These vegan Orange Tofu Lettuce Wraps feature crispy baked tofu that’s tossed in sweet and sticky orange sauce made from Sunkist® Cara Cara oranges. It’s a no sugar-added vegan version of orange chicken that gets a light and refreshing twist by serving on crunchy lettuce leaves. A healthy weeknight dinner ready in about 30 minutes!
These orange tofu lettuce wraps are a light and refreshing vegan version of the classic Americanized Chinese orange chicken dish. Crispy baked tofu gets coated in sweet and sticky orange sauce made from Sunkist Cara Cara oranges and no added sugar. This delivers the taste and textures but with more wholesome ingredients, much less sugar, and no frying. To keep this dish light, the orange tofu gets nestled on top of a bed of rice in fresh, crisp lettuce leaves.
Now let’s talk about the sauce! This orange sauce is truly the star of this dish. The sweetness of the Sunkist Cara Cara oranges add a bright, sweet flavor without the need for added sugar. They also add in a boost of vitamin C, folate, and vitamin A. This sticky-sweet sauce pairs perfectly with tofu, but tempeh, chickpeas, or chicken (if not vegan!) work wonderfully too. You really can’t go wrong! This vegan orange tofu is truly a crave-worthy meal that’s better than takeout!
Vegan Orange Tofu Ingredients + Substitutions
- Tofu — ideally, opt for super-firm tofu for this recipe. This vacuum-packed tofu has already been compressed to retain less moisture. The less moisture in the tofu means meatier, crispier tofu pieces. I purchase super-firm tofu from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. If you can’t find super-firm tofu, extra-firm will work! Just make sure to press the tofu to remove extra moisture (notes on how to do this below!)
- Orange Juice + Zest — The zest and juice of fresh squeezed Sunkist® Cara Cara Oranges is the key ingredient in this sweet orange sauce. They add bright orange flavor without being overly acidic. You need one cup of orange juice which amounts to roughly 3-4 Cara Cara oranges.
- Coconut aminos — this gluten-free, soy-free replacement for classic soy sauce adds a savory saltiness that compliments the sweetness of the orange juice. I prefer coconut aminos to soy sauce since it contains significantly less sodium, which means you have better control of the saltiness of the sauce. Of course, you can sub low-sodium soy sauce or tamari.
- Rice Vinegar — a little bit of acid is needed to balance out the sweet orange juice. Rice vinegar also adds the crave-worthy sweet-and-sour flavor profile in the sticky orange sauce.
- Garlic + Ginger — this classic combo of aromatics adds to the flavor of the zesty orange sauce. The recipe calls for minced garlic and fresh ginger, but feel free to sub ground garlic and ginger for convenience.
- Starch — organic cornstarch or arrowroot starch both work well in this recipe. The scratch creates an extra crispy outer coating on the tofu and also helps thicken the sauce.
For the Lettuce Wraps
- Lettuce — gem, butterhead or iceberg lettuce work well due to their naturally rounded shape. Perfect for holding in the rice and sticky orange tofu. It also adds a refreshing crunch to balance out the saucy tofu pieces.
- Rice — fluffy white rice gets nested in the lettuce cups before adding on the orange tofu to soak up some of the sweet sauce. Feel free to use whatever rice you prefer, just note that brown rice varieties (unless pre-cooked/frozen) take much longer to cook, so make note of that when planning your meal. You can also sub cauliflower rice for an extra veggie-packed, grain-free option.
How to cook Crispy tofu for this recipe:
- Oven Baked Crispy Tofu – this is my preferred method for cooking crispy tofu. It’s pretty much hands off and requires about 30 minutes of your time. Cubed and pressed tofu gets coated lightly in coconut aminos cornstarch or arrowroot scratch. This adds a crisp edge without frying the tofu. Spread the tofu evenly onto the baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Stove-Top – need a quicker option? Cooking tofu on the stop-top will get the job done. After tossing the tofu in cornstarch or arrowroot starch, heat a few oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu and cook until crisp and golden on all sides, about 10-15 minutes.
- Air-Fryer – full disclosure, I do not have an air fryer. But from what I’ve researched, it’s a great way to get crispy tofu. The down side of an air fryer is you have to work in small batches, which isn’t necessarily time efficient. That being said, if you have an air fryer, here’s an easy to follow instructions for crispy tofu.
Not a fan of tofu, you’ve got options!
- Tempeh – since tempeh has a dense, meaty texture, no need to coat in cornstarch. I recommend steaming the tempeh first. Ten minutes in a steamer basket on the stove top or two minutes in a damp paper towel in the microwave softens the tempeh and removes any bitter taste. Add the steamed tempeh to the orange sauce or sauté in a skillet lightly coated in oil to crisp it up a bit.
- Chickpeas – an even quicker option that’s also soy-free! Simply add one or two cans of drained and rinsed chickpeas to the sticky orange sauce.
- Chicken – not vegan? This recipe would also work with chicken. I recommend coating the chicken in starch then sautéing in a skillet lightly coated in oil. Make the orange sauce in a separate skillet and add in the cooked chicken and toss to coat in the sauce.
CAra CAra Orange Nutrition:
Cut into a Sunkist® Cara Cara orange and you’ll immediately notice its bright pink flesh. This beautiful pink hue comes from the natural presence of lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant that can help protect your body from damage caused by free radicals. Excess free radicals in the body can create oxidative stress in your body. Research shows that the antioxidant properties of lycopene can help keep levels of free radical levels in check, protecting your body against some health conditions associated with elevated oxidative stress. (1)
Cara Cara oranges are also an excellent source of vitamin C. While all oranges contain vitamin C, Cara Cara oranges contain the most vitamin C out of all Sunkist® citrus varieties. One medium Cara Cara orange contains 100% of your daily vitamin C requirement. Aside from vitamin C, Cara Cara oranges are a good source of fiber and folate and contain potassium and vitamin A as well. (2) It’s no wonder Sunkist calls this variety The Power Orange®. This amazing citrus variety is available from December through May.
More Plant-bAsed Citrus Recipes:
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Vegan Orange Tofu Lettuce Wraps
These vegan Orange Tofu Lettuce Wraps feature crispy baked tofu that’s tossed in sweet and sticky orange sauce made from Sunkist® Cara Cara oranges. A healthy weeknight dinner ready in about 30 minutes!
- Prep Time: 10 min
- Cook Time: 25 min
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 2-4 servings 1x
For the Tofu
- 1, 14-ounce package extra-firm or super-firm tofu, drained
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot starch
For the Orange Sauce
- 1 cup fresh Sunkist® Cara Cara orange juice (from 2-3 Sunkist® Cara Cara oranges)
- Zest of one Sunkist® Cara Cara orange
- ⅓ cup coconut aminos
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- ½-inch fresh grated ginger grated on microplane or ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced or ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- Red pepper flakes, to taste
- 1 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot starch
- Gem, Iceberg or Butterhead lettuce leaves
- White jasmine rice
- Thinly sliced green onion
- Sesame seeds
Press the Tofu: If using extra firm tofu, pressed the tofu to remove the moisture. Wrap the tofu in a kitchen towel or paper towels and place a heavy pan on top. Let drain for at least 15 minutes. Unwrap the tofu and cut into 1-inch cubes. If using super-firm tofu, simply pat with a paper towel and cut into 1-inch cubes.
Prepare the Tofu: Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the cubed tofu to a large bowl, drizzle on the coconut aminos and toss to coat. Sprinkle the cornstarch or arrowroot scratch over the tofu and gently toss until coated. Spread the tofu evenly onto the baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden and crisp around the edges.
Make the Orange Sauce: When the tofu has about 10 minutes left, start the orange sauce. In a small bowl whisk together the orange juice and zest, coconut aminos, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, chili flakes (if using), and cornstarch. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, pour the orange sauce in the skillet and bring to a low boil and let thicken for 3-5 minutes. Once the sauce thickens, add tofu and toss to thoroughly coat in sauce. Remove skillet from heat.
Assemble and Serve: Add rice to each of the lettuce leaves. Top with orange tofu. Garnish each lettuce wrap with sesame seeds, sliced green onions, and red pepper flakes, if desired. Serve immediately.
Store leftover orange tofu in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Re-warm the tofu in a skillet over medium heat.
Sweetness level: This sauce contains no added sugar. If you would like it a little sweeter add 1-2 tablespoons of maple syrup, honey or coconut sugar. Taste and adjust to your preference before adding the tofu.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?
I’d love to hear how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #nourishedbynutriton and #MySunkistTable. You can also find this recipe on Sunkist.com/recipes/vegan-orange-tofu-lettuce-wraps/
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