This easy-to-make hoisin tofu packs sweet and savory flavors and a crispy, sticky texture so good your family will think you ordered takeout! This delicious recipe comes together in just 25 minutes using simple pantry staples. The tofu is hand-torn and then pan-fried, giving it a soft and tender inside and a crispy, crunchy outside!
Marinating your tofu gives it a unique flavor while adding excitement to the dish. This recipe is just one of our many crispy and flavorful tofu marinade recipes, and the list keeps growing! You will also love our harissa tofu, miso tofu, and Mongolian tofu recipes.
What to expect?
Hoisin sauce is an aromatic, dark, thick, rich, salty, and sweet sauce. While its ingredients vary, many Hoisin sauces include sugar, water, salt, wheat flour, soybeans, cornstarch, sesame seeds, garlic, and chili pepper. Although its flavor is quite unique, it is sometimes compared to an American BBQ sauce.
In this easy vegan Hoisin Tofu recipe, we take torn tofu, pan-fry it until nice and crispy, and toss it in a delicious Hoisin sauce. Because we hand-tear the tofu versus cutting it into cubes (one of the ten alternatives to preparing tofu), the texture ends up being super crispy on the outside and soft and tender on the inside. The process takes just 10 minutes of cooking and 15 minutes of prep time, making it an easy go-to for lunch or weeknight dinner!
The ingredients for making Hoisin tofu are simple and easy to find in your home pantry or any grocery store. We have also provided a few simple ingredient alternatives in case you need to make a substitution:
- Firm tofu – You can also use extra firm tofu with less liquid.
- Soy sauce – For a gluten-free alternative, use tamari sauce.
- Vegetable oil
- Corn starch – You can use tapioca or arrowroot starch as an alternative.
- Hoisin sauce
- Sriracha – Any other chili paste works just as well.
- Cane sugar
- Ginger (minced)
- Garlic cloves
- Sesame oil
- Scallions (chopped) – Optional, to top the tofu. You can also use green onions.
- Sesame seeds – Optional, to top the tofu.
🛒 You can find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Making hoisin tofu
- Using your fingers, slowly and gently tear apart the tofu. You can do so by tearing them in half or by tearing off large pieces and then tearing them into bite-size tofu pieces.
- Peel and mince the garlic cloves and ginger.
- Pour two tablespoons of the soy sauce over the tofu pieces and stir gently, taking care not to break the tofu. Let rest for a couple of minutes, then drain any excess sauce.
- Add two tablespoons of cornstarch and mix until evenly coated. Stir gently, taking care not to break the tofu.
- In a pan, heat three tablespoons of vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, gently add the tofu pieces and fry each side for 2-3 minutes. Once fried, move the tofu to a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
- Heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and ginger and stir constantly for 1-2 minutes, ensuring it does not burn.
- Add the hoisin sauce, sriracha, sugar, two tablespoons of soy sauce, and sesame oil. Stir the mixture well and bring it to a boil.
- Add the fried tofu pieces to the sauce and coat them evenly.
- Do not overcrowd the pan – Adding too much tofu to the hot oil at one time will lower the oil’s temperature, requiring more cooking time. The breaded tofu will continue to soak up the oil as you wait for it to return to the right temperature. If you notice that the intensity of the sizzling slows down or stops altogether, you have likely added too much to the pan.
- Coat the tofu in batches – If the pan is not large enough to evenly coat all the fried pieces with the sauce, it is best to do so on a per-serving basis. We recommend adding one serving of sauce to a warm skillet or pan, then tossing it well with one serving of the fried tofu.
- Coat the tofu while the sauce is still hot – The sauce will stick to the breading more evenly when it is hot versus cold. If the sauce cools, reheat it in a pot over medium heat. Avoid high heat; it can alter the cornstarch and thin out the sauce.
In this recipe, we use hand-shredded, pan-fried, crispy tofu. However, there are many different ways to prepare and cook your tofu. Here are a few variations to try:
- Different preparation methods – Instead of hand-shredding your tofu, you can make tofu steak, thin-sliced tofu, or cut your tofu into cubes or triangles. Find more techniques in our list of 10 ways to prepare tofu.
- Different cooking methods – There are a few alternative ways to make crispy tofu, including air-fried, baked, and deep-fried. See our guide on making crispy tofu for the pros and cons of each method. For even more cooking methods, refer to our guide with 11 ways to cook tofu.
- Different marinated tofu recipes – There are countless ways to marinate your tofu. Our marinated tofu favorites include Mongolian and harissa. You can find even more ideas in our list of tofu marinade recipes.
Hoisin tofu is excellent as a main course but is even better with an equally delicious side dish! Here are a few different ways to serve it:
- With vegetables – Broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, and mushrooms all pair wonderfully with it.
- In a stir-fry – Stir-fried veggies such as broccoli, yellow or red bell peppers, yellow onion, or green beans are great complements to it.
- With grains – Serve it alongside steamed or fried rice, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, or cauliflower rice.
- With noodles – It is an excellent complement to long noodles such as ramen, rice, or peanut noodles.
- With a salad – A fresh and crisp Asian-style green salad makes a nutritious side.
- With heat – If you like heat, sprinkle on some cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes.
Because of its crispy texture, hoisin tofu is best when served on the same day, preferably as soon as it finishes cooking. However, here is the best way to store them if you have leftovers:
In the refrigerator: Once cooled, store the leftover tofu in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. For the crunchiest texture, use it within 24 hours, as it will become dry and soggy over time.
In the freezer: Although it is okay to freeze tofu before cooking it to achieve a “meaty” texture, we do not recommend freezing it after cooking it.
Reheating: To maintain a crispy texture, reheat marinated tofu on a baking sheet in the oven or a toaster oven. We do not recommend reheating it in a microwave.
If you do not have hoisin sauce, you can use a similar flavored sauce such as teriyaki sauce, oyster sauce, chili sauce, sweet and sour sauce, or barbecue sauce. You can also combine peanut butter with honey or soy as a substitute.
Most hoisin sauces use a wheat product to give it its thickness, making it a non-gluten-free product. However, there are gluten-free brands available. To make this recipe 100% gluten-free, replace the soy sauce with tamari sauce as well.
You can prepare the sauce in advance and freeze it until you are ready to use it. Once the sauce is cooled, store it in an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks or in the freezer for up to three months. When ready to use it, reheat it on the stove over low heat, stirring frequently.
You can also marinate the tofu in the sauce overnight to get a deeper flavor, but we do not recommend adding the cornstarch coating until the day you plan to cook it.
More marinated tofu recipes
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- Use a firm tofu and press it.
- Use your fingers and tear the tofu slowly and gently. You can tear them first in half or tear off larger pieces, then create bite-size tofu at the end.
- Peel and mince garlic and ginger.
Marinating and frying
- Pour 2 Tbsp soy sauce on tofu pieces. Stir gently so as not to break the tofu. Let them rest for a couple of minutes. Drain any excess soy sauce.
- Add 2 Tbsp cornstarch and mix it evenly; again, try not to break the tofu.
- In a pan, heat up 3 Tbsp vegetable oil. Once it is hot, add tofu pieces. Fry each side for 2-3 minutes. Once ready, take them out to a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
Cooking hoisin tofu
- In a pan add 1 Tbsp vegetable oil. On medium heat add minced garlic and ginger. Stir constantly for 1-2 minutes. Make sure it doesn’t burn.
- Add hoisin sauce, sriracha, sugar, rest of the soy sauce (2 Tbsp) and sesame oil. Stir well and bring it to boil.
- Add in the fried tofus and coat them with the sauce evenly.
- Sprinkle some chopped scallions and sesame seeds on top.