This kung pao beef is a combination of thinly sliced steak, bell peppers, onions and roasted peanuts, all in a savory and spicy sauce. A remake of the popular take out classic that’s even better than what you’d get at a restaurant.
I like to recreate my family’s favorite Chinese dishes at home, including pork fried rice, beef and broccoli, Szechuan chicken, and kung pao beef. This stir fry is so easy to make, and is perfect served over steamed rice.
I have been ordering kung pao beef at my local Chinese restaurant years – I love the combination of the flavorful steak and crunchy vegetables in a spicy sauce. I’ve since learned to make this dish at home, and now instead of picking up the phone to call for take out, I have my favorite meal on the table in no time at all.
What is kung pao beef?
This dish is a popular Chinese stir fry featuring dried red chili peppers, savory peanuts and a variety of colorful veggies. Kung pao is thought to have come from the Sichuan province in China, and is now found in restaurants all over the world. The original version features Sichuan peppercorns, which gives it a unique flavor and tingling heat, but in this case we’re using ingredients that can be easily located at major grocery stores.
How do you make kung pao beef?
Start by thinly slicing flank steak, then coat the pieces of meat with corn starch, salt and pepper. Cook the beef in a pan until it is golden brown. Take the meat out of the pan and cook the veggies until they’re tender. Next, add the steak back into the pan with the veggies and stir in the chili peppers and peanuts. Whisk together the sauce ingredients, then pour the mixture over the meat and vegetables. Once the sauce is thickened, serve the dish and enjoy.
Tips for this recipe
- This recipe works with with other types of meat such as diced chicken breasts or thighs, or even shrimp.
- I place my steak in the freezer for 20-30 minutes before I slice it. This firms up the meat which makes it much easier to get those ultra thin cuts.
- No flank steak on hand? You can use a different cut of meat such as New York strip or sirloin.
- Dried red chilies provide the heat and a mild nutty flavor. Most grocery stores sell a variety of dried chilies in the international foods aisle in both the Mexican and Asian areas. I typically use Szechuan chilies or chile de arbol chilies which are a Mexican variety. This dish has a moderate amount of heat. If you prefer a spicier meal, add more chilies or break one open and stir some of the seeds into the stir fry.
- This dish will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 4 days which makes it a great candidate for meal prep.
- Feel free to add more vegetables to this dish such as zucchini, water chestnuts, mushrooms or bok choy.
Is kung pao beef bad for you?
This type of stir fry is one of the healthier Chinese dishes. It is not breaded or deep fried and it contains lean meat and plenty of vegetables. You can make it even healthier by increasing the amount of vegetables and using just one tablespoon of oil.
Kung pao beef is sure to be a hit with all the Chinese food lovers in your life!
More Asian recipes to try
Kung Pao Beef Video
Kung Pao Beef
For the stir fry
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil divided use
- 1 1/4 pounds flank steak thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 red bell pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 green bell pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1/2 cup onion cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic minced
- 4-6 dried red chilies seeded and cut in half (you can use more or less chilies to adjust the heat level to your preference)
- 1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
- salt and pepper to taste
For the sauce
- 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 cup water
For the stir fry
- Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large pan over high heat. Place the steak in a medium sized bowl with the cornstarch and salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently to combine..
- Place the meat in a single layer in the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown. You may have to do this step in batches.
- Remove the steak from the pan. Cover with foil to keep warm.
- Pour the remaining vegetable oil into the pan. Add the onion and both types of bell peppers. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until vegetables are softened.
- Add the garlic to the pan; cook for an additional 30 seconds. Return the beef to the pan. Stir in the peanuts and chilies.
For the sauce
- While the meat and vegetables are cooking, make the sauce. Place all of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until combined.
- Add the sauce to the steak mixture and bring to a boil; cook for 1 minute, or until sauce is just thickened. Serve immediately.