Mapo Tofu that’s Not Authentic, but is Easy and Delicious


Who doesn’t love Chinese food? But authentic dishes often call for some hard to find ingredients. Luckily, you can still make fast, easy, Chinese-style dishes with everyday ingredients. This Mapo Tofu recipe is one that I found  in a magazine two decades ago, and quickly grew to love. The tofu melds with the other ingredients to take on an almost cheesy quality. And even Tony, who isn’t a big tofu fan, really likes it. It has a family-friendly, “Hamburger Helper” vibe to the taste.

Mapo Tofu Recipe that's Not Authentic, but is Easy and Delicious . Naturally dairy-free and nut-free. Uses everyday, family-friendly ingredients. Not too spicy!

Special Diet Notes: Family-Friendly Mapo Tofu

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, nut-free, and peanut-free.

Mapo Tofu (Easy & Family-Friendly)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Traditional Mapo Tofu, from the Sichuan province, uses fermented chili bean paste. This recipe uses black bean sauce - yes, as noted above, it is not authentic! You can substitute chili bean sauce, but be aware that it is much spicier! This is a mild version. Feel free to swap the vegetables in this dish. Sliced mushrooms stand in well for the zucchini, and sliced water chestnuts are a crunchy alternative to bean sprouts.
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (3/4-inch) piece ginger, minced, or ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ pound ground beef or pork
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons black bean sauce, to taste
  • 12 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 2 green onions, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 to 2 small chile peppers, diced or ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 3 cups cooked brown or white rice
  • Sesame oil (optional)
  • Chili oil (optional)
  1. Preheat the oil in a wok or pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 minute. Add the ground meat and stir fry until lightly browned and crumbly.
  2. Stir in the chicken broth and bean sauce. Add the tofu and zucchini and sauté for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the bean sprouts, green onions, and peppers (if using) and sauté for 2 minutes.
  4. Divide the rice between 4 plates or bowls and top with the mapo tofu. Serve with the sesame oil and hot chili oil for drizzling, if desired.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ¼ recipe Calories: 390 Fat: 11.4g Saturated fat: 2.1g Carbohydrates: 40.7g Sugar: 4.4g Sodium: 415mg Fiber: 2.8g Protein: 32g

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For More Dairy-Free Dinner Recipes, Get Eat Dairy Free!

Eat Dairy Free - Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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