Vegan Life > Recipes > Main Courses > Vegan Stir-Fry with Tofu and Sweet Chili Sauce

Vegan Stir-Fry with Tofu and Sweet Chili Sauce

June 3, 2022

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Vegan Tofu Stir-Fry in bowls with rice

Stir-fries are my go-to meals on busy weeknights because they're quick, easy, fairly healthy, and most importantly, delicious. They're also easily adaptable depending on what veggies or proteins you happen to have on hand. In this simple recipe, I'm using tofu, red cabbage, and broccoli with a homemade sweet chili stir-fry sauce, but feel free to swap out anything you want to make it your own.

The tofu can be baked or pan-fried depending on your preference. Baking is a low-maintenance option, so you can prepare your sauce and fry your vegetables while the tofu is baking. And your tofu will still come out with a nice golden color and a bit of crunch. But for even more crispiness and a deeper golden color, pan-frying your tofu might be a better option.

Two plates of tofu pieces, one baked in the oven and the other stir-fried in a wok
Tofu baked in the oven (left) compared to tofu stir-fried in a wok (right)

If you want to try other vegetables in your tofu stir-fry, choose ones that will hold up well and don't release a lot of moisture during cooking. Some vegetables that are great for stir-fries include red bell peppers, mushrooms, carrots, snow peas or sugar snap peas, green beans, water chestnuts, and baby corn. You could even add in any of these vegetables in place of tofu for a veggie stir-fry. This recipe also works great with any number of delicious sauces, like hoisin sauce, garlic sauce, or my vegan peanut stir-fry sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions

What oil should I use in my stir-fry? Any light oil with a high smoke point will work. I like peanut oil, but canola oil, vegetable (soybean) oil, and grapeseed oil are all popular choices for stir-fries. Avoid frying with extra-virgin olive oil or sesame oil, since these oils have low smoke points.

What kind of pan should I use to cook my stir-fry? I highly recommend using a good-quality carbon steel wok. Avoid regular stainless steel or non-stick pans because they typically cannot handle the heat required to stir-fry your food. Best-case scenario, you'll have a hard time cleaning your pan; worst-case scenario, you'll have a burnt-on mess. My wok (which I love) is a 14-inch non-stick carbon steel wok from Dexam, similar to this wok.

Tofu stir-fry in a wok with a wooden spoon

What if I can't find sambal oelek? Sambal oelek is available in many major grocery stores in the southeast Asian section. Your local Asian grocery store probably carries it as well. You can also buy it online, but it might be a little pricier than in stores. If you can't find it in your area, you can use srirarcha, chopped fresh red chili peppers, or crushed red pepper flakes.

What other vegan stir-fry recipes do you have? My vegan noodle stir-fry is also delicious. It's made with Udon noodles, carrots, oyster mushrooms, sugar snap peas, and peanut sauce. If you're looking for more tofu recipes, you might like my crispy fried tofu or General Tso's tofu.

Vegan Stir-Fry with Tofu and Sweet Chili Sauce

Yield3 servings

Prep Time20 minutes

Cook Time20 minutes

Total Time40 minutes


Sweet Chili Sauce

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. coconut aminos or low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. vegan granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp. garlic, minced (about 2 medium cloves)
  • 1/2 tbsp. fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. salt


  • 14 oz. extra-firm tofu
  • 1/2 tbsp. coconut aminos or low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. peanut oil (or another light oil with a high smoke point)


  • 2 cup red cabbage, chopped
  • 3 cup broccoli florets (about 1 head)

For serving

  • white rice, cooked
  • green onions (scallions), chopped
  • sesame seeds


  1. (Optional) If you’re planning to bake your tofu, preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).

  2. Gently squeeze your tofu block to remove excess water. Then wrap in a kitchen towel or paper towels, and squeeze gently again to drain more water out. You don’t need to press the tofu in a press or with books for this recipe, just getting the excess water out is enough.

  3. Cut the tofu into 1-inch pieces. Then place the pieces in a large bowl (I like to use a container with a lid) and add 1/2 tablespoon each of coconut aminos (or low-sodium soy sauce) and rice vinegar. If you have a container with a lid, close it and toss the tofu to distribute the marinade. If not, then you can use your hands to mix it up, being careful not to break the tofu pieces. Set it aside while you chop your vegetables and prepare the sauce.

  4. Chop your cabbage and broccoli florets, then prepare the minced garlic and grated ginger for the sauce.

  5. Mix all your sauce ingredients together in a jar or bowl. If you have a jar with a lid that seals (like a mason jar), you can shake it to mix it. Otherwise, you can use a whisk or a fork to get the ingredients well-combined. Make sure that your cornstarch is dissolved with no clumps before moving on.

  6. Drain any marinade that’s left at the bottom of your tofu container. Then sprinkle 3 tablespoons of cornstarch over your tofu, tossing the tofu to make sure it gets evenly coated.

  7. Option 1: Bake tofu. If you’re baking your tofu, place it on a parchment-lined baking tray and bake at 350°F (180°C) for 15 minutes. Then turn it and bake another 15 minutes, until crispy. About 5 minutes before the tofu is ready, you can start stir-frying the vegetables.

  8. Option 2: Fry tofu. To fry your tofu, add 1 tablespoon of oil to a wok and turn the heat to medium-high. Add your tofu pieces to the wok, leaving space between them so they don’t stick together. Turn your tofu every 2-3 minutes to get all sides crispy (you can use a wok turner or tongs for this), about 12-15 minutes total. Set aside on a plate.

  9. Add a tablespoon of oil to the wok and heat it over medium-high heat. If you fried your tofu, leave the heat at the same level. Add your cabbage and broccoli to the wok and cook until tender (but still bright and crisp), about 4-6 minutes.

  10. Reduce the heat to medium, then add your tofu and sauce to the wok. Toss to coat, and continue stirring until the sauce has thickened a bit (1-2 minutes).

  11. Remove from heat and serve immediately with rice. If desired, top with green onions and sesame seeds.

Notes & Hints

I recommend using a non-stick carbon steel wok for the best results. Don't use stainless steel as it will burn at high heat.

This recipe makes enough sauce for a light coating of the stir-fry. If you prefer more sauce, you can double the sauce recipe.

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat over medium heat on the stove, adding a dash of water if needed.

Nutrition Data

Serving Size: 1/3 of recipe; Calories: 344Fat: 16 g.; Saturated Fat: 3 g.; Cholesterol: 0 mg.; Sodium: 611 mg.; Carbohydrates: 36 g.; Fiber: 5 g.; Sugar: 15 g.; Protein: 17 g.; Vitamin A: 61 mcg. RAE; Vitamin B12: 0 mcg.; Vitamin C: 116 mg.; Vitamin D: 0 mcg.; Calcium: 207 mg.; Iron: 3 mg.; Potassium: 657 mg.; Zinc: 1 mg.

Note: This data should be used only as an estimate. Please see the nutrition section of my terms and conditions for more information on how this data is calculated.

Four vegan dishes: Creme Brulee, Detroit-style pizza, General Tso's Tofu, and Lemon Tart

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Two bowls of tofu-stir-fry with rice

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