Mapo Tofu (aka Homemade Chinese “Hamburger Helper”)


To me, Mapo Tofu is Chinese comfort food at its best. 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 liked it. I have yet to trial this recipe with little ones, but it seems like a dish I would have loved as a kid. It has a “Hamburger Helper” vibe to the taste. I didn’t have a zucchini on hand for this batch, which does add nice color and nutrition to the dish.

Mapo Tofu Recipe - a delicious weeknight meal (dairy-free, gluten-free, optionally allergy-friendly)

Special Diet Notes: Mapo Tofu

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

Mapo Tofu
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Don't be afraid to swap the vegetables in this dish. Sliced mushrooms stand in well for the zuccini.
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1 teaspoon cooking 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, 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. Heat oil in a wok or pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and saute 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 saute for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the bean sprouts, green onions, and peppers (if using) and saute 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.

Key Pantry Supplies: Mapo Tofu

Want More Dairy-Free Recipes? Enjoy My Cookbooks:

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.

Leave A Reply

Rate this recipe: