This Kung Pao Beef is loaded with juicy steak, tender-crisp veggies, a spicy sauce, and crunchy peanuts. This homemade version of a take-out classic can’t be beat!
What is the difference between kung pao beef and mongolian beef?
This kung pao beef is a spicy Chinese-American dish made with beef, peanuts, and vegetables. Mongolian beef is made with beef and onions and is not spicy.
There are four important parts to this recipe: the steak, the sauce, the veggies, and the garnishes.
- Steak – flank steak is the best steak to use, because it’s relatively affordable, has a strong flavor that holds up well to the sauce, and will become tender when cooked. Be sure to halve the steak lengthwise, then slice it against the grain into thin strips for the best results.You can also use skirt steak, round steak, or sirloin steak.
- Cornstarch – coats the outside of the steak helping it to brown on the outside while also keeping it tender and juicy in the center. It’s also what helps to thicken the sauce so it can properly coat the beef and vegetables.
- Sauce: Beef Broth, Rice Vinegar, Soy Sauce, Brown Sugar, Garlic, Ginger, Sriracha, Black Pepper – this combination of ingredients creates a flavorful sauce that hits all the important flavors: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami. Kung pao beef is notoriously spicy, but feel free to use more or less sriracha, to taste.
- Oil – vegetable oil is the best oil for stir-frying, because it has a neutral flavor and high smoke point.
- Veggies: Onion, Bell Peppers, Celery – these are the classic vegetables for kung pao dishes, but feel free to use whatever stir-fry veggies you have on hand: carrots, snap peas, etc. Be sure to cook until crisp-tender.
- For Serving: Roasted, Salted Peanuts, Green Onions, Cilantro, Rice – peanuts add that classic kung pao crunch, green onions and cilantro add freshness to the otherwise rich and spicy dish, and rice is just a given; soaks up all that extra delicious sauce!
How to make
Cooking the steak and vegetables separately keeps the veggies crisp-tender and the steak ultra juicy!
- Toss sliced flank steak with cornstarch until fully coated. Set aside.
- Whisk together beef broth, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, sriracha, and pepper until combined. Set aside.
- Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add in onion, bell peppers, and celery and cook, stirring regularly, until the veggies are tender. Remove veggies and set aside.
- Add in steak and cook for 2-5 minutes, or until nicely browned. Remove and set aside with the veggies.
- Whisk in sauce, bring to a simmer, then stir in the cooked veggies and steak, and simmer until the sauce has thickened.
- Serve with garnishes and rice and enjoy!
What to serve with kung pao beef
This dish should be served over rice and garnished with peanuts, green onions, and cilantro. If you’re looking to bulk it up, try some of these delicious sides:
- Air Fryer Egg Rolls with Sweet and Sour Sauce
- Leafy green salad with Asian Salad Dressing
- Asian Roasted Broccoli
How to store
Leftover beef will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months.
To reheat, thaw in the fridge if frozen then microwave or warm on the stove until heated through.
Kung Pao Beef
Equipment for this recipe
- 2 pounds flank steak halved lengthwise, then sliced against the grain into 1/4 inch thick strips
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup soy sauce or gluten-free alternative
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon sriracha more or less to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 yellow onion finely diced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- 2 ribs celery finely diced
- Roasted, salted peanuts for garnish
- Green onions for garnish
- Cilantro for garnish
- Cooked rice for serving
- In a medium sized bowl, toss sliced flank steak with cornstarch until fully coated, then set aside.
- In another medium sized bowl, whisk together beef broth, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, sriracha, and pepper until combined. Set aside.
- Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Once hot, add in onion, bell peppers, and celery and cook, stirring regularly, until the veggies are tender, about 5-10 minutes.
- Remove veggies and set aside, but reserve remaining oil in the pan.
- To the hot oil, add in steak and cook for 2-5 minutes, or until nicely browned. Remove and set aside with the veggies.
- To the hot pan, whisk in sauce, scrapping up any brown bits from the bottom.
- Bring to a simmer, stir in the cooked veggies and steak, and simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Taste and re-season, if necessary, then serve with garnishes and rice and enjoy!
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*Note: Nutrition information is estimated and varies based on products used.