This sticky and delicious vegan orange chicken uses tofu and is incredibly easy to make. Ready in under 25 minutes!
- 2 - 16 oz packages (454g each) super firm / high protein tofu (see note 1)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 inch peeled ginger, grated or minced
- 1.5 cups orange juice (fresh squeezed or store bought)
- 1/2 cup organic cane sugar or coconut sugar (see note 2)
- 3 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes / red pepper flakes, optional and to taste
- 3 tablespoons arrowroot powder or cornstarch
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 - 2 teaspoons orange zest
- Cooked jasmine rice
- Sliced green onions
- More chili flakes / red pepper flakes
- Toasted sesame seeds
- NOTE: If you did not buy super firm tofu (the kind that comes vacuum sealed), drain out all the water and press the block of tofu in either a tofu press or between two plates/cutting boards with a heavy weight on them for 20-30 minutes. Waterlogged tofu will not get very crispy.
- Start your tofu using one of the methods below. If you are baking or air frying your tofu, you can choose to leave it plain, toss it in a small amount of oil before cooking, or breading it like with my crispy tofu or panko tofu. Sometimes leaving it plain can dry it out somewhat--but you’re going to be adding it to a sauce so it’s not unpleasant, just personal opinion.
- Air Fryer Method: Add tofu cubes to your air fryer in a single layer if possible. Set it at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 degrees Celsius) for 15 minutes and shake the basket halfway through. Check the crispness. If you desire the tofu to be more crispy, cook for longer or you can give it a misting of avocado (or other) oil if you like and then cook it for a few more minutes. 15-17 minutes usually works perfectly for me.
- Oven Method: Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (218 degrees Celsius) while you prep your tofu. Place tofu cubes on a baking tray lined either with a silicone baking mat (I find this gets the tofu crisper) or parchment paper. Bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping the tofu and rotating the pan halfway through.
- Pan Fry Method: Heat a generous amount of high heat oil in a large skillet. Once the oil is hot enough (you can test this using a wooden skewer. When inserted into the oil, little bubbles should rapidly form around the end of the skewer when the oil is hot enough). Add tofu (tossed in cornstarch or arrowroot powder for best results) in a single layer and spaced at least a half inch apart. Depending on how big your cubes are and how crowded your pan is, cook for a few minutes and flip. Cook and flip until tofu is lightly golden brown then transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil.
- While the tofu is cooking, prepare your sauce in a large nonstick pot (I like to use nonstick to reduce the need for oil, but use what you’re comfortable with).
- Saute garlic and ginger: Either add a small amount of oil to your pan OR you may cook with water if you like--and saute your garlic and ginger for about a minute over medium heat, stirring frequently.
- Add the orange juice, sugar, soy sauce / gluten-free tamari, and rice vinegar to the pot. You can add some chili flakes now so they get soft and mix into the sauce or you can leave them as a garnish if you prefer. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves, then let the mixture come to a simmer.
- Prepare thickener: In a small jar or bowl, mix together the water and arrowroot powder or cornstarch until a slurry forms. Pour that into the pot and stir well. Cook until thickened considerably, about 3-4 minutes.
- Toss tofu with sauce: When the tofu is done, turn the heat to low on your sauce pot and add the tofu to the pot. Gently stir in the tofu until completely coated. Prefer it crisper? Serve right away. Want to make it more like sticky tofu? Cook it down for a few minutes in the sauce (turn the heat to medium low and stir frequently). Toss with orange zest and remove from heat.
- Serve orange tofu and plenty of sauce over cooked jasmine rice and sprinkle green onions (and chili flakes) on top. Or add toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy!
- Store: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days in an airtight container.
- Note 1: For this recipe, we want to use the tofu in vacuum-sealed plastic, not a tub of water. If you only have firm or extra firm tofu (that comes in water), you’ll want to drain the tub and press the block of tofu. You can substitute soy curls, seitan chunks, or store-bought vegan chicken pieces--breaded or not.
- Note 2: For the authentic color and more sweetness, use organic cane sugar in this recipe. If you’d like to use a less refined option, try coconut sugar. Yes, your orange tofu may look more brown, but it still tastes great.
- Note 3: If you WOULD like to bread your tofu, check out my panko tofu or regular crispy tofu and add that to your vegan orange chicken.
- Note 4: Don’t use too much orange zest or it can become bitter (I speak from experience).
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop, airfryer
- Cuisine: Asian, Chinese
Keywords: Vegan, Oil-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Refined Sugar-Free