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Panda Express Tofu Eggplant Recipe

This copycat recipe of Panda Express Eggplant Tofu combines crispy tofu, fried eggplants and red peppers with a sticky sweet and spicy sauce! Vegan and gluten-free!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main
Cuisine American, Gluten-free, Vegan
Servings 4
Calories 301 kcal


  • Cast iron skillet
  • A bowl


  • cup olive oil, divided (or another cooking oil)
  • 1 lb extra-firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 lb eggplant, cut into chunks with skin
  • 2 (200g) red bell peppers
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 3-4 green onions, white and green parts separated


  • ¼ cup soy sauce (use tamari if gluten-free)
  • ¼ cup vegetable broth or water
  • 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste or sambal oelek
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (or arrowroot starch)


  • Press the tofu in advance. Use a tofu press if you have it on hand. If not, wrap the tofu block in a cloth kitchen towel and place something heavy on top (books, jars, etc.). Press the tofu for 1-2 hours. Use right away or refrigerate for 2 days.
  • Coat the tofu. Cut the pressed tofu into cubes and add it to a bowl alongside 2 tablespoons of corn starch. Toss to coat.
  • Sauce. Make the sauce by adding all of the ingredients to a bowl- soy sauce, cold water or broth, sugar, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sambal oelek, and corn starch. Mix until the corn starch dissolves.
  • Fry. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Once hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and let it heat as well. Add the tofu and fry for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden. Remove from the pan.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons more olive oil and increase the heat to high. Once hot, add the eggplant pieces and fry for 3-4 minutes on both sides until golden brown. Make sure to not overcrowd the pan, work in 2-3 batches if needed, or the eggplant will steam instead of fry. Once ready, remove from the pan and set aside.
  • To the same pan, heat 1 more tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the red peppers and fry for 2-3 minutes. Then, add the minced garlic and ginger, alongside the white part of the green onions. Fry for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  • Assemble. Add the fried tofu and eggplant back to the skillet and pour the sauce. Stir until everything is well coated. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the sauce thickens, then remove from the heat. Add the green parts of the onions and serve!


  • Press the tofu in advance. This is a key step in this recipe because it makes the tofu chewy. And doing it 1 - 2 days in advance will save you so much time!
  • Prepare all the ingredients before cooking. There are quite a few steps in this recipe and chopping everything ahead of time makes it so much easier.
  • Don't overcook the veggies. The vegetables in this recipe are supposed to be crispy and chewy, not soft. It's important to cook the eggplants for just a few minutes, or they will get soggy.
  • If you want to take this recipe to the next level and make the tofu crispier, you can deep fry it.
Store leftovers in an airtight container for 4-5 days. This recipe is not freezer friendly.
 To reheat
Reheat on the stovetop with some oil for 4-5 minutes or until warmed through. Alternatively, you can reheat it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.
*Total time doesn't include the time it takes to press the tofu, because it can be done ahead of time.
**Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated without optional ingredients.
Keyword sesame, spring, stir fry, Summer, sweet chili sauce, tofu