This vegan cashew tofu stir fry is packed with veggies and tofu and tossed in stir fry sauce for a delicious meal any night of the week.
This recipe is inspired by Thai cashew chicken. It features crispy pan-fried tofu, toasted cashews, red pepper and broccoli for a delicious combination of flavour and texture.
The sauce is sweet and sticky, the perfect coating for the veggies and tofu, and is made with just a handful of common ingredients.
Try this stir fry served over freshly cooked basmati rice, brown rice or your favourite noodles for a satisfying, flavourful meal you’ll love!
- Dietary Features: Vegan, can be made gluten-free.
- Ready in under 40 minutes with simple ingredients.
- Amazing sweet and spicy flavour.
- High in plant-based protein.
- Can be made in advance for easy meal prep.
- A delicious way to enjoy tofu.
Complete list of ingredients with amounts and instructions is located in the recipe card below.
- Tofu: Extra-firm tofu works best in this recipe. If you have time, press it before use using this guide for how to press tofu (it’s easy!).
- Cornstarch: Use can use either cornstarch or arrowroot powder for the crispy tofu and the sauce.
- Cashews: Use plain, raw cashews without added oil or salt (you can use roasted cashews and skip the toasting if you prefer).
- Soy Sauce: Use low-sodium soy sauce or for a gluten-free recipe, use gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos.
- Sweetener: Maple syrup or agave syrup work.
- Sesame Oil: Can be omitted for an oil-free recipe though it adds “stir fry” flavour to the sauce, so I’d recommend using it.
For vegetables, the recipe calls for bell peppers, broccoli, onion and carrot. I would use the onion and bell pepper for sure, but if you’re missing broccoli or carrot or don’t have enough, it’s no big deal.
Other vegetables that could be swapped in are snap or snow peas, green beans, any other colour of bell pepper, zucchini or mushroom.
Quick Note: If you’d like to serve your stir fry over rice, start cooking it now according to package instructions. I like white basmati rice best for serving.
I would also suggest pressing the tofu for best results. You’ll need an extra 20 minutes for this step or it can be done in advance.
Step 1: Toast the Cashews.
Add the cashews to a large skillet or cast iron pan and toast over low to medium heat, shaking the pan often, until they’re starting to turn golden brown. This may take 6-7 minutes.
Keep a close eye on them because they can easily burn if you’re not careful. Once they’re done, remove them from the pan.
Step 2: Make the Sauce.
While the cashews are toasting, whisk all the sauce ingredients together in a container or shake in a sealed jar until fully combined.
Set the cashews and sauce aside for now.
Step 2: Fry the Tofu.
Once you’ve pressed the tofu, cut the block in half lengthwise then cut each slab into 3 strips. Use your hands to break each strip into cubes.
Tip: Breaking the tofu into cubes with your hands instead of using a knife helps to create more texture and a crispier exterior.
Place the cubes in a mixing bowl and toss with the cornstarch, salt and pepper.
Heat 2 tsp of oil such as avocado, olive or coconut oil in a large skillet then add the tofu and cook for 7-9 minutes, flipping the pieces occasionally until they’re brown and crisp on all sides.
Once they’re brown and crispy, remove them from the pan and set aside. You can use the same pan to make the stir fry in the next step, no need to wash it out.
Step 4: Make the Stir Fry.
Heat another 1-2 tsp cooking oil then add the carrots, onions, peppers and broccoli. Stir fry for 5-7 minutes, stirring often until tender but still bright and crisp.
Add the tofu, cashews and sauce to the pan with the veggies, stir well to combine and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
Once the sauce has thickened and everything is coated in sauce, serve your stir fry over rice and topped with a sprinkle of scallions and red chili flakes, if desired.
You can enjoy the stir fry on its own but it’s best over basmati rice, jasmine rice or brown rice. Rice noodles work well too!
Try it served topped with thinly sliced scallions. If you like some heat you can add a spinkle of chili flakes or Sriracha sauce.
- Bake the Tofu: Instead of pan frying the tofu, after tossing with cornstarch, salt and pepper, place the cubes spaced out on a baking try and bake at 400 F for 20-30 minutes until browned and crispy. For more details, using this recipe for baked tofu (not the sauce, just the baking) or this recipe for baked tofu (no cornstarch).
- Omit the oil in the sauce.
- Use 1 tbsp water or broth instead of oil to stir fry the vegetables.
Storing & Making Ahead
- Let cool before storing.
- Store for up to 5 days in an airtight container the fridge.
- Reheat on the stovetop in a skillet or in the microwave until heated through.
- Not suitable for freezing.
To save time, you can use roasted cashews in this recipe instead of toasting them. You can also chop and store the veggies up to 3 days in advance and bake or fry the tofu up to 4 days in advance.
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For the Cashew Tofu Stir Fry
For the Sauce:
- In a large non-stick pan, over medium heat, toast cashews for 4-6 min, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together all sauce ingredients until combined. Set aside.
- Slice the block of tofu in half, lengthwise and then into three long strips. Use your hands to break each strip into 1-inch sized pieces, or cut into cubes. Breaking the tofu by hand results in a crispier exterior. Transfer tofu to a medium bowl. Sprinkle cornstarch over top and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
- In the same pan, heat 2 tsp cooking oil of choice over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the tofu. Cook for 5-7 min, flipping pieces occasionally, until tofu is golden-brown and crisp on all sides. (depending on the size of your pan, you may have to do this in batches. You don’t want to overcrowd the pan). Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- To the pan, add another 2 tsp oil. Add the carrots, onions, peppers and broccoli. Cook for 5-7 min, stirring often, until tender-crisp.
- Add tofu, cashews and sauce to the pan with the veggies. Cook for 1-2 min, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened and slightly reduced.
- Serve cashew tofu stir fry over rice. Sprinkle green onions over top and chili flakes, if desired.
Tip: To drain the tofu, sandwich the block of tofu between a few layers of paper towels or clean kitchen towels. Then place a cutting board on top. Stack a few heavy cans or cast iron pan on top. You want to weigh the tofu down, which will help the excess water press out into the towels. The drier the tofu, the better the texture. Let the tofu drain for at least 15-30 minutes. For more details, read this post on how to press tofu.
To Save Time: Use roasted unsalted cashews instead of toasting the raw cashews. Chop and store the veggies up to 3 days in advance.
Cooked stir fry can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat in a pan on the stovetop or in the microwave until heated through.
- Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
- Calories: 434
- Sugar: 19 g
- Sodium: 370 mg
- Fat: 23 g
- Carbohydrates: 43 g
- Fiber: 5 g
- Protein: 18 g
Keywords: cashew tofu, veggie tofu stir fry