Spicy Sichuan Mapo Tofu: A Flavor Explosion in Your Kitchen

Authentic Chinese Mapo Tofu Recipe - Easy and Delicious

Discover the ultimate comfort food with this authentic Sichuan Mapo Tofu recipe. Silky tofu and savory ground beef come together in a fiery, numbing sauce that will transport your taste buds straight to China.

Mapo Tofu isn’t just another tofu dish – it’s a celebration of bold flavors and textures that will convert even the most dedicated tofu skeptics. This iconic Sichuan specialty perfectly balances the creamy softness of tofu with the rich umami of ground beef, all enveloped in a sauce that’s both spicy and aromatic.

Our recipe draws inspiration from Chef Zhang Wenxue, a Sichuan master who brought his culinary expertise from China to Boston. His secret? Layering flavors to create a dish that’s greater than the sum of its parts. By infusing oil with Sichuan peppercorns and finishing with a sprinkle of the ground spice, you’ll achieve that signature málà (numbing and spicy) flavor that makes Mapo Tofu irresistible.

Get ready for a culinary adventure that will have you coming back for more. This Mapo Tofu is so captivating, you’ll find yourself unable to stop eating – the tingling sensation from the Sichuan peppercorns perfectly balances the chili heat, creating an addictive cycle of flavors that keeps you reaching for another bite.

Authentic Sichuan Mapo Tofu


  • 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns, divided (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons cold water
  • 1 1/2 pounds medium to firm silken tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 pound ground beef
  • 3 garlic cloves grated on a microplane grater
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger grated on a microplane grater
  • 2 tablespoons fermented chili bean paste (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons Xiaoxing wine
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup roasted chili oil (see note)
  • 1/4 cup finely sliced scallion greens


  1. Kickstart your Mapo Tofu journey by toasting half the Sichuan peppercorns in a large wok over high heat until they release their aroma and start smoking lightly. Transfer these flavor bombs to a mortar and pestle, grind them into a fine powder, and set aside for later.
  2. Now, it’s time to create your flavor-infused oil. Add the remaining Sichuan peppercorns and vegetable oil to the wok. Heat this mixture over medium-high heat until it’s gently sizzling – about 1 1/2 minutes should do the trick. Use a wire mesh skimmer to fish out the peppercorns, leaving behind the now-fragrant oil.
  3. While your oil is cooling slightly, prepare your cornstarch slurry by mixing cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl until smooth. This will help thicken your sauce later. Next, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil and gently cook your tofu cubes for 1 minute. Carefully drain the tofu in a colander, taking care not to break up these delicate cubes.
  4. Now for the grand finale! Heat your infused oil in the wok until it’s smoking hot. Toss in the ground beef and stir-fry for 1 minute until it’s starting to brown. Add your aromatic duo of garlic and ginger, cooking for just 15 seconds until their fragrance fills the air. Time to build your sauce – add the chili bean paste, Xiaoxing wine, soy sauce, and chicken stock, bringing it all to a rapid boil. Pour in your cornstarch slurry and cook for 30 seconds until the sauce thickens and becomes glossy. Gently fold in your tofu, taking care not to break the cubes. Stir in the fiery chili oil and half of your sliced scallions, letting everything simmer together for 30 seconds. Transfer your masterpiece to a serving bowl, garnish with the remaining scallions and a generous sprinkle of your reserved ground Sichuan pepper. Serve immediately alongside steaming white rice for the ultimate Sichuan experience!


For the most authentic flavor, seek out genuine Sichuan peppercorns and chili bean paste at your local Asian market or through online specialty stores. When selecting tofu, look for packages labeled ‘silken’ with a firmness range of medium to firm. Avoid using extra-soft tofu as it won’t hold up to the cooking process.

While store-bought chili oil works in a pinch, making your own is simple and adds an extra layer of flavor. Toast a cup of whole dried Chinese peppers in a dry wok until they’re lightly charred. Then, add 1 1/2 cups of vegetable or canola oil and heat until the chilies start to gently bubble. Allow the oil to cool before transferring to an airtight container. Your homemade chili oil will keep in the refrigerator for several months, ready to add a spicy kick to your dishes.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
462 Calories
38g Fat
10g Carbs
21g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 462
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 38g 49%
Saturated Fat 6g 28%
Cholesterol 25mg 8%
Sodium 312mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 2g 5%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 21g
Vitamin C 3mg 13%
Calcium 220mg 17%
Iron 3mg 18%
Potassium 422mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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