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This easy 30-minute sweet chili tofu features crispy tofu cubes and tender broccoli coated in a sweet, sticky sauce. Serve with rice for a simple and satisfying plant-based dinner.
When it comes to quick weeknight meals, I, for one, love a good stir fry. And since there so much flavor packed into a good stir fry, I rarely miss the meat, and see it as a great opportunity to add a plant-based meal to the menu.
I have a few meatless stir frys on the site, like this vegan Udon Stir Fry and this Kung Pao Tofu. But I’ve been on a sweet chili kick lately, and wanted to experiment with incorporating that flavor into a stir fry. So that’s the inspo for this easy vegan sweet chili tofu. I am delighted with the result and I think you’ll love it too!
I like to make sweet chili tofu bowls with baked coconut rice, plain white rice, plain Jasmine rice, or brown rice, depending on what’s in my pantry.
But if you’re more into noodle bowls, this would also taste great with some rice noodles, or another Asian noodle!
Why You’ll Love this Sweet Chili Tofu Recipe
It’s super easy to prepare. This sweet chili tofu recipe is very straightforward. You don’t need to be a pro chef to whip this up. The steps are simple: dry off the tofu, cut it into cubes and toss it with cornstarch, give it a quick fry, and then toss it in that gorgeous sweet chili sauce. That’s it!
The Flavors Are Spot On. If you find cooking tofu tricky for the fear of it being bland… you need to give this recipe a try! The star of the show here is undoubtedly the delicious sauce. It’s the perfect balance of sweet and spicy, and the subtle heat from the chili flakes adds just the right amount of kick without being overpowering.
Perfect for Meal Prep. The next time you’re meal prepping, give this sweet chili tofu recipe a try. It keeps well in the fridge, so you can make a big batch and enjoy it throughout the week.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
A little broth added to the sauce mixture helps to loosen it up so that it coats the tofu well without being too thick or gloppy. It also adds a subtle depth of flavor without overpowering the other ingredients. You can use chicken broth if you’re not making a vegan dish!
Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
This is the star of this sweet chili tofu! It brings a lovely balance of sweetness and a (very) mild kick. Use a good quality sauce for the best flavor, you can find it in the Asian section of most grocery stores. Sweet chili sauce is often served with spring rolls, but can be used in so much more!
A splash of lime juice adds a fresh, zesty note. It cuts through the sweetness of the sweet chili sauce and brings a nice tang to the dish. You can also use lemon juice if you don’t have any limes on hand. Rice vinegar can also be substituted if you have neither. You’re just looking to add a little acid here, for balance.
Soy sauce brings the savory umami flavor that pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the chili sauce. Go for low-sodium if you want to control the saltiness. Coconut aminos are a good gluten-free substitute.
Red Pepper Flakes
For an extra heat kick, red pepper flakes are perfect. Adjust the amount depending on how spicy you like your food. You can use a little hot sauce, such as sriracha, to taste instead, or in addition to the red pepper flakes. I often do this when the kids won’t be eating it.
Canola or Peanut Oil
Both work well for frying. Peanut oil adds a slight nuttiness, but canola is a great neutral option. Just make sure you use an oil with a high smoke point. Sesame oil would also taste great!
Firm or extra-firm tofu is what you’ll want to get for a stir fry. Although many prefer extra firm, I actually prefer the chewier texture of firm tofu. Personal preference!
Contrary to conventional wisdom, I also don’t tend to press tofu for stir fries. I do squeeze it with a towel to remove excess moisture, but I prefer the texture of tofu when it retains some moisture, and I find pressing results in tofu that is too hard and dry for my taste. Doesn’t hurt that not pressing saves quite a bit of time too!
Again, personal preference, and I encourage you to experiment!
Cornstarch is the secret to getting that delightful crispy coating on the tofu.
Broccoli adds a nice crunch and a pop of color. It also soaks up the sauce beautifully. Feel free to substitute whatever’s hanging out in your produce drawer. Red bell pepper, onion, snap peas or snow peas, green beans, or asparagus are all good choices.
A must for that aromatic flavor. Fresh garlic works best, finely minced.
Green onion adds a mild, slightly sweet flavor and makes a pretty garnish.
A sprinkle of sesame seeds adds a lovely texture and a hint of nuttiness to the sweet chili tofu.
Don’t forget to watch the video!
Most of my recipes include a short step-by-step video tutorial. Just scroll down to the recipe card, or use the “Jump to Video” button at the top of the post!
Step by Step Instructions
- Start by mixing the vegetable broth, sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl or measuring cup.
- Prepare the tofu block by squeezing it with clean tea towels or a paper towel to remove as much excess water as possible. If you like to press your block of tofu, feel free to do so. I prefer to leave in a little moisture for a chewier, juicier texture.
- After drying, cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and lightly season with a pinch of salt.
- Place the tofu cubes in a large bowl and gently toss with cornstarch until they are evenly coated.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Carefully place the tofu cubes in the hot oil in a single layer, ensuring not to overcrowd and leaving any extra cornstarch behind. Fry the tofu over medium heat, turning them occasionally, until each side is golden brown and crispy. Take your time with this, for the best texture and crispiness. I find it takes me around 15 minutes. Once done, move the crispy fried tofu to a separate plate.
- Use the same skillet to cook the broccoli. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil, then the broccoli florets, seasoning them with a little salt and pepper. Stir frequently and cook until the broccoli is bright green and crisp-tender, which should take around 5-6 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds until it releases its aroma. Then, transfer the broccoli to the bowl with the tofu.
- Pour the previously prepared sauce into the skillet. Allow it to simmer for 3-4 minutes, letting it reduce slightly. The consistency of the sauce should be slightly thick but still liquid enough that it coats the tofu and broccoli well.
- Return the tofu and broccoli to the skillet, stirring them into the sweet chili sauce until they are well coated and heated through.
- To finish, sprinkle the chopped green onion and sesame seeds over the sweet chili tofu as garnish. Serve over Jasmine rice.
Tips for Making the Best Sweet Chili Tofu
- Use firm or extra firm tofu. Soft and silken tofu will break down in a stir fry and will nor work. If you like your tofu to be quite hard and dry, go with extra firm and press it first to remove moisture. I personally prefer the softer, chewier, and juicier texture of firm tofu that has been dried off, but not pressed.
- Don’t rush the frying process. When frying the tofu, give it time to develop a crust. Cook on medium heat and turn the pieces gently to ensure even browning on all sides.
- The flavor of your dish heavily relies on the sweet chili sauce you use. Opt for a high-quality brand with a balance of sweetness and heat that suits your taste.
- Keep an eye on the broccoli as it cooks. It should be bright green and crisp-tender. Overcooking will make it mushy and less appealing both in texture and color.
- While broccoli is a great addition, feel free to add other vegetables like bell peppers, snap peas, green beans, or carrots to make the dish more colorful and nutritious.
Let the sweet chili tofu cool to room temperature. It’s important not to store the dish while it’s still hot as this can lead to condensation and make the leftover tofu soggy.
Transfer the cooled sweet chili tofu into an airtight container. If you have a large quantity, or are meal prepping, you might want to use a couple of smaller containers to ensure the tofu isn’t overcrowded and maintains its texture. Properly stored, the sweet chili tofu should last for up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
For leftovers stored in the fridge, you can reheat them in the microwave on 90% power, or in a skillet over medium heat until warmed through.
Tofu Wraps (vegan tortilla wraps, perfect for lunch and meal prep!)
Kung Pao Tofu (a delicious meatless version of the takeout classic)
Tell me what you think!
If you try this recipe, l’d be so grateful if you’d leave a comment and a rating in the recipe card. I love to hear your feedback, and your tips can help other readers too!
Easy Thai Sweet Chili Tofu [vegan]
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- ½ cup Thai sweet chili sauce
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
- 3 tablespoon canola or peanut oil divided
- 1 16 oz block firm tofu*
- Pinch of salt
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 head broccoli cut into bite-size florets
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 green onions thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- rice for serving*
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the vegetable broth, sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, and red chili flakes. Set aside.
- Using a clean kitchen towel, or paper towels, dry off the tofu block, squeezing it to remove as much excess water as possible. Cut the tofu into 1 inch cubes and sprinkle them lightly with salt. In a large bowl, toss the tofu with the cornstarch until evenly coated.
- In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the tofu in a single layer, leaving behind any excess cornstarch. Cook the tofu, turning frequently, until browned and crispy on all sides. This takes a good 10-15 minutes. Remove the tofu to a plate.
- In the same pan, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the broccoli florets, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until bright green and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds more. Transfer broccoli to the bowl with the tofu.
- Add the sauce to the pan and let it simmer, and thicken, and reduce slightly for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the tofu and broccoli back to the pan and stir to coat and warm up. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds, and serve over rice.