This sticky and delicious vegan orange chicken uses tofu and is incredibly easy to make. In under 25 minutes you can have a tasty entree that's both healthy and decadent, as this recipe contains zero refined sugar or oil!
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Hey Internet, do you love Chinese takeout? I do, but I don't love the oil or additives.
A few months ago I veganized Beef and Broccoli, so I felt like it was time to do another: Orange Chicken!
The first time I tested this recipe, I used regular cane sugar. It works, and it looks more orange and authentic, however it's a lot of refined sugar.
So instead I subbed coconut sugar and it's both delicious and healthier (lower on the glycemic index).
This recipe uses baked tofu instead of fried to avoid oil. You could bread the tofu if you'd like a crispier edge, but I liked it as is.
You can save a lot of time in this recipe by using an air fryer -- I was able to make this in 15 minutes when I tested it.
But it will still work fine in the oven and still be ready in 25 ish minutes. :)
Alright, enough yapping, let's talk about the recipe.
What You'll Need
For this recipe I used super firm tofu, also sometimes known as extra firm or high protein tofu. It's just tofu that was pressed more (but started out as a bigger block).
You can use regular firm tofu (NOT silken) but you'll need to press out the extra water with a tofu press or some plates and a heavy book or item.
The sauce consists of orange juice (fresh or carton as preferred), low sodium tamari, coconut sugar, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, a little orange zest, chili flakes (optional), and arrowroot powder with a little water. For substitutions for any of these items, please see the Substitutions section.
I served my vegan orange chicken over rice, but I've also had it on salad. It's good by itself or with noodles, too.
I garnished it with sesame seeds, more chili flakes, and some fresh green onion. I don't like my garnishes to be just for show--these ones add to the flavor of the dish!
What Substitutions Can I Make?
Well, this recipe wouldn't be the same if I told you not to use tofu. You could use vegan chicken nuggets from the store, seitan chunks, soy curls, etc. with this sauce and it would probably turn out great.
Low Sodium Tamari
I don't really ever buy regular tamari or soy sauce so I can't say if those could be used here--they would be too salty for me. But if you are accustomed to them it might be fine for you.
I used coconut sugar in this recipe to avoid refined sugar. Refined cane sugar WILL work, and your sauce will be more orange, so if you'd like to use that, you can.
Brown sugar should also work, but liquid sweeteners like agave and maple syrup do not. You can use them, but your sauce will not be as thick or sticky.
Rice vinegar is a really nice vinegar to have on hand for Asian style sauces and dressings, but you can sub white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar in a pinch. Mirin would also work here if you have it.
Ginger and Garlic
These aromatics are best fresh so I used that, but the powdered versions work fine. You can add as much or as little as you like according to your taste buds.
I added these for a little spice, but you can skip them if you're not into spicy. You could also substitute them with a little sriracha.
I used arrowroot powder in this recipe because I had some, but corn starch also works just fine. Other thickeners may work, but I haven't tested them.
How to Make Vegan Orange Chicken
This entreee is pretty dang easy to make.
As mentioned before, I did not bread or season my tofu before cooking, but you may if you like.
First, start baking or air frying your tofu.
If baking, I like to use a silicone mat lined pan. I feel it contributes to the crispy edge of the tofu but I don't have to keep throwing away parchment paper.
Heat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (or 218 degrees Celsius). Cube your tofu and spread the cubes in a single layer on the pan.
Bake for a total of 25 minutes, flipping the tofu halfway.
If airfrying, add your tofu to your airfryer basket and cook at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (or 205 degrees Celsius) for 15 minutes, shaking the basket every 5 minutes to get an even crisp.
Making the Sauce
While the tofu is cooking, add the ginger and the garlic to a medium or large sauce pan and saute it over medium high heat with a tablespoon or two of water for about 1-2 minutes.
Mix the tamari, orange juice, coconut sugar, chili flakes if using, and rice vinegar into the pot and stir well to dissolve the sugar. Heat for a few minutes.
Mix the arrowroot powder or corn starch with the water in a separate bowl and dissolve the powder. Pour it into your sauce pan and whisk to combine.
Stir constantly for the next 3-4 minutes. Once your sauce begins to bubble, you can turn the heat down to medium and stir until it becomes thick and syrupy. Turn off the heat.
When your tofu is done, add it to the pan and stir well to coat the tofu. Serve it over rice, garnish, and you're done!
Other Asian Inspired Recipes
If you like this recipe, I suggest you try some of my other Asian-inspired recipes!
And if you're looking for 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. This Vegan Orange Chicken is:
- and PACKED with umami flavor!
Let me know in the comments below if you make these onions, 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!