These Kung Pao Veggies are loaded with flavor from fresh veggies, protein-packed tempeh, and a delicious homemade Kung Pao sauce. It's easy, delicious, and vegetarian and vegan friendly too!
You can go to almost any Chinese restaurant and order Kung Pao Chicken, but I have never seen a vegetarian version on a restaurant menu. This means that if you stop eating meat, you can never eat Kung Pao again.
Okay, no, not really. That's a bit melodramatic. You just have to make your own meatless version. Luckily, that's easy to do!
These Kung Pao Veggies are:
- Easy to make in just 30 minutes!
- A great alternative to takeout.
- Dairy free.
And if you love quick and easy vegan recipes, be sure to check out my new cookbook, Weeknight One Pot Vegan Cooking. It's packed with 75 plant based recipes that all cook up easily in a single pan!
For my homemade Kung Pao Vegetables, I opted to replace the traditional chicken with tempeh instead. If you're not familiar with tempeh, I have a primer about it here. Tempeh has a slightly nutty flavor and it's a great source of plant-based protein.
Tempeh can be found in most grocery stores, usually in the refrigerated case in the produce section. If you can't find it near you, add 8 ounces of extra veggies instead. (It looks like this.)
The last time I bought whole dried chili peppers, they sat in our pantry for years, so I decided to eliminate those from the recipe and use red pepper flakes instead, which most of us have on hand.
I added a conservative amount to keep this recipe comfortably spicy, but feel free to add more red pepper flakes if you prefer more POW in your Kung Pao.
I used mirin (I use this brand) in place of the traditional Chinese rice wine and omitted the typical Sichuan pepper too. While this makes the recipe a little less authentic, it does make it much more doable, which is important too.
Sichuan peppercorns were actually banned in the United States for many years, so many restaurant versions of Kung Pao Chicken are made without it anyway.
Serve these Kung Pao Veggies over rice or quinoa and you will never miss carryout again!
If you love these Kung Pao Vegetables, be sure to check out these other tasty vegetarian and vegan ideas:
While you're here, be sure to grab our FREE 5-Day Meatless Meal Plan. It's packed with tasty recipes to make vegetarian cooking easy and delicious!
- 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce + 2 teaspoons additional, divided
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 3 ½ teaspoons cornstarch divided
- 8 oz tempeh cubed
- 1 zucchini small, cut into thick half moons
- 1 eggplant small, cubed
- 1 red bell pepper cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons white sugar (organic for vegan-friendly)
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or peanut oil
- ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes add more or less to adjust the heat level
- 3 green onions white and green parts separated, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
- Cooked rice or quinoa for serving
- Whisk together 2 tablespoons of tamari, mirin, and 1 ½ teaspoons of corn starch in a small bowl. Put the tempeh, zucchini, eggplant, and bell pepper in a large, shallow baking dish and pour the sauce mixture over them. Toss to coat and let the veggies marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes.
- While the veggies are marinating, whisk together the vinegar, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and remaining tamari and cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl to coat with grapeseed oil and add the red pepper flakes to the pan. Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly, until the oil is fragrant and the pepper flakes are beginning to darken. Add the tempeh and veggie mixture to the wok and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the eggplant and zucchini is tender.
- Add the white parts of the green onion, garlic, and ginger to the wok and cook for 30 seconds. Pour the sauce into the wok and stir to coat, then add the peanuts and cook for another minute. Remove from heat. Serve over rice or quinoa and garnish with the remaining green onions.