Easy MaPo Tofu Recipe

Enjoy the delicious Szechuan flavors of our exciting and easy-to-make Chinese New Year recipe!

  • By Brittany Yamamoto-Taylor
  • February 5, 2019

According to the traditional Chinese calendar, today marks the first day of 2019’s Lunar New Year. To celebrate this new Year of the Pig, we decided to bring you a special Chinese recipe from Szechuan Province: MaPo Tofu. If you have never tried this dish before, you are in for a real treat!

MaPo Tofu is a popular meal that simmers tofu in a spicy sauce, usually with minced meat. While the traditional dish has classic “numbing” spiciness, we turn the heat down but keep all the mouthwatering flavors with aromatics, ground pork, and chili-garlic, soy, and Chinese black bean sauce. Served with a side of fluffy rice and wok-fried green beans, this Chinese new year meal is a must-try.

Our easy MaPo Tofu recipe takes about as long as ordering from your local take-out spot, so simply use our meal planning and prepping tips below and you can be on your way to a smart and delicious new year!

Meal Planning Smarts

  • Reduce Food Waste: The black bean sauce used in this dish really makes the meal stand out, but rather than letting the remainder of the jar sit in the fridge until you make MaPo Tofu again, you can use this condiment in your next dinner, too! Adding a scoop or two to noodles will bring a delicious umami flavor, so try stirring the sauce into simple Sesame Noodles, or add some to the sauce of this Dan Dan Noodle recipe. Plus, if you make Dan Dan noodles, you can double up on the ground pork that you buy for the MaPo Tofu and have two meals covered for the week!
  • Budget Option: For a budget-friendly MaPo Tofu option, you can easily omit the ground pork entirely for a vegetarian meal that is just as satisfying and like the real deal.

Prepping Smarts

  • Did you know that a spoon can help you grate ginger? It actually prevents peeling away too much of the ginger! Watch this 1-minute video and find out how to get the most flavor in your MaPo sauce by peeling and grating your ginger like a pro:

How to Peel, Grate and Chop Ginger

See how easily we peel ginger and then grate it or chop it.

  • While MaPo Tofu traditionally uses soft tofu, you can also use firm if that’s what you have on hand. Either way, our short video on how to prep tofu can help with making all your tofu dishes come out deliciously!

How to Prepare Tofu

Learn how to prep and cook tofu the right way with this short video.

Equipment Smarts

  • Having a nice rice cooker is the easiest way to make rice without having to keep your eye on any pots. Since this appliance is specifically made for cooking rice, you can simply set it and forget it.
  • If you don’t own a rice cooker, you can use a saucepan to make the rice that goes hand-in-hand with MaPo Tofu. This saucepan is also great for cooking pasta, vegetables, or beans, and even has straining holes in the lid to make draining liquid a breeze!
  • If you want to make great Asian cuisine, definitely add a wok to your collection of kitchen tools. It’s used for cooking both the MaPo Tofu and the green beans in this recipe, which keeps the number of dishes to clean a minimum. This cookware is not only great for stir-frying, but also for stewing, deep frying, searing, and steaming.

For more kitchen and equipment and tool smarts, visit our Essential Kitchen Cookware and Tools

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MaPo Tofu with Pork

This spicy, saucy, traditional Chinese tofu dish can be made at home in about as long as it would take to order it from your local take-out spot.

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 20 min

Total time: 40 min

Serves: 4


  • Garlic - 2 cloves, chopped
  • Ginger - 2 tsp, grated
  • Green beans - 1 lb, trimmed
  • Ketchup - 4 Tbsp
  • Soy sauce, low-sodium - 2 Tbsp
  • Chinese black bean sauce - 2 Tbsp (in the international aisle as regular, black bean garlic, or a spicy version called doubanjiang)
  • Sugar - 1 tsp
  • Chili-garlic sauce - 2 tsp (sub any hot sauce)
  • Rice, white or brown - 1 cup
  • Green onions - 2 stalks, chopped, green and white parts separate
  • Tofu, soft - 16 oz, 1" cubes (sub firm tofu)
  • Oil, sesame - 2 Tbsp
  • Cornstarch - 2 Tbsp
  • Stock, any type - 1 1/2 cups
  • Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
  • Pork, ground - 8 oz
  • Lime juice - 2 tsp



  1. Garlic / Ginger / Green beans – Prep as directed and store separately. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  2. Make MaPo sauce – Combine garlic, ginger, ketchup, soy sauce, black bean sauce, sugar, and chili-garlic sauce. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  3. Rice – For white rice, rinse until clear. Fill a saucepan or Dutch oven (or rice cooker) with rice, water (use 2:1 ratio for water to rice), and some salt. Cover with lid and bring to a boil. Once water boils, stir, lower heat to a low-medium, and cover. Check white rice after ~20 min; brown at ~45 min. Rice is done when it’s absorbed all the water. If it’s not done, leave the cover on until all water has been absorbed. Take cover off to release steam and fluff with a wooden spoon after 5 minutes. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  4. Green onions – Prep as directed. Store green and white parts separately. (Can be done up to 3 days ahead)
  5. Tofu – Drain liquid off tofu and slice into 1″ / 2.5cm cubes.


  1. Heat a wok over medium-high heat for green beans. Add sesame oil then green beans to heated oil. Saute for 10 to 12 minutes, until browned and blistered.
  2. While green beans cook, whisk cornstarch into stock.
  3. Stir 1 Tbsp of MaPo sauce into green beans and remove from heat. Season to taste with additional salt. Set aside, covered to keep warm.
  4. Return wok to medium-high heat and add cooking oil. Add white parts of green onions and saute until fragrant, ~2 minutes. Add ground pork and saute, breaking it into small pieces, until it begins to brown. Drain any excess liquid or oil from wok and return to heat.
  5. Pour remaining sauce and stock / cornstarch mixture over pork and bring to a simmer. Add tofu and reduce heat to medium. Simmer gently to let the flavors come together, 2 to 3 minutes more. Taste tofu and add additional chili-garlic sauce if you’d like it to be more spicy.
  6. If rice was made ahead, warm in the microwave.
  7. Top tofu with lime juice and green parts of green onions. Serve with rice and green beans on the side. Enjoy!

A little note:

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Easy MaPo Tofu Recipe | Cook SmartsEasy MaPo Tofu Recipe | Cook Smarts


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