Mongolian Beef that is easy to make but so good you will never want to order Chinese takeout again!
Mongolian Beef bursting with wonderfully tender beef saturated in the most-lick-the-plate delicious, multidimensional sauce ever – all in a quick and easy stir fry! (Photos updated February 2019)
Easy Mongolian Beef Recipe
Is it too presumptuous of me to say this will be your new favorite Mongolian Beef recipe? While I can’t speak for you – yet – I don’t exaggerate when I tell you this is one of my favorite Asian dishes to date. And Patrick’s. “This is amazing. Not just amazing like the flavors are really good but amazing like I could eat this every day amazing.”
Met too Patrick, me too.
What is Mongolian Beef?
Typical Mongolian beef sauce consists of:
- soy sauce
- brown sugar
With just these ingredients, I think Mongolian Beef can tastes flat and one dimensional. THIS Mongolian Beef recipe, however boasts all of the aforementioned ingredients but gets:
- a kick of tang from hoisin (like Chinese BBQ sauce)
- sweetness from mirin (sweet Japanese cooking wine)
- and is topped off by the “secret ingredient”…Asian Sweet Chili Sauce!
After researching many different Mongolian Beef recipes (none of which call for Sweet Chili Sauce), I made a version without the Sweet Chili Sauce and while it was good, it was missing the “Oh My YUMMY” (OMY) rave factor. So I decreased the brown sugar and added the complexly delicious Asian Sweet Chili Sauce in its place and now this sauce is off the OMY charts.
If you aren’t familiar with Asian Sweet Chili Sauce (sometimes says “Thai” on the label), it is sweet, with a hint of spice and packed with flavor from a combination of red chilies, onion, garlic, Japanese rice wine, brown sugar and fish sauce. Basically, a whole lot of my favorite everything in one bottle. And now a whole lot of my favorite everything in one stir fry.
Mongolian Beef Ingredients
This is such an easy Mongolian beef and broccoli stir-fry! Here’s what you’ll need to make the stir-fry and the Mongolian beef sauce:
- Flank steak: See my notes below on why I recommend using flank steak.
- Soy sauce: Use reduced sodium soy sauce so we can control the salt level.
- Cornstarch: Thickens the sauce so it’s rich instead of watery.
- Oil: Either vegetable or peanut oil will work.
- Broccoli florets: Buy pre-cut florets to save yourself some time.
- Red bell pepper: I prefer using red bell pepper since it’s sweeter than other kinds.
- Green onions: Adds a lighter onion flavor and doesn’t overwhelm the dish.
- Garlic and ginger: If you’re looking to save time and skip some chopping, you can substitute the fresh garlic and ginger with powders. The typical rule of thumb is 3:1, so one part dried to three parts fresh.
- Brown sugar: Use light brown sugar. It adds sweetness to balance the soy sauce, rice wine and heat. You can more or less depending on personal preferences.
- Asian sweet chili sauce: Sweet, with a hint of spice and packed with flavor from a combination of red chilies, onion, garlic, Japanese rice wine, brown sugar and fish sauce.
- Mirin: Rice wine adds a sweetness and depth of 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.
- Hoisin sauce: Adds a tangy flavor.
- Asian hot sauce: I recommend adding more to taste at the end of cooking if you would like it spicier instead of red pepper flakes, because it distributes more evenly.
What’s the Best Beef for Mongolian Beef?
I recommend flank steak in Mongolian Beef because although it is an inexpensive cut of beef, it transforms into buttery delicious when marinated and coated in soy sauce and cornstarch. You can use sirloin steak for this Mongolian Beef recipe as well, but I wouldn’t pay the extra $$ for it if you don’t have it on hand already.
How to Make Mongolian Beef Tender
While the tantalizing sauce makes this dish, it could easily be unmade without melt in your mouth beef. But this beef is nothing short of crazy tender and flavorful from one simple step of coating your beef in a little soy and cornstarch before stir frying. 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.
- 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. Sooooo tender!
How to Make Mongolian Beef
Thinly slice beef. In addition to the marinade, the key to tender beef is to THINLY slice your steak across the grain, we are talking 1/8-1/4.” 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 without it moving under your knife. The beef will defrost completely and quickly in the marinade.
Slice your 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. If you cut it parallel to the grain you will end up with long muscle fibers which results in chewy, rubbery meat. You want to cut perpendicular to the muscle fibers so they become as short as possible.
Marinate beef. Because we are using flank steak, a marinade is crucial to tenderize the beef. Our simple marinade consists of soy sauce and cornstarch. It will be thick and not your typical wet marinade. Let sit at room temperature 30-60 minutes.
Make Sauce. Whisk the Mongolian Beef Sauce ingredients together consisting of soy sauce, water, brown sugar, Asian sweet chili sauce, rice wine, hoisin, pepper, sriracha and cornstarch.
Stir Fry Beef. Heat 1-2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil a large 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. Working in two batches (again so the beef will sear and not steam), add beef to the skillet and line in a single layer and sear for 1 minute, flip and sear the other side. Don’t worry about the beef cooking completely because 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.
Cook broccoli. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the now-empty skillet; heat over high heat. Add the broccoli and saute for 30 seconds. Add 3 tablespoons water, cover pan, and lower heat to medium. Steam broccoli for 2 minutes. Push the broccoli to the sides of the skillet and add 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add bell pepper, green onions, garlic, ginger, and sauté with broccoli 1 minute so now our veggies are cooked AND infused with flavor!
Combine. 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, the beef is cooked and vegetables are crisp tender, about 1-2 minutes. Taste and add additional sriracha, sweet chili sauce, etc. if desired.
Serve! Serve with rice/noodles/zoodles and garnish with fresh green onions.
How Do I Make Crispy Mongolian Beef?
To make Crispy Mongolian Beef you are going to want to add more oil, so you are essentially frying your beef. Make sure you use a high smoking point oil such as vegetable oil.
- Fill the bottom of your pan completely with vegetable oil.
- Heat over high heat until it very hot smoking – the oil should sizzle if you flick water on it.
- Add beef in a single layer using tongs.
- Fry for 1 minute or until deeply golden.
- Flip beef strips over and fry another 1 minute or until deeply golden.
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR MONGOLIAN BEEF Stir-Fry
- freeze your beef for 30-60 minutes to make it easier to thinly slice
- slice your beef across the grain
- slice your steak THINLY into 1/8″-1/4″ slices
- make sure your skillet is smoking hot before adding your beef
- add beef in a single layer to sear – you will probably need to cook in two batches
- don’t overcook your steak initially because you will add it back to the skillet with your sauce
- use QUALITY hoisin sauce like Lee Kum Kee or Kikkoman (it DOES make a difference!)
- use rice wine and NOT rice wine vinegar. 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.
- cut your broccoli into uniform pieces
Recipe Variations to Try
- feel free to substitute the broccoli for other veggies
- customize the heat with additional sriracha or chili sauce
- you can substitute rice wine with pale dry sherry
- you can substitute vegetable oil but NOT olive oil for the peanut oil because olive oil has a lower smoking point
Can I Prep Mongolian Beef Stir-Fry Ahead of Time?
This Mongolian stir-fry 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 30 minutes up to 8 hours before cooking.
- Make Mongolian Sauce: whisk the ingredients together up tot 24 hours in advance and store, covered in the refrigerator.
- Chop veggies: you can chop your garlic, grate your ginger and slice your green onions and bell peppers 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 Reheat Mongolian Beef
For best results, I recommend reheating leftover Mongolian beef and broccoli in a skillet over medium heat. If you microwave the beef, it can become slightly rubbery.
Can you Freeze Mongolian Beef?
Yes, Mongolian Beef freezes very well, except for the bell peppers. If using bell peppers, you may want to pick them out or they will get mushy. Also, take care not to overcook the beef or it won’t be as tender when reheated.
To freeze, let Mongolian Beef cool completely in the refrigerator. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, let Mongolian Beef defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
What to Serve with Mongolian Beef
Mongolian Beef is wonderfully flavorful so it pairs nicely with plain white or brown rice, quinoa and even cauliflower or zucchini rice. It is also good with different Asian Noodles such as rice noodles.
What Readers are Saying
By far the best Mongolian beef recipe!– Susanne
This was dinner tonight and we loved it!! – Kathy
I made the recipe exactly as instructed, and I purchased all of the recommended ingredients. Out of this world delicious! – Joanna
Made this tonight and it is amazing!! 2 thumbs up from everyone! – Jenny
Made this tonight and such an incredibly tasteful dish, we all loved it, none of your recipes disappoint! – Stephanie
Looking for More Chinese Recipes?
- Sesame Chicken
- General Tso’s Chicken
- Cashew Chicken
- Sweet and Sour Chicken
- Kung Pao Shrimp
- Honey Lemon Chicken
- Pineapple Ginger Chicken
- Coconut Cashew Chicken just to name a few!
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