Black Pepper Tofu features a sweet and peppery sauce that you won’t be able to get enough of! It’s easy to make at home, and the tofu is ripped then baked until crispy. Throw in some crisp bell peppers, onions and celery, you’ll think you ordered take-out from your favorite restaurant!

close up of cooked tofu and peppers with pepper all over

Totally crave-worthy, this Black Pepper Tofu resembles the popular take-out dish you know and love. Just like the restaurant favorite Chinese black pepper chicken, but for this vegan recipe we will first press the tofu, then gently rip it into chunks, coat with a mix of olive oil, cornstarch and a few simple seasonings and bake until crispy.

I use the same method of ripping tofu (instead of slicing it into uniform squares) in my Vegan Butter Chicken, General Tso’s Tofu and Vegan Chicken Nuggets. Ripping gives tofu a wonderful texture and makes it look and feel a bit like chicken.

Once the tofu is done baking, simply stir it into the vegetables and add the intensely flavored black pepper sauce, and you’re ready to eat! There is plenty of spicy sauce so make sure to serve over rice.

white bowl with black pepper tofu and peppers, grey/black background and towel

How to make Black Pepper Tofu

Find the complete recipe with measurements below in the recipe card.

Press the tofu first for about 30 minutes. TIME SAVING TIP – On the weekend or when you have time, press several blocks of tofu at a time. Place in large ziplock bags or glass containers and store in the refrigerator for the week. When dinnertime rolls around, you will be ready to go!

Next, slice the tofu into 4-6 slices, then rip into bite sized pieces with your fingers. Place in a large bowl, add olive oil, cornstarch and seasonings and stir gently to coat. Transfer tofu to a parchment lined pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until crisp on the outside.

tofu in chunks with seasoning on parchment lined pan

While the tofu bakes, whisk the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside.

brown sauce with bubbles in a glass bowl

In a large skillet, cook the onions, bell peppers and celery until crisp-tender. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 more minute.

When the tofu finishes baking, add to the skillet.

golden cooked tofu added to pan with peppers and onions

Stir the sauce one last time before pouring over the tofu and vegetables. Stir and cook for a minute or so until the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and serve over rice.

looking down on a pan full of tofu and peppers

Frequently asked questions

  1. Can I use different vegetables? Yes! My family doesn’t care for bell peppers, so I like to swap them for a mixture of asparagus, broccoli, zucchini or carrots. Or double the tofu and leave out all the veggies, serving steamed broccoli on the side.
  2. Can I use a different protein? Sure you can. Try using my Vegan Chicken, tempeh or even chickpeas (I’d use two cans, drained and rinsed, no need to bake, just throw them in with the vegetables and sauce).
  3. How long will the leftovers last? This dish saves well in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. It’s perfect for meal prep, and can easily be doubled.
pan full of black pepper tofu with peppers, onions and a lot of sauce

Want more take-out favorites featuring tofu?

square image of black pepper tofu

Black Pepper Tofu

Black Pepper Tofu features a sweet and peppery sauce that you won't be able to get enough of! It's easy to make at home, and the tofu is ripped then baked until crispy.
4.85 stars (13 ratings)

Ingredients 

Crispy Baked Tofu

  • 14.5 ounces extra-firm tofu (1 block)
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Black Pepper Sauce

  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce, or tamari for gluten free
  • 3 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup agave, or pure maple syrup, brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Vegetables

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 2 ribs celery, sliced, optional
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger

Instructions

Bake the tofu

  • Press the tofu – Wrap the tofu in paper towels (or a clean dry tea towel). Place a plate or pan on top of the wrapped tofu, and put a couple of heavy books or cast iron pan on top of that. Let the tofu press for about 30 minutes. You can skip this step if you buy the super firm variety in a vacuum pack.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Slice the tofu into about 4-6 slices, then rip each slice into bite sized chunks. You want a ripped texture; it makes the tofu taste crispy and amazing!
  • Add the tofu pieces to a large bowl, then add the olive oil, cornstarch, salt and pepper and stir gently to combine. You want the tofu to be coated.
  • Arrange in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden and crispy on the outside. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Stir the sauce

  • In a small bowl, whisk together all sauce ingredients until cornstarch is dissolved and set aside.

Cook the vegetables and finish

  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil.
  • Add the onion, bell pepper and celery and sauté for 3-5 minutes, until the vegetables brighten in color but not until they are super soft.
  • Add the garlic and ginger and cook for one more minute, stirring constantly.
  • Add the baked tofu to the skillet with the vegetables. Stir the sauce one last time before pouring into the skillet.
  • Stir to combine, and cook for another minute. The sauce will thicken slightly.
  • Serve with rice and enjoy!

Notes

  1. Gluten free – To make the dish completely gluten free, use gluten free tamari and NOT soy sauce.
  2. Less spicy – The sauce is pretty spicy/peppery. If you want a less intense sauce, start with only 1-2 teaspoons of black pepper. Add more as desired.
  3. Arrowroot or tapioca starch will work in place of the cornstarch if needed.
  4. Feel free to swap out any veggies you don’t like. Other good vegetables to try include zucchini, carrots, broccoli or asparagus.
  5. Nutrition facts are for the tofu only and not any added rice you serve it with.

Nutrition

Serving: 1of 4 servings, Calories: 242kcal, Carbohydrates: 29g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Sodium: 1379mg, Potassium: 458mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 16g, Vitamin A: 210IU, Vitamin C: 31mg, Calcium: 75mg, Iron: 2mg

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