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Kung Pao Tofu

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

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

Tools You’ll Need:

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!

Kung Pao Tofu

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


  • 2 blocks (14-16 oz) extra-firm tofu
  • 4 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 4 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, large diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, large diced
  • 1 bunch green onions, cut into 3" pieces
  • 1 cup cashews (or peanuts)
  • 1 Tbsp minced or grated, fresh ginger
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 whole dried red chili peppers (cut a few in half if you like spice)

Kung Pao Sauce


  1. Place two paper towels on a plate. Put the entire block of tofu (drained from its packaging liquid) onto the paper towels. Place two more paper towels on top of the tofu then place a heavy item on top of it. Not so heavy as to crush the tofu, just heavy enough to squeeze out the liquid. “Drain” the tofu for 30 minutes, changing the paper towels half way through.
  2. Make the Kung Pao sauce: combine soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar in a bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.
  3. Once the tofu is done draining, slice it into 1-inch cubes and place them in a large bowl. Sprinkle with cornstarch and gently toss with your hands, until they are all coated.
  4. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil over high heat. Working in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan, stir-fry half of the tofu until all 4 sides are lightly browned. About 15 minutes total. Remove the tofu from the pan, onto a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining tofu.
  5. Once all of the tofu is cooked, use the same skillet to finish the dish. Heat one tablespoon of sesame oil over medium heat. When the pan is hot, stir-fry the bell peppers until they begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the green onions, cashews, ginger, garlic, and dried chili peppers. Stir-fry the vegetables for two minutes before adding the Kung Pao sauce and the fried tofu. Bring everything in the pan to a simmer, and cook until the sauce has thickened— about 2 minutes.
  6. Serve over white or brown rice. Enjoy!

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories 351
  • Protein 12 g
  • Carbohydrates 24 g
  • Total Fat 24 g
  • Dietary Fiber 4 g
  • Cholesterol 0 mg
  • sodium 538 mg
  • Total Sugars 9 g

Kung Pao Tofu

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Peter Melville

    Just wondering where the corn starch comes into this recipe?

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

  • S A

    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!

  • Jan Marie

    Delicious! I improvised because I didn't have some items. I used red and yellow bell peppers, no green onion, and used walnuts instead of cashews. The biggest change was I used berberi on the tofu. It gave it a spicy hit and gave it a nice brown crust. This one is a keeper. Thank you for a wonderful recipe!

    Yay! So glad you loved it Jan! Thanks for trying it out and so happy to hear all the substitutions worked out!

  • Elle

    I pressed, marinated and baked the tofu. It turned out great, with less oil used. I did not add sugar to
    the sauce. Next time, I will double the sauce. My husband liked it.

    Thanks Elle! Glad you and your husband enjoyed it!

  • Tara

    This recipe is amazing!!! We have just decided to eat less meat and this is our new favourite weekly meal. My husband loves it. (and the kids eat it!!!). We serve it over ramen noodles or rice. Thanks for teaching me to cook tofu!

    ramen noodles! Perfect addition!

  • Ken M

    It was great! Whole family loved it. We added snap peas and baby boch choi (sp?). Thanks for the recipe!

    You're welcome Ken! Thanks for trying it out! Happy to hear you and the family loved it.