Perfect fried tofu, pineapple, and vegetables are tossed together in a homemade sweet and sour sauce to make this Sweet and Sour Tofu! It’s ready in about 30 minutes.

If you want more takeout-inspired vegan recipes, check out my Orange Cauliflower, Kung Pao Tofu, and General Tso’s Tofu recipes. 

cooked sweet and sour tofu, pineapple, and peppers in a white bowl with rice and chop sticks.

One of my go-to orders on takeout night is Sweet and Sour Tofu. A bowlful of crispy deep fried tofu and thick and syrupy red sauce always hits the spot!

Thankfully, making the same salty, fruity, and tangy flavors of this dish at home is just as easy as grabbing it to-go. This sweet and sour tofu recipe is super easy to make with pantry-stable ingredients and comes together in no time. Once you’ve pressed the tofu, the colorful mix of pineapple, bell peppers, fried tofu, and homemade sweet and sour sauce comes together in under 30 minutes!

You can serve this saucy tofu dish over a bed of fluffy steamed rice or make yourself a plant-based fakeout takeout feast with fried rice, teriyaki noodles, drunken noodles, or Thai peanut noodles

This vegan sweet and sour tofu is:

  • Super simple and easy to make gluten free.
  • Comes together quickly, making it the perfect choice for busy weeknights.
  • Flexible! You can make it without the fruits and veggies or swap the tofu for your favorite vegan protein. 
black skillet filled with red sauce, cooked peppers, onions, pinapple, and tofu cubes.

Ingredients needed (with substitutions)

  • Tofu – Extra-firm tofu has the least amount of water and holds its shape the best when cooked. Firm also works. To avoid pressing tofu, buy the vacuum packed super firm tofu.
  • Soy sauce – Or gluten free tamari or coconut aminos.
  • Cornstarch – A must for crisping the fried tofu and achieving the perfect texture in the sauce. 
  • Pineapple chunks – For a bright, fruity flavor! If you don’t care for pineapple, leave it out.
  • Bell peppers and onions – Sautéing peppers and onions before tossing them in the sweet and sour sauce gives the dish some added crunch and a pop of color.
  • Garlic – Feel free to add an extra clove or two for bolder flavors. 
  • Sugar – Because it wouldn’t be sweet without the sugar! Be sure to use a vegan brand of granulated sugar or swap it for coconut sugar. Agave or pure maple syrup could work, but I would use less.
  • Ketchup – This gives the sauce its signature red hue and a thick, syrupy consistency.
  • Apple cider vinegar – Or use rice vinegar.  
  • Olive oil

How to make sweet and sour tofu

Before getting started, press as much liquid from the tofu as possible. You can do this using a tofu press or by wrapping the brick of tofu in paper towels, placing it on a plate, and resting a heavy skillet or books on top. Leave it to press for at least 30 minutes.

To make the homemade sweet and sour sauce, whisk the sugar, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, minced garlic, and cornstarch together in a small bowl until smooth. Set it aside. 

red sauce and a small whisk in a glass bowl.

Next, make the fried tofu by cutting the pressed tofu brick into cubes. Place them in a bowl, drizzle the soy sauce over top, and stir to coat. Add the cornstarch and toss again. 

Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu in a single layer and leave it alone for a few minutes so it can become crispy and golden brown. Flip the cubes and cook until each side is golden brown. Transfer to a plate.

close up on tofu cubes frying in a large black skillet.

Pour a little more oil into the same pan and add the pineapple, bell peppers, and onion.

chopped onions, pineapple chunks, and red and green bell peppers in a large black skillet.

Sauté for a few minutes before pouring the sauce into the pan. Now you can add the fried tofu, stir it all together, and leave it to cook and thicken for about 5 minutes.

Once it’s ready, serve each scoop in bowls with rice, green onions, and sesame seeds. Enjoy!

chopped onions, pineapple chunks, red and green bell peppers, and red sauce in a large black skillet.

Tips and variations

  • To make perfect tofu – Frying tofu in a quality non-stick pan and not disturbing it is the secret to perfectly crispy tofu. 
  • Hold the fruit and veggies – If you’re not a fan of pineapple or bell peppers, skip them! Instead, I recommend doubling up on the tofu or using less sauce.
  • Hold the tofu – If tofu isn’t your thing, you can use crispy fried cauliflower, mushrooms, leftover vegan chicken, or tempeh instead. Soy curls are awesome in any stir fry recipe that calls for tofu, like this Vegan Beef and Broccoli!
fried tofu cubes on top of chopped peppers, onions, and pineapple in a large black skillet.

Frequently asked questions

  • Is sweet and sour tofu gluten free? To make this recipe gluten free, use tamari or coconut aminos in place of the soy sauce.
  • Can I make this recipe without sugar? Yes and no. The sweet and sour sauce can be made without granulated sugar, but it still needs something to give it that much-needed sweetness. You can use unrefined sugar instead, like coconut sugar, beet sugar, pure maple syrup, or agave (if you use a natural liquid sweetener, reduce the amount to ½ cup). 
  • Can I fry the tofu in the air fryer instead of in a pan? Yes! To make air fryer tofu, place the tofu cubes in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Cook at 400ºF for 10 to 15 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally after 10 minutes.
  • How long does sweet and sour tofu last? Sweet and sour tofu is best served hot and fresh. However, you can store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. 
close up on wood chopsticks holding a fried tofu cube.

Want more tasty tofu recipes?

I love tofu so much I have a whole category dedicated to it: Tofu Recipes. Below are a few of my favorites:

cooked sweet and sour tofu, pineapple, and peppers in a white bowl with rice and chop sticks.
5 stars (11 ratings)

Sweet and Sour Tofu

Perfect fried tofu, pineapple, and vegetables are tossed together in a homemade sweet and sour sauce to make this Sweet and Sour Tofu! It’s ready in about 30 minutes.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Tofu pressing time: 30 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 3 servings


For the sweet and sour sauce

For the tofu

  • 14.5 ounce block extra-firm tofu
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil

The rest

  • 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks or canned if needed
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • few more tablespoons olive oil, for frying
  • cooked rice, for serving
  • sesame seeds and green onions, for serving


Make the sauce

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, minced garlic and cornstarch. Set aside.

Fry the tofu

  • Press the tofu: Press the tofu by wrapping it 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 30 minutes to an hour. I like to press a few blocks at a time on the weekend, then keep in the refrigerator for quick weeknight meals.
  • Cut the pressed tofu into 1 inch cubes and add to a large bowl. Drizzle the soy sauce on top and stir gently with a silicone spatula or small spoon. Be careful not to rip the tofu.
  • Now sprinkle on the cornstarch and gently stir to coat the tofu.
  • Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil so it coats the pan.
  • Once the oil is hot, add the tofu in a single layer (you might need to do this in batches, depending on how big your pan is). Let the tofu brown on all sides, it should be a nice golden color all over. Transfer to a plate nearby.

Cook the vegetables and finish

  • Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan, if needed. Add the pineapple, bell peppers and onion and cook for about 2 minutes until crisp-tender.
  • Whisk the sauce one more time before adding it to the pan and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly as it thickens. Now add the fried tofu back to the pan and stir, cooking for about 5 minutes until the sauce thickens a bit.
  • Serve immediately with cooked rice and green onions or sesame seeds. Enjoy!


  1. Sugar – Feel free to reduce the sugar by up to half, for a less sweet sauce. You could also use agave, maple syrup or coconut sugar as alternatives to regular sugar. I would reduce the amount by half for the liquid sweeteners though.
  2. If you don’t like peppers or pineapple, you can just double the tofu instead and serve with the sauce.


Serving: 1of 3 servings | Calories: 518kcal | Carbohydrates: 81g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 925mg | Potassium: 361mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 55g | Vitamin A: 1558IU | Vitamin C: 111mg | Calcium: 199mg | Iron: 3mg
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese-Inspired
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

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  1. Great recipe! I cut the sugar in half and used monkfruit instead. 1/2 of the vinegar too. Twice the amount of soy sauce (in my case Braggs Liquid Amino’s) I made a double batch and kept the 2nd batch in freezer, separated sauce from veggies, and from tofu. Since I couldn’t cook all the tofu I stuck some in the air fryer and both came out awesome. So versatile and yummy!

  2. Thank you for sharing all your delicious recipes! At least one of your dishes or desserts is in most of the meals I cook. Your site is the first place I look when looking for something specific. I appreciate that the ingredients you use are simple and readily available (especially for someone living outside the US) and the directions are straight forward. Looking forward to seeing more recipe ideas from you!

    1. You’re so welcome, Denise! Your kind words made my day 🙂 Thank you so much for using my recipes and for your fabulous review!

  3. I substituted the vinegar with fresh lemon juice. And it is still delicious. Thanks for this recipe. It’s one of my favorites of your many and good and delicious recipes.

  4. This was awesome!  Added some cauliflower because i was short on bell peppers (only had one), and it was good! Did 1/2 cup sugar as another reviewer suggested.  Absolutely delicious!

  5. Easy and a total hit for everyone! 
    My 16 year old grandson has been strictly vegan for over three years and everything I make for him comes from your site. 

    1. Hi Suzanne. Thank you for your kind words, and for using my recipes! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback!

  6. Delicious recipe!! Thank you, Nora! I reduced the sugar to 1/2 cup and it was perfect. Whenever I am interested in making a certain dish, I always check your blog first to see if you have a recipe already created. All of your recipes are easy and delicious. Thank you for making it easy to cook vegan!

    1. Hi Anna. Thank you for sharing your kind words about my blog and recipes! They really mean a lot to me! I am so thrilled that you love the tofu. I appreciate you taking time to leave your wonderful review! Happy cooking!

  7. Hi Nora! So sorry if I’m just blind.. But when do you add the cornstarch for the sauce? Thank you! Making this tonight 🙂

    1. Sorry about that! In the recipe itself, I forgot to say! You whisk it with the rest of the sauce ingredients. I updated it to make it clear. Thanks for catching that, and I hope you enjoy it!

  8. I rarely leave comments on blogs, but I couldn’t not leave a five-star rating after making several recipes from this blog and ALL OF THEME turning out perfect! My husband and I both like food with lots of flavour so I usually end up having to add extra spices and flavours to vegan recipes, but not these ones. All of the recipes I’ve tried from this blog I’ve been perfect exactly as written. 

    1. Hi Kat! Thank you for your outstanding review and comments! It really means a lot to me! I’m am so glad that you are using and loving my recipes, and all the flavors! Enjoy your journey through all of them, and happy cooking!

  9. You had me at pineapple and bell peppers. I love that combination.
    I used to go to a Vietnamese restaurant in Stockton, CA. Her crispy tofu was made with, she told me, tapioca as the breading.
    She served it with fresh squeezed lime juice from her backyard lime tree.

    Oh M Goodness! So delicious, and I know this recipe will be, too. Thank you!

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