Beef and Broccoli that is literally better than any Chinese takeout and easier than you might think!
Beef and Broccoli is the epitome of Chinese food in my book. It just doesn’t get better than tender slices of beef that are SO juicy, SO flavorful as they soak up the marinade and then slathered in savory soy, ginger, garlic sauce. The rich flavor is complimented by crisp-tender broccoli florets and hot steaming rice. This Beef Broccoli recipe uses easy to find grocery store ingredients and a large skillet instead of a wok so anyone can make this any time! And you are going to make this Beef and Broccoli recipe ALL THE TIME! (photo update from original post 2/28/2014)
BEEF AND BROCCOLI VIDEO
Beef and Broccoli Recipe
I was at an awesome restaurant a few days after I had made this Beef and Broccoli recipe and I was still craving it. You know that type of craving where it just won’t go away, the type when nothing else sounds good but what you are craving?! The type of craving I warned you General Tso’s Chicken (aka My Favorite Chicken Ever!) would create AND my Sweet and Sour Baked Chicken and my Mongolian Beef and Beef Bulgogi? Yeah, well this will do it to you too. Consider yourself warned.
So even though I had just eaten beef broccoli, I giddily ordered it off the menu. I was a little disappointed my restaurant dish wasn’t as good as my “Better than Takeout Beef and Broccoli,” recipe but to be completely honest, also kind of proud.
The tender, thin slices of beef are so juicy, so flavorful as they soak up every savory essence of the marinade, and then the sauce; oh the sauce! Its rich, slightly sweet, mostly savory, and just so right! I guarantee you will not find a better beef broccoli sauce!
Aside from the scrumptious factor, this Beef and Broccoli recipe also gets major points for its simple prep. Most of your time is spent slicing the meat beforehand, so when its “go” time, you simply whisk together the sauce ingredients and stir fry the beef and broccoli – bam! You can have dinner on the table in under 30 minutes…or directly in your mouth, both ways equally delicious!
What Kind of Meat is used for Beef and Broccoli?
I love Broccoli Beef for all the aforementioned reasons and because it is fairly economical when it comes to beef. I like to use flank steak but you could also use flat iron steak. Flank steak is is an inexpensive cut of steak that transforms into melt-in-your-mouth-tender by slicing it thin, marinating it and not overcooking it. You will be astonished just how buttery delicious flank steak can become!
How do you Tenderize Beef?
The marinade tenderizes the beef while infusing it with flavor – it makes ALL the difference between buttery tender beef and okay beef. You can either marinate you beef at room temperature for 30 minutes or up to 8 hours in the refrigerator. This is how the marinade ingredients tenderize the beef:
- soy sauce: the salt in the soy sauce helps break down the proteins for a more tender texture and infuses the steak with flavor.
- cornstarch: acts as a binder and helps our soy sauce bind to the meat for more flavorful beef. Cornstarch also provides a light coating that helps protect it from the intense heat when cooking.
Beef and Broccoli Recipe Ingredients
The best Beef and Broccoli recipe needs the best sauce! This sauce is savory, salty, rich, gingery, garlicy and as spicy as spicy as you want it with plenty of umami. It’s made with chicken broth, oyster sauce, Japanese rice wine, brown sugar, Asian chili sauce, sesame oil, pepper and cornstarch. Once you have everything stocked (if you don’t already), you’ll be ready to make this recipe at a moment’s notice – AND all of my other Asian recipes!
- chicken broth: use low sodium chicken broth so you can control the salt level. You can also use vegetable broth but chicken broth is more flavorful. Please DO NOT use water as I’ve tried this and will leave you with sad, wanting results.
- oyster sauce: If you have done a lot of Asian cooking, you probably have cooked with it before, and if you haven’t, you are going to love it! Oyster sauce is a staple in Asian cooking and a necessity in stir fry recipes. It is a thick, brown sauce with a balance between sweet and salty with an earthy undertone, due to the oyster extracts. You can find oyster sauce in the Asian aisle of any supermarket for only a few dollars. My personal favorite isLee Kum Kee, which is just a few more dollars. Not all oyster sauce is created equal. The quality of oyster sauce will affect the flavor, so if you want the extra “oomph” to your dish, go with a good quality sauce.v
- soy sauce: is used in the marinade. Use low sodium soy sauce or your chicken stir fry will be too salty.
- brown sugar: adds just a little adds sweetness to balance the oyster sauce. You may need more or less depending on personal taste.
- rice wine: should become a pantry staple if you do much Asian cooking. I use it in almost all of my Asian Recipes from my Beef Bulgogi to my Mongolian Chicken and Sesame Noodles. Rice wine is NOT rice vinegar- DO NOT switch them out. Rice wine adds a sweetness and depth of flavor; rice vinegar, on the other hand, will add an acidic flavor.
- Asian chili sauce: is used in the marinade. Use your favorite chili sauce like Sambal Oelek or sriracha. Use as much or as little as you like. We personally love heat so we add more to taste at the end.
- sesame oil: a “secret ingredient” that adds an irresistible, subtle nutty flavor.
- cornstarch: helps thicken the sauce to a glossy, luscious consistency without a raw flour taste.
- broccoli: cut the broccolini into bite-size pieces but not too small or they can easily overcook. The most import thing is to try and chop them uniformilally so they cook evenly.
WHERE DO I BUY RICE WINE?
I use “Kikkoman Aji-Mirin: Sweet Cooking Rice Seasoning” which is commonly found in the Asian section of most grocery stores or you can Amazon it. I highly suggest you look at the image before you head off to the grocery store so you know exactly what you are looking for. The best substitute for rice wine is pale dry sherry.
WHAT AROMATICS FOR beef AND BROCCOLI RECIPE?
This Beef and Broccoli recipe relies heavily on the aromatics (garlic, and ginger) for flavor. So, while the broccoli might be flexible, the aromatics are not. They are the quintessential ingredients to flavor the entire stir fry. That being said, you can use powders if you’re in a bind.
- Garlic pro tip. Purchase the pre-bagged, already peeled garlic to save time. They are actually less expensive than whole garlic cloves (at least when I did the math).
- Garlic Use more or less garlic depending on your garlic love. You may substitute the fresh garlic with 1 teaspoon garlic powder whisked directly into the sauce.
- Ginger pro tip: I like to freeze ginger so it’s always at my fingertips. To freeze ginger: grate it, spread it by the teaspoon or tablespoon on parchment paper and flash freeze until solid, about 1 hour. Transfer to an airtight container or plastic bag for up to 6 months. You can add frozen ginger directly to your stir fry. You can also grate frozen garlic if you have a quality microplaner.
- Ginger. Adds a warm spicy, almost pepper taste. You may substitute the fresh garlic with 1 teaspoon ginger powder whisked directly into the sauce.
IS CHINESE beef AND BROCCOLI GLUTEN FREE?
As written, this recipe is not gluten free – but almost! To make gluten free, use gluten free soy sauce or tamari. You will also want to double check that your oyster sauce and chili sauce are gluten free. The rest of the ingredients are gluten free.
How do you Make Chinese Beef and Broccoli?
Our Beef Broccoli recipe is very simple but has some hands-off time due to the marinating. I actually like that we prepare the marinade first because then when it comes to actually stir-frying our beef and broccoli, it comes together in a snap!
- Step 1: Slice your beef thinly. The key to this Beef and Broccoli recipe is to THINLY slice your steak across the grain. It doesn’t have to be razor thin like Beef Bulgogi, but between 1/8-¼ inch thick. Thin slices ensure steak that is seeping with flavor and buttery tender. It is much easier to thinly slice your steak if you freeze it for 30 minutes or so. You are welcome to freeze it longer, whatever makes it solid enough for you to handle because it will defrost in the marinade.
- Cook’s Pro Tip: Slice your beef across the grain. You also want to take care to slice the beef ACROSS the grain. You can see the “grain” running through the meat in one direction. The grain is essentially the muscle fibers running through the meat. You want to cut perpendicular to the muscle fibers so they become as short as possible. If you cut it parallel to the grain you will end up with long muscle fibers AKA chewy, rubbery tough meat so cut AGAINST the grain!
- Step 2: Marinate your beef. This is a step that many Beef and Broccoli recipes don’t take but it makes such a difference! We whisk all our marinade ingredients together in a freezer size bag – or whatever you are going to marinate your steak in and add your steak. The marinade consists of hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sriracha, cornstarch, garlic powder and ginger powder.
- Cooks Note About Hoisin Sauce: If you aren’t familiar with hoisin sauce it it can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store and is like Asian BBQ Sauce. I use it all the time in my recipes so if you are interested in making my Mongolian Beef, Kung Pao Shrimp, Sesame Chicken, etc., then I promise it will not go to waste!
- Step 3: Whisk together the stir-fry Sauce. When you’re ready to stir fry your Beef and Broccoli, whisk the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl consisting of Japanese rice wine (or dry sherry), chicken broth, oyster sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, we combine garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon peanut oil.
- Step 4: Stir fry. Heat 1 ½ teaspoons peanut oil (you can substitute vegetable oil) in a large nonstick skillet over high heat until very hot and sizzling. It is important that the skillet be smoking hot so that the beef will sear and not steam. 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. You will probably need to cook your beef in two batches so it sears and doesn’t just steam.
- Step 5: Stir fry AND steam broccoli. We heat additional oil in the now empty skillet then add our broccoli and saute for 30 seconds. Next, we add ¼ cup water, cover the pan, and lower heat to medium and steam the broccoli just until desired crisp- tenderness, about about 2 minutes. Push the broccoli to the sides of the skillet and add the garlic/ginger/red pepper/oil to the center of the pan, mashing the mixture with a spoon, until fragrant, about 15 to 20 seconds, then stir the mixture into the broccoli. So now not only is our beef infused with flavor but our broccoli is as well!
- Step 6: Combine! Finally, return the beef to the skillet and toss to combine. Whisk the sauce to recombine then add to the skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened and beef is cooked through, about 1-2 minutes. And then dive into the best Beef and Broccoli recipe you have ever had!
Tips and Tricks for Beef Broccoli Recipe
- sharpen your knife before slicing the beef
- freeze your beef for 60 minutes to make it easier to slice thinly
- slice your beef in thirds, then freeze what you’re not working with so the rest stays frozen
- slice your beef across the grain
- slice your beef into thin 1/4″ slices
- use a neutral oil; you can substitute vegetable oil with another neutral oil but not flavorful or low smoking point oil like olive oil.
- make sure your skillet is smoking hot before adding your beef so it will sear on the outside and remain tender on the inside
- add beef in a single layer to sear otherwise it will steam
- cook your beef in multiple batches
- don’t overcook your beef initially because you will add it back to the skillet with your sauce
- use QUALITY hoisin and oyster sauce like Lee Kum Kee or Kikkoman (it DOES make a difference!)
- use rice wine and NOT rice wine vinegar
- you can substitute rice wine with pale dry sherry
- cut your broccoli into uniform pieces
- feel free to substitute the broccoli for other veggies
- customize the heat with additional sriracha or chili sauce
- And above all, guard your Beef and Broccoli leftovers, if there are any, because I can guarantee this Better Than Takeout Beef Broccoli recipe will leave you craving more!
HOW DO I THICKEN THE Stir Fry SAUCE?
The cornstarch in the Beef and Broccoli Sauce will thicken as it simmers with the broccoli. If you still would like a thicker sauce, then just keep simmering until it reaches desired consistency.
HOW DO I THIN THE SAUCE?
Your sauce will become thicker the longer it is simmers. If it simmers to the point of too thick, don’t worry! It is easy to thin by whisking in additional chicken broth or water..
HOW DO I STORE SAUCE?
The stir fry sauce can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container or mason jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Shake it up or whisk it to recombine before using.
The fantastic thing about stir fry sauce (aside from enlivening your entire stir fry) is that it can be whisked or shaken together in minutes, stored for weeks, then just thrown into the skillet when you’re ready to cook!
Beef AND BROCCOLI RECIPE VARIATIONS
While this Beef and Broccoli recipe is just right for us, you can adjust it to make it just right for YOU and your family’s personal tastes.
- Sweeten it up: with additional brown sugar or swap the sugar for honey.
- Add sweet heat: with Asian sweet chili sauce.
- Spice it up: add additional Asian chili sauce to taste.
- Add herbs such as Thai basil, coriander or cilantro.
- Amp up the garlic and/or ginger: for a stronger punch of flavor.
- Swap veggies: with your favorites or you can combine the broccoli with other veggies.
- Add crunch: with peanuts or cashews; take care to purchase raw, unsalted nuts so your recipe isn’t too salty. To elevate your cashews or peanuts, dry roast them in a skillet until toasted- YUM!
- Water chestnuts: are delightfully crunchy and easy to find at any grocery store.
- Sesame seeds: add a nutty sesame flavor. Take care to use toasted sesame seeds or toast them yourself.
- Fruit: pineapple, Mandarin oranges, chopped pineapple or mangos add a juicy, fresh, sweet dimension. They are the sweet ying to the umami yang– just like I used inn my teriyaki beef stir fry. If you’re intimidated by choosing or cutting mangos, check out this post here. For the oranges, fresh oranges hold together better but canned or super convenient.
- Ramen: stir in some cooked ramen directly into the stir fry instead of serving over rice.
WHAT VEGETABLES CAN I ADD?
This Chinese Beef and Broccoli recipe is delectable in its simplicity or you can mix and match the veggies based on what’s in your fridge, your favorites, what’s in season or what’s on sale. You will want to equally swap the broccoli for the other veggies to maintain the veggie/sauce ratio. Here are some great vegetables for stir fries:
- Bell Peppers
- Snow Peas
- Snap Peas
- Baby corn
- Bean sprouts
- Cabbage (green or red)
- Bok choy
HOW TO STORE and reheat BEEF and BROCCOLI
This easy Beef and Broccoli reheats wonderfully for lunches or dinners, just take care to not overcook the broccoli 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: For larger portions, rewarm gently in a large skillet, stirring often.
HOW TO PREP BEEF AND BROCCOLI AHEAD OF TIME
Beef and Broccoli has a few steps, but you can prep EVERYTHING ahead of time so all that’s left to do at dinnertime is cook! Here’s how:
- Slice Beef: you can do this at any time before marinating or just before marinating then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Marinate beef: marinate your beef up to 8 hours before cooking.
- Make stir fry sauce: whisk the ingredients together up tot 24 hours in advance and store, covered in the refrigerator.
- Chop broccoli: 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!
WHAT SHOULD I SERVE WITH BROCCOLI BEEF?
Broccoli Beef is explosively flavorful so it pairs well with plain white or brown to soak up all the sauce and for a neutral textural component because sauce is SO flavorful. Here are some options:
- Rice. I like jasmine rice or brown rice but any rice will work. Just pop the rice in your rice cooker for a hands-off, easy side. You can also use microwave rice pouches if you’re making a serving for one or meal prep.
- Low carb. Cauliflower rice, quinoa or a blend of brown rice and any of the aforementioned options. You can also use low carb noodles such as zoodles or spaghetti squash.
- Noodles. Ramen, soba noodles, rice noodles or even linguine are a fun way to mix things up!
WHAT SIDES DO YOU SERVE WITH BROCCOLI BEEF?
In addition to rice, you can serve your Broccoli Beef with appetizers, soup, salad and/or fruit:
- Appetizers: You can turn Beef and Broccoli into a feast by pairing it with Chinese appetizers such as Crab Rangoons, Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Pineapple Cream Cheese Wontons, Sesame Chicken Egg Rolls, Sweet and Sour Chicken Egg Rolls or Chinese Chicken Wings. It is also delicious with potstickers, even though they are technically Japanese and not Chinese.
- Soup: Let the Chinese feast continue with soup! I love to warm up to Egg Drop Soup which is SUPER easy and always a sultry, satisfying favorite.
- Salad: This Beef and Broccoli recipe pairs wonderfully with a fresh, crunchy salad such as Crunchy Asian Salad, Chinese Salad, or Asian Pineapple Salad.
- Fruit: fresh fruit such as chopped pineapple is always an easy, welcome sweet stir fry side. Grilled Pineapple, Summer Fruit Salad, Perfect Fruit Salad, Creamy Grape Salad, and Pina Colada Fruit Salad are also fantastic.
CAN YOU FREEZE BEEF BROCCOLI?
Yes, Beef and Broccoli freezes well, except for the broccoli. The broccoli freezes okay, but you may want to pick it out and add freshly stir fried broccoli when reheating. Also, take care not to overcook the beef or it won’t be as tender when reheated.
- Let Broccoli Beef cool completely in the refrigerator.
- Transfer to an airtight container. If using a freezer bag, squeeze out any excess air to prevent freezer burn.
- Label and freeze for up to 3 months.
- When ready to eat, let Beef and Broccoli defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
- Reheat in the microwave for 60 seconds then at 30 second intervals or gently on the stove.
Looking for More Chinese fakeout takeout recipes?
- Mongolian Chicken
- Asian Caramel Pulled Pork
- Cashew Chicken
- Pineapple Ginger Chicken
- Coconut Cashew Chicken
- Honey Lemon Chicken
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Tools Used in This Recipe
Beef and Broccoli Recipe
- 6 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- pinch-1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- peanut oil or vegetable oil
- 3 ½ – 4 cups broccoli florets cut into bit size pieces
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 green onions, sliced (optional)
- Pour marinade ingredients directly into freezer bag and mix well. Add beef and massage in marinade. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or refrigerate for 2-8 hours.
- When ready to make Beef and Broccoli, whisk the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.
- In another small bowl, combine garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon peanut oil. Set aside.
- Drain excess marinade off of beef (if there is any).
- *Work in 2 batches if your beef cannot fit in one layer.* Heat 1 ½ teaspoons peanut oil/vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat until very hot and sizzling. 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.
- Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil/vegetable 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 2 minutes.
- Push the broccoli to the sides of the skillet and add the garlic/ginger/red pepper/oil to the center of the pan, mashing the mixture with a spoon, until fragrant, about 15 to 20 seconds, then stir the mixture into the broccoli.
- Return the beef to the skillet and toss to combine. Whisk the sauce to recombine then add to the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened and beef is cooked through, about 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with the green onions and serve.
- Hoisin Sauce is a Chinese Barbecue sauce and can be found in all supermarkets in the Asian aisle (alongside the oyster sauce). This recipe only calls for it in the marinade, so it is not essential, but definitely good to have in the pantry! (I use it in manny recipes).
- Rice wine is NOT rice vinegar– DO NOT switch them out. Rice wine adds a sweetness and depth of flavor. Rice vinegar, on the other hand will add an acidic flavor. I use “Kikkoman Aji-Mirin: Sweet Cooking Rice Seasoning” which is commonly found in the Asian section of most grocery stores or you can Amazon it. I highly suggest you google image before you head off to the grocery store so you know exactly what you are looking for. The best substitute for rice wine is pale dry sherry.
- Oyster sauce: If you have done a lot of Asian cooking, you probably have cooked with it before, and if you haven’t, you are going to love it! Oyster sauce is a staple in Asian cooking. It is a thick, brown sauce with a balance between sweet and salty with an earthy undertone, due to the oyster extracts. You can find oyster sauce in the Asian aisle of any supermarket for only a few dollars. My personal favorite is Lee Kum Kee, which is just a few more dollars. Not all oyster sauce is created equal. The quality of oyster sauce will affect the flavor, so if you want the extra “oomph” to your dish, go with a good quality sauce.
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Recipe Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen