This quick and easy tofu stir-fry is the weeknight dinner you’ve been looking for! Packed with flavor, crispy tofu, and tender-crisp veggies, this dish tastes better than takeout and can be on the table in 30 minutes.
Garlic tofu stir-fry is one of those Chinese restaurant items that always amazes me at how tasty it is for being so simple. My homemade version is no exception: it’s a plateful of savory, salty, garlicky goodness. It can also be nice and spicy too, if you’re down with that, and I always am, especially during the cold days of January.
How to Make an Awesome Tofu Stir-Fry
The most important step in making any stir-fry is prepping everything in advance. With some recipes you can get away with chopping up veggies for part of the recipe while another part cooks. Not so when you’re dealing with stir-fries!
Everything comes together super quickly, so you won’t have time for that. So chop your veggies and mix up your sauce before doing anything else.
The next step is to pan-fry your tofu. The tofu needs to cook by itself, and it doesn’t actually get stir-fried. Tofu cooks differently from vegetables: it needs medium heat and a few minutes of sitting still in a hot pan in order to brown.
But don’t I need a wok to stir-fry? I’m sure some purists out there will say yes, but when there’s tofu involved, I like to use flat-bottomed skillet — preferably cast iron. The flat surface is perfect for pan-frying tofu in a nice even layer, and while a wok might be best for heat distribution when it comes to cooking the veggies, I find a skillet does the job just fine.
Feel free to use a wok if you prefer though!
If you’d like some tips on how to get that crispy, Chinese restaurant-esque texture to your tofu, check out this guide.
Once your tofu is golden and browned, use a spatula to remove it from the skillet. Turn up the heat, and start stir frying your veggies. Harder veggies go in first, so they get more cook time, followed by softer veggies. I started with carrots, and then added broccoli and shiitake mushrooms.
Only cook the veggies until they’re tender-crisp — in other words, once they’ve begun to tenderize but still have some crunch. They’ll also have deepened in color at this point.
Return the tofu to the skillet, then add the sauce. Cook everything for just a minute or two longer, until the sauce thickens up and coats the tofu and veggies.
Scallions and sesame seeds go in at the end.
Dish up your tofu stir-fry with some rice and dig in.
FAQ & Tips for Making the Perfect Tofu Stir-Fry
- Feel free to substitute your favorite veggies. Just keep in mind the rule of thumb that veggies should be added in order of hardness, with the hardest veggies going in first, and the softest going in last. Most will require between 1 and 5 minutes of cook time.
- Can this be made gluten-free? Yes! Just substitute gluten-free tamari for the soy sauce.
- This stir-fry is best served immediately. With any stir-fry you’ll find the veggies soften up in storage. You can store the leftovers for 2 or 3 days in the refrigerator, but don’t expect the texture to be as good as it was initially.
- If you’d like to save time on the day of serving, I recommend doing all the prep work a day in advance. Chop your veggies, mix up the sauce, and save the actual cooking for when you’re ready.
Tofu Stir-Fry with Garlic Sauce
This quick and easy tofu stir-fry is the weeknight dinner you've been looking for! Packed with flavor, crispy tofu, and tender-crisp veggies, this dish tastes better than takeout and can be on the table in 30 minutes.
For the Sauce
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons water
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons sriracha sauce or sambal oelek, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
For the Tofu Stir-Fry
- 1 tablespoon canola oil, or high heat oil of choice
- 1 (14 ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3 scallions, chopped, white and green parts separated
- 1 medium carrot, sliced on a bias into strips
- 1 medium broccoli crown, broken into florets
- 4 ounces shiitake mushroom caps, cleaned and sliced
- Cooked rice
- Toasted sesame seeds
Whisk the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.
Coat the bottom of a large skillet with oil and place it over medium heat.
Add the tofu cubes in an even layer.
Cook the tofu for about 10 minutes, flipping once or twice, until browned on multiple sides.
Remove the tofu from the skillet and transfer it to a plate.
Raise the heat to high.
Add the white parts of the scallions and carrots to the skillet. Stir-fry for 1 minute.
Add the broccoli and mushrooms to the skillet. Stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes more, until the veggies deepen in color and become tender-crisp.
Return the tofu to the skillet and add the sauce.
Continue to cook everything for about 1 minute, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and coats the tofu and veggies.
Remove the skillet from heat and add the green parts of the scallions.
Divide onto plates and top with sesame seeds. Serve with rice.
Nutrition information does not include accompaniments.