A Spicy Perspective

Easy Szechuan Beef

Easy Szechuan Beef Recipe: This popular Chinese Stir Fry Beef made with spicy Szechuan peppercorns and chiles is usually deep-fried. Yet you’ll love our Low Carb version just as much!

This spicy hot Szechuan Beef dish in a wok

Low Carb Crispy Szechuan Beef?

If you’ve ever ordered crispy Szechuan beef at a restaurant, breaded, deep-fried, and kissed with a spicy sticky-sweet glaze… You might be wondering how it could possibly be low carb.

You’re right. This isn’t that Szechuan beef.

I mean it is, and it isn’t.

It isn’t breaded. It isn’t deep-fried. And the stir fry sauce isn’t quite that sweet.

However this Szechuan Beef Recipe is low in carbs, compared to most recipes. It is packed with authentic Szechuan flavor. And it is super quick and easy to make at home!

Serve this beef with a side of white rice

Easy Szechuan Beef Recipe

Easy is the keyword here.

So often making traditional ethnic cuisine requires:

  • Ingredients we can’t get our hands on
  • Equipment we don’t have
  • And lots and lots of time

Many authentic Szechuan-style dishes are this way, involving endless lists of ingredients and hours of prep time.

Today I’m sharing a condensed (and leaner) version of this beef stir-fry recipe, so you can experience the exciting flavors without all the fuss.

Does that make it less authentic? Maybe.

Yet in my humble opinion, you still get the show-stopper ingredients that make Szechuan cuisine special, so that’s what counts.

These are the Szechuan Peppercorns - hot and spicy!

What Is Szechuan Flavor?

You may be wondering exactly what the Szechuan style of cooking is…

Szechuan (or Sichuan) cuisine comes from the Sichuan Province of China.

It is one of the most popular styles of Chinese cooking, outside of China, due to its bold unapologetic use of spices and contrasting flavors.

We are using the most iconic Szechuan ingredients in our stir fry today, Szechuan peppercorns and Szechuan chile peppers.

Szechuan peppercorns create a mild tingling (or even slightly numbing) sensation in your mouth. However, they are not extremely hot on their own. Yet they do amplify the spicy notes in other ingredients, giving them depth and intrigue. 

Szechuan chiles peppers bring on the heat! The combination of the chiles and peppercorns together gives many Sichuan recipes their unique flavor.

Flour up the beef before adding it to the wok

What Does Szechuan Beef Taste Like?

With the generous use of the tingling peppercorns and spicy dried chiles, Authentic Sichuan Beef offers vibrant contrasting flavors.

  • It’s rich and beefy. 
  • It’s salty. 
  • It’s sweet. 
  • It’s tangy, from the addition of rice wine. 
  • And best of all, it is layered with unique spicy qualities you aren’t used to experiencing in western cuisine.

P.S. If for some reason you had to pick just Szechuan peppercorns or chiles, I would go with Sichuan peppercorns. Their effects on the palate are really what makes Szechuan cuisine.

If you can’t find Szechuan chile peppers you can always substitute another small hot dried chile variety, or use crushed red pepper instead.

Saute with the peppers and sauces in the pan

What Ingredients You Will Need

  • Soy Sauce I always buy low sodium and gluten-free. 
  • Hoisin SauceA sweet soybean and vinegar sauce. You can find this gluten-free as well!
  • Rice WineYou can use Shaoxing, Mirin, or even dry sherry. 
  • Brown SugarJust a little. Or use your favorite sugar substitute. 
  • GingerFreshly grated.
  • GarlicFreshly minced.
  • Szechuan peppercornsYou’ve got to have them if you want your stir fry to taste authentic.
  • Flat Iron SteakOr flank steak. Slice thin against the grain.
  • CornstarchOr arrowroot powder for thickening. 
  • Sesame OilAnd peanut oil to stir fry the beef.
  • Szechuan Chile PeppersOr another small dried Asian chile. Even crushed red pepper will do in a pinch!
  • ScallionsA fresh garnish at the end makes all the difference.
  • Sesame SeedsAKA Asian sprinkles!
Added veggies to the pan with the beef and peppers

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Do Leftovers Last?

You can keep this recipe in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 3 to 4 days.

What Can I Substitute The Szechuan Peppercorns With?

If you can’t find Szechuan peppercorns, you can add crushed red pepper to taste. It won’t offer the same numbing sensation, but will definitely bring the heat.

What Is A Less Hot Version Of The Peppers?

If you are very sensitive to heat, skip the Szechuan chile peppers and use a small amount of crushed red pepper instead.

What Is The Difference Between Hunan Beef, Ginger Beef, Mongolian Beef, and Szechuan Beef?

Let me break this down to the basics…

  • Szechuan Beef – This dish is usually breaded and crispy. Then coated in a very spicy-sweet sauce. It is often topped with fresh scallions or bean sprouts to contrast the spicy flavor.
  • Ginger Beef – Is a westernized version of Szechuan Beef, with the addition of carrots, and a little less spice.
  • Mongolian Beef – Is not typically spicy. It involves flank steak, scallions, brown sauce, and sometimes other vegetables like broccoli and mushrooms.
  • Hunan Beef – Can be just as spicy as Szechuan Beef, yet without the Szechuan peppercorns and chiles it hits your throat and palate in a different way. Hunan Beef sometimes includes more vegetables. 
Final Szechuan Beef recipe in a bowl served with some white rice

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Easy Szechuan Beef Recipe (Low Carb!) #ASpicyPerspective #lowcarb #beef #chinese #szechuan
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Easy Szechuan Beef Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Easy Szechuan Beef Recipe: The popular Chinese Stir Fry Beef made with spicy Szechuan (Sichuan or Szechwan) and chiles is usually deep fried. Yet you'll love our LOW CARB version just as much!
Servings: 6


For the Stir Fry Sauce:

For the Beef:


  • In a liquid measuring cup, add all the ingredients for the stir fry sauce. Slice the scallions and set aside. Allow the ginger, garlic, and Szechuan peppercorns to soak while you slice the beef.
  • Lay the flat iron steak on a cutting board. Cut the beef against the grain into thin slivers. Then toss the beef strips with the corn starch. 
  • Set a wok (or XL skillet) over high heat. Add both oils. When the oil starts to smoke, carefully toss in the beef strips and Szechuan chiles. Quickly move them around the wok to stir fry the beef on both sides. 
  • Once the beef is mostly cooked (2-4 minutes) stir in the sauce. Allow the sauce to simmer and thicken. Once it reaches your desired consistency, turn off the heat. Serve warm, sprinkled with chopped scallions and sesame seeds.



  • You can find Szechuan peppercorns and chile peppers at a grocery stores with good international sections, at Asian markets, and online. 
  • Although Szechuan chile peppers are traditionally served in the stir fry, they are not meant to eat. You can take them out before serving if you like.
  • If you are very sensitive to heat, skip the Szechuan chile peppers and use a small amount of crushed red pepper instead.
  • Shaoxing wine is Chinese, yet Mirin is Japanese and often much easier to find. You can use either.


Serving: 5oz, Calories: 329kcal, Carbohydrates: 10g, Protein: 23g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 75mg, Sodium: 528mg, Potassium: 451mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 315IU, Vitamin C: 1.7mg, Calcium: 40mg, Iron: 3.5mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Author: Sommer Collier

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10 comments on “Easy Szechuan Beef”

  1. I couldn’t find any Szechuan peppercorns at my grocery stores or Asian markets but I did add some gojuchang paste for an extra kick and I highly recommend it. 

  2. Pingback: Recipes Just 18 Dinner Recipes Individuals Who Love Spicy Food Will Probably Sweat Over – The Smilington Post

  3. Well discovered I hate Szechuan peppercorns !

  4. The flavor is outstanding! Will be making this again and again!

  5. Have not made this low-carb version, but am quite excited about doing so!! Just have to dig down in the freezer to find some beef! Absolutely love Szechwan food! Thank You!!!!

  6. so happy to have found this, love this dish but don’t need the deep fried sweet sauce, as you point out, that is carb-o-loaded, so what a nice
    alternative, much appreciated

  7. I made this with flank steak and it was quick and delicious!! Perfect for a busy weeknight!

  8. These look as adorable as I bet they taste!