Kung Pao Tofu with Roasted Cauliflower

This kung pao tofu is a lightened-up, vegan take on a classic Chinese take-out dish. It’s spicy, flavorful and paired with roasted cauliflower for extra veggies.

Do you have a staple cuisine that you usually get takeout for? Indian and Chinese are our go-to’s! I just recently started trying to recreate some of our favorite dishes. Of course my versions aren’t super traditional, but they’re still delicious if I do say so myself!

Fork on a plate taking a bite of kung pao tofu and cauliflower served over rice.

This flavor-packed dish is perfect whether you’re vegetarian, vegan or just want to incorporate more plants in your diet. Add this to your meatless Monday meal rotation!

Tofu Kung Pao

I already have a kung pao chicken recipe (as well as tempeh kung pao) so now it’s time for kung pao with tofu!

Kung Pao is a spicy, stir-fried dish traditionally made with chicken, peanuts, veggies and chili peppers. It’s delicious and I personally prefer it over General Tso’s, where the protein is usually breaded and fried.

For this version, we’re using tofu instead of chicken and adding in some roasted cauliflower to amp up the veggies. The texture of the roasted cauliflower with the stir-fried tofu is perfection.

Kung pao tofu and cauliflower served over rice and topped with cilantro, green onion and peanuts.

Tips for Cooking with Tofu

  • I feel like I say this time and time again, but make sure you buy extra firm tofu. Soft or silken tofu doesn’t hold up as well for stir-frying.
  • Always drain your tofu and then press the excess liquid out before cooking. You can use a tofu press if you have one or simply wrap the tofu block in paper towels or a clean dish towel and set it on a flat surface. Stack a few heavy items on top to press the moisture out. I usually press it for about 15-30 minutes, although longer is great too!
  • Tofu doesn’t have much flavor on its own and really just takes on the flavor of the dish! For this recipe, we marinate the tofu in the sauce for a bit before cooking to allow it to really absorb the flavor.

Ingredients in Kung Pao Tofu

Here’s what you’ll need to make this dish:

  • extra firm tofu – this is the main protein source for the recipe and really the star of the show. See my tips for cooking with tofu above.
  • cauliflower – the roasted cauliflower really takes this dish to the next level. I know roasting feels like another step (and creates more dishes) but it’s worth it! Trust me!
  • garlic and fresh ginger – fresh garlic and ginger add so much flavor to this dish. Don’t skip these!
  • kung pao sauce – to make the sauce we’re using a mixture with tomato paste, tamari, rice vinegar, chili sauce, hoisin sauce and sesame oil.
  • avocado oil – this is a high smoke point oil so it’s great for sautéing and stir-frying.
  • crushed red pepper – this is what adds some heat to the dish.
  • salted peanuts – peanuts are a staple in kung pao recipes and I love the crunch they add.
  • green onions and cilantro – the green onions are cooked into the dish and also added as a garnish on top with cilantro. They add a pop of color and flavor.
  • cooked rice or cauliflower rice – feel free to use whatever type of rice you have on hand. You could also serve it over quinoa!
  • sriracha – optional for serving. I personally love drizzling a little sriracha on top for serving.

Substitutions & Notes

Extra-firm tofu – Have I said it enough? Make sure you buy extra-firm tofu for this recipe!

Tamari – Tamari is essentially gluten-free soy sauce. I use this all the time, but feel free to use reduced sodium soy sauce or coconut aminos as a substitute.

Chili sauce – I like using sambal oelek which can be found by other Asian foods and sauces in the grocery store.

Skillet with kung pao tofu and cauliflower topped with peanuts and green onions.

How to Make Kung Pao Tofu

Press tofu – Start by pressing your tofu. Use a tofu press or wrap tofu blocks in paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Set it on the countertop and stack a few heavy items on top to press the excess liquid out of the tofu. I usually press it for about 15-30 minutes, although longer is great too!

Prep and cook cauliflower – Cut or break the head of cauliflower into florets. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower florets with avocado oil and salt. Spread the florets on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes at 400ºF or until cauliflower is golden brown in some spots.

Roasted cauliflower on a sheet pan.

Make the sauce – In a large bowl, whisk together the tomato paste, tamari, rice vinegar, chili sauce, hoisin sauce and sesame oil.

Cubes of tofu in a bowl of kung pao marinade.

Marinate tofu – Chop the tofu into 1 inch cubes and add to the sauce to begin marinating.

Cubes of tofu in a bowl tossed with kung pao sauce.

Cook tofu – In a large skillet, sauté the garlic, ginger, green onion (white parts) and crushed red pepper in oil for about a minute. Add the marinated tofu with the sauce and cook for 2-3 minutes or until tofu is warm throughout. Add the roasted cauliflower and chopped peanuts and toss until everything is well coated.

Cubes of tofu being cooked in a pan with kung pao sauce.

Serve – Remove from the heat, sprinkle with cilantro and scallions and serve over rice of your choice. Top with sriracha for even more heat, if you’d like. Enjoy! 

Bowl of kung pao tofu and cauliflower served with rice.

How to Store Leftovers

Store any leftovers in an airtight container. I would store the rice separately from the kung pao tofu. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

To reheat, add the tofu cauliflower mixture to a skillet over medium-low heat and pop the rice in the microwave for a quick heat.

Fork on a plate taking a bite of kung pao tofu and cauliflower served over rice.

More Tofu Recipes to Try:

If you make this kung pao tofu recipe be sure to leave a comment and star rating below letting us know how it turned out for you. Your feedback is so helpful for the EBF team and our readers!

Fork on a plate taking a bite of kung pao tofu and cauliflower served over rice.

Kung Pao Tofu

Brittany Mullins
This kung pao tofu is a lightened-up, vegan take on a classic Chinese take-out dish. It's spicy, flavorful and paired with roasted cauliflower for extra veggies.
4.8 from 10 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Course Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 4
Calories 337 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 16 ounces extra firm tofu pressed and chopped into small cubes
  • 1 medium head cauliflower about 4-6 cups
  • 3 Tablespoons avocado oil divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 small knob ginger minced (about 1-2 inches)
  • ½ cup chopped green onions white and greens separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped salted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • cooked white brown or cauliflower rice, for serving
  • sriracha for serving

Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons low sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons chili garlic paste/sauce I used Sambal Oelek
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven: Preheat the oven to 400° F and press tofu to remove liquid. 
  • Roast cauliflower: Cut or break the head of cauliflower into florets, discarding the core and stem or saving it for another use. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower florets with 2 tablespoons avocado oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Spread the florets on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes or until cauliflower is golden brown in some spots.
  • Prepare sauce: In a large bowl, whisk together the tamari, rice vinegar, tomato paste, chili sauce, hoisin sauce and sesame oil. Add pressed and chopped tofu into the bowl, toss and marinate in the sauce.
  • Sauté tofu: When cauliflower has about 5 minutes left, add remaining 1 tablespoon of avocado oil into a large skillet. Once oil is hot, add garlic, ginger, ¼ cup scallions (just the white parts) and crushed red pepper. Sauté until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the marinated tofu with its sauce and cook for 2-3 minutes, until tofu is warm throughout.
  • Add cauliflower: Once cauliflower is done roasting, add roasted cauliflower and chopped peanuts to the pan with the sauce and tofu. Toss until everything is well coated.
  • Serve: Remove from heat, serve over rice of choice and sprinkle with chopped cilantro and remaining green onions. Top with sriracha for even more heat, if desired. 

Notes

Nutrition

Serving: 1/4 of recipe without riceCalories: 337kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 18gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 15gSodium: 788mgFiber: 6gSugar: 5g
Keyword kung pao tofu
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Recipe Rating




    19 comments
    1. lori
      May 19, 2021 AT 9:07 am

      I am new to tofu and my husband bought firm instead of extra firm…will it work?

      1. Brittany Mullins
        May 19, 2021 AT 2:06 pm

        That should be fine. You might just want to press your tofu longer as firm will have most moisture in it compared to extra firm. Let me know how this recipe turns out for you if you try it!

    2. Catalina
      April 24, 2021 AT 1:34 pm

      How much is a small “knob” of ginger?

      1. Brittany Mullins
        April 26, 2021 AT 3:29 pm

        Hey Catalina – About 1-2 inches 🙂 I’ll add that to the blog post!

    3. Geneviève
      April 19, 2021 AT 3:05 pm

      5 stars
      so tasty and easy

      1. Brittany Mullins
        April 20, 2021 AT 3:35 pm

        Glad you enjoyed this recipe, Genevieve! Thanks for the review 🙂

    4. Cynthia Davis
      April 14, 2021 AT 10:45 pm

      5 stars
      This was absolutely fabulous!! Thank you!! 😊

      1. Brittany Mullins
        April 15, 2021 AT 10:05 am

        So glad you loved this recipe, Cynthia! Thanks for the review!

    5. Isadora
      April 13, 2021 AT 12:35 am

      5 stars
      So good! I can’t say I’ve actually had a Kung pao dish before, but I’ve been wanting to try a new tofu recipe. I also loved how quickly it all came together. I will be adding to our list of go to dishes!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        April 13, 2021 AT 11:30 am

        Woo!! So pumped to hear you loved this recipe, Isadora. Thanks for making it and for the review. I so appreciate it!

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