Skip to Content

Mapo Tofu with Beef

Sharing is caring!

nThe mapo tofu at my local takeaway simply does not compare to this!

I love mapo tofu. Especially when it is cooked with ground beef or pork which adds a lot of flavour. I usually make a lot more ground meat than you’ll find at most Chinese restaurants and takeaways. They need to keep their costs down but you can make this mapo tofu at home with lots of ground meat and it will still be cheaper than going out.

Mapo tofu


What is mapo tofu?

Mapo Tofu is a popular Chinese dish that originated from the Sichuan province. It is known for its bold and spicy flavours. The dish typically consists of tofu cubes that are cooked in a flavorful and spicy sauce made with fermented black beans, garlic, ginger, and Sichuan peppercorns. You can add ground pork or beef for additional flavour.

What do you serve with mapo tofu?

Mapo Tofu is commonly served with Jasmine rice, or another short grain white rice. You can also serve it with Basmati rice if you have that on hand.

Is mapo tofu spicy?

While it is a classic spicy Sichuan dish, you will now find mapo tofu in many regions of Chinese. It is also now a hugely popular Chinese Takeaway dish. Depending on regional variations and personal preferences mapo tofu can be really spicy or mild. 

If you are not sure about the spiciness of the doubanjiang and/or Sichuan chilli flakes, add less. You can always add more to taste later in cooking.

What is doubanjiang?

Doubanjiang, also known as fermented chilli bean paste, is a key ingredient in many Sichuan recipes like this mapo tofu and other Chinese/Asian cuisines. It is a salty and spicy paste made from fermented broad beans, soybeans, salt, rice, and various spices. The paste is aged, which contributes to its complex flavour.

Doubanjiang typically has a deep, savory umami taste with a noticeable level of heat. If, like me, you have trouble finding it, you might also see it labelled

  1. Toban Djan: This is a romanized version of the Mandarin Chinese pronunciation. You will see this spelling on a lot of English packaging. I use this one. <– Affiliate link
  2. Tobanjiang: Another variation of the name, sometimes used interchangeably with doubanjiang. This too is on a lot of English language packaging.
  3. Broad Bean Paste: This is a more general term that describes the main ingredients used in doubanjiang. If you find it, pick the spicy version as it comes in different heat levels.
  4. Fermented Chili Bean Paste: This term reflects the key components and the fermentation process involved in making doubanjiang.
  5. Pixian Douban: Refers to the doubanjiang that is produced in the Pixian region of Sichuan, which is known for high-quality doubanjiang.

How important are the Sichuan peppercorns?

The answer is that they are very important. In this recipe, the Sichuan peppercorns are ground to a fine powder. I do this myself for optimum flavour but you can purchase is finely ground. The Sichuan peppercorn powder gives the dish a numbing flavour that isn’t to be missed.

Can you make mapo tofu vegetarian/vegan?

Yes, you can make Mapo Tofu vegetarian/vegan if you substitute animal-based ingredients with plant-based alternatives. Use a good vegetarian stock for example instead of chicken stock.

How long can you keep mapo tofu in the fridge?

You can store this in the fridge, wrapped tightly in cling film for at least three days if not longer. In fact, as it rests in the fridge, the flavours will develop and it will be even better.

To heat it up, pour it all into a sauce pan and heat it over a medium-high heat.

Can you freeze the leftovers?

I don’t recommend doing this. You could freeze it before adding the tofu though.

Silken tofu has a delicate and soft texture, and freezing it can significantly alter its consistency. Freezing silken tofu causes the water within the tofu to form ice crystals, leading to changes in its structure. The texture of silken tofu becomes more porous and crumbly after freezing and thawing.

Step by step photographs.

Ingredients for the recipe.

Gather and prepare all your ingredients before you start cooking.

Frying the meat

Add the salt to the ground meat and fry it in 2 tbsp oil until crispy. This takes about 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Frying the aromatic ingredients in the wok.

Add a little more oil if needed and fry the garlic, ginger, spring onions (scallions) and chilli flakes for about 30 seconds.

Adding the doubanjiang to the wok.

Stir in the doubanjiang.

Adding the soy sauce and chopped fermented black beans.

Add the chopped fermented black beans and soy sauce and continue stirring.

Adding the stock and half of the cooked minced meat to the wok.

Now add the stock and return half of the meat to the wok to simmer in the sauce.

Adding tofu to the wok.

Add the tofu to the simmering sauce and push it right in to soak up all those amazing flavours.

Simmering the sauce.

As it simmers, the red oil will rise to the top which is a good indication it’s about time to eat!

Adding the slurry to the stock.

Add half of the slurry and let is simmer for about a minutes. Then add the rest if needed to thicken the sauce.

Adding the Sichuan peppercorn powder.

To finish, add the Sichuan peppercorn powder. Stir it in and adjust seasoning to taste.

Mapo tofu

Dived between four bowls. Add equal amounts of the minced meat and garnish with spring onions (scallions), bean sprouts or whatever else sounds good.

mapo tofu

You’re going to love this one! Mapo tofu is a family favourite at my house.

If you like this mapo tofu, you might also like to try some of these Chinese takeaway favourites:

I am currently updating my blog with the most popular Chinese takeaway recipes so be sure to check back often for new recipes. There are a lot on the way!

    1. Peking Duck
    2. General Tso’s Chicken
    3. Crispy Chicken and Broccoli
    4. Salt and Pepper Chicken
    5. Sesame Chicken
    6. Sweet and Sour Chicken
    7. Kung Pao Chicken
    8. Dan Dan Noodles
    9. Orange Chicken
    10. Hainan Chicken
    11. Spicy Chicken Chow Mein
    12. Mongolian Beef
    13. Chinese Crispy Beef
    14. Egg Drop Soup
    15. Spicy Won Ton Soup
    16. Egg Fried Rice
    17. Potstickers
    18. Bam Bam Chicken
    19. Beef in Black Bean Sauce
    20. Black Bean Noodles
    21. Chinese Chicken Curry
    22. Chili Oil Noodles
  1. Have you tried this mapo tofu recipe?

    If yes, please give it a star rating in the recipe card below and leave a comment. I love receiving your feedback and I’m sure other readers of my blog do too. Thank you.

    If you are not already doing so, please follow me on Instagram and Facebook for all my latest recipes.

Yield: 4

Mapo Tofu with Beef

mapo tofu
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 350g (1 lb.) silken tofu, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 225g (1/2 lb.) minced (ground) beef or pork (You could always add cook more if you like)
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 to 3 tbsp. rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 4 garlic cloved, finely chopped
  • 1 x 5cm (2 inches) ginger, finely chopped
  • 5 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped, white and green separated
  • 2 tbsp. Doubanjiang
  • 2 tsp. fermented black beans, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp Sichuan chilli flakes
  • 500ml (2 cups) water or unsalted stock
  • 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp finely ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp corn flour (cornstarch)


  1. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a wok over a high heat and when hot, stir in the minced beef or pork. Fry for about 7 minutes or until cooked through and beginning to turn crispy. Transfer to the plate and set aside.
  2. If needed, add a little more oil to your wok. Stir in the garlic, ginger and the chopped white parts of the spring onions (scallions) and Sichuan chilli flakes and fry for about a minute to soften.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and add the doubanjiang. Let this fry, stirring continuously for about a minute. Then stir in the chopped fermented black beans. Stir well to combine.
  4. Pour in water or stock, the soy sauce and about half of the cooked beef and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering for about 2 minutes and then stir in the tofu and continue simmering for 5 to 8 minutes. The tofu is ready to serve after 5 minutes but cooking it longer will help the tofu to absorb more of the flavour.
  5. While the tofu is simmering, mix the water and corn flour (cornstarch) together to make a slurry. Once the tofu has been simmering for at least 5 minutes, pour in half of the slurry and let the sauce continue to simmer for about a minute. If the sauce is looking a bit thin, add the remaining slurry and simmer to thicken.
  6. Try the sauce and adjust the flavours to taste. Add more chili flakes or soy sauce for example.
  7. Divide between 4 serving bowls and top each with some of the remaining mince beef or pork. Drizzle a little sesame oil and sprinkle each with some of the finely ground Sichuan peppercorns. serve hot over white rice.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 153Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 1305mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 9g

Did you like this recipe?

Please join me on Facebook where I share all my latest recipes and videos. Just click that Facebook icon on the left and let's get to know each other!

Skip to Recipe

Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!