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Kung Pao Tofu

Kung Pao Tofu redefines the term plant-based dinner. With crunchy cashews and lots of veggies doused in a healthy dose of spicy Kung Pao sauce, it’s a vegan dinner that hits the spot.


Kung Pao Tofu

Kung Pao...Tofu?

Yes! Kung Pao sauce is often served with chicken or beef, but since we are helping Kroger celebrate the release of their Simple Truth plant-based product line, we thought we’d try our hands at a vegan Kung Pao with tofu. And turns out, we might just love it even more than traditional Kung Pao Chicken. Think tofu fried in little sesame oil, doused in spicy Kung Pao sauce and tossed with plenty of veggies.

Ingredients laid out for Kung pan tofu with green onions and bell peppers, soy sauce cashews

What's in Vegan Kung Pao?

This simple tofu stir-fry gets its slightly spicy heat from dried chilies, that can be found in the spice aisle at most stores. We wanted our vegetarian Kung Pao recipe to be easy and also made with easy to find simple ingredients which can all be found at our local Kroger store.

Here’s what’s in our Kung Pao recipe:

Kung Pao Tofu 14
Kung Pao Tofu 15

How to Make Kung Pao Tofu

Skip the take-out wait and try your hand at Kung Pao sauce from scratch. You will save not only money and time, but you also have control over the ingredients, which is what makes this plant-based recipe so great! Making food at home is almost always healthier—you’ll surely use less oil and sodium than a restaurant. Here’s how to make our quick, easy Kung Pao chicken stir-fry:

  1. Prep the tofu. Even extra-firm tofu has a little excess liquid in it, and in order to have the tofu fry up nicely, you’ll want to drain out some of the liquid. Here’s how we do it: remove the tofu brick from the package and place it in a shallow bowl. Set a cutting board on top, and then carefully place a heavy book (like a cookbook) on top of that. After 30 minutes, it should be sufficiently drained and ready to go!
  2. Make the Kung Pao sauce: mix soy sauce, vinegar and sugar in a bowl. (yeah, it’s that simple.)
  3. Cook the tofu until crispy. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, stir-fry the tofu pieces in sesame oil until they're golden brown on all sides and gorgeously crispy!
  4. Stir-fry. Stir-fry the bell peppers until they're a little soft. Then add the scallions, cashews, ginger, garlic, and dried chili peppers. Stir fry all of that for a minute or two, and then stir in the Kung Pao sauce and fried tofu.
  5. Simmer. Let all of the flavors meld over the heat for a few more minutes. The Kung Pao sauce will thicken slightly and really coat the veggies and tofu, which is what you want.
  6. Serve! We love to serve this over steaming bowls of white or brown rice.
Kung pao with fried tofu, green onions and bell peppers in a bowl with rice and chop sticks. vegan and vegetarian kung pao

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More Plant-Based Goodness!

In need of a few more inspiring vegan recipes? Here’s what we’re cooking this month:

Kung Pao Tofu

Tofu Better Than Chicken?

You’ll have to make this exciting plant-based dish and decide for yourself! When you do, snap a photo of your stir-fried Kung Pao Tofu and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so we can celebrate your cooking victories! Happy eating!

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Kung Pao Tofu

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  30 min
  • Cook Time:  25 min
  • Calories: 351


  • 2 (14-ounce) block extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, 1-inch dice
  • 1 green bell pepper, 1-inch dice
  • 1 bunch green onions, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted cashews (or peanuts)
  • 1 tablespoon minced or grated fresh ginger
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 whole dried red chili peppers (cut a few in half if you like spice)
  • Cooked rice, for serving

Kung Pao Sauce


  1. Place a clean kitchen towel or two paper towels on a plate. Discard the tofu liquid and place the block onto the towel. Fold the towel over the block or place two more paper towels on top of the tofu. Place a heavy item on top of it (not so heavy as to crush the tofu, just heavy enough to release the liquid). Drain the tofu for 30 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar.

  3. Slice the tofu into 1-inch cubes and place them in a large bowl. Toss the tofu with the cornstarch, until coated.

  4. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil over high heat. Add the tofu to the pan, working in batches if necessary, cook until lightly browned on all sides, about 15 minutes total. Transfer the tofu to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining tofu.

  5. Add one tablespoon of sesame oil to the same skillet over medium heat. When the oil is glistening, add the bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Stir in the green onions, cashews, ginger, garlic, and chili peppers. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about two minutes longer. Pour the sauce over the vegetables, stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Stir in the tofu and continue to simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 2 minutes.

  6. Serve over rice.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories351
  • Protein12 g
  • Carbohydrates24 g
  • Total Fat24 g
  • Dietary Fiber4 g
  • Cholesterol0 mg
  • sodium538 mg
  • Total Sugars9 g

Kung Pao Tofu

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Peter

    Just wondering where the corn starch comes into this recipe?

    Step 3! You will see that it is mixed with the tofu.

  • Lynsey

    This was SO delicious!! The sauce was perfect, will definitely be making it regularly. Also made the garlic ramen noodles recipe and was amazing too. Thanks so much x

    Thanks Lynsey, we are so happy you loved both!

  • NH

    This was my first time cooking tofu. Unfortunately I forgot to buy the green onions, cashews and sugar. I used honey and skipped the chili peppers. It still tasted really nice! Next time I'll be sure not to skip the green onions!

    Glad you still enjoyed!

  • JR

    This is by far the best king pao tofu recipe I’ve tried. So delicious and easy. I’m definitely going to make this again….this week 🤣

    Thanks JR! We love to hear about those quick repeats, so glad you loved it!

  • Bree

    So delicious!! I was worried the sauce would be bland since it was just soy sauce and vinegar but it all pulled together amazing.
    I used vegetable oil to fry my tofu since sesame oil has a super low smoking point, and I would make maybe 1.5x the amount of sauce next time but this recipe is definitely a go-to now.

    Thanks Bree! So happy to hear it's a new go-to!

  • S

    Very good and each step was easy, although it took me longer than half an hour to put together. I skipped the hot pepper and didn't have enough bell pepper so I used part celery, since one of our favorite restaurants uses celery in their kung pao chicken.

    Thank you, we are so glad you enjoyed it!