Better than take-out, this restaurant-quality Szechuan tofu is easy to make at home and features all of your favorite spicy, over-the-top flavors. Incorporate a variety of different vegetables depending on what’s in season or what you have on hand! Try cabbage, cauliflower, green beans, mushrooms, snow peas, or squash. This healthy tofu stir fry is vegan and gluten-free.

Szechuan sauce lightly adapted from Gimme Some Oven.

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 20 minutes

Total Time 35 minutes

Servings4 servings



For the sauce:

  • ▢3 tablespoons tamari (for GF) or soy sauce
  • ▢2 ½ tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • ▢1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • ▢1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce choose one labeled “sweet” for mild heat, or select a spicier variety
  • ▢5 large cloves garlic, minced or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ▢1 heaping teaspoon freshly grated ginger root or ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ▢½ teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder
  • ▢1 tablespoon corn starch or arrowroot

For the stir fry:

  • ▢1 (16 oz) package super firm tofu, cubed and patted dry or if using extra firm tofu, press for 30 minutes first
  • ▢1 tablespoon high heat cooking oil such as avocado
  • ▢1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  • ▢½ large onion, chopped
  • ▢1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • ▢1 large crown fresh broccoli, cut into small florets or approx. 2 to 3 cups chopped/bite-size veggies of choice; see post above for ideas
  • ▢10 to 12 dried red Chinese chilies or Arbol chilies
  • ▢½ to 1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns, lightly smashed or sub black pepper, to taste
  • ▢¼ cup sliced green onion
  • ▢sesame seeds, optional, for garnish


  • First, make the sauce by whisking together the ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Preheat a large cast iron skillet or wok over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and swirl to coat. Cook the tofu until golden on at least two sides. Use patience here! When the tofu is ready to flip it should release easily. If it sticks to the pan, it’s not ready to flip. Once tofu is golden and crisp, drizzle with 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce and toss. Transfer tofu to a plate and set aside.
  • To the same pan add the onion, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the bell pepper, broccoli, any other veggies you’re using, and dried chilies, and cook for about 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Slide the veggies toward one side and add the Szechuan peppercorns directly to the pan. Stirring, toast the peppercorns for 5 to 10 seconds, then stir to incorporate into the vegetables.
  • Add the sauce, and cook for about 2 minutes or until hot and thickened. Return the tofu to the pan, and toss to incorporate. Garnish with green onion and sesame seeds, if desired. Serve as is or with rice or noodles.


Variations –

  • extra spicy – choose a hot variety of chili garlic sauce, and add a generous pinch of crushed red pepper flakes when you add the peppercorns to the pan.
  • other veggies – try eggplant (for a Panda Express eggplant tofu copycat), green beans, cabbage, snow peas, carrot, or cauliflower.

If serving with noodles or significantly increasing the volume of veggies, remember to double the amount of sauce!

Storage – leftovers keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.