My favorite vegan & gluten-free recipe for Black Pepper Tofu & Green Beans is officially here! This green bean tofu stir fry recipe contains only 9 ingredients that can easily be found at most grocery stores. I can solidly say this easy 5-ingredient black pepper sauce makes this the most delicious vegan weeknight dinner!
*Recipe shared January 2020 and updated January 2022*
Can I just say that I NEVER thought making an Asian tofu stir fry sauce at home could be this easy and taste this good? Black Pepper Tofu is one of my favorite recipes to eat as takeout, but I always believed it was too complicated to make at home.
Previously, I've tried other recipes for homemade black pepper tofu that were delicious but contained way too many complicated grocery items.
In contrast, this black pepper tofu recipe contains 9 ingredients that can ALL be easily found at most grocery stores and can be whipped up in just 40 minutes!
- Tofu: For this recipe, you'll need to use firm or extra-firm tofu. Soft/silken tofu will not work as it will fall apart when stir-frying.
- Cornstarch: This is the secret ingredient for crispy tofu! I don't recommend substituting it for anything, but you can stir-fry the tofu without it if necessary.
- Tamari: Tamari is essentially gluten-free soy sauce. You can substitute regular soy-sauce in this recipe or even replace half the tamari/soy-sauce with veggie broth for a less salty sauce.
- Peppercorn: Freshly ground is a MUST for this recipe.
- Not pictured: Water or vegetable broth which we are using in the black pepper sauce.
How to make black pepper tofu
Make the crispy tofu
The first step to making this tofu green bean stir fry is cooking the tofu to crispy perfection. In particular, these tips & tricks are sure to give you crispy tofu every time!
One: Make sure the Tofu is Extra Firm & DRY: To do this, slice the tofu in half and press it between two towels or paper towels. Then, let the tofu sit like this for about 10 minutes.
Two: Use the right oil to stir fry. For this recipe, I used sesame oil. It has a higher smoke point meaning it can withstand being cooked at high heat without burning. Besides the desirable smoke point, sesame oil also adds great flavor to this stir fry. In case you can't find sesame oil, other oils that could work for the recipe include canola, grapeseed, soybean, avocado, or peanut oil.
Three: Cornstarch for Crispiness! Did you know cornstarch makes the best coating to make tofu crispy and brown? For this recipe, I don't recommend replacing the cornstarch with alternatives like tapioca starch or arrowroot as the tofu won't get as crispy.
Four: Use a Wok to Stir Fry. My wok is truly my most BELOVED kitchen appliance. In fact, I use it to cook many other dishes on SGTO like my favorite Vegan Eggplant Lentil Curry. Using a wok helps to distribute heat more evenly while cooking and allows me to use less oil. Win, win!
To sum it up, once the tofu is coated with the cornstarch, add 1 Tbsp sesame oil to a wok. Once the oil is hot, add in the tofu and stir fry for 10-15 minutes until brown and crisp. Then, set the tofu aside for later.
P.S- If you'd like to make this tofu green bean stir fry oil-free you can also bake the tofu! Simply follow the instructions in my Baked Tofu with Peanut Sauce to read how.
Make the black pepper sauce
This homemade black pepper sauce can be made in one bowl & contains only 5 ingredients.
All you need to do is whisk together the tamari (or soy sauce), water (or vegetable broth for more flavor), sugar, ground ginger, and black pepper together in a small bowl. After that, your sauce is ready to be added to the wok!
In order to keep this recipe gluten-free, I choose Tamari over traditional soy sauce which tends to have wheat added in. I like saltier food, but if you do not, you can also use a low-sodium soy sauce. You can also replace some of the soy sauce with additional vegetable broth or water for a less salty sauce.
Also, I recommend usually a high-quality black pepper and grinding it fresh for this recipe. Specifically, I used a Rainbow Peppercorn Blend and love the flavor this black pepper mix brings to this tofu stir fry.
If you are trying to stay away from refined sugar, coconut sugar can be used as a 1:1 substitution for brown sugar in this recipe.
Also, while I choose ground dried ginger for this black pepper tofu recipe, grating in fresh ginger would give this stir fry even more flavor.
Stir fry the green beans & shallots
The vegetables I used in this dish are shallots and of course...beloved green beans!
For the best texture, I like to cut the ends off my green beans (the stringy part) and then chop each green bean into halves or thirds. When cutting the shallots, I like to finely dice them so they blend into the sauce.
After you have stir-fried the tofu and made the sauce, add more sesame oil to the hot wok. Once the oil is hot, add in the vegetables and stir fry for about 5 minutes.
Pro-Tip: A few people have tested this recipe with sliced mushrooms and sliced red peppers and recommended that as well! Whatever veggies you add, I bet they will taste great in this tofu green bean stir fry.
Mix together & serve over rice
As a final step, add the crispy tofu to the wok with the stir-fried veggies and black pepper sauce and mix them together.
The cornstarch from the tofu will help to thicken the sauce a bit, but you'll also have plenty of sauce leftover to pour on top of the rice.
Lastly, top off the vegan black pepper tofu bowls with fresh Thai basil! I also love serving this recipe over white rice or pairing it with my FAVORITE Vegan Fried Rice.
This Black Pepper Tofu & Green Beans recipe is simple, quick to whip up as a weeknight dinner, and absolutely delicious.
Personally, I love that it is a healthy dish AND comfort food at the same time. Pair it with a big bowl of white rice and dig in for the best vegan tofu recipe you've ever had!
More vegan tofu recipes you will love:
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Black Pepper Tofu & Green Beans
- 14 oz firm tofu must be firm or extra firm, not soft
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 ½ cup chopped green beans
- 2 shallots about ½ cup finely chopped
- 6 Tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
- 3 Tablespoons water or vegetable broth Can sub with extra tamari for a saltier dish.
- 2 ½ Tablespoons organic sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper reduce to ½ Tablespoon for a less spicy dish
- Fresh Thai Basil optional, as garnish
- To begin, slice the block of tofu in half and press it between two towels or two paper towels. Let the tofu sit for 10 minutes to soak up any excess moisture.
- While the tofu is being pressed, chop up the green beans and shallots and make the black pepper sauce. To make the black pepper sauce, simply whisk together the soy sauce/tamari, water/vegetable broth, sugar, ground ginger, and freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
- Once the ingredients are prepped, cut the pressed tofu into 1 inch cubes and add to a large bowl. Add the cornstarch to the bowl and use your hands to evenly coat the tofu in cornstarch.
- Next, add 1 Tbsp of sesame oil to the work and turn on the heat. Once the oil is hot, add in the tofu and stir fry for 10-15 minutes until the tofu is browned and crispy on the outside. Remove the tofu from the wok and set aside in a bowl.
- Add the remaining 1 Tbsp of sesame oil to the wok followed by the chopped shallots and green beans. Stir fry for about 5 minutes until the shallots are translucent. Then, add in the black pepper sauce and tofu. Cook all the ingredients for an additional 3-5 minutes to help thicken the sauce.
- Remove the wok from the heat and serve the black pepper tofu and green beans on top of white rice. Garnish with the Thai basil if desired. Enjoy!
- Stir fry can be stored in a closed container and will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
- The original sauce recipe called for 10 Tablespoons of tamari but has now been changed to 6 Tablespoons tamari and 3 Tablespoons of water or vegetable broth based on feedback and retesting. If you prefer the original recipe, please adjustb= back to 10 Tablesoons tamari. Thank you for your feedback so I could make this recipe even better!
- For an even less salty sauce, use low-sodium soy sauce or replace an additional 2 Tbsp of the tamari with vegetable broth or water.
- If you would like a less spicy dish, simply reduce the black pepper to ½ Tbsp (3 grams). It still will taste delicious!
- This recipe is adapted from Dishing out the Health Black Pepper Tofu recipe but is less spicy & contains more veggie goodness!
The written instructions say to use black pepper, but the photos show mixed, including red. Which is correct? Also, how finely should the peppercorns be ground?
Either peppercorn variety will work (black or mixed)! I'm not sure how else to explain how to finely grind the pepper, it should just be fine enough that it will mix well into the sauce.
Thank you for the explanation. It says ‘freshly ground’, so I wasn’t sure if you meant coarse, medium or finely ground. I ended up going with medium grind, but it wasn’t very peppery so will use fine next time. Otherwise it turned out lovely. I cook for my 94 year old mother and she also enjoyed it a lot. My only alteration was to use slightly less tofu to veg, because a leftover handful of beans will usually get overlooked in the fridge. Thank you for a great, quick weeknight dish that I’ll definitely make again (with finely ground pepper!).
Overall really good and not too intimidating for my first time preparing tofu. I did need a lot more cornstarch than recommended and it was way easier to bread the pieces spread out on a plate than in a bowl. The sauce was also overwhelmingly salty even using tamari, so I will sub out some of the tamari for broth next time. I ended up having to steam the beans for about ten minutes to get them cooked. Definitely good enough to make again with some minor tweaks. I'm excited to have a tofu recipe that I enjoy and can come back to.
Thanks for sharing your adaptations and glad you enjoyed it!
We enjoyed it! I am a bit of a weakling when it comes to spice (I missed your note about decreasing the pepper), but I still loved it! I will decrease the next time I make. Great recipe!
So glad you loved it- and yes the pepper is totally adaptable so hope it works better a little less spicy next time 🙂
The flavor was good but I’m surprised nobody commented on how tough the green beans were after only 5 minutes of cook time. I am simmering the whole thing while covered for another few minutes in hopes of making the green beans more tender.
They're meant to stay a bit firm and crunchy- but definitely not tough. you want to steam them before adding them next time if you prefer softer green beans. hope that helps!
Delicious recipe and simple to follow instructions.
So happy to hear it! 🙂
This is super delicious and easy to make. My husband even likes it and we added it to our make it again recipes.
Love hearing that thank you 🙂
This is so delicious! I added baby Bella mushrooms, because love mushrooms. We served over steamed rice and both my husband and I had seconds! This is definitely a keeper!
Adding mushrooms sounds perfect- so happy you both liked it! 🙂
We’re trying it tonight! I’m making batch A using the recipe you wrote; and batch B using chicken for my son. I’m intrigued by Krystal putting it in the crockpot (I’ll have to figure out how to do that) and I look forward to adding this to our dinner rotation!
Amazing hope you enjoy it both ways!