Sticky, spicy, tangy, crispy…this sticky vegan orange chicken is THE BEST. This dish is so indulgent feeling yet much healthier than takeout! It’s refined sugar free, gluten free and the flavor packed sticky orange sauce is made with only 6 ingredients. Plus, the whole dish comes together in about 30 minutes. The best, quick recipe for weeknights or when you’re craving the classic takeout orange chicken.
When I was a kid, I ate a lot of takeout Chinese food. There was this restaurant near our house called Tasty Goody that we went to all the time. They served what seemed like 5 pounds of food for $5. Really! They heaped on the servings. It was the best thing ever!
I might be alone in this, but I think reheated day old Chinese food is just as good as the fresh version…yep, I’m weird like that.
Since being vegan I have yet to find a true, authentic tasting vegan Chinese food restaurant. But luckily for us it’s pretty easy to recreate old favorites at home that are much healthier than the originals! Much less oil and far less processed.
Now the only step in this recipe that requires thinking ahead is freezing and thawing your tofu. You might be asking, what’s the big deal? Do I really need to freeze my tofu?
Yes, you really need to freeze your tofu!
If you’re someone that has never liked tofu when you’ve tried it, freezing it and thawing it will probably change your mind forever!
When you freeze it, it freezes all the pockets of water inside of the tofu and then when it thaws, all of those pockets of water basically melt out of the tofu. I am no tofu science expert but it makes the texture of the tofu much more spongy and chewy which helps it replicate the texture of chicken much more. It also helps it absorb more of the marinade you’re using!
This does take some planning ahead because for whatever reason, tofu takes a very, very long time to thaw out. Seriously. Like a couple of days. If you need to speed up the process leave it out on the counter but I’d say take your tofu out of the freezer about 48 hours before you plan on using it!
Step by Step Instructions
The first step is to cut your tofu into even cubes. I ended up with 32 cubes. You can cut them however you want, you just want small bites that are uniform in size so they cook evenly!
Once you have your cubes, set them aside and work on the orange sauce!
Just whisk together the orange sauce ingredients and set it aside so it’s ready once your tofu is nice and crisp! Easy peasy.
Next, heat a large skillet over medium heat with about ¼ cup of oil (I used avocado).
Then one by one coat your tofu in cornstarch and immediately add it into the hot oil! If you let the tofu sit too long once you have coated it in corn starch, it will not get as crispy!
Rotate the tofu in the oil until it’s nice and crispy on each side. Once your tofu is nicely crisped up, remove it from the pan and place it on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
Add the orange sauce to the pan over low heat and add in a cornstarch slurry to help it thicken up. Once the sauce is simmering, add the tofu back in and toss the tofu in the orange sauce until it is thickened and mostly stuck to the tofu.
So indulgent, healthy-ish and easy!
I like to serve this with sesame seeds and green onion over a bowl of white rice. Simple but so satisfying!
Other Takeout Inspired Recipes
- 30 Minute Crispy Peanut Tofu
- Kung Pao Cauliflower
- Vegan Butter Chicken
- 30 Minute Lemongrass and Coconut Yellow Curry
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Sticky Vegan Orange Chicken
- **Freeze and thaw your extra firm tofu ahead of time. Allow 48 hours for thawing completely in refrigerator!
- Once fully thawed, gently squeeze any excess water out of your tofu over the sink.
- Next, cut your tofu into small uniform sized cubes (I ended up with about 32 cubes) and set aside.
- Make the orange sauce by whisking together all of the sauce ingredients except for the corn starch slurry in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Heat ¼ cup of oil over medium heat in a large skillet (I used a cast iron). Feel free to use additional oil if you prefer a deeper pan fry.
- Once hot, coat your tofu cubes one by one in the cornstarch and immediately add to the hot oil.
- Pan fry the tofu for a couple of minutes on each side until it is crispy and lightly golden brown. Depending on the size of your skillet you may need to do this in batches.
- Once your tofu is crispy, remove it and place it on a paper towel lined plate to absorb any excess oil.
- Drain any excess oil from the skillet if needed then add the orange sauce ingredients into the skillet and lower the heat to low/medium low. You want it to simmer and thicken but you don't want it too hot or it will burn!
- Once the sauce is simmering, add in the crispy tofu and toss in the sauce until fully coated and most of the orange sauce is stuck to the tofu (see photo in post for reference).
- Serve immediately over rice with sesame seeds and green onion.
- Storage: This dish is really best served fresh, but leftovers can be stored up to 48 hours in the refrigerator. The orange chicken will be significantly less crispy.
- Freezing and thawing the tofu really changes the texture of it and makes it more "chicken like." I really would not skip this. I freeze mine in the packaging it comes in. Very easy!
- If you coat the tofu in corn starch too early and let it sit on the counter while the oil heat up, it will not get as crispy! Coat in corn starch and immediately add to oil for best results.
- A little orange pulp is okay in the orange sauce but if you prefer, you can strain it out!
Note about salt
Please pay attention to the type of salt called for in the recipe (if applicable). Not all salts are made equal and cannot be substituted 1 for 1. If you are substituting table salt for kosher salt, you will need to cut the amount called for in the recipe by at least half.
Disclaimer: The Nutritional Information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.