Best 9 Mabo Tofu Minced Meat Substitutes: Which One is the Best for You?

The moderate spiciness of Mapo Tofu stimulates the appetite, and since it is easy to make at home, it is a great dish to have on the menu.

It is also popular among children and has become a very popular school lunch menu item.

However, when you try to make it at home, have you ever thought, “I forgot to buy ground meat…” or “I thought I had it, but I didn’t…”?

Oh no! I don’t have any ground meat. I don’t know what to do…

If you know how to substitute minced meat, you won’t have to make sudden changes to your menu.

In this article, we will introduce you to “substitutes for minced meat in Mapo Tofu.

If you’re having trouble, please give it a try!

9 substitutes for minced meat in Mapo Tofu

Substitute for minced meat in Mapo Tofu 1: Pork knuckle and ribs

Pork knuckle and ribs

Pork knuckle is also a good substitute, although ground meat is more pleasant to the tongue.

It is not quite ground meat, but if you cut it into small pieces, it will not interfere with tofu and other ingredients.

If you want to enjoy a big meal, I recommend cutting it into large pieces.

Substitute for ground meat in Mapo Tofu 2: Chicken


If you use thigh meat, you can get the same oily taste as minced meat.

If you want to make it lighter and bulkier, you may want to use chicken breast.

You can enjoy the texture of the meat by cutting it into pieces rather than slicing it thinly.

You can also use two knives to beat the meat to make it look like minced meat, so please give it a try!

Substitute for minced meat in Mapo Tofu 3: Tuna


The firm texture of tuna is similar to that of ground meat, so it can be substituted without any discomfort.

It softens the flavor and is a good choice for those who want to soften the spicy taste.

The flavor of tuna will be enhanced if you fry it with canned oil before use.

If you don’t like the smell of fish, you can drain the oil and then fry it in sesame oil to remove the smell.

Substitute for minced meat in Mapo Tofu 4: Shiitake mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are one of the thickest and most resilient mushrooms, making them a good substitute for minced meat.

If you chop them into small pieces or cut them into 1cm cubes, you can taste the texture of minced meat.

The shiitake mushrooms provide the soup stock and umami taste, so you will be satisfied even without the minced meat.

Substitute for minced meat in Mapo Tofu 5: Koya Tofu

Powdered Koya-Tofu

If you grind the tofu a little coarsely in a food processor before using it, you can substitute it for ground meat.

If you want to enjoy the elasticity of the meat a little more, finely grind it in the food processor, hold it to firm it up to your liking, and then sprinkle potato starch over it to shape it.

After that, just make it as usual and enjoy the chewy and elastic texture.

Substitute for minced meat in Mapo Tofu 6: Natto


You may be surprised to learn that natto is a surprisingly good substitute for ground meat.

Soybeans, known as the “meat of the field,” are often used as a substitute for meat.

Natto is one of them. It has a sticky texture and smell, but if you fry it in a pan before using it, you will hardly notice it.

It blends well with Mapo Tofu, making it a perfect substitute.

If you’re worried about the texture of the beans, I recommend using ground natto for a different texture!

Substitute for Minced Meat in Mapo Tofu 7: Tofu Soboro

Tofu Soboro

I’m sure many of you are thinking, “Why use tofu when there’s tofu in it? I’m sure many people think that.

Tofu is an ingredient whose texture changes depending on how it is processed.

You can make it with silk or cotton.

What to prepare

  • Tofu
  • Frying pan
  • Wooden spatula


  1. First, drain the tofu.
  2. Put the drained tofu on the frying pan and use a wooden spoon to break it up while heating.
  3. More and more water will come out, so if it is too much, please use a colander to discard the water in the middle.
  4. If there is too much water, use a colander to remove it.
  5. When the water has completely evaporated, the tofu soboro is ready!

The texture will be so firm that it can be mistaken for minced meat.

Substitute for minced meat in Mapo Tofu 8: Konnyaku


Konnyaku is a good substitute because of its plump texture and elasticity.

When using konjac as a substitute, remove the lye, cut it into 1cm cubes, and fry it before use.

Also, if you freeze the konjac while it is still cut, the water in the konjac will drain away and it will become spongy, giving it a different texture.

This is recommended because the texture will be closer to that of minced meat!

Substitute for minced meat in Mapo Tofu 9: Radish


Although it does not have the umami taste of meat, it can be used as a substitute for minced meat by using a texture different from tofu.

The fence slices are more satisfying to eat, while the cubes blend in like ground meat.

Before adding the tofu, grill the surface until crispy for a firmer texture!

What substitutes do not go well with Mapo Tofu?

The following ingredients have a strong flavor on their own and may interfere with the flavor of mapo tofu.

Ingredients not suitable as substitutes

  • Sausage or sausage
  • Ham
  • Bacon
  • Corned beef

This is not a good substitute for minced meat in Mapo Tofu and should be avoided.

Because the same minced meat is used, hamburger steak, meatballs, and menchikatsu are also used in the finished taste, so avoid it.


  • We recommend the following 9 substitutes for ground meat in Mapo tofu.
  • The following 9 minced meat substitutes are recommended for Mapo Tofu: pork, chicken, tuna, shiitake mushrooms, dried tofu, natto (fermented soybeans), tofu dumplings, konnyaku, and daikon.
  • I recommend using pork or chicken because you can enjoy the meat.
  • Koya Tofu and Natto can be made healthy without losing texture and flavor.
  • Tofu Soboro is easy to substitute because it is the same tofu and the flavors and ingredients do not clash with each other.
  • Shiitake mushrooms are a good substitute because the soup stock and umami taste make it even better than ground meat.