This Crispy General Tso's Tofu is easy to make and takes less than 30 minutes! The tofu is crispy whether you pan-fry it or bake it, and the sauce is sweet, tangy, and spicy. It's everything you want in General Tso's!
General Tso's anything is undeniably one of the most ordered and loved dishes customer order from my parents' restaurant. And if you're a vegetarian and vegan, General Tso's Tofu is probably one of your favorites. To be honest, I'm nooo where near vegetarian or vegan, and I absolutely LOVE General Tso's Tofu. So here you are: crispy General Tso's tofu that can be baked or pan-fried!
And if you are looking for other Chinese take-out recipes, you may want to try these:
- The BEST Chinese Pork Dumplings
- Restaurant Style Mongolian Beef
- Baked Orange Cauliflower "Chicken"
- Simple Egg Fried Rice
- Easy 10-Minute Egg Drop Soup
Now let's dive into making General Tso's Tofu with some tips and FAQs!
How do you pronounce General Tso's?
That is a great question! Over the years that I've worked at my parents' Chinese restaurant, the pronunciation of General Tso's has been one of the biggest controversies. I am here to debunk that mystery for you! The "t" in Tso's is actually silent like in words such as tsunami. Therefore Tso's is pronounced like "so," but with an s. You're welcome. 😉
What does tofu taste like?
Not going to lie, tofu is pretty bland and tastes like soy milk in solid form, which is basically what tofu is. But because tofu is bland, it lends itself really well to all sorts of flavors and sauces. One of my favorite ways to use tofu is to add it to dishes with strong sauces or soups that have strong flavors. Tofu's blandness helps balance out all strong flavors, add freshness to a dish, and makes sauces and seasonings the stars of each bite.
Use firm tofu.
We highly recommend using firm tofu for dishes that require some rough handling like stir-frying, sautéing, frying, etc. The softer tofus won't be able to handle most of the tossing and will break apart easily.
Our go to brand is House Foods.
Is General Tso's Tofu vegan?
Usually, General Tso's Tofu from Chinese restaurants are vegan, if not, at least vegetarian. But you know what is guaranteed vegan? This General Tso's Tofu recipe! Whether you pan-fry or bake the tofu, it is guaranteed vegan. 😊
How should I cut the tofu for General Tso's Tofu?
It's really up to personal preference what shape to cut your tofu into. We prefer to cut our tofus into large, one inch cubes because it's easy and, to us, a good ratio of sauce to tofu. But feel free cut it into whatever size and shape you wish.
Dry the tofu as much as possible.
If you've worked with tofus before, you probably noticed how much water tofus, especially the firm ones, can retain. Since General Tso's Tofu is best when the tofu is crispy, we highly recommend drying the tofu if you have the time.
To dry the tofu:
- Drain the water and tofu from its packaging. Gently press the tofu between your hands to squeeze out some water. Then, press the tofu between between a couple sheets of paper towel to soak up more moisture.
- If you are really dedicated, you can even go as far as drying the tofu individually once it's diced.
- You can also press the tofu overnight in the fridge, under even weights with paper towel to soak up the excess moisture.
Is it better to fry the tofu or to bake it?
Our answer will always be FRY it! Because there's rarely circumstances where an alternative cooking method can make food crispier and tastier than frying or pan-frying. And for General Tso's Tofu, frying makes the best and crispiest tofu.
Instead of deep frying the tofu, we pan-fried it to use less oil. So it's healthier right? 😝
However, lucky for you, we found a way to bake tofu that'll stay crispy for more than just a few seconds.
How to prepare bake tofu for General Tso's:
To bake tofu for General Tso's Tofu, we start by whisking together a wet batter made of flour, water, and a small amount oil. Make sure it is thoroughly mixed and the batter is smooth because lumps are no bueno. You can also add seasonings to it if you wish, but it's not necessary.
Next, toss the cubed tofu in the wet batter and coat it lightly. Tap away as much excess batter as possible to keep the batter from pooling. Our forks were a great help during this process.
We seasoned our batter with some salt, pepper, and garlic powder, but it's not really necessary.
Place the battered tofu on a sheet pan lined with parchment. We highly recommend greasing the parchment with some oil to prevent the tofu from getting stuck to the parchment after baking.
Bake the tofu at 425F for about 22 minutes or until they are golden brown and crispy. In the middle of baking, we recommend flipping each individual tofu so that they can bake evenly.
These baked General Tso's Tofu looks just as good as the pan-fried ones. 😍 Are you drooling? Cuz we areeee!
Why use cornstarch when frying tofu?
Ever wonder how Korean fried chicken is so crispy? The secret ingredient is cornstarch! Likewise with frying tofu, battering it with cornstarch will result in extra crispy tofu for your General Tso's Tofu.
We recommend tossing cornstarch and cubed tofu in a plastic bags, like gallon size Ziploc bags, to easily and evenly coat each cubes of tofu. It is important to work fast once the tofu makes contact with the cornstarch because the cornstarch will start to clump up immediate when in contact with moisture.
Can I make my General Tso's sauce ahead of time?
Absolutely! The base sauce of this General Tso's recipe can be make ahead of time and be good up to a week if stored in the fridge, in an airtight container. If you LOVE the sauce, you can even make a large batch of the sauce base and use it throughout the week.
Cook with love,
If you’ve made this recipe or any recipe from our blog, please tag us on Instagram @twoplaidparons! We would love to see your creations! It absolutely makes our day! 🥰
Pan-Fried or Baked General Tso's Tofu
- 1 block firm tofu (14 ounce)
For General Tso's sauce:
- ¼ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup water
- 3 Tablespoon granulated sugar (or to taste)
- 2½ Tablespoon vinegar, white or apple cider (or to taste)
- 1½ teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 stalk green onion, sliced (separate the whites and greens)
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (or to taste)
- 1½ teaspoon cornstarch (mixed with 1 tablespoon of cold water for slurry)
For pan-fried tofu:
- ½ cup cornstarch
- Vegetable oil (for pan-frying)
For baked tofu:
- 1¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1⅓ cup water
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
- Drain the excess liquid from the tofu then gently press the whole block of tofu between two sheets of paper towel to drain more moisture.Cut the tofu into 1 inch cubes.*After cutting the tofu block into cubes, you can drain more moisture by gently squeezing each cube between some paper towel. This will allow your tofu to stay crispier, longer.*
If pan-frying tofu:
- Coat the bottom of a sauté pan with about ¼ inch of oil. Heat the pan on medium low heat.
- Meanwhile, gently coat the cubed tofu with cornstarch and dust off excess.*I recommend gently tossing the cubed tofu and cornstarch in a closed Ziploc bag.*
- When the oil is hot*, place each cube of tofu individually into the oil and let it fry for about 5 minutes until it's crispy and turns a light golden color. Flip the tofu cubes and repeat with the other side.Once the tofu cubes are crispy and light gold in color, remove them from the oil, and let them drain on paper towels.
If baking tofu:
- Preheat the oven to 425°F and prepare a sheet pan lined with a sheet of lightly greased parchment paper.
- Whisk together flour, water, and oil until emulsified and smooth.
- Coat each cube of tofu with the batter and tap off excess. You only want a thin coat. Place the battered tofu on the prepared sheet pan and repeat with remaining tofu cubes.
- Bake the tofu for 12 minutes. Then flip each tofu and bake them for an additional 10 minutes or until they are golden brown and crispy.
Make the General Tso's sauce:
- Whisk together all the ingredients for the General Tso's sauce except for garlic, green onion, red pepper, and cornstarch.
- In a sauté pan over medium low heat, add a small amount of oil. Add the minced garlic, the whites of the green onion, and the crushed red pepper. Sauté until aromatic.
- Add the previously made sauce base to the pan and bring it up to a low simmer.Drizzle in the cornstarch slurry and stir the sauce until the slurry is well incorporated and thickened.
- Add the pan-fried or baked tofu to the sauce and toss until well coated.
- Garnish the tofu some sliced green onion, and serve it with some steamed white rice. Enjoy the tofu while they're hot and crispy.