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Sticky Tofu

  • Author: Liz Madsen
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 cups 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


This ridiculously delicious Sticky Tofu might just be one of the best things I’ve ever made. It’s incredibly easy to make.


Units Scale


  • 1-16 oz package (454g) super firm tofu (see note 1)
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch (see note 2)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (see note 3)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt


  • 1 batch vegan teriyaki sauce or other (about 2 cups, see note 4)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup organic cane sugar (see note 5)


  • Green onion
  • Sesame seeds


  1. Prep 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 and fry until lightly golden on each side and then blot with a paper towel.
  2. Bread tofu: Add the arrowroot powder or cornstarch, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, ginger powder, and salt to a large reusable bag, container, or a zip top bag and mix it all around. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Start the sauce: 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. And use the larger pot since you’ll be stirring the tofu into it after the sauce has cooked down a bit.
  6. Cook down the sauce: 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.
  7. Add the tofu and cook down more: When the tofu is done, add it straight to the pot and 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, usually about 6 minutes after adding the tofu for me.
  8. Serve: 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.
  9. Store: Refrigerate leftover tofu (what? how?) in an airtight container for up to 4-5 days.


  • Note 1: 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 either a tofu press or two plates or cutting boards, paper towels, and a heavy weight (like books or a cast iron pan) to press the tofu for 20-30 minutes before beginning. Otherwise it may turn out soggy. The other option you have is taking soft tofu, tossing pieces of it in cornstarch, and pan frying it in a neutral 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.
  • Note 2: 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--more crispy, then chewy after you cook it in the sticky sauce. This method helps us get more flavor overall.
  • Note 3: I know it sounds strange but it’s super savory and delicious here--and no, it does not make the tofu taste cheesy. The flakes of the tofu also contribute to the great texture of the breading, but you can use panko or crushed corn flakes if you prefer.
  • Note 4: 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.
  • Note 5: 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.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Stove top, air fryer
  • Cuisine: American, Chinese

Keywords: Vegan, Oil-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Sticky Tofu