Sticky, flavorful, and a good source of plant-based protein, this crispy baked orange tofu is sure to become your new weeknight favorite. It's so simple and delicious that even your meat-loving friends will be asking for more!
Who doesn't love the orange chicken from their favorite local Chinese takeout spot? The deep fried, crispy pieces of breaded chicken coated in that sweet and sticky orange glaze - so delicious!
This crispy baked orange tofu is my reduced sugar, plant-based version of the takeout classic. It's made with simple pantry ingredients and full of flavor thanks to the fresh orange zest, garlic, and ginger.
While I'm not a vegetarian anymore, I do still try to incorporate meatless meals into my diet at least a few times a week. I tend to gravitate towards beans, lentils, and quinoa as my plant-based proteins of choice. But, I do keep this tofu recipe consistently in my meal planning rotation as well.
Tofu is one of those foods that took me forever to acquire a taste for. And honestly, it wasn't even about the flavor. For me, the spongy texture of tofu leaves something to be desired for if not cooked correctly.
In my journey to learn to love tofu, I figured out that crumbling and baking tofu results in a way better texture than baked cubed tofu. The wonderfully crisp little pieces have a chewier texture than their cubed cousins, which gives the tofu a better mouthfeel, in my opinion. Tofu aversion - solved!
So, if you haven't loved the texture of tofu in the past, give this recipe a try! Crumbled tofu might be the solution to your tofu hesitations too.
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Why This Recipe Works
- Tofu Crumbles- One of my biggest complaints with most tofu recipes is that they typically call for the tofu to be cubed. Personally, I don't enjoy the texture of large pieces of tofu, which is why I crumble the tofu in this recipe. The tofu crumbles crisp up really well in the oven and give the final dish a nice chewy texture.
- Reduced Sugar- Many traditional orange sauce recipes use ½ cup sugar or more. I chose to only use a ¼ cup of sugar in this recipe and rely on the natural sweetness of the fresh orange juice. I promise, you won't even notice the missing sugar!
- Easy Meatless Meal- Whether you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet or you're just trying to eat less meat, this baked orange tofu is an easy option! It uses common pantry ingredients and comes together in just about 45 minutes total. Even your meat eating friends will love it.
Here are some notes on key ingredients. For a full list of ingredients, check out the recipe card below.
- Extra Firm Tofu- Using extra firm tofu in this recipe is critical to achieving the crispy, yet chewy bite-sized pieces of tofu we're looking for.
- Fresh Orange Juice + Zest- I chose to use freshly squeezed orange juice and orange zest in this recipe because it adds such a bright pop of flavor. Plus, the little flecks of orange zest look so lovely in the sauce.
- Cornstarch- The cornstarch serves a duel purpose in this recipe. First, it creates a light batter for the tofu crumbles, which helps them crisp up nicely in the oven. Second, a cornstarch slurry is added to the orange sauce to help thicken it up into a delicious glaze that coats the tofu nicely.
- Fresh Garlic + Ginger- Garlic powder and ginger powder can be used in this recipe, but I love the little boost of flavor the fresh garlic and ginger give to the orange sauce.
- Sambal Oelek- While totally optional, this Indonesian chili paste is seriously amazingness in a jar. It's packed with flavor and adds a bit of acidity and heat to whatever you add it to. However, if you can't find it or are not sure you'll like it, red chili flakes or sriracha can work here as well.
Step by Step Instructions
How to Make the Crispy Baked Tofu
Step 1: Prepare the tofu. Drain the tofu and slice each piece in half lengthwise. Lay the pieces flat on a clean kitchen towel or on some paper towels. Cover the tofu with another kitchen towel or more paper towels and set something heavy on top. A pile of books or a flat pan with canned goods on top work well here. Alternately, you can use a tofu press. Allow the tofu to sit for 30-60 minutes or until all of its liquid has been removed. Crumble into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
Step 2: Make the tofu batter. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the canola oil, soy sauce, cornstarch, and black pepper. Add in the crumbled tofu and stir well to coat completely. It may seem like the tofu quickly absorbs all of the batter, to the point where you may not really even see it anymore. That's okay. Just mix thoroughly.
Step 3: Bake the tofu. Spread the tofu evenly onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 400°F for approximately 30-45 minutes or until well-crisped. I usually like to stir the tofu crumbles once or twice during baking.
How to Make the Sticky Orange Sauce
Step 1: Combine ingredients in saucepan. While the tofu is baking, add the orange zest, orange juice, sugar, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and sambal oelek to a medium-sized saucepan and set over low heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat up to medium and bring the sauce to a simmer for 5 minutes.
Step 2: Whisk in cornstarch slurry. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water to make a cornstarch slurry. Whisk the slurry slowly into the simmering orange sauce and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat. If the sauce seems too thick, thin with a little water.
Step 3: Mix the tofu with the orange sauce. Once the tofu is done, remove it from the oven and add it to the saucepan with the orange sauce. Stir well to coat the tofu completely in the orange sauce.
Tips and Tricks
- Press Time- The longer you allow the tofu to press, the easier it will be to achieve a crispy end result. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes, but 60 minutes is even better.
- Crumble Size- Depending on your preference, you can crumble the tofu into larger or smaller pieces. Keep in mind that the larger the pieces, the longer it will take to cook. Personally, I make my pieces about ¼-1/2 inch. This ensures they're small enough to get nice and crispy and chewy, but not so small that they become too hard.
- Multitask- While the tofu is being pressed, make the tofu batter. Then, while the tofu is baking, make the orange sauce. I also usually throw rice in the rice cooker so it's ready when the tofu is. This way, you'll have dinner done and on the table in no time!
- Gluten-Free- To make this recipe gluten-free, simply swap out the soy sauce for tamari. Still, I always recommend double checking labels to ensure all ingredients are, in fact, gluten-free.
- Alternate Sweetener- This recipe only uses ¼ cup of sugar. However, if you want to reduce the sugar even further, you could try using as little as 2 tablespoons. If you're looking for a refined sugar free option, try swapping out the granulated sugar for honey in a 1:1 ratio.
Storage and Reheating
This dish will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
To Reheat: Place in a microwave-safe container and heat on high for approximately 1-2 minutes. You can also reheat in a saucepan with a splash of water added.
For longer storage, you can freeze the finished dish for up to 3 months. Thaw completely before reheating.
To Thaw: Leave overnight in the refrigerator and allow to thaw completely.
To Reheat: Follow the same instructions as noted above.
Here are the nutrition facts for one serving of baked orange tofu.
- Calories: 270
- Carbs: 21 grams
- Sugar: 13 grams
- Fiber: 1 gram
- Fat: 15 grams
- Protein: 17 grams
What is tofu?
Tofu is a soy-based protein made in a similar fashion to cheese. Soy milk is coagulated and the resulting curds are pressed together to form tofu. Depending upon how tightly pressed together the curds are, you will usually end up with one of four types of tofu: silken, soft, firm, or extra firm).
Tofu is pretty bland on its own, but takes on the flavor of whatever marinade or sauce you choose to use with it. Per ½ cup serving, tofu contains 10 grams of complete, plant-based protein, which is perfect for those following a vegan or vegetarian diet.
Why isn't my tofu getting crispy?
If your tofu isn't getting crispy in the oven, it usually comes down to moisture. Waterlogged tofu will result in a less-than-crispy finished dish. For crispy baked tofu, allow at least 30 minutes (an hour is better) to press the tofu before you begin cooking.
Is it better to pan fry or bake tofu?
In my experience, baked tofu generally turns out crispier and more chewy than the pan-fried version. Pan frying tofu also requires a lot of oil before it will become crispy so baking the tofu is usually healthier as well.
Can I air fry the tofu?
Yes, you can air fry the tofu crumbles instead of baking. Set your air fryer to 400°F and cook for approximately 10-15 minutes, shaking occasionally to ensure even cooking.
Here are a few ideas for what to serve with baked orange tofu.
- Noodles- Ramen noodles, lo mein noodles, or rice noodles would pair perfectly with this orange tofu. Try it with these Teriyaki Udon Noodles.
- White or Brown Rice- When you order orange chicken or tofu at a restaurant, they typically serve it with white rice. You could also serve this dish with brown rice for a little boost of fiber.
- Riced Vegetables- For a low carb alternative, serve over rice cauliflower or broccoli.
- Quinoa- If you're looking for a little more fiber and plant-based protein, serve this orange tofu over quinoa.
- Steamed Vegetables- Steamed broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, snap peas, edamame, or carrots all make fantastic sides for this baked orange tofu.
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More Asian-Inspired Recipes
Baked Orange Tofu
- Baking sheet
For the Crispy Baked Tofu
- 2 14-ounce packages extra-firm tofu drained, presses, and crumbled
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Orange Sauce
- Orange Zest from one orange
- 1 cup orange juice (about 2-3 oranges) freshly squeezed
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic grated, or ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger grated, or ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon sambal oelek or any chili paste you prefer (optional)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
Prepare the Tofu
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drain the tofu and press for at least 30 minutes to remove as much water as possible. Crumble into bite-sized pieces and set aside.2 14-ounce packages extra-firm tofu
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the canola oil, soy sauce, cornstarch, and black pepper. Add the crumbed tofu to the bowl and mix well to coat. Spread the tofu evenly on the baking sheet and bake for approximately 30-45 minutes or until well-crisped, stirring halfway through.3 tablespoons canola oil, 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Prepare the Orange Sauce
- Add the orange zest, orange juice, sugar, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and sambal oelek to a medium-sized saucepan and set over low heat. Once the sugar is completely dissolved, turn the heat up to medium and bring the sauce to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes.Orange Zest, 1 cup orange juice, ¼ cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, 1 teaspoon sambal oelek
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water to form a slurry. Slowly pour the cornstarch slurry into the orange sauce while whisking the sauce continuously. Simmer the sauce for an additional 5 minutes before removing from the heat.1 tablespoon cornstarch, 2 tablespoons water
- Once the tofu is done baking, add it into the saucepan with the orange sauce and stir well to coat. Serve over rice with steamed vegetables.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Did you try this recipe?
Let me know! Comment below, or take a picture and tag me on Instagram @enwnutrition.
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