This Sticky Tofu recipe is simple to follow and tastes incredible! Firm tofu is sautéed until crispy, then coated with an Asian-inspired sticky sauce. Serve over rice, veggies, or your favorite noodles for an easy and tasty meal!
Some people might say tofu is bland. Well, my friends, I can assure you that this sticky tofu is bursting with incredible flavor!
That's the thing with tofu - you just need to season it up to turn the plain bean curd into something delicious with a great texture.
If you're looking for an easy and flavorful vegetarian or vegan protein to make for a weeknight meal, this sticky tofu recipe will quickly become a favorite!
Sticky tofu is a popular Chinese dish made with firm tofu that is coated in a sticky sauce and sauteed until golden brown. The sauce is bold, sweet, and salty all at the same time which makes it the perfect coating for the tofu.
This tofu is easy to prepare and assemble and takes just minutes to cook in a skillet. You can serve it in a variety of different ways, including over rice, steamed veggies, or your favorite noodles!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
It's easy to make. Press the tofu, whisk the sauce ingredients together, and then saute until cooked. That's it!
It's sticky, sweet, and salty all at the same time, making it a well-rounded dish.
Serve sticky tofu over rice, steamed veggies, or your favorite noodles. You'll never get bored!
A great meal for any vegetarian that can easily be made vegan!
- Pressed Firm Tofu - This tofu holds its shape well when cooking and needs to be pressed using a tofu press or a large, heavy object to remove as much water as possible.
- Cornstarch - Coats the tofu to give it a layer of texture that will get crispy as it cooks.
- Chinese 5 Spice - This popular spice gives the tofu a unique spicy and smoky flavor.
- Sesame Oil - Adds a light toasted sesame oil throughout the tofu.
- Honey - Gives the tofu a natural contrasting sweet flavor that pairs well with the spices. Make it vegan: swap to agave or maple syrup.
- Soy Sauce - Adds a classic salty umami flavor throughout the dish.
- Minced Garlic - Gives bold garlic flavor that is essential in Asian cooking.
- Chili Flakes - Adds a kick of spice to the tofu but can be omitted.
- Garnish - For serving, sprinkle with sesame seeds and additional chili flakes.
Please see the recipe card below for quantities.
Wondering how to make this Sticky Tofu recipe? It's easy! Just follow this step-by-step photo tutorial. Then, scroll down for the recipe card for the full ingredients list and recipe method.
Prepare the tofu: Press the tofu with a tofu press or use a heavy kitchen object until as much excess water is removed as possible. Cut the tofu into cubes, then toss with cornstarch and Chinese 5 spice until fully coated.
Brown the tofu: Add cooking oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the coated tofu and cook until browned 2-3 minutes on each side until crispy. Remove the browned tofu and set aside.
Assemble the sticky sauce: To the empty skillet, add the rest of the oil, honey (or agave), and soy sauce. Stir and cook for 2 minutes before adding the garlic and chili flakes and stir for an additional minute.
Toss the tofu: Add the browned tofu back into the skillet and toss it in the sticky sauce until well coated and warmed through. Serve over cooked rice, wilted spinach, or steamed broccoli. Garnish with sesame seeds and chili flakes. Enjoy!
The best way to press tofu is to use a tofu press or a heavy kitchen object like a cast iron skillet. This will help remove as much water as possible from the tofu so it can better absorb the flavors of the sticky sauce.
Be sure to coat the tofu in cornstarch before cooking. This will give it a crispy outer layer that pairs perfectly with the sticky sauce.
If you don't have Chinese five spice powder, you can use a combination of cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, and star anise. Or, simply omit it from the recipe.
Do not let the pan become too hot as the tofu can stick to the bottom of the pan, cook over medium heat instead.
Add the sticky sauce ingredients to the pan in the order listed for best results. This will allow each ingredient to cook and blend together properly.
Drizzle with homemade Chili Garlic Oil for a hot and spicy dish.
Serve over rice, noodles, or a bed of vegetables, such as steamed garlic bok choy.
Makes an excellent protein alongside Air Fryer Pot Stickers.
For gluten-free sticky tofu, use tamari or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.
To make this dish vegan, use maple syrup or agave nectar instead of honey.
Add sauteed veggies like mushrooms, peppers, and onions for a complete nutrient-dense meal.
Switch up the spices and use curry powder, garam masala, or Cajun seasoning in place of the Chinese Five Spice. You could also try Baharat.
Leftover cooled tofu can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. Reheat in a skillet over medium heat until warmed through.
The sticky sauce can be made ahead of time and stored in a jar in the fridge for up to one week. Simply reheat in a pan over low heat until warmed before adding the tofu back in.
Freezing is not recommended as tofu can become mushy when thawed.
You'll need to use extra firm tofu as it holds together better and won't fall apart when cooking. However, if you can't find firm tofu, firm tofu will work as well.
If you don't have cornstarch, arrowroot powder or tapioca starch will also work.
If you don't like spice, simply omit the chili flakes from the sticky sauce. You can also add a teaspoon of sugar to balance out the heat.
More Tofu Recipes
- Persian Grilled Tofu and Vegetable Skewers
- Vegan Tofu Chocolate Mousse
- Asian Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce
- Easy Tofu Curry
- 14 ounces (400g) firm tofu pressed to remove excess moisture
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil (or regular oil)
- 3 tablespoons honey (or vegan honey, agave or maple syrup for vegan)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon dried chili flakes
- ½ teaspoon sesame seeds
- Pinch of dried chili flakes
- Cook the rice according to package instructions.
- Meanwhile, cut the tofu into cubes, then gently toss in a bowl with the cornstarch and Chinese 5 spice mixed together.
- Heat half the oil to a large sautee pan over a medium heat, then add the tofu. Cook until browned, about 2-3 minutes, then flip each tofu cube and fry for a few more minutes on the other side until crispy. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add the remaining oil, honey, soy sauce to the pan and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often, then stir in the garlic and chili flakes and cook for a further minute.
- Toss the tofu in the sauce, then serve over rice, topped with the chopped scallions, sesame seeds and chili flakes.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors, so is not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietician for special diet advice.