Authentic Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐)

4.99 from 57 votes
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An easy mapo tofu recipe that creates the authentic taste of China that features soft tofu cooked in a rich, spicy, and savory sauce that is full of aroma. Serve it over steamed rice for a quick, delicious and healthy weekday dinner!

Mapo tofu close up

Mapo tofu (麻婆豆腐, ma po dou fu) is one of the most popular dishes from Sichuan cuisine. The tofu pieces are braised in a rich spicy, and savory sauce along with fresh garlic and scallions, with a small amount of ground pork to enhance the flavor. The dish is so appetizing and it goes perfectly with steamed rice.

Cooking mapo tofu is quite easy but you do need a few special ingredients to get the authentic flavor. I’m sharing my favorite mapo tofu recipe below. It creates the very authentic taste that you’d get at a restaurant in China. However, based on this recipe, you can easily tweak the dish according to your preferences.

Mapo tofu with ground pork served in a plate
Homemade mapo tofu close up

Key ingredients for Mapo Tofu


Doubanjiang (豆瓣酱), also known as spicy fermented bean paste or broad bean sauce, is the most important ingredient in mapo tofu. And it has a strong fermented savory, salty and spicy taste. Try to find “Pixian Broad Bean Paste” at your Asian market. Pixian is a small county in Sichuan province that produces the best broad bean paste. If you’re using this brand, you’re already halfway there. You can also purchase this brand on Amazon here.

NOTE: Depending on the brand of Doubanjiang you use, the salt and spiciness level can vary a lot. This dish is designed to be served with rice, so it’s on the salty side. If you want to make your dish less salty and spicy, reduce the amount of Doubanjiang (to 2 tablespoons).


Sichuan peppercorns

Sichuan peppercorn (花椒, hua jiao) is another main ingredient in any Sichuan dishes. It has a citrusy taste with a numbing tingling sensation when you chew on it. It’s a secret to add aroma to your dish that no other ingredient can replace. You can purchase Sichuan peppercorns at Asian grocery stores, but I highly recommend these premium fresh ones from The Mala Market.

Sichuan peppercorns

Homemade chili oil

The other important ingredient is chili oil (辣椒油). Although you can purchase bottled chili oil at the grocery store, I highly recommend you make it at home. Freshly cooked chili oil tastes much better than store-bought and is free of additives. You only need a few minutes to cook it and it is really easy. You can find an easy chili oil recipe here. And if you prefer to purchase it instead of making your own, you can also find it on Amazon.

PS. You will usually cook more chili oil than you’re able to use in one meal. You can store the extra oil in an airtight container in the fridge for 6 months up to a year. You can use the chili oil in various dishes, including bang bang chicken, dan dan noodles, Sichuan spicy wonton in red oil, and Fu Qi Fei Pian (Sliced beef in hot sauce). You can also add it into a dipping sauce for potstickers, or add it to wonton soup to enhance the flavor, or even put it on oatmeal!

It might look like you need so many specialty ingredients for this one dish. But trust me, if you love Sichuan food, you’ll be using them again and again. 

How to cook mapo tofu

Once you gather the ingredients, making mapo tofu is a super easy process.

  1. Fry the Sichuan peppercorns in the oil to infuse the aroma
  2. Cook the ground pork with doubanjiang
  3. Once the pork is cooked, add the green onions and stir a few times
  4. Add the broth and braise with the cover on
  5. Drizzle in the cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce

That’s it! I think this is one of the easiest Sichuan recipes and the result is super rewarding 🙂

How to make mapo tofu step-by-step

Tips on cooking with Sichuan peppercorns

Homemade mapo tofu

Frequently asked questions

What type of tofu to use for mapo tofu

There is no correct answer to this, and you should choose what works best for you.

Some Chinese restaurants, including many in China, prefer to use soft or silken tofu to make this dish. It creates a very silky tofu texture that melts in your mouth. This method does require some experience in handling tofu, so you won’t break apart the very delicate silken tofu while cutting and cooking. 

On the other hand, you can also use extra firm, firm or medium tofu for this dish. These types of tofu are much easier to handle. Plus, once you braise it in the rich spicy sauce, it absorbs a lot of flavor and tastes great.

Do I need a wok to cook mapo tofu?

Not at all! I found it’s easiest to cook mapo tofu in a nonstick pan. The tofu will sit flat in the broth and absorb all the flavor. Not to mention it won’t stick to the pan easily or fall apart when you stir it. 

Can you recommend a gluten-free doubanjiang?

Doubanjiang usually contains fermented wheat, which is not gluten-free. Unfortunately I hadn’t found a great tasting gluten-free doubanjiang at the time of writing this post. 

There is a Japanese brand doubanjiang that’s gluten-free and I see it quite often at Asian markets and on Amazon. Compared to the Chinese brand, this one is quite salty and has less fermented taste. If you decide to use this one for your mapo tofu, you should reduce the amount (to 2 tablespoons) so your dish won’t end up too spicy and salty.

How to make mapo tofu vegetarian or vegan?

I have a vegan mapo tofu here that tastes super flavorful and great! 

Authentic Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐)

How to serve mapo tofu

I love cooking mapo tofu for a quick lunch or dinner and serving it over steamed rice. Sometimes I double the meat and sauce, so it will be enough to serve two people as a one-dish meal. I also like to add a handful of greens (spinach, garlic chives, or other tender greens such as chopped up baby bok choy) at the end of braising before adding the cornstarch, to create a more nutritious and balanced meal. Sometimes I also replace the ground pork (used in the authentic version) with ground turkey to cut calories.

For special diets, you can make it less spicy and skip the rice so it will be paleo-friendly. You can also make it into a vegan dish by replacing the meat with mushrooms.

Yes, mapo tofu is such a versatile dish!

Other Sichuan dishes to make a full-on Sichuan feast

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An easy mapo tofu recipe that creates the authentic taste of China and features soft tofu cooked in a rich, spicy, and savory sauce that is full of aroma. Serve it over steamed rice for a quick, delicious and healthy weekday dinner!

Authentic Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐)

4.99 from 57 votes
An easy mapo tofu recipe that creates the authentic taste of China that features soft tofu cooked in a rich, spicy, and savory sauce that is full of aroma. Serve it over steamed rice for a quick, delicious and healthy weekday dinner!
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: homestyle, restaurant-style
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 2 to 4 servings



  • 4 oz (120 g) ground pork (or chicken, or turkey) (*Footnote 1)
  • 2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger

For braising

  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch (optional) (*Footnote 2)
  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns , increase to 3 teaspoons if you like your dish extra numbing, or reduce to 1 teaspoon if your Sichuan peppercorns are extra fresh
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 3 tablespoons Doubanjiang , reduce to 2 tablespoons for a less saltier and less spicy taste
  • 2 green onion , chopped
  • 1 block (400-g / 14-oz) firm or medium firm tofu , cut into 1.5cm (1/2 inch) squares
  • 1 cup chicken stock (or water)
  • 2 teaspoons homemade chili oil (*Footnote 3)
  • 1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (or to taste)


  • Combine ground meat, cooking wine, soy sauce, and ginger in a small bowl. Mix well.
  • Combine cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  • Heat the oil and Sichuan peppercorns in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the Sichuan peppercorns turn dark brown and crispy, scoop them out with a spatula and transfer into a bowl layered with paper towels to soak extra oil. Save to use for garnishing the dish (Optional).
  • Add the ground meat and Doubanjiang. Cook over medium heat and chop the ground meat into small bits with a spatula, until pork is evenly coated with Doubanjiang and fully cooked through. Add green onion and stir fry for another minute.
  • Spread tofu evenly on top of ground pork (*Footnote 4). Add chili oil, five-spice powder, and sugar. Pour in the broth and cook until brought to a simmer. Simmer, covered, over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced to half the original amount. Taste the tofu with some broth (be careful, it will be very hot!). Adjust seasoning by adding salt if needed. If the dish is too spicy, add another teaspoon of sugar to balance it out. Gently mix well with spatula.
  • (Optional) Meanwhile, grind the fried Sichuan peppercorns (you used when heating up the oil) in a coffee grinder or using mortar and pestle.
  • Mix cornstarch water again until fully dissolved and swirl it into the skillet. Gently stir a few times with a spatula, until sauce thickens. Turn off heat and transfer everything to a bowl.
  • Garnish with extra green onion and a small pinch of the ground Sichuan peppercorns, if using (*Footnote 5), if using. Serve hot over steamed rice or by itself as main.


  1. You can skip the meat and make this dish vegetarian. In this case, I highly recommend replacing the meat with mushrooms (such as rehydrated dried shiitake mushrooms) to enhance flavor.
  2. If you like the tofu with more broth, you can braise the tofu for a shorter time and use the cornstarch slurry to thicken the broth. Alternatively, you can uncover and braise until most of the liquid evaporates. The tofu will absorb more flavor this way.
  3. You can also pour on more chili oil for the restaurant look!
  4. Do not stir the tofu immediately after adding it into the skillet, in order to keep the pieces from breaking apart. The tofu will get firmer after braising and you can stir it once it’s cooked.
  5. The Sichuan peppercorns add a numbing nutty aroma to the dish. The fried Sichuan peppercorns have a more rounded body so it works great for garnishing the dish or in a salad. You only need a small amount in this recipe to finish up the dish. Store the rest in an airtight container, no longer than a month.



Serving: 1serving, Calories: 194kcal, Carbohydrates: 5.1g, Protein: 13.6g, Fat: 14.1g, Saturated Fat: 3.3g, Cholesterol: 19mg, Sodium: 605mg, Potassium: 173mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2.6g, Calcium: 206mg, Iron: 2mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Don’t forget the last step! Leave a comment below, and tag me @OmnivoresCookbook and #OmnivoresCookbook on Instagram!

The recipe was posted in Sep 7, 2015, and updated on May 23, 2022 with new graphics.

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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Xiaolu @6bittersweets says:

    This looks wonderful, but you don’t seem to mention the chili oil again even though you say in the text that it’s needed for this recipe? Is there something missing from the recipe part?

    • Xiaolu @6bittersweets says:

      Oops! My mistake — I see you listed it under sauce instead of oil in the ingredients. Can’t wait to try this!

      • Maggie says:

        Hi Xiaolu, thank you for stopping by and I’m glad you like the recipe. 🙂
        Yes, I used homemade chili sauce from another recipe instead of chili oil from supermarket. Although they are interchangeable, I like the homemade chili sauce better, because it’s fresh and have better flavor. Also it’s very easy to make and you can store it under room temperature for relatively long time – about 1 month.
        Happy cooking and hope you enjoy the dish! 🙂

      • PR says:

        5 stars
        Great recipe, excellent write up . Awesome taste!!

  2. CartoonGent says:

    Thanks for the advice! I poked around a bit in the store and didn t see any Sichuan peppercorns that looked green and red like yours. The dried prickly ash all looked like dark brown balls. I was led astray by the spicy bean sauce because the jar had a picture of mapo tofu on it! I may try this dish again after learning from my mistakes. Thanks!

  3. Joyce says:

    Thanks for such a delicious and easy recipe Maggie! I’ve tried another mapo tofu recipe that was not very successful, but when I saw your recipe, and how I already had all the ingredients at home, I decided to try making it again.

    It was a HUGE hit with my husband, and it will be on my regular dinner rotation! 🙂 I also love reading about your Austin restaurant adventures – I live in Houston and travel to Austin a few times each year and enjoy reading about the new eats in town to check out. Keep up the good work!

    • Maggie says:

      I’m so glad you tried my recipe and liked it Joyce! This is such a comforting dish that we cook it at home very often.
      I didn’t realize we’re so close! We travel to Houston once in a while. It has a great collections of Asian restaurants and markets there, and I grab Shaoxing wine (the non-salted kind) there. I cannot find Shaoxing wine in Austin!
      We cook at home most of the time, but we try to go to a new place every week or two. Will keep talking about it on the blog 🙂
      Have a great week ahead!

  4. Tim says:

    Is the doubanjiang really 3 tablespoons and not teaspoons? I’ve made it twice using no salt containing ingredients except the doubanjiang (no soy sauce or chicken bouillon) and have used both 2 and 3 tbsp. Both were too salty. :(. I see another recipe online that calls for only 2 teaspoons of doubanjiang (lady and pups).


    • Maggie says:

      Hi Tim, I’m pretty sure I used 3 tablespoons when I was cooking this recipe, because it is the main ingredient. One of the reasons I can think of, probably I was using another brand of doubanjiang back then (I considered it common to find). I made sure I added enough so the dish won’t taste plain when serving with rice. I switched to the authentic brand now. From the ingredients of the recipe, I’d probably add 1 to 2 tablespoons (or 1 tablespoon plus extra homemade chili oil). I will need to test this recipe again so I can found out the correct measurement.
      I’ve checked the recipe from Lady and Pups, it looks gorgeous! I like the idea of adding chicken stock into the stew.
      Thanks for helping me troubleshooting the recipe Tim. I’ll make sure to revise and fix it.

      • Tim says:

        Thank you so much, Maggie. I just found your blog and absolutely love your recipes. I lived in China for a little while and fell in love with the food but quickly became sad when I couldn’t find the same flavors back home – even at Chinese restaurants. I do think the key is the brand of doubanjiang because they all have different salt levels. I use the same brand as Lasy and Pups uses. I’m going to have to make this again tomorrow and use less doubanjiang but I really prefer to use more to get the flavor (but then the salt…). I guess I just need a less salty brand so I can use more of it. 🙂

        Keep up the excellent work. You’re awesome!

      • Maggie says:

        Hi Tim, always so happy to see a new reader who appreciates real Chinese flavor! 🙂 I agree with you, it is very difficult to find the authentic flavor outside of China. That’s the reason that I mostly cook Chinese food at home and seldom go trying out new restaurants these days.
        As for the doubanjiang, you can try Lee Kum Kee. That’s the brand I used to cook with and it might be less saltier. But the Pixian one is supposed to be the real deal (the one you’re using now). One of the great way to add flavor is adding tons of homemade chili oil into the dish, like the recipe from Lady and Pups. If you’re cooking with my recipe again tomorrow, try 1 tablespoon doubanjiang and more chili oil (maybe use chicken stock instead of hot water). If you’re making chili oil with a less spicier type pepper (Korean chili pepper instead of Thai chili pepper), you can use quite a lot to add flavor without making the dish too salty.
        Thanks for the kind words Tim! You just made my day 🙂

      • Alex says:

        5 stars
        Late to the party, but i also thought that 3 tbsp of the pixian with low sodium chicken stock was too salty.
        Checking the nutritonal facts, as far as salt content is concerned, 2 tbsp of pixian is about equal to 3 tbsp of lee kum kee.

        I tried 1.5 tbsp with no sodium chicken stock, and though the result was a bit bland.
        Im currently making this with 2 tbsp and no sodium chicken stock and have been happy with the results.

        Just another data point for anyone browsing here.

  5. dylan says:

    ahhh this was sooo yummy and delicious! thank you 🙂 i’ve been using pre packed ma bo and finally decided i needed to make it myself 🙂

  6. D.Friesen says:

    Looks like a great recipe, and I’m going to try it tonight with one quite important addition: Sichuan peppercorn. When I lived in Chengdu I don’t think I ever had this dish without that Sichuan spice. Not sure how it can be called authentic without it.

    • Maggie says:

      I totally agree with you on the Sichuan peppercorns. I usually add 2 teaspoons when heating up the oil to make the oil smoky and fragrant. When the Sichuan peppercorns turns dark brown, scoop them out and transfer to a small bowl with paper towel to soak extra oil. Once the dish is cooked, you can ground the sichuan peppercorns in a coffee grinder and sprinkle on the tofu. The freshly ground fried peppercorns have a more roundup flavor and nutty aroma.
      Not sure why I skipped it when I published the recipe… Going to edit it right now.

  7. J-Mom says:

    My husband was hankering for mapo tofu. I knew I would find a great recipe at your website. We loved this. I really liked the flavor and kick of the Sichuan peppercorns. Thank you for the recipe !!!

    • Maggie says:

      Big sorry if your inbox is bombarded with my replies J-Mom! I was traveling most of the weekends and just realized I haven’t reply my blog comments for weeks…
      I’m glad that you like this version and do not mind the spiciness! It is one of our favorite winter dishes and it the perfect pair with rice 🙂

      • Lilian Cheng says:

        Just made this and I wish I listened to the comments about it being too salty. Next time I’d cut the doubangjjang by half and avoid soy sauce and salt. I hate wasting food, but I had to throw half of it out. The other half I’m trying to salvage by adding more ground pork.

  8. Chit says:

    Hi maggi am so happy and excited I stumbled upon your website! I did Mapo tofu today and you are right absolutely…the best! Been doing other recipes…now I have to delete them all in my recipe file! Thanks! And you are so pretty! I look forward to doing all in your cookbook! Thanks for that freebie!

    Chit from the Philippines

  9. Erika says:

    Wow! Made this tonight and it was delicious! Flavors and seasoning were perfect!

    • Maggie says:

      I’m so glad to hear it Erika! Happy new year 2018 🙂

  10. John says:

    Ahh, yes. Very good. I feel like I’ve been looking for this recipe for a long time. Thank you!

    • Maggie says:

      So glad to hear it John! Hope you have a great day and can’t wait to hear what you cook the next 🙂

  11. Kay says:

    How much mushroom would you suggest I use to replace meat?

  12. Savannah says:

    Great recipe! I absolutely love Mapo-tofu. I was wondering, what’s the green vegetable side dish in the first picture? It looks delicious!

    • Thomas says:

      Thanks, Savannah! The green veggie dish is the easy cucumber salad. It’s super simple and makes a great side for any Chinese meal 🙂

  13. Kelly B says:

    This was fantastic! I surprised my husband with this recipe today and he was silent (mouth full) for two big helpings lol! Thank you I will keep this in my repertoire along with some of your other fabulous dishes!

  14. O says:

    Made this tonight with chicken and tofu. It’s abolitwly amazing, better than in any restaurant! Thank you so much for sharing this.

  15. Kula says:

    Hello Maggie,greetings from Singapore!
    I made this for dinner today and it was very good.
    I did not have chilli oil so I just added 2 fresh chillis. I also added some button mushrooms (leftover in the fridge) to make it a more complete one dish meal.
    Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to trying your other recipes.

  16. Susan Dubose says:

    I do love Mapo Tofu and will make your version soon. I didn’t know you could use beef too so will try it that way. Keep the good recipes coming, I am enjoying all of the ones I’ve tried.

  17. Anthony Allen says:

    That so so amazing. tofu looks delicious. so cravings! I love beef. I must try to do this dish tonight. Thanks for your recipe!!

  18. Charles Wright says:

    Wow, I followed your recipe. I did it for my girlfriend to eat. She liked it very much. Thank you so much .

  19. Kelly B says:

    This is an amazing dish. I’m making it again tonight but wondered if I could cut out the meat entirely? Would it have enough flavor and is there anything I could replace it with?

  20. Kelly Bossert says:

    This is an amazing dish. I’m making it again tonight but wondered if I could cut out the meat entirely? Would it have enough flavor and is there anything I could replace it with?

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Kelly,
      Yes you can cut out the meat. You can use a bit minced shiitake mushrooms to boost the taste, but I won’t worry too much if you cook without them. I also have a vegetarian mapo tofu recipe here:
      Happy cooking!

  21. Nicholas Price says:

    Tasty, but too hot for me, even putting 1 tbsp chilli paste, excluding chili sauce and peppercorns.

  22. Tofu!! I like tofu, I have cooked it with meat before, the recipe is not the same. I think I’ll try your recipe, it’s not too much complex. What’s kinds of rice in your photo? Thanks for sharing.

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Tiffany, I used multi-grain rice in the photos. We usually blend it with brown rice, wild rice and quinoa 🙂

  23. [email protected] hoodie says:

    My mom love tofu. I don’t usually cook for her. I’ll surprise her by cooking this dish. Thanks for your sharing and all the photos.

  24. Shona Levingston says:

    This is an excellent recipe. Very tasty. I usually find it difficult to get an authentic taste when I make Chinese food. I don’t seem to have the knack of balancing flavors. However, by following your recipe, I was able to achieve a delicious result. I did cut down on the chili bean paste to suit my taste.

  25. Nicki says:

    Dear Maggie, Thankyou. This was he best Mapo Tofu We have ever tasted x

  26. Dolores says:

    Hi Maggie, thanks for the recipe! Have tried it twice and it is delicious. One thing I ‘ve found is that the final dish has quite a bit of oil floating on the top. Do you have any tips to make it less oily – using less Sunflower oil at the start perhaps, or replacing the chili oil with fresh chilies?

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Dolores, you can totally start with less Sunflower oil at the beginning if you’re using a nonstick pan (1 teaspoon is probably enough). It’s also possible to replace the chili oil with chili flakes, but I really prefer the homemade chili oil because it’s more fragrant.

  27. Celine says:

    Question about making it vegetarian.
    Hi Maggie, I love your blog so much. Thank you for being such a good cook and giving us good recipe.
    I would love to make this tofu next week for Chinese New Year on Wednesday.

    How do I add the dry shiitake mushroom? Is it better with dry shititake or fresh one okay too?
    How long should I Stirfy the mushroom? I am cooking for 8, how many Tofu should I use? and how much shiitake ? 1 large dry package?
    Thank you and looking forward to hear from you.
    Lastly, do you know any brand for cooking sauce that doesn’t have MSG? My husband is allergic and a lot of guests cant eat with MSG some of them will have severe headache. I noticed the Lee Kum Kee has MSG. Thanks

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Celine, I do have a vegetarian mapo tofu recipe here:
      It uses fresh mushrooms and the taste is great without using shiitake mushrooms.
      Re serving size, it really depends on how many dishes you will be cooking. But I’d say doubling the recipe (2 blocks of tofu) will generate plenty, considering you’ll be also serving other dishes.
      PS. Highly recommend the 3-year old doubanjiang from the Mala Market ( It’s so rich. I used it to make vegan mapo tofu the other day and it turned out so good. The shipment might not able to make it for your CNY party, but it’s something that’s really nice to have if you cook vegetarian dishes a lot.
      For Asian cooking sauce, I’m not sure if you’re looking for a basic sauce like soy sauce, or a packaged premade sauce. I use soy sauce from Kikkoman and Pearl River Bridge and both of them do not contain MSG. Most packaged premade sauce contains MSG, but I think some of them at Wholefoods use natural ingredients.

      • Celine says:

        Thank You! I just ordered the Pixian red package! I remembered I bought it last year, but the package smell bad un-opened so I threw it away 🙂 I wish I knew about the Mala Market 3 year old Doubanjiang. I am moving the dinner to Friday the 8th. I wonder if they can deliver it by Thursday. I went for dinner last week in Culver City Chinese restaurant Fifty one ( the Mapo tofu vegetarian one) I don’t know what type of mushroom , it was silky and its seems they minced it. Anyway, Thank you for responding. You helped me tremendously.

  28. JAY R ZABLAN says:

    I found Sichuan / Pixian / Pi Xian Broad Bean Paste 16OZ (454g) on Amazon for $7.45. Hope this is the same sauce.

    • Maggie says:

      I think so!

  29. Arnab Nayak says:

    Loved your recipe. Made a few changes to my taste: but loved the way you have laid out all the steps and ingredient info.

  30. Olga says:

    Maggie, it looks awesome! So much flavors packed on this recipe that makes this simply irresistible, definitely having this on my table!

  31. Ellrick says:

    I really like your recipe and it’s prolly one of the most delicious Mapo Tofu I’ve ever eaten. Although there’s a problem when I made it, because my bro say it’s salty but when I tried it, it’s fine and I’m glad most people agreed it’s really delicious so I think maybe it’s prolly cultural difference that some people aren’t used to the numbness of sichuan pepper. But I’m not sure where I went wrong. I followed exactly your recipe except that I didn’t put salt on it(which is doesn’t make sense why he said it’s salty).

  32. Jun Almodoval says:

    There are so many different types and firmness of tofu, which one should be used?

    Thank you.

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Jun, you can use medium firm or firm tofu for this recipe. Sometimes I even use soft tofu when I want a heartier texture!

  33. Daniel says:

    5 stars

  34. Lisa says:

    Looks yummy, I eat tofu sometimes, Mapo tofu is easy but tasty. I saved your article and will try it soon. Thanks for the recipe.

  35. Lasesana says:

    5 stars
    Great recipe. I have vegan dish made of tofu sometimes, so I’ll cook this without meat. Will have and enjoy it this week. Thanks for your post.

  36. rook says:

    Simple instruction but tasty with the adding of a lot spices. I always like tofu, I will definitely cook it. Thanks for all photos and nice post.

  37. Tom Hill says:

    5 stars
    Hi Maggie,
    I just returned from two incredible weeks in Chengdu, and already miss the food. Thanks for this website. Since I live near San Francisco’s Chinatown, getting the ingredients will be easy. I brought home some red and green peppercorns just in case!

  38. Jeff says:

    5 stars
    Your page is gonna change my life I can just tell. Thanks!!!

  39. Charles McKnight says:

    5 stars
    Delicious! Thank you for such a wonderful and easy recipe!

  40. pongtable says:

    This makes me remember my grandma, she used to cook this dish when I was a child, and I really liked this. Thanks for sharing.

  41. Ed Carmichael says:

    I will try this. Thanks for sharing!

  42. 5 stars
    Great tofu dish! The ingredients are simple and easy to process, the taste is great. Thanks for your recipe and video tutorials.

  43. Lauryn says:

    5 stars
    Very excited to try this recipe!! If I wanted to tone down the spice a notch, which ingredients would you recommend cutting back on?

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Lauryn, I would cut the doubanjiang. It can make the dish quite spicy and salty depending on the brand you use. Maybe cut it to 2 tablespoons or even less.

  44. Devin Sanchez says:

    5 stars
    The first time I saw beef in tofu dish. I want to try it now. They look delicious and easy to make

  45. Mattie says:

    5 stars
    My favorite comfort food…God does that look scrumptious! Thank you, now I’m drooling

  46. Christine says:

    Should the tofu be pressed before it’s added?

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Christine, you don’t need to press the tofu to cook this dish. The broth is super rich and the cooking time is long enough that the tofu will be flavorful at the end of cooking.

  47. ZAMRIE STORE says:

    5 stars
    My Mom loves to eat tofu so much and your recipes give a lot of cooking way to prepare the healthy meals for her. Thank you so much for your creative and sharing.

  48. Peter Crouch says:

    I also like Chinese food a lot, so I’ll try to learn how to make it, which looks pretty easy….

  49. Suzanne says:

    5 stars
    Maggie – Thanks for providing your recipe for Mopo Dofu. We first encountered it while living in S. Korea and traveled to Shanghai for lunar new year. What luck to find a Sichuan restaurant. We returned several times over a few years and since have not found the same taste anyplace in the US. I took the scenic route and made the chili oil at home, which provided a heavenly aroma. I was in heaven then. The meal met our expectations and I’m just now recovering from a tingly lip. We have no changes to the recipe – it was as good as we remember in Shanghai.

  50. EA says:

    5 stars
    I sub the pork with vegan crumbles and it always works out beautifully.

  51. Carol V. Muse says:

    5 stars
    This was fantastic! I surprised my husband with this recipe today and he was silent (mouth full) for two big helpings lol!

  52. Steevo says:

    5 stars
    Hi Maggie!
    We tried to scale up the recipe 3x to get enough for lunches, but it was inedible because of the saltiness 😭. I believe it was the doubanjiang(I used Pixian), as we used 9 tbsp. The flavor was definitely there, and we’re gonna try it again per the recipe, and knock back the Pixian to 2 tbsp, based on some of the comments. I bet it’s gonna be A-MAY-ZING!

    • Maggie says:

      I’m sorry to hear the dish didn’t turn out well for you. Doubanjiang is quite tricky because the taste varies a lot depending on the one you buy. Even Pixian has very different brands. Yeah scale down to 2 tablespoons should help.

  53. Thomas says:

    5 stars
    Awesome! One of my favorite Mapo Tofu, nice to see your recipe, easy to follow, will cook this for family this weekend. Thanks you!

  54. Krisztián says:

    I tried this, with every ingredient fresh and homemade. It is wonderful, exactly the type of food i’m always looking for. I actually had to travel to get the Chinese ingredients like doubandjan and shaoxing wine, and sichuan peppercorns, but it definitely worth it. Thank you very much for this recipe. I’ll definitely do this regularly from now on. Maggie you are the best :3 <3

  55. Erika says:

    I love this recipe and your site in general. I have also made your stuffed aubergine recipe which was delicious. Thanks so much for the great recipes!

  56. Laura says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is amazing! I always wanted to make my own instead of buying it and this is far superior! A real hit in my house and will be a regular from now on. THANKS !

  57. James Wood says:

    Your dish was so incredible and delicious. I cooked this dish for my family members. They all were happy to eat this tasty dish and loved your recipe. I will cook this recipe again for my family and friends. Thanks for being sharing this dish with all of us. Happy cooking & Have a great day!

  58. Payton says:

    Could I substitute Lao Gan Ma for the bean paste?

    • Maggie says:

      I think you can. The flavor of the dish will be slightly different but should be tasty!

  59. Amber says:

    I truly like your formula and it’s probably one of the most scrumptious Mapo Tofu I’ve at any point eaten. In spite of the fact that there’s an issue when I made it, on the grounds that my brother state it’s salty yet when I attempted it, it’s fine and I’m happy a great many people concurred it’s extremely delectable so I think perhaps it’s prolly social distinction that a few people aren’t utilized to the deadness of sichuan pepper. I followed precisely your formula aside from that I didn’t put salt on it (which is doesn’t bode well why he said it’s salty).

  60. Frank says:

    For ground pork, I use mild Italian sausages. They already have lots of good spices in them.

  61. Andrew Koizumi says:

    I would love to try this recipe but unfortunately I cannot due to health reason. Any spices, especially chilies, causes skin rash that eventually spreads all over my body. Simply, my liver cannot handle spices.

    Do you have a suggestion for people like me? What can you substitute for those chilies?

    Thank you,
    Andrew K

  62. Paul says:

    5 stars
    Thank you so much for this recipe. It worked out perfectly! We didn’t have any ground pork, so we used ground bison. Excited to try more of your recipes!

  63. Yegor Timofeyenko says:

    5 stars
    We enjoyed the recipe! Thank you, Maggie!

    The 3 tbsp of Lee Kum Kee brand Doubanjiang (810mg sodium/tbsp) listed in the recipe ingredient amounts converts to 1.6 tbsp Pixian Doubanjiang (1518 – 1590 mg sodium per tbsp in the affordable Pixian version) to maintain the same salt levels. My wife and I preferred using 2 tbsp of Pixian Doubanjiang with double the Sichuan peppercorns and with addition of 3/4 of ground whole dried Thai chile. We also increased the oil amount as you recommended, which worked great. Replacing the soy sauce by adding 2 tsp of crushed Yang Jiang Preserved Beans kept the salt amount consistent and was nice compliment to Pixian Doubanjiang.

    I made several variations of the recipe and found that perceived salt amount was a function of spice/sugar levels. With lower spice levels the salt flavor was more apparent and 1 2/3 tbsp Pixian Doubanjiang (firmly packed into a measuring spoon and leveled with a chopstick) seemed to work best. As I increased the spice levels, 2 tbsp of Pixian Doubanjiang seemed to work best. Another example of the perceived salt level paradox: Lee Kum Kee Premium (light) Soy Sauce tastes very noticeably saltier than Lee Kum Kee Premium Dark Soy Sauce although the light sauce has 11% less sodium content than the dark sauce. It’s been my general experience with different light and dark soy sauces that one’s taste buds do not agree with the label regarding sodium content because the different amounts of sugar, molasses, as well as different fermentation methods change the perceived salt level.

    When I lowered Pixian Doubanjiang below 2 tbsp it definitely felt as if a key flavor was reduced. Replacing soy sauce with the fermented black beans definitely filled the gap when using less than 2 tbsp of Doubanjiang.

    When making the recipe with Lee Kum Kee brand Doubanjiang I would definitely keep the soy sauce because Lee Kum Kee chili bean paste version is balanced by soy sauce or black bean sauce. Based on the flavor of Mapo Tofu I have had in most restaurants across the US, they likely don’t use Doubanjiang at all and mix Sambal Oelek with black bean paste or soy sauce instead. At least, I was able to reproduce many US restaurant general public versions of Sichuan food using black bean paste or soy sauce and Sambal Oelek. The conversion, keeping the salt amount constant, is the following:

    3 tbsp of Lee Kum Kee Chili Bean Sauce (Toban Djan) = 1.6 tbsp Pixian Doubanjiang = 2 tbsp Lee Kum Kee Black Bean Garlic Sauce (or Lee Kum Kee Soy Sauces) + 1 1/3 tbsp Sambal Oelek = 2 1/4 tbsp Kikkoman Soy Sauce + 1 1/2 tbsp Sambal Oelek.

  64. Susan Dubose says:

    5 stars
    Mapo tofu is one of my favorite foods in the entire world, and this recipe makes a fantastic mapo tofu! Thank you so much for sharing it!

  65. Mai says:

    5 stars
    Easy to follow instruction and very tasty!

  66. Alyssa says:

    5 stars
    I’ve made a few different versions of mapo tofu before coming across this one. This one is the best!! Perfect amount of spice (i didn’t have the Sichuan peppercorns so i used fresh black pepper and then diced a Thai red chili into the ground meat which worked well!) I loved all the flavors in this, especially the addition of the 5 spice which i haven’t seen before. Will definitely make this again!

  67. Callie says:

    5 stars
    Your recipe is quick, easy and delicious. So much healthier and better tasting than the store packaged version. I make this often. Thank you.

  68. Brenda M Caelwaerts says:

    5 stars
    I love your recipes. Thank you for sharing them.

  69. Theresa says:

    4 stars
    Hi there: I love this fish and usually buy the premade sauce. So I wanted to use a full pound of pork and I think I threw the whole thing off. Possible to suggest how to up the other ingredients if I do that? Quadruple everything?

    • Maggie says:

      I think it’s possible to scale up the recipe, although it can be a bit tricky to braise many blocks of tofu at the same time.
      You probably need to use firm tofu and handle them carefully, so they won’t break apart. I think use a large skillet (instead of a pot) will help keeping the tofu in the braising liquid.
      Alternatively, if you just want to use more pork, I think it’s possible to double the rest of the ingredients and keep the dish delight. I would start with 4 tablespoons doubanjiang just in case it gets too salty (because the pork will absorb the sauce better than tofu).

  70. Lori says:

    5 stars
    Despite of the too hot from chili much but I do always add more and more into my dish. Love the taste of Chinese meal.
    Thank you much for what you sharing in this site!

  71. Quinn says:

    5 stars
    This is THE recipe that got me hooked on this blog, so I figured that it was about time that I write a comment. My wife likes this mapo tofu better than the one we used to get from her favorite takeout place.

    The doubanjiang (spicy bean paste) that Maggie recommends is great, but my wife prefers the Pixian brand:

    But no matter which one you use, it will come out great.

    If you are interested in trying a twist on this recipe, replace the tofu with cauliflower. I know it sounds weird, but it is amazing. One night my wife wanted mapo tofu but I didn’t have any tofu in the fridge (I know, I am a really bad husband!). However, I did have a head of cauliflower, so I cut the cauliflower into steaks, dusted them with flour and fried them until they turned a golden brown. Then I removed the cauliflower from the pan and followed the recipe as is, but added the fried cauliflower instead of the tofu at the end. My wife loved it and now requests this variant frequently as a veggie side dish.

    Thanks again Maggie!


  72. Natasha says:

    5 stars
    Wonderful recipe. I used it on the first homemade tofu I’ve ever made. It was more medium/firm, but still worked and held together (and next time, I’ll press more water out). Thank you so much for the recipe–loved it and will surely make it again.

  73. Dan says:

    5 stars
    You continue to knock it out of the park, thank you. The music rocks too. You need to give musicians attributions and royalties are due if applicable. You just can’t use people’s music without giving them credit. Maybe they’ll trade for take-out.
    Love everything you do!

    • Maggie says:

      Happy to hear you like the dish!
      Re music – I use a subscription service that I pay monthly to use their loyalty free songs. Will make sure to add the attributions next time!

  74. Francis henry says:

    5 stars
    Delish! Only caveats: I had to use Thai chilis in my homemade chili oil and they seemed to be sharper and less rounded. Don’t know how old they were. I’ll use a bit less chili oil next time. Also, I used the same oil I fried the Szechuan peppercorns in to fry the meat. Next time I’ll change the oil. The Doubanjiang I had was Lee Kum Kee, and it tasted great but I had to stir it like mad since it had separated. BUT…my wife and I really enjoyed!

    • Maggie says:

      I’ve never tried using Thai chili in the oil but that sounds pretty spicy! Yeah definitely use less and you can add a bit more sugar to round up the taste.

  75. Lisa says:

    5 stars
    oh. this so delicious, convenient and make easy. i think almost everybody like dish. Thank you so much!

  76. Winnie says:

    5 stars
    Just how I like it! Thank you for sharing this recipe 🙂 I will have less doubanjan in the dish for my next attempt XD

  77. Allan Moore says:

    5 stars
    MAggie,thank you for the Consistently amazing recipes. Ease of use and clear instructions. ‘Tastes like home.’ Says my Taiwanese born neighbor.

  78. Emily Stimpson says:

    5 stars
    If I wanted to cheat to save time and use storebought chili oil, would that be a dealbreaker for this recipe? The chili oil is a very strong one with flakes in it from my favorite Asian market near my house in Brooklyn

    • Maggie says:

      Yes, that will work just fine 🙂

  79. NY says:

    I wish I put in the third tablespoon! I read the reviews and was worried about the salt level but in the end it could have used more depth of flavor. I should have trusted you!

    • Maggie says:

      Yeah the quantity of doubanjiang is a bit tricky sometimes depending on the brand you use. I use two types and I do use different tablespoons depending on the brand. Hope next time it will turn out better!

  80. Poolity says:

    5 stars
    Hello MAGGIE,
    Thanks to discuss about the authentic mapo tofu. Keep your good job.

  81. Susi V says:

    5 stars
    Fantastic and easy recipe that is now the star of many weeknight dinners, along with rice and some simple stir fried greens. I have successfully made it with pork, chicken and most recently with diced impala fillet and Chinese mushrooms! I read the saltiness debate and my advice for someone making this the first time is to be a bit conservative when first adding the bean sauce and then tasting and adjusting it if necessary halfway through braising. Between the variation in bean sauce brands and people’s tolerance and preference for saltiness, it is really difficult to give an accurate suggestion that will work for everyone, especially for a strongly flavoured dish like this where one wants to use the maximum amount of bean sauce that is not going to overdo the saltiness.

  82. Sharif Siddique says:

    5 stars
    Hi MAGGIE,
    This is one of the most informative article for me. Thanks for your good job.

  83. Sharif Siddique says:

    5 stars
    Hello there,
    That’s a great article about authentic mapo tofu.
    Keep your good job.

  84. Nick says:

    How many tbsp of Les Kum Kee doubanjiang would you recommend for the dish serving 4 people?

    • Maggie says:

      You can follow the recipe and use 3 tablespoons.

  85. Rista says:

    Hi! I live in NYC. I know that you suggest to make our own chili oil, but I was broken hearted twice because the taste of my chili oil were not that I expected. So, can you please suggest me the best chili oil brand that you have ever purchased/tasted? and where to get it? Thank you. I really appreacite it

  86. Aaditi says:

    5 stars
    Quick, easy and DELICIOUS! I used jarred chili oil, chicken stock, and 2 tbsp of the brand of doubanjiang I have.

  87. Pat says:

    All the doubagjiang in the markets and online has wheat in it. Can it be had without wheat?

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      So far I’ve only seen one Japanese brand that carries the Doubanjiang without wheat:
      It’s quite salty and not as flavorful and thick as the Chinese type. But you can use it if you need gluten-free product.

  88. Anantika says:

    I made this twice (the same day) and it turned out so good! I’ve messed up mapo tofu so many times before, and it’s really so difficult to get the ingredients here in India. Thanks for this super simple and easy to follow recipe! It works wonders and tastes oh so 美味可口!

  89. Pam says:

    5 stars
    Just made this recipe for the first time. It was amazing!! Thank you!

  90. Sohbet says:

    5 stars
    It is a wonderful recipe I tried this recipe at home in the evening and it was very delicious and it also reminded me of nusr-et

  91. Cyndi Chu says:

    Is this recipe intended for one or two packs of tofu?

    • Maggie says:

      It’s designed for one block of tofu.

  92. David J says:

    5 stars
    I’ve made this twice now. Really good! Glad I live near an Asian grocer, for the the doubanjiang.

  93. Willie says:

    5 stars
    This was fantastic, though I simmered a bit too long and didn’t end up with as much sauce as I would have liked. Watch it as it gets near the end! I used a mix of firm and medium tofu, and liked the firm better so will stick with that next time. I’ll also cut back slightly on the doubanjiang – maybe 2.5 tbsp rather than 3.

  94. Jackson says:

    Scaled up the recipe x3, the saltiness made it inedible. Other people seem to have loved this dish so I was sad it turned out this way but it seems others have had the same issue when scaling up. Just a heads up.

  95. Alyssa says:

    5 stars
    Great recipe!! Good amount of spice and the flavors were amazing. Thanks for sharing!

  96. Mister Jack says:

    5 stars
    Very tasty and happy with outcome, when I prepared it I could smell the restaurants of China

  97. Emma says:

    This recipe is amazing! The dish was delicious, and a lovely amount of spicy. For any vegetarians out there, I highly recommend using Yves Ground Round instead of the meat – it’s a perfect substitute for this dish 🙂

  98. Ky says:

    5 stars
    I’ve been looking for this recipe since I sadly broke up with my Chinese girlfriend. Cooking it brought back the memories of those wonderful days and trips to China. I also got to buy a new ingredient Doubanjiang. More recipes please.

    • Volkan says:

      I hope you live a happy family with a chinese partner

  99. VK Satterfield says:

    5 stars
    Oh my! This was delicious. I was glad that we have a varied pantry and so had similar if not exact ingredients. Exchanged Korean Doengjang paste for the called for one. Soy bean versus broad bean. Did that make a big difference in taste? Paired it with rice and our favorite crushed cucumber salad. Cold and vinegary along with hot and savory/spicy! Perfect! Glad there is enough left over for breakfast and lunch!

  100. Greta M. says:

    5 stars
    Very good! I added more doubanjiang and peppercorns, since I thought the results would be quite mild with the amounts suggested, and it turned out not too spicy at all. It really is worth it to make your own chili oil too. I did also put nearly 3x the amount of green onions, too. But that’s also just personal taste. It was delicious!

  101. Yvette says:

    one of my favorite recipes of all time! I was intimidated to make it at home and was shocked at how easy it is!

  102. Volkan says:

    I have to be honest. By looking this vid. I feel like i am in heaven…

  103. Lindsey says:

    5 stars
    We lived in China for five years and this has always been my husband’s favorite dish. I have made this recipe three times now and it is hands down the best. The first time I made it we both looked at each other and said “finally!”. I am now perusing your sight and trying the pork jiaozi and the scallion pancakes for Father’s Day this week. Thank you for such great recipes!

  104. ivan says:

    I have made mapo tofu before, this version is very similar. But cuisine is not why I write you. I have got to know who is doing the blues song on the video. Great guitar and keyboard work.

  105. Barbara M. says:

    5 stars
    Really tasty.

  106. Tiffany says:

    5 stars
    Thank you for this easy recipe! I’ve always used the packaged sauce to make mapo tofu. This is my husband’s favorite dish and I’ve made it for him twice in three days. I had a little bit left of the fermented bean paste but mine had shrimp. I actually freaked out while cooking it because I thought I found maggots but then realized they were the shrimps. Thanks again!

  107. Kacey says:

    I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve made this recipe at this point! It’s my hunny’s favorite. He always perks up if I say I’m making this dish. It’s definitely become a staple at our house, as I suspect your other dishes will as well. To others reading – it is absolutely worth sourcing the proper ingredients first, especially the doubanjiang, and making your own homemade chili oil. I wouldn’t have it any other way now!

  108. Paul says:

    5 stars
    I’ve made this recipe several times and like it very much. Just wondering about directions that say to simmer covered but also reduce sauce by half. Won’t reduce covered. I like it saucy anyway

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      Hi Paul, when I developed the recipe the sauce was reduced even with the cover (if I don’t cover it, I would lose too much liquid).
      That being said, totally understand if the sauce doesn’t reduce if you cover it, depending on the type of pan and stove you use. If the sauce is not thick enough after adding the cornstarch slurry, you can mix a bit more slurry and add some more until the sauce gets thicker.

  109. Mel says:

    Is there an alternative for the peanut oil ? I live on the Greek island of Corfu and cannot find it..

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      Yes! You can use any neutral oil such as sunflower, grapeseed, and canola oil in this recipe.

      • Mel says:

        Many thanks Maggie.😘

  110. Alene says:

    Here’s my question. There is wheat in the 2 kinds of doubanjiang, and I can’t eat wheat at all. I have a terrible reaction with just crumbs. Do you know if there is a gluten free version? It probably won’t be as good, but that’s often the problem. I will keep looking. I love mapo tofu, and I even have Sichuan peppercorns. I do have some of the paste I bought when I lived in Washington DC and could get anything. I’m going to have to check my container. I know I could tolerate wheat better a while back than I can now. I adore your recipes! Thank you.

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      There is a gluten-free doubanjiang by a Japanese brand:
      It’s a pretty common one that you can find in many Asian markets, especially Japanese market.
      It doesn’t have as much fermented taste as the regular ones, and it’s quite salty. I would start with 2 tablespoons just in case (and you can add more at the end of the cooking if needed).
      I hope this helps and I’m looking forward to your feedback if you decided to try it out 🙂

  111. Ksenya Zavarin says:

    Hi Maggie. i’ve made your recipe a few times – delicious. however, i had trouble with doubanjiang (same brand as yours). paste had lots of hard pieces of red chile skin that wouldn’t break down, and got stuck in my teeth and throat; had to wash down with lots of water. did i get a defective batch, or is it supposed to be that way? should i run it through a blender? thanks!

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      The paste does contain larger red chile skin. Traditionally, the paste should be chopped before adding to the sauce, but I didn’t include it in the recipe because the chile usually doesn’t bother me too much. If the chile is super tough, it might be because the batch is a bit old. You can blend it if you prefer a very fine texture. Or I would just pick them out from the dish and not eating them.

  112. Bill Zigrang says:

    Maggie, please be aware as of 5/27/22 the ingredient amounts listed in your recent Mapo Tofu recipe for 4 persons are the same as in your prior recipe for 2 persons.

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      Yes it is the same recipe. Sorry about the confusion regarding the serving size. I just updated it. It should be 2 servings if served as a single main dish, and for 4 people as one of the multi-course meal.

  113. Tony says:

    5 stars
    Can’t miss with this recipe. Its ingredient list is simple and flexible!

  114. Shree Prakash bk says:

    Please I need the recipe in my mailbox help me

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