This Chinese Beef Stir Fry recipe requires just 6 simple ingredients, plus a few pantry staples and it can be ready in 25 minutes or less! Featuring tender ground beef mixed with savory mushrooms, red onions, and flavorful aromatics in a sweet and savory brown sauce! This Chinese beef is bursting with robust flavors – it’s hearty, yet healthy, and perfect for easy weeknight dinners!
Update: This post was originally published in March 2018. I’ve made updates to the post below to include more information about this Chinese stir fry beef recipe. Plus, I added a recipe video to show you how easy this dish is to make!
Today we are taking a detour from all things smothered with cheese and all the recipes made for slurping with a spoon. Why? Because, while I love comfort food, I also love balance and mixing things up! And this stir-fry does just that – it’s saucy and light, yet satisfying and hearty! Plus, this stir-fry comes together in under 30 minutes! It’s a dinner winner any day of the week!
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Chinese Beef Stir Fry: recipe overview
Meaty, umami packed mixture of lean ground beef, finely diced mushrooms, pungent red onion and mild Asian aromatics sautéed in a sweet, savory honey and hoisin sauce.
Served atop a bed of fluffy jasmine rice, then garnished with creamy sliced avocados, crisp carrots, sliced scallions, fresh micro-greens and nutty sesame seeds, these Asian stir fry bowls are packed full of flavor.
Hearty, yet healthy, these stir-fry bowls are ridiculously quick to throw together making them a perfect option for lunch or easy weeknight dinners!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Quick and easy! This ground beef stir-fry is ridiculously simple and fast to prepare! You can have this dish prepped, ready and on the table in 25 minutes or less!
- 5 ingredient stir-fry sauce! This Chinese brown stir-fry sauce only requires 5 ingredients!
- Amazing flavor! This beef is incredibly flavorful – it’s savory, slightly sweet and overflowing with umami flavor!
- Totally customizable! Consider this recipe a build your own stir-fry beef bowl! You can easily customize this flexible recipe! Try swapping the beef for pork, turkey, chicken! Or swap the meat out entirely and use tofu or (more) mushrooms to create a vegetarian meal! If you are looking to add more veggies to your meal, throw them in! Stir-fries are the perfect way to use up any vegetables hanging around your kitchen!
What is Chinese stir fry?
Stir-fry is a Chinese cooking technique in which ingredients are cooked in a wok over high heat with a small amount of oil. Stir-frying involves stirring or tossing the ingredients frequently. Traditionally, stir-fries consist of four components – protein, vegetables, aromatics and sauce.
The purpose of stir-frying is two fold. The main purpose is to evaporate the moisture from the food. Cooking over high heat with no cover allows the ingredients to retain their color and crispness while becoming tender. Also, this fast and high cooking process – in the absence of moisture – allows all the flavors (proteins, vegetables, aromatics and sauce) to meld together while maintaining a lot of texture!
How is stir frying different from sautéing?
Stir-frying and sautéing are similar cooking techniques. However, stir-frying is done over high, blistering heat with constant, fast stirring or tossing; while sautéing involves lower heat and less frequent stirring.
What do I need to make Chinese beef?
This stir-fry ground beef recipe require mostly pantry basics, along with ground beef (or your choice of protein) and fresh mushrooms! Below is a list of the ingredients you will need to make this recipe.
Ingredients in this beef stir-fry recipe
- Oil: I recommend using a neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable, for this stir-fry recipe. You can substitute peanut oil if you prefer a slightly nutty flavor!
- Beef: You will need 1 pound of ground beef for this recipe. I recommend using lean beef for this recipe. (Please see below for substitutions!)
- Onion: Red onion provides a crisp, bright, pungent flavor that works so well with the earthy, savory flavors in this dish!
- Mushrooms: You will need 3/4 a cup of fresh mushrooms for this recipe. I typically use baby bella or button mushroms; however, you can use whatever you love!
- Aromatics: A combination of garlic and ginger provide fragrance and umami flavor!
- Stir-fry Sauce: This stir-fry sauce, also known simply as brown sauce, is a combination of 5 simple ingredients – hoisin, honey, soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil. This sauce is deliciously rich, savory and slightly sweet. You can easily adjust the ingredients to your specific taste! (Please see below for a complete description of the sauce ingredients!)
What sauce for stir-frying beef?
The savory, umami brown sauce is one of the major components of Chinese stir-fry! The sauce is what provides the dish with so much flavor! A simple search of the internet will provide countless variations of Chinese stir-fry sauces. However, this brown sauce is the perfect mix of savory, slightly spicy, and complex – with plenty of umami flavor!
- Hoisin: Hoisin sauce is a well-known Chinese condiment with a distinctive flavor. It’s dark in color and thick in texture with a sweet, salty flavor. It’s the key ingredient in this stir-fry sauce! (See below for more information on hoisin sauce!)
- Honey: Honey gives the sauce the perfect touch of sweetness! You can use more or less honey, depending upon your personal taste!
- Soy Sauce: Soy sauce adds a slightly salty, umami flavor to the brown sauce. Make sure you use reduced-sodium soy sauce so you can control the saltiness of your dish.
- Rice Vinegar: Vinegar helps balance out the sauce while providing a delicate, slightly sweet flavor. I recommend using unseasoned rice vinegar in this recipe!
- Sesame Oil: Sesame oil adds a deeply earthy, nutty, rich flavor and helps prevent the udon noodles from sticking together. Be sure to use toasted sesame oil for the most flavor!
What beef is best for stir fry?
Since stir-fry is a very quick cooking dish, it’s best to use a tender cut of beef. Beef cuts, such as sirloin, tri-tip, flank and flat iron are all more affordable cuts of beef that work great in stir fry. If you are looking for a more lux eating experience, you can certainly use pricier cuts such as, tenderloin (filet mignon), T-bone, top loin (New York strip) and rib-eye for stir-frying! You can use a whole steak or a ground beef cut (ground beef) in this recipe. I typically use ground sirloin to prepare this Chinese Stir Fry. If using a whole steak (versus ground) make sure you slice the beef against (through) the grain to shorten the muscle fibers, which will result in more tender meat!
The best cuts of beef for stir-frying
- Sirloin: Sirloin steak is a lean cut of beef that works great in stir-fries! If you are looking for a beefy flavor, select the sirloin flap steak which has a good amount of marbling.
- Tri-Tip: The tri-tip sirloin is cut from the bottom of the sirloin and gets its name from the triangular shape. Although this cut is lean, it does have a decent amount of fat and boasts a buttery, beefy flavor and tender texture.
- Flank: Flank steak has an intense, rich beef flavor and it works great in stir-fries over fast, hot heat. However, there are two keys to using a flank steak in stir fry. First, it is imperative you thinly slice and cut the steak against the grain to prevent toughness. Also, do not overcook flank steak – it can go from tender and juicy to tough very quickly!
- Flat Iron: The flat iron steak, sometimes called the top blade or shoulder top blade, has plenty of marbling that results in a rich, beefy flavor. If you like New York Strips, this cut of beef has very similar tenderness and marbling, and at a reasonable cost.
- Top Loin: Often called a New York strip, the strip of the top loin is bold and beefy in flavor.
- T-Bone: The T-Bone steak is actually two cuts of beef in one – it combines the beefy flavor of a New York strip and the mild, tenderness of the tenderloin.
- Tenderloin: The tenderloin, also called a Filet Mignon, is very mild in flavor with a very soft, tender texture.
- Rib Eye: The rib-eye is extremely tasty with has a tender, juicy texture and a rich, mild buttery flavor.
What is hoisin sauce?
Hoisin sauce is a thick, sweet and salty condiment commonly used in Chinese cuisine. Hoisin, also known as Chinese barbecue sauce, is made from soybeans, vinegar, garlic, sugar and a variety of spices. This dark red condiment is frequently used to prepare Asian stir-fries, grilled dishes and as a marinade for meats.
Where to buy hoisin sauce?
Hoisin sauce can be located in the ethnic aisle, or international food section of most major grocery stores in the United States.
What is a substitute for hoisin sauce?
Since hoisin sauce lends a salty, sweet and umami flavor to this dish, there is unfortunately no great substitution. If you can’t seem to find any hoisin sauce at your local grocery store, your best bet is to make your own.
There are a lot of great, easy recipes out there, so if you find yourself in a pinch, google it!
A simple search of “homemade hoisin sauce” will yield a bunch of recipes. Pick the one that looks best to you!
How to make ground beef stir fry?
This recipe is so quick and easy to prepare – everything comes together in one pan in 25 minutes or less!
Make the sauce: In a small bowl whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.
- Stir-fry: Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet. Add in the onion and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the onion is starting to soften. Add in the beef, and season generously with salt and pepper. Sauté, breaking it up as you go, until browned, about 4 minutes. Add in the mushrooms and continue to stir-fry for an additional 3-4 minutes. Add in the garlic, ginger and season again with salt and pepper. Cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.
- Add the sauce and cook for an additional 2 minutes, or until everything is coated and the beef is cooked through. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Serve: Add rice or noodles to the bottom of serving bowls and top with beef. Alternatively, this beef is really good in lettuce wraps! Garnish with your favorite toppings and serve warm. Enjoy!
Expert tips for perfect stir-frying
The simple tips below will help you improve your stir fries – no matter what recipe you are cooking!
- Mis en place: Before you start stir-frying, always make sure you gather and prepare all your ingredients – this is the secret to successful stir-fry! Stir-frying is a very fast cooking process; therefore, it’s important to have everything you need ready to go!
- The right pan: A wok is the traditional pan for stir-frying; however, if you have an electric or induction stove-top it isn’t the best option! If you use a wok on an electric or induction stove, only a small portion of the bottom of the pan will be in contact with the heat. Instead, opt for a large skillet with high sides and a flat, wide bottom – so that the entire bottom portion can stay in contact with the heat source.
- Keep the pan hot: Stir-frying involves very hot heat! To replicate your beloved Chinese restaurant’s stir-fry, make sure you turn the stove up to high. If you need to lower the heat, move the pan further away from the heat element, versus turning down the heat!
- Add ingredients according to cook time: Stir-frying is quick, therefore timing is key! Make sure you add the ingredients that take the longest to cook, soften or tenderize first! The order can vary greatly from recipe to recipe; however, generally, the order is protein or aromatics, followed by hearty vegetables, soft vegetables, and then sauce.
- Use fresh garnishes to finish: Fresh herbs, seeds and a squeeze of fresh citrus juice help bring all the flavors to life!! Ingredients like sesame seeds, scallions, chives, peanuts, and fresh lime juice really take your stir-fry to the next level!
How to stir-fry ground beef step-by-step photos
(Don’t forget to scroll down for the detailed instructions in the complete printable recipe card at the bottom of the page!)
Serving suggestions for beef stir-fry
Are you looking for a delicious side dish (or two) to serve with your stir-fry? Below are a few easy Asian side dish options to help round out your meal!
17 delicious dishes to serve with Chinese stir-fry
- Edamame: A steaming bowl of salty edamame is one of my favorite starters or sides!
- Soup: A broth-y soup, such as Miso, Wonton or Egg Drop, is a delicious light side option!
- Ginger Salad: Sweet and slightly peppery Asian-American ginger salad perfectly complements the flavors in this stir-fry!
- Avocado Salad: Creamy avocado salad offers a rich flavor that perfectly complements this dish!
- Egg Rolls: Shatteringly crisp fried egg rolls (spring rolls) are a great way to add a bit of crunch to your meal!
- Summer Rolls: Fresh rolls or summer rolls are a wonderful, healthier alternative to egg rolls!
- Dumplings: Soft, plump dumplings are a dreamy addition to this meal!
- Chicken Wings: Sticky, saucy sticky Chinese chicken wings are a must for wing lovers!
- Rice: Rice may not be the most exciting dish, but it pairs great with beef stir-fry! White rice, sticky coconut rice, brown rice, fried rice and even zucchini rice all work great!
- Noodles: Your favorite Asian noodles, such as chow mein, Udon Stir-Fry, lo mein, or ramen, make a great bed for beef stir-fry. If you are looking for a healthier option, zucchini noodles or shirataki are wonderful choices!
- Bok Choy: Tender, crisp sauteed bok choy makes a flavorful, healthy side dish!
- Brussels Sprouts: Crisp on the outside, tender on the inside Asian brussels sprouts make a wonderful side! Drizzle them with a creamy, nutty, slightly sweet peanut sauce for the ultimate sprouts!
- Sugar snap peas: Sweet, salty and crisp snap peas are a great way to add a bit of crisp texture to your meal!
- Green Beans: Stir-fried green beans are another winning vegetable side dish!
- Cabbage: Aromatic cabbage in stir fry pairs beautifully with this beef!
- Fruit: Try macerating fresh oranges and pineapples for a simply delicious side!
- Fortune Cookies: Give store-bought fortune cookies a homemade upgrade by dipping them in melted chocolate and dusting them in colorful sprinkles!
How to properly store and reheat beef
Food safety is of the utmost importance, especially when it comes to storing and reheating your leftovers! Please follow the simple tips below to ensure you are properly storing and reheating your cooked ground beef stir-fry!
How long will cooked ground beef last?
Leftover ground beef stir-fry is perfect to have on hand for easy grab-and-go lunches and quick heat-and-eat dinners!
To properly store leftovers, first allow the dish to cool completely to room temperature; however, do not leave the stir-fry out for more than 2 hours! Once cool, transfer the leftovers to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Properly stored, leftovers will keep safely for up to three to four days.
How to reheat leftovers?
You can reheat beef stir-fry on the stove or in the microwave. In order to keep the meat moist, I recommend reheating your ground beef over moderate (medium-low to medium) heat to prevent it from drying out. Also, adding a small amount of oil, soy sauce, broth or stock during the reheating process will help keep the beef moist. For both the reheating processes below, make sure you heat your leftovers until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit before consuming!
- Stovetop: Heat a splash or two of neutral oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the leftover stir-fry to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until the beef reaches an internal temperature of 74°C or 165°.
- Microwave: Add an individual portion of the beef stir-fry to a microwave-safe container. Add a splash of soy sauce, beef broth or beef stock to the beef to help keep it moist. Place a microwave-safe lid on top of the container, leaving the lid slightly cracked at the side to form a vent. Reheat on 50% power for 60 second intervals, stirring in between, until the ground beef reaches an internal temperature of 74°C or 165°.
Can I freeze fried ground beef?
Unfortunately, freezing and thawing cooked ground beef will impact the taste and quality of the meat. Therefore, freezing this recipe is not recommended.
Quick, easy and downright delish, this Stir Fry Chinese Ground Beef needs to happen in your kitchen!
Until next week, friends, cheers – to bowl goals!
Recipe testimonials – What people are saying about this recipe
Here’s what readers are saying about this delicious Chinese beef!
- “This is perfection! Made this for the fam and everyone LOVED it! Very easy to make…I would not change a thing!” –Paula
- “This recipe is simply fantastic; easy to make and so sooo tasty!” – Simon
- “I served it over noodles. All of my boys ate this! Yay!” –Ciera
- “I made this and we really enjoyed it. I’ll make it again.” –Brenda
More beef stir fry recipes!
If you’re looking for more delicious recipes for Chinese or Asian cuisine, try these fuss-free family favorites next!
The best Chinese Beef Stir Fry recipe plus step-by-step video👇
Chinese Beef Stir Fry Recipe
- 1 Small Bowl (for mixing stir fry sauce)
- 1 Wok or Large Skillet (for stir frying)
- Make the sauce: In a small bowl whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.
- Stir-fry: Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the onion and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until starting to soften. Add in the beef, and season generously with salt and pepper. Sauté until almost browned, breaking it up as you go, about 4 minutes. Add in the mushrooms and continue to stir-fry for an additional 3-4 minutes. Add in the garlic, ginger and season again with salt and pepper.* Cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.
- Add in the sauce and cook for an additional 2 minutes, or until everything is coated and the beef is cooked through. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Serve: Add rice or noodles to the bottom of serving bowls and top with beef. Alternatively, this beef is really good in lettuce wraps! Garnish with desired toppings and serve warm. Enjoy!
- Beef: This recipe utilizes ground beef, and while you can use any ground beef you would like, I used lean ground sirloin. If you use regular ground beef or ground chuck, you may need to wipe the excess fat from the pan after browning the beef and before adding in the mushrooms. Use your best judgement!
- Mushrooms: The recipe calls for finely chopped mushrooms, and I highly recommend using white button or cremini (baby bella) mushrooms. Make sure you do NOT soak the mushrooms to clean them. Instead, use a damp paper towel to wipe any dirt from the mushroom, or give them a very quick, light rinse with cool water and pat dry.
- Seasoning: Make sure you season the stir-fry with salt and pepper in layers, as you cook - i.e. season the onions, season the beef, season the ginger/garlic, season the sauce. Adding salt and pepper in layers will ensure the dish as an entirety is seasoned properly!
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