Thai Beef

THAI BEEF IS EASY TO MAKE AT HOME BUT RIVALS ANY RESTAURANT!

This Thai Beef is so good, you’ll be licking the plate! Tender beef is tossed in a multi-dimensional sauce infused with soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, chili paste, basil, ginger, garlic and PEANUT BUTTER! The sauce is savory, sweet, salty, and tangy – everything a Thai sauce should be – and then some. The robust sauce is complimented by the refreshing sweetness of the pineapple and the tender crunch of the broccoli. This Thai Beef recipe is easy to make with its make-ahead-marinade and sauce and then it’s just a quick stir fry to dinner!

spicy Thai beef in a bowl garnished by peanuts

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Thai Beef Recipe

Broccoli Beef met Thai peanut sauce, fell in love and had a baby.  They named her Thai Beef and Broccoli – and she is beautifully delicious.

I am excited to share the birth of this tantalizing Thai Beef stir fry with you because, like my broccoli beef, I think it is going to become a family favorite – I mean it has peanut butter – not to mention tender beef and pineapple!  

Even if you aren’t overly fond of peanut butter, I think you will still love this Thai Beef stir fry because the peanut butter isn’t overwhelming but adds a dimension of rich flavor and texture for a sauce that is absolutely sensational. You can customize the sauce with more or less peanut butter, more or less heat, more or less acidity and of course swap in your favorite veggies to make it YOUR favorite Thai Beef!

WHAT KIND OF BEEF IS BEST FOR THAI BEEF?

I recommend flank steak for this Thai Beef recipe because it has just the right amount of marbling for maximum flavor and emerges buttery tender once marinated and cooks up quickly without becoming chewy or rubbery (just don’t overcook!). It is also less expensive than prime cuts but emerges equally delicious.

You are also welcome to use tenderloin, sirloin or ribeye steak for this Thai Beef recipe if you already have it on hand, but otherwise, I wouldn’t spend the extra money for it.

HOW DO YOU MAKE THAI BEEF EXTRA TENDER?

Flank steak is an inexpensive cut of beef that transforms into luxuriously tender from a few simple marinade ingredients.  Here’s how it works:

  • soy sauce:  the salt in the soy sauce helps break down the proteins for a more tender texture and infuses the steak with flavor.
  • lime juice: the acid helps break down lean muscle fibers on the surface meat.
  • cornstarch: acts as a binder and helps our soy sauce bind to the meat for more flavorful beef.   Cornstarch also helps protect the beef from the intense heat when cooking. 

Ingredients for Thai Beef

In addition to flank steak, you will also need the following for this Thai Beef recipe:

  • soy sauce:  grounds the sauce.  Please use low sodium soy sauce so your sauce isn’t too salty. 
  • brown sugar:  adds sweetness to balance the soy, lime juice and fish sauce. You may need more or less brown sugar depending on personal preferences.
  • fish sauce: will not make your Thai Beef taste fishy, but adds a detectable umami balance of savory and salty.  You may substitute fish sauce with soy sauce if you’re in a bind, but I HIGHLY suggest fish sauce.
  • lime juice: you may use fresh or bottled lime juice.
  • cornstarch: thickens the sauce to its silky consistency.
  • ginger: adds a warm spicy, almost pepper taste.  You only need 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger so feel free to use ¾ teaspoon ground ginger instead.
  • garlic: use more or less garlic depending on your garlic love.  
  • dried basil: basil is quintessential to Thai cuisine. It adds a layer of savory, peppery and slightly minty flavor.       
  • Asian chili sauce:  such as Sriracha or Sambal Oelek will add heat to your Thai Beef.  If you aren’t sure how much to add, you can start with less then stir in more at the end if needed.
  • peanut butter: peanut butter adds a nutty earthiness and creaminess that marries all the ingredients together, because peanut butter makes everything better!
  • chopped peanuts: adds a tantalizing CRUNCH. Take care to use roasted UNSALTED peanuts so your Thai Beef isn’t too salty.
  • pineapple: you can use fresh or I use 1 20 oz. can pineapple tidbits for convenience.
  • broccoli: I love broccoli with beef but you can customize the veggies with your favs.
front view of best Thai beef recipe in a bowl

How To make Thai Beef

  • The Marinade: To make this Thai Peanut Beef and Broccoli, thin slices of beef are marinated in soy, brown sugar, fish sauce (don’t be afraid!), lime, ginger, garlic, basil and sriracha.
  • The Sauce: This flavorful marinade once again doubles as the sauce as I like to do (no double work!) so when its time to whip up this stir fry, it literally takes less than 15 minutes!  So with just a little planning, you can treat yourself or company to this delectable stir fry even on the busiest nights.  Can’t beat that!
  • The Stir Fry: When its “go time”, simply stir fry the marinated beef for a couple minutes, steam the broccoli in the same pan for a couple minutes, add the sauce (which you have whisked up the night before) and pineapple then simmer until thickened and then its peanut butter time…my favorite time.  
  • Assemble: Stir in velvety and crunchy peanut butter that adds a rich, nutty, salty flavor and creamy crunchy texture complimented by the refreshing sweetness of the pineapple, the tender crunch of the broccoli and the juicy, tender beef seeping with marinated flavor.

TIPS TO MAKE THAI BEEF

  • Thinly slice beef.  Slice beef into 1/8” slices – no thicker than 1/4.”  The thinner the beef, the more tender it will be.
  • Freeze beef. It is much easier to thinly slice your steak if you freeze it for 60 minutes or so; however long it takes so it doesn’t slide when cutting.  The frozen beef defrosts quickly, so I will slice the beef in thirds and work with one third at a time while the rest of the beef stays in the freezer.  The beef will continue to completely defrost in the marinade. 
  • Slice your beef ACROSS the grain.  Look for the the muscle fibers “grain” running through the meat in one direction. Once you locate the grain, cut perpendicular to the muscle fibers so they become as short as possible, as opposed to parallel which will result in long muscle fibers and chewy, rubbery meat. 
  • Marinate beef.  This Thai Beef marinade not only infuses the beef with flavor but breaks down the muscle fibers so the beef becomes buttery tender when cooked.
  • Come to room temperature. Remove the marinating Thai Beef from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. This will ensure it cooks evenly.
  • Use a high smoking oil. You can substitute vegetable oil but NOT olive oil for the peanut oil because olive oil has a lower smoking point
  • Use a hot nonstick skillet. It is important that the skillet be smoking hot before you add the beef so the beef will sear on the outside while the inside remains tender.
  • Cook beef in batches. Cook the beef in batches so it will cook and not just steam.
  • Don’t overcook beef. Don’t overcook or it won’t be as tender! The Thai beef should be seared but shouldn’t be cooked all the way through because it will continue to cook while it rests and once again when added back to the stir fry with the sauce.  
  • Customize veggies. You can swap the broccoli out for your favorite veggies and stir fry them instead of steam them. Bell peppers, onions, snow peas, carrots, zucchini, etc. would all be delicious.

RECIPE VARIATIONS 

  • Adjust sauce to taste: This is YOUR Thai beef. Make it sweeter by adding more sugar, tangier by adding more lime juice, saltier by adding more fish sauce, spicier by adding more chili sauce or amp up the ginger or garlic flavor depending on your personal preference.
  • Skip pineapple: If you only have veggies on hand and need to make this recipe now, then skip the pineapple juice and increase the apple cider vinegar to ¼ cup and the sugar to ⅓ cup.
  • Swap the veggies: You can swap the veggies or omit some altogether. For example, instead of broccoli, add more bell peppers or carrots.  The stir fry would also be tasty with snow peas, mushrooms, zucchini, celery, asparagus, edamame or bok choy.
  • Omit the veggies:  Omit the veggies altogether and use additional beef.
  • Water chestnuts:  Add a tantalizing crunch.  Water chestnuts are easy to find in a can so you can keep them stocked and ready to go.
  • Sesame seeds:  Add a nutty sesame flavor.  Take care to use toasted sesame seeds or toast them yourself.
  • Mango or Mandarin oranges:  Swap the pineapple for chopped mangos or mandarin oranges.  You can use canned or fresh oranges but fresh hold together better in the stir fry.
  • Use another protein: I know this is a Thai beef, but you can use this same marinade to make homemade teriyaki chicken or teriyaki salmon as well! 

HOW TO PREP THAI BEEF AHEAD OF TIME

This Thai Beef recipe has a few ingredients, but I promise it all comes together quickly! If you want to breakdown the recipe, you can prep everything in advance or make part of it in advance:

  • Slice beef:  you can do this at any time before marinating or just before marinating then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Make marinade/sauce:  whisk the ingredients together up to 24 hours in advance and store, covered in the refrigerator.
  • Marinate Beef:  marinate your beef 8-24 hours before cooking.
  • Chop veggies:  you can chop your garlic, grate your ginger and chop your broccoli 24 hours in advance and store in separate air tight containers in the refrigerator.
  • Cook!  Now all that’s left to do is stir fry and dinner is served in less than 10 minutes!

HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT

This Thai beef reheats wonderfully for lunches or dinners, just take care to not overcook the beef initially. 

  • How to store:  Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • How to reheat in microwave: Transfer small portions to a microwave safe dish, heat for one minute, stir then continue to heat at 30 second intervals. 
  • How to reheat on the stove:  Reheat in a skillet over medium-low heat, stirring often. 
up close of easy Thai beef stir fry

WHAT SHOULD I SERVE WITH THAI BEEF?

CAN YOU FREEZE THAI BEEF?

Thai Beef freezes very well. Take care not to overcook the beef or it won’t be as tender when reheated.

To freeze:

  1. Let Thai Beef cool completely in the refrigerator. 
  2. Transfer to an airtight container.  If using a freezer bag, squeeze out any excess air to prevent freezer burn.
  3. Label and freeze for up to 3 months. 
  4. When ready to eat, let Thai Beef defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
  5. Reheat in the microwave for 60 seconds then at 30 second intervals or gently on the stove.

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Thai Peanut Beef

This Thai Beef is so good, you’ll be licking the plate! Tender beef is tossed in a multi-dimensional sauce infused with soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, chili paste, basil, ginger, garlic and PEANUT BUTTER! The sauce is savory, sweet, salty, and tangy - everything a Thai sauce should be - and then some. The robust sauce is complimented by the refreshing sweetness of the pineapple and the tender crunch of the broccoli. This Thai Beef recipe is easy to make with its make-ahead-marinade and sauce and then it’s just a quick stir fry to dinner!
Servings: 4 -6
Total Time: 25 mins
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak cut across the grain into ⅛ thin slices then cut into 2” length pieces
  • 1 20 oz. can pineapple tidbits, drained
  • 5 cups broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
  • green onions for garnish (optional)
  • peanut oil (may sub olive oil)

Marinade/Sauce

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, mix the Marinade/Sauce ingredients together. Add ¼ cup Marinade to a freezer bag along with beef and turn to evenly coat. Reserve the rest of the marinade separately - this will become the base of your Sauce. Refrigerate Sauce and marinating beef for 8-24 hours.
  • When ready to cook, drain excess marinade off of beef (if there is any). Heat 1 ½ teaspoons peanut oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat until very hot and sizzling. Working in batches, add beef to the skillet and break up any clumps; cook without stirring for 1 minute, then stir and cook until beef is browned and almost cooked through, about 1-2 minutes (it will cook more in the sauce). Don’t overcook or it won’t be as tender! Transfer beef to a large plate and cover. Repeat with remaining beef. Wipe skillet of any excess moisture.
  • Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to the now-empty skillet; heat until very hot and sizzling. Add the broccoli and saute for 30 seconds. Add water, cover pan, and lower heat to medium. Steam broccoli until crisp-tender, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Add beef back to the skillet along with the reserved Sauce and pineapple. Bring sauce to a boil then reduce to a simmer until sauce has thickened. Stir in crunchy peanut butter until well combined.
  • Taste and add additional salt, pepper, Sriracha, brown sugar to taste. Top with roasted peanuts and green onions.

Notes

*If you use 3-4 teaspoons Sriracha you might want to increase brown sugar by 1-2 tablespoons to balance the heat. You can add this additional brown sugar at the end if desired.

CAN YOU FREEZE THAI BEEF?

Thai Beef freezes very well. Take care not to overcook the beef or it won’t be as tender when reheated.
To freeze:
  1. Let Thai Beef cool completely in the refrigerator.
  2. Transfer to an airtight container.  If using a freezer bag, squeeze out any excess air to prevent freezer burn.
  3. Label and freeze for up to 3 months.
  4. When ready to eat, let Thai Beef defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
  5. Reheat in the microwave for 60 seconds then at 30 second intervals or gently on the stove.

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23 Comments

  1. Mary Ellen says

    I love this dish, I love peanut butter too. I need to try this soon!

  2. sarah says

    You’re right forget the take-out! This sounds so good for dinner tonight!

  3. Rachael says

    And a beautiful baby it is!!! I am looking forward to this as I too enjoy slathering peanut butter on everything! That or cookie butter. Maybe you should create something like this with cookie butter for me!

  4. Melissa says

    I love Thai food so much, and pineapple is my favorite fruit! This is a marriage made in heaven!

    • Jen says

      Thanks Amy, can’t wait for you to try it, enjoy!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Ami! I love this combo!

  5. Karrie says

    I made this for some friends who eat a gluten- free diet. Only adjustment was gluten-free soy sauce. We all loved it. Although I don’t typically eat a lot of beef, I love the combination of flavors in this dish. Thanks for sharing your culinary creations. I look forward to trying many more.

    • Jen says

      Hi Karrie! I am so happy you were able to make this gluten free and that everyone loved it! How fun to make this for friends – you are a very good friend 🙂 I hope you find a lot more food to love here! Enjoy!!

  6. GraceAnne says

    I made this last night, it turned out great! Pretty easy to make and tasted authentic. I made one adjustment- I didn’t want to put water in my hot, oil-filled pan to steam the broccoli, so i steamed it separately on the stovetop until cooked but still crisp and added it to the beef when I added the sauce and pineapple. It worked great! Thanks for the awesome recipe!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome! I am so happy you enjoyed it!

  7. Ricki Igler says

    This was a great recipe. We didn’t even put it over rice. But it would be awesome over rice, brown rice, quinoa, or any grain. Great flavors. Definitely a keeper.

    • Jen says

      So happy to hear this is a keeper – the ultimate compliment! Thank you!

  8. Heidi Yeh says

    I make this recipe like once a month, it’s such a winner! Bold, flavorful, well-balanced, and nutritious!

    • Jen says

      I love hearing that Heidi, thank you so much! Its been a while since I’ve made it myself but now I think I need to! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

  9. Sue says

    Hi Jen! My family loved this! Another winner from my favorite food lover pal, Jen! I am raising a large family in a foreign country, which I don’t enjoy very much. We do our best to try and enjoy life as a family. You keep me going. You are such an inspiration.
    We had such a laugh; I found the siriachi sauce that you use, finally! Gosh, it’s really hot! Painfully tasty! Next time I will use less!
    Thank you for sharing so much with the world.
    Sue

    • Jen says

      Hi Sue, I don’t know where the time went but sorry I am just now responding! I can’t imagine all of the difficulties in raising a family in a foreign country but it sounds like you have a great attitude and are finding joy where you can – especially food! I am so happy this was another hit! As far as the sriracha, I’m glad you were able to laugh about it and didn’t burn your tongues completely off! My husband loves spicy food even more than I do and loads that stuff on! Wishing you and your family all the best and much happy cooking Sue! xo

  10. Josephine says

    Hi Jen, I stumbled upon this recipe looking for something different because I was in a dinner rut. This was amazing, thank you so much. I served it with brown rice. Only thing was my hubby wanted it spicier so I’ll have to add more siracha (in his plate lol) next time . It had just the right kick for me with 3 tbsp. Thanks again for a great dish that will become part of my rotation!

    • Jen says

      Hi Josephine, I’m so happy you stumbled upon this recipe and that it’s now part of the rotation – I can’t ask for a better compliment than that! Thank you!

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