Vegan Mapo Tofu Recipe: Spicy Comfort Food

Vegan Recipe

One of my favorite Chinese dishes to eat is vegan Mapo Tofu. I love the tongue-numbing features of the Szechuan peppercorns, the depth of chili flavors in the sauce, and the texture of the tofu that perfectly absorbs the sultry sauce. There are only a few restaurants I have been to that do a vegan Mapo Tofu excellently. I have been disappointed with most so I set out to make one of my favorite Chinese dishes from the Szechuan province. You can make this as mild or as spicy as you prefer! I hope you enjoy making my vegan Mapo Tofu recipe.

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5 from 1 vote

Vegan Mapo Tofu Recipe

A vegan version of a Szechuan classic! An approachable way of making this flavorful and comforting classic for the cold winter months.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: dinner, lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese
Keyword: Mapo Tofu, vegan chinese food, Vegan recipe, vegetarian chinese food, Vegetarian recipe
Servings: 4 people


  • 1 lb soft/firm tofu (silken is too runny)
  • 1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms (chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (diced)
  • 1 tbsp ginger (minced)
  • 2 sprigs green onion (garnish)
  • 1 container sliced water chestnuts (optional)

The Sauce

  • 4 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1-2 tbsp Szechuan peppercorn (1.5 is what I prefer - grind it up)
  • 6 pieces dried mini red chili peppers
  • 3 tbsp Chinese black bean sauce
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 3 tbsp corn starch (mixed with water to create a thick paste)
  • 2.5 tbsp fermented black beans
  • 2 tsp chili oil
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp white sugar



  • Chop up your tofu into 1-inch squares. Soak the tofu in hot water for about 15 minutes and then drain it. You don't need to fry it but if you do, drizzle some tamari/soy sauce on it.
  • Chop your dried mini chili peppers and pan fry in a small pan with 1 tsp of grapeseed oil for about 2-3 minutes.


  • Chop your vegetables and heat up half of the oil (2 tbsp) in the wok on medium heat.
  • Add your chopped shiitake mushrooms, ginger, and garlic, then add the ground up peppercorn.
  • Stir in the black bean sauce, then add your vegetable broth and let it simmer for about 2 minutes.
  • Then add your corn starch- water mixture and simmer while the sauce thickens for about 2 minutes.
  • Now you can add your chili peppers with the oil, chili oil, black beans, water chestnuts and tofu. Simmer until the flavors blend together for 4 minutes.
  • Then add the sugar to take out any bitterness.
  • Turn off the heat and drizzle with sesame oil, peppercorn sprinkled on top, and chili oil. Garnish with green onions and your mapo tofu is ready.
  • It goes wonderfully with jasmine rice but you can also eat it with noodles.


  • For more tongue-numbing, add more Szechuan peppercorn.
  • The tofu in Mapo Tofu is traditionally fried separately, but I like to sauté mine separately to add a bit more flavor.
  • You cane easily find these ingredients at an Asian Grocer like H-Mart or Amazon (see my storefront page).
Shiitake mushrooms with peppercorn
Shiitake mushrooms with peppercorn
The vegan mapo tofu sauce.
The mapo mapo tofu sauce.
Look at that tofu!
Look at that tofu!
Vegan Mapo Tofu Recipe
Vegan Mapo Tofu Recipe

Hungry for more? Check out my Asian Tofu Recipe : Perfect for a Tasty Stirfry!


8 thoughts on “Vegan Mapo Tofu Recipe: Spicy Comfort Food

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  2. I cannot say enough about this recipe! I am by no means a cook, which is frustrating, because I don’t eat meat, and my husband does. I saw this recipe posted on FB, and decided to try it out.

    I made two rookie mistakes (both of which were completely my fault), and added too much corn starch, which made it a bit sticky. I also put it over rice noodles, which I didn’t soak first, so they were sticky as well. Next time I will probably use more stock and slightly less corn starch.

    Back to the recipe, though, I can’t believe how delicious and comforting it was! My husband said it ate like a hearty meat dish, and he found it to be absolutely delicious. Suffice it to say that I will definitely be checking out more of these tofu recipes!

    1. Hi Andrea, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment here! I am so glad you enjoyed the recipe! I haven’t tried these over rice noodles before, but that’s a great idea!

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