minutes and then add it to a green leaf lettuce lined bowl or plate. Sprinkle it with green onions and enjoy!
- Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
More Awesome Tofu Recipes
Wondering what else you can do with tofu? It’s only my FAVORITE meat alternative and so versatile. Here’s some of my favorites on the blog using this cheap and awesome protein:
- Tofu Adobo
- Vegan Orange Chicken
- Vegan Tofu Beef and Broccoli
- Kung Pao Tofu
- Tofu Poke Bowl
- Weeknight Vegetable Curry with Tofu
- Tofu Buddha Bowl
- Vegan Mozzarella Stretchy Cheese (yes, using tofu)
- Vegan Brie (I’m telling you tofu is magical)
- Vegan Cheddar (yup I went there)
- And if you're looking for even more tofu dishes, check out this post I made with all my best tofu recipes.
As always, I hope you love this recipe--I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too.
This Bang Bang Tofu is:
- Sassy (yes, tofu can be sassy)
- Perfect for serving to guests
- And oh so delicious!
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!