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This Sesame Tofu is an easy and DELICIOUS alternative to sesame chicken (which was always my favorite growing up!). You can make the tofu on its own OR make an entire meal out of it by paring it with a grain and some veggies. A great weeknight dinner and meal prep option.
I’m a big fan of Chinese food, and I’ve set out to make a vegan version of all of my favorite recipes. I recently shared Vegan Egg Rolls, Sweet & Sour Tofu, Kung Pao Tofu, and even Tofu Fried Rice. Next up – this super tasty Sesame Tofu!
Sesame chicken is one of the most popular Chinese recipes found in Chinese restaurants and takeouts in America. In fact, it was my go-to order as a child when we went out for Chinese! I knew I had to come up with a vegan version to enjoy at home.
This sesame tofu recipe turned out waaaaay better than I could have expected. The chunks of tofu get nice and crispy and the sweet and savory sauce is absolutely incredible! Garnished with sesame seeds, the crispy tofu and sauce pair perfectly with steamed broccoli and rice. Let me show you how easy it is to whip this meal up!
This sesame tofu recipe is simple, straightforward and (of course) SUPER tasty! To make it all you’ll need is:
- Broccoli. We love this dish served bowl-style with a green veggie, like broccoli and a grain. Feel free to use any favorite vegetable or what you have on hand. Brussels sprouts would be another great choice.
- For the sauce. The delicious sauce is a simple mix of veggie broth, orange juice, orange marmalade, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger, garlic and cornstarch.
- Tofu. For perfect pan-fried tofu that absorbs all of the delicious flavor from the sauce, you’ll want to press the tofu. Here’s my guide to pressing tofu.
- Oil. For cooking the tofu.
- Salt & pepper. Add to taste to bring all of the flavors together.
- Optional for serving. We like serving the sesame tofu over rice. Pair it with any grain that you like – quinoa, farro or couscous. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onion for a pop of color.
How to make this sesame tofu recipe:
This recipe has so much flavor and is super easy! Here’s the simple process, but for the full, printable recipe, reference the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
- Prep the tofu. Start out by pressing and prepping your tofu. I have an entire guide for how to do it if you’re new to cooking tofu.
- Make the broccoli & rice. Steam your broccoli and start cooking your rice (or whatever grain you’re eating with this recipe).
- Make the sauce. Either before or while the tofu is cooking, the sauce ingredients are whisked together and eventually poured into the skillet with the tofu. Once thickened, you end up with a deliciously sweet sauce and a nice crunchy bite from the tofu!
- Cook the tofu. We’re going to pan fry the tofu in a little bit of oil, so that it gets a nice and thin layer of crust on the outside.
- Serve. Once everything is cooked, add the rice (or other grain) to a bowl, top with the sesame tofu and broccoli (or other veggie) and garnish with chopped green onion and sesame seeds. Enjoy!
- Freezing tofu. I didn’t do it for this particular recipe, but you could freeze the tofu ahead of time and then thaw before cooking. I’ve tried this with other recipes and it results in a much chewier and more chicken-like texture. When frozen, the excess water in the tofu crystalizes and creates little pockets all throughout the tofu. This helps it better absorb flavor AND slightly changes the overall texture of the dish.
- Cooking the tofu. Be sure to spread the tofu in an even layer on the skillet, so it’s not overlapping at all. Do your best to not touch the tofu for about 5 minutes. This helps it get a nice crust on the bottom.
Customize this meal
While this dish is delicious as-is, you can change up the ingredients to customize it to your taste preference or use up veggies you have on hand.
- Low carb. Swap out the grain for cauliflower rice or even mashed cauliflower.
- Other vegetables. Different vegetables can be substituted for the broccoli, such as Brussels sprouts, zucchini or asparagus. You can also add extra veggies to your bowl – cubed sweet potato, sliced carrots, or cauliflower florets.
- Flavorings. You can add a dash or two of any of your favorite spices or seasoning salts. Make it spicy by adding 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the sauce.
Looking to save time and meal prep this sesame tofu meal in advance? Here’s how:
- Tofu. Prep the tofu and make the sauce in advance or the night before. Store each separately in airtight containers in the fridge.
- Broccoli. Chop up the broccoli or other veggie, and store it in a container in the fridge.
- Grain. To really get a head start on this meal, cook your rice, quinoa, or anything you’re serving with the tofu and store it in the fridge as well!
How to store leftovers
Add any leftover sesame tofu, vegetables and rice to an airtight container and place it in the fridge for up to 2-3 days. Rewarm in a skillet on the stovetop or pop it in the microwave to reheat. Reheating tofu in the skillet will crisp it up the best.
See how to make the sesame tofu bowls here:
This Sesame Tofu is simple to throw together and makes for a filling and DELICIOUS meal!
- 3 cups of broccoli florets
- 1/2 cup veggie broth
- 1/4 cup of orange juice
- 1/4 cup orange marmalade
- 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of ginger, grated
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
- 14– 15 ounce block of tofu, pressed* and cut into bit sized pieces
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil (I usually use olive oil)
- For serving: grain of choice, sesame seeds, green onion
- Steam your broccoli by placing a steamer basket and 1 cup of water into a medium pan. Once the water is boiling, add in the broccoli and cover. Cook for 5-8 minutes or until the broccoli is fork tender. Set aside.
- Make the sauce by whisking together the broth, orange juice, marmalade, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger, garlic, and cornstarch. Set aside.
- In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat (this can also be done in a cast iron as shown in my video but I much prefer to do this in a non stick skillet), heat the oil until hot. Add in the tofu and spread in an even layer so it’s not overlapping at all. Do your best to not touch the tofu for about 5 minutes. This helps it get a nice crust on the bottom. After 5 minutes, flip and cook for a few minutes on each side (about 20 minutes total).
- Pour in the sauce and, stirring often, cook until it thickens. This will take about 2-3 minutes.
- Serve the the tofu with the broccoli and a grain of choice! ENJOY!
*see my full guide on pressing tofu HERE.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American, Asian
Keywords: vegan dinner, tofu recipe, tofu meal