Orange Beef bathed in a sweet and tangy orange sauce that’s easy to make and 10X better than takeout!
This Orange Beef recipe is 5 star delicious and guaranteed to land on your “top favorites” list! It boasts crispy breaded beef (stir fry option available) tossed in the most fabulous, multidimensional orange sauce ever! It’s bright, savory, sweet and tangy infused with orange juice and orange marmalade for plenty of citrus punch all balanced by sugar, soy sauce, hoisin, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. Serve this Orange Beef over a hot bed of steamed rice with stir fried vegetables for an easy weeknight meal or throw in some cream cheese wontons and ramen noodle salad when you’re feeling extra ambitious 😉. Any way you serve it, this Orange Beef is a stunner!
Chinese Beef recipes are easy and delicious to make at home as long as you have the right recipe! Don’t miss these favorites: Beef and Broccoli, Crockpot Beef and Broccoli, Ginger Beef, Mongolian Beef, Szechuan Beef and Pepper Steak.
HOW TO MAKE Orange Beef VIDEo
Orange Beef Ingredients
There are three main components to this Chinese Orange Beef recipe: 1) the beef, 2) the beef batter, and 3) the sweet and tangy orange sauce. Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll need to make the recipe (full measurements are provided in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):
THE Orange Sauce
Each orange sauce ingredient plays a specific role in weaving the sweet and tangy tapestry – and all you do is whisk the ingredients together! The sauce is my dream combination of ramped up orange flavor from sweet orange marmalade, sweetness from the sugar, multi-dimensional tanginess from the orange juice, lemon juice and red wine vinegar, umami depth from the soy sauce and hoisin and punchiness and heat from the ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes. Here’s what you’ll need:
How to Make Orange Beef
While this Chinese Orange Beef recipe may look impressive, it is very easy to make in just six simple steps! Let’s take a closer look with step-by-step photos or you can watch the How To Make Video in the recipe card (printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):
- Step 1: Slice your beef into 1/4-inch slices across the grain.
- Step 2: To make the batter, whisk together the cornstarch and flour in a large bowl, followed by the water and egg. The batter should be quite smooth. Add the beef and let rest while you prep the orange sauce.
- Step 3: Prepare the orange sauce by whisking together the sauce ingredients in a large bowl.
- Step 4: Fill a large Dutch oven/pot with about 1 inch of vegetable oil. Heat the oil to 350-375ºF (177ºC). Fry the beef in batches for just a few minutes until they are lightly golden, then remove to a paper towel-lined baking sheet using a slotted spoon or strainer.
- Step 5: Add the prepared orange sauce to a large saucepan and simmer just for two minutes to concentrate the flavors-it will only reduce slightly and will not thicken.
- Step 6: Add the cooked beef strips to the sauce. Continue cooking the beef in the sauce until it’s fully coated and the sauce is mostly absorbed by the beef.
- Step 7: Serve and garnish your Orange Beef as desired. I enjoy mine over a bed of rice showered with sesame seeds and chopped green onions!
Tips for MAking the Best Orange Beef
This Chinese Orange Beef recipe is very simple to make, but there are a few key elements to pay attention to:
possible recipe variations
This Orange Beef recipe can be made sweeter, less sweet, tangier, spicier or feel free to add stir fried vegetables. Note, if adding vegetables, you’ll need to reduce the beef or increase the sauce.
what to serve with Orange Beef
Orange Beef is traditionally served with rice because it soaks up the flavorful orange sauce and offers a neutral textural component. Here are a few options:
Appetizers and sides
Tools Used in This Recipe
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- 1 pound flank steak cut against the grain into ¼ inch strips, about 3 inches long
- vegetable oil, as needed
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon white pepper (may sub ¾ tsp black pepper)
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/3 cup sweet orange marmalade (see notes for regular/not sweet)
- 3-4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons quality hoisin sauce like Lee Kum Kee or Kikkoman
- 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp EACH salt, onion powder, garlic powder, ground ginger, red pepper flakes
- Sliced green onions
- Sesame seeds
- Batter: Whisk together the cornstarch and flour in a large bowl. Add the water and egg and whisk until the batter is smooth. Add the beef strips and stir until completely coated; set aside.
- Sauce: Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl; set aside.
- Fry Beef: Fill a large Dutch oven/fryer (this is the one I use) with 1 inch of vegetable oil. Heat the oil to 350-375 degrees F (177 C). Line a baking sheet with paper towels to receive the fried beef.
- Working in batches, use tongs to add the beef strips to the hot oil. Use a fork to stir and break them apart as they cook.
- Fry the beef strips for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden (they will only be lighlty golden, not deeply golden due to the cornstarch). Remove the beef strips with a slotted spoon or spider strainer and let them drain in a single layer on the prepared paper towels.
- Simmer Sauce: Add the sauce to a large saucepan and simmer for 2 minutes, (it will not thicken, we are just concentrating the flavors).
- Combine: Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the fried beef strips and stir to coat in the sauce for about 2 minutes, until the beef absorbs the sauce. Garnish beef with the sesame seeds and green onions.
Tips and Tricks
- Sweet orange marmalade: Sweet orange marmalade is made using Valencia, navel, or similar oranges and will be called out on the label as “SWEET Orange Marmalade.” I used Smucker’s brand. Bitter or Seville marmalade is traditional and will just be labeled “orange marmalade.” If you can only can only find orange marmalade (without the sweet), then increase the sugar to taste by a few tablespoons.
- Orange and lemon juice: Freshly squeezed is best, but bottled works as well. Just make sure it’s 100% juice and unsweetened.
- Freeze the beef for easier slicing: Place your beef in the freezer 60 minutes before slicing. This will help the beef not wiggle beneath your knife so it’s much easier to slice thinly and cleanly. The frozen beef thaws quickly, so I suggest slicing the beef into thirds and working with one third at a time while the rest of the beef stays in the freezer.
- Use an instant read thermometer: I highly recommend an instant-read thermometer to ensure you have the correct oil temperature not only at the beginning of frying, but throughout the entire frying process.
- Serve immediately: The beef will become increasingly less crispy (but still delicious), the longer it sits. For the crispiest beef, serve immediately.
- Prep Ahead: The orange sauce can be whisked together up to 48 hours in advance and stored in the refrigerator. The steak can be sliced and refrigerated, or go one step further and add it to the batter, cover, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before frying. Let sit at room temperature for about 60 minutes to come to room temperature before frying.
- To store and reheat: Although best enjoyed immediately for crispy Orange Beef, the recipe reheats well for lunches and dinners. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. Reheat in a microwave safe dish for one minute, then at 10 second intervals as needed, or reheat in a skillet over medium-low heat, stirring often.
How to stir fry orange beefI love the signature crisp of Chinese Orange Beef, but more importantly, the beading soaks up the sauce like a sponge so every bite is orange bliss. However, I also know frying is not an option for some people. To make this recipe as a stir fry in a skillet (noting that the beef won’t be crispy), follow these instructions:
- Skip breading the beef. Instead, whisk together 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, 1 teaspoon rice wine, 1 teaspoon baking soda and ½ teaspoon white pepper or ¼ teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl. Add the beef strips and stir to coat; let marinate for 30 minutes, but no more.
- Whisk the orange sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl and ADD 1 tablespoon cornstarch; set aside. The original sauce does not call for cornstarch because it is not supposed to/will not thicken so it can be absorbed by the battered beef.
- To cook the beef, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or peanut oil in a large heavy bottom skillet over HIGH heat until very hot and sizzling. Working in 2-3 batches, add the steak in a single layer and sear for one minute, flip over and cook one additional minute (it won’t be cooked through). Don’t overcook or it won’t be as tender! Transfer steak to a large plate and repeat.
- Return all of the beef to the skillet and pour the orange sauce over top. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened and the beef is cooked, about 1-2 minutes. Dig in!
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