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5 from 4 votes

Sticky Spicy Sweet Tofu

This vegan sticky spicy sweet tofu is easy, delicious, and versatile. Add it to salads, power bowls, wraps, etc. or enjoy it all on its own alongside warm, nutty brown rice.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Tofu Press Time25 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Bigger Bites
Cuisine: asian, plant-based, Raw Vegan
Keyword: pasta sauce, spicy, sweet, Tofu
Servings: 2
Author: Ashley Melillo | Blissful Basil


  • 1 (15-ounce) block firm or very firm tofu, drained
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha or chili-garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon tamari*
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon arrowroot starch**


  • If you have a tofu press, use it to press the tofu for 20 to 30 minutes. Alternatively, wrap the tofu in several layers of paper towels, and place it on a dinner plate. Place another plate on top, and set a very heavy pot or pan (e.g., cast iron skillet) on top of the wrapped tofu and let stand for at least 20 minutes (preferably 30 minutes) to press the excess water from the tofu. Unwrap and discard the paper towel once pressed.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium spouted mixing bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the maple syrup, sesame oil, Sriracha, tamari, rice vinegar, and starch. Vigorously whisk together until combined and set within reach of the stove. Note: The recipe for the sauce is a jumping off point—feel free to add more of what you love. Like a tangier sauce? Add more vinegar. Extra spicy? More Sriracha. Generously salty? More tamari. A little sweeter? More maple syrup. Adjust to suit your preferences!
  • Slice the pressed tofu into 1-inch cubes.
  • Heat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or nonstick pan over medium-high heat until hot. The heat will sear the surface of the tofu and prevent it from sticking, which is why it's important the pan is thoroughly heated.
  • Once the pan is hot, add the tofu in a single layer (you may need to do this in two batches depending on the size of your pan).
  • Use the back of a spatula to lightly press down on the tofu (you should hear it sizzle and hiss). Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the pan-facing sides are golden-brown. Flip, and continue to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden-brown. Repeat until all sides are golden-brown.
  • Reduce the heat to low, return all the tofu to the pan (if you cooked in batches), and add the sauce. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the sauce warms, thickens, and clings to the tofu, stirring constantly.
  • Transfer the tofu and sauce to a medium mixing bowl and allow it to rest until ready to serve. I recommend serving the tofu over warm brown rice that's been seasoned with rice vinegar and tamari. For a lovely pop of freshness, add sliced cucumbers, lime wedges for spritzing, scallions, and cilantro!
  • Refrigerate leftovers.


*I used regular Tamari. If you're using low-sodium, you'll want to use a bit more. Also, if you don't need to keep this recipe gluten-free, you can use soy sauce instead.
**If you don't care about creating a sticky, thick sauce, you can omit the starch. The flavor of the sauce will be just as wonderful, it will just be on the thin side and you'll need to simmer it a bit longer to thicken. If you use the starch, use ⅛ teaspoon for a thinner sauce and ¼ teaspoon for a thicker sauce. If your sauce thickens too much, add more vinegar, soy sauce, etc. to thin to desired texture.
**Readers have had luck with tapioca starch as well—keep this in mind if you don't have arrowroot or cornstarch on hand.