This ridiculously delicious Sticky Tofu might just be one of the best things I’ve ever made. It’s incredibly easy to make, customize, and it goes with basically everything.
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Hey Internet, I’ve sure made and enjoyed my fair share of tofu over the years, but really this sticky tofu might be the best thing I’ve ever made.
I took my existing vegan teriyaki sauce (though I’ll explain later this can work almost any sauce, including store-bought), boiled it down while I made some air-fried (baked or pan fried works too) tofu, and then cooked the tofu in the sauce until it literally started to stick together.
Pulling that tofu apart with chopsticks and watching the strings form is SO completely satisfying, like dipping a spoon into a new jar of peanut butter or something. Dang.
Possibly my favorite thing about this dish is that it’s what I call a primary component.
That means two things: You can eat it on it’s own, but you can also eat it as the primary component of another dish.
What kind of dish? It could be simple, like here I just served it with steamed broccoli and white jasmine rice.
It could be a buddha or nourish bowl of sorts, like this tofu buddha bowl recipe I already have--just sub the crispy tofu for this tofu and you’ve got yourself a delish and nourishing bowl.
It’d also be great as the replacement of the sesame ginger tofu in my vegan poke bowl recipe.
Or basically anything else you can think of: with potatoes, rice, quinoa, other vegetables in any style of cooking… even eat it alongside another dish or by itself. There are no rules here, only good food.
Man, that should have been my tagline.
This sweet, chewy, sticky tofu is so easy to make that I am almost ready to tell you how to make it.
But you know the drill, first we have to talk about what you’ll need and some possible substitutions.
What You’ll Need
- Super Firm Tofu: For this recipe, we want 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 can still make my sticky tofu. You’ll want to press this tofu, using a tofu press or two plates or cutting boards, paper towels, and a heavy weight (like books or a cast iron pan. Press the tofu for 20-30 minutes before beginning. Otherwise it may turn out soggy. You could also toss pieces of soft tofu in cornstarch, and pan fry it in a high heat oil. Because of how much faster and easier it is, I recommend the super firm tofu if you can find it. I can usually find it in my local supermarket, Trader Joe’s, Asian market, and even Costco. You could also just substitute soy curls, seitan chunks, or store-bought vegan chicken pieces--breaded or not.
- Arrowroot powder or cornstarch: Part 1 of the tofu’s breading (garbanzo bean flour will also work). You’re also welcome to bake or air fry the tofu without any breading, but I think the texture’s better this way. It's more crispy, then chewy after you cook it in the sticky sauce. This method helps us get more flavor overall.
- Nutritional yeast: Part 2 of the tofu’s breading! I know it sounds strange but it’s super savory and delicious here. No, it does not make the tofu taste cheesy. The flakes also contribute to the great texture. Substitute panko or crushed corn flakes if you prefer.
- Spices for the breading: I use garlic powder, onion powder, ginger powder, and a little sea salt for this dish, but use what you like.
- Sauce: I used my homemade vegan teriyaki sauce (SO EASY) for this, but you can use virtually any other sauce. This tofu would be great with any of the sauces from my sticky orange tofu, sweet and sour tofu, or vegan general tso’s chicken. You can also use a store-bought sauce. The trick to getting it really sticky is boiling it down. It matters if there’s sugar in the sauce or not. You need a fair amount of sugar if you really want that sticky factor. Otherwise you can cook it and add an arrowroot powder or cornstarch slurry... (Try 2 tablespoons arrowroot/cornstarch whisked into ¼ cup water and mix it in when the sauce is bubbling over medium high heat--this will only thicken it, not make it super sticky.) You NEED the sugar to get it sticky.
- Organic cane sugar: SO this is optional, IF your sauce already has sugar in it but you want this stuff REALLY STICKY. If you want to add sugar, just add it at the same time as your sauce and whisk well while it heats up until the sugar dissolves. Organic cane sugar is important because non-organic sugar can be filtered using animal bone char and the United States does not require companies to disclose this information. So stick with the organic cane sugar unless you’re sure your brand is OK.
- Garnish: sesame seeds, green onions, anything else you like
How to Make Sticky Tofu
- Start by prepping your tofu--press it first if you are not using super firm tofu. I have instructions for both air frying and baking below. If pan-frying, just use a neutral high heat oil in a deep, heavy pan. Fry until lightly golden on each side and then blot with a paper towel.
- Add the arrowroot powder or cornstarch, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, ginger powder, and salt to a container or zip top bag. Shake the bag or container to mix the breading. Cube the tofu and while it’s still wet, add the cubes to the bag or container. Seal it, then shake it all around for a minute to coat the tofu completely in the mixture.
- If Air Frying: Add the coated tofu to your air fryer basket or tray in a single layer and cook for about 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 degrees Celsius). Make sure to shake the basket or flip the tofu halfway through so it cooks evenly.
- If Baking: Bake for 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 degrees Celsius) until the tofu is lightly browned and a little crispy. Make sure to flip the tofu halfway through so it cooks evenly. You can continue cooking if you want it crispier.
- When the tofu has about 10 minutes left, start cooking down the sauce. Do this in a medium to large nonstick pot. The sauce might stick a bit anyway, but not as bad as it would in a stainless steel pot. Use the larger pot since you’ll be stirring the tofu into it after the sauce has cooked down a bit.
- So add your sauce to the pot and cook over medium high heat until it starts bubbling. Stir it every so often. If you want super sticky sauce and the sauce you’re using doesn’t already have a lot of sugar in it (like my vegan teriyaki sauce, isn’t super sugary), some organic sugar straight to the pot and whisk it into the sauce. This will help it get really sticky and concentrated.
- When the tofu is done, add it straight to the pot. Stir with a heat safe spatula or cooking spoon. Coat the tofu well, and continue to cook down for about 5-10 more minutes, stirring frequently. The sauce will start to really thicken and stick to the tofu. Just keep stirring and cooking until it’s at your desired stickiness. This takes usually about 6 minutes after adding the tofu for me.
- Serve up your tofu with some rice and your favorite veggie--or whatever else you like--and enjoy! I like to garnish the sticky tofu with sesame seeds and sliced green onions.
- Refrigerate leftover tofu (what? how?) in an airtight container for up to 4-5 days.
More Tofu Dishes You Might Like
If you liked this tofu dish, try a few of these favorites:
- Vegan Orange Chicken
- Vegan Beef and Broccoli
- Sweet and Sour Tofu
- Tofu Poke Bowl
- Vegan Kung Pao Chicken
- Tofu Buddha Bowl
- Tofu Adobo
And if you like tofu and want more recipes on how to use this versatile protein, check out my compilation of the best tofu recipes.
As always, I hope you love this recipe--I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too. Seriously we were scraping the sticky goo out of the pot with our fingers out of dinner, it was so good.
This sticky tofu is:
- Sticky (I’d hope)
- Perfect for many different kinds of dishes
- Quick to make
- 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!