Easy Kung Pao Beef Stir Fry Recipe – Homemade stir-fried beef with bell pepper and peanuts is savory, spicy, and just as delicious as your favorite takeout restaurant dish!

Kung pao beef stir fry serving in a white bowl with white rice.

Why We Love This Stir Fry Recipe

If you love Kung Pao Chicken you will go crazy over our savory robust Kung Pao Beef Stir Fry Recipe! This recipe has the tantalizing flavor of most savory beef dishes yet with the spicy POW associated with Kung Pao Chicken from the Sichuan province of China. 

The spicy heat comes from a combination of Szechuan peppercorns and Chinese red peppers. You can reduce, or omit, one or the other to control the heat. Note, Kung Pao chilies are meant to be served on the plate for visual effect, but not necessarily meant to be eaten. They are HOT!

One of the many great things about this recipe, however, is that it is super easy to tweak to your tastes! Unlike restaurant Chinese takeout versions, homemade stir-fried beef allows you to decrease or omit the spiciness.

Kung pao beef stir fry serving in a white bowl with white rice.

Ingredients You Need

  • Sesame oil – a smooth and nutty cooking oil
  • Flank steak – the perfect thin, lean, and budget-friendly cut of meat for stir-frying
  • Cornstarch – to create a thick sauce without flour
  • Scallions – green onions, chopped and divided
  • Red bell pepper – seeded and chopped
  • Chinese Tien Tsin chilies – or Thai bird’s eye dried red chilies
  • Garlic – peeled and minced
  • Ginger – freshly grated
  • Cooking sherry – for a delicious depth of flavor (or rice wine)
  • Soy sauce – low sodium is best, see note below
  • Black bean garlic sauce – concentrated garlic gives the beef a super punch of savoriness
  • Chinese black vinegar – beautifully tenderizes the steak
  • Szechuan peppercorns – spicy! (Sichuan peppercorns)
  • Roasted peanuts – to garnish (salted or unsalted peanuts)

Pro Tip: This combines black bean garlic sauce for depth, Chinese black vinegar for tang, and soy sauce. All three of these ingredients are very salty, so we suggest using low-sodium soy sauce, and do not add additional salt.

Recipe ingredients chopped on a cutting board in individual piles: steak, onion, red bell peppers, garlic.

How to Make Kung Pao Beef Stir Fry

Cut the flank steak in half, against the grain. Then cut each half into very thin slivers.

Pro Tip: Flash freezing the steak, to make it firm, makes the slicing process easier. If you have time, throw the flank steak in the freezer for 30 minutes before slicing.

Next, toss the flank steak strips with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and set aside. 

Chop the scallions, and separate them into whites and greens. Then chop the red bell pepper, mince the garlic, and grate the ginger. 

Set an extra-large skillet, or a wok, over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of sesame oil to the skillet and swirl around to make sure it is completely coated in oil. Once the skillet is hot, sear the beef slices until seared brown on all sides.

Pieces of marinated steak stir frying in a cast iron skillet.

Move the beef slices to the side of the pan. Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons of sesame oil into the skillet, and add the scallion whites, red bell peppers, Chinese chilies, garlic, and ginger. Stir fry the vegetables for 3 to 4 minutes to soften.

Get the Complete (Printable) Kung Pao Beef Recipe + Video Below. Enjoy!

Stir frying ingredients in a cast iron skillet.

Now, pour the cooking sherry over the top of the vegetables, followed by the soy sauce, black bean garlic sauce, black vinegar, and Szechuan peppercorns. Mix the sauce and vegetables into the seared beef, making sure it is coated on all sides.

If the sauce seizes up too much, add 2 to 4 tablespoons of water to the sauce to loosen.

Chopped steak and bell peppers stir fried in a skillet.

Once the sauce is to your desired consistency, add in the peanuts, and scallion greens.

Wooden spoon stirring spicy stir fry beef in a cast iron skillet.

Gently stir to combine.

Chopped beef, red bell peppers, and scallions cooked together in a cast iron skillet.

Recipe Variations

  • For a mild Kung Pao beef recipe you can reduce or leave out the spicy chile peppers and peppercorns.
  • Traditionally red bell peppers are included in the dish. But you can use different bell peppers of any color.
  • In a pinch, you can substitute black bean garlic sauce with hoisin or oyster sauce.
  • White rice vinegar or a bit of balsamic vinegar can replace the Chinese black vinegar if not available.
  • Leave out the cooking sherry for a stir-fry recipe without alcohol. Substitute with chicken broth or water, if you like.
  • If you have a peanut allergy or just don’t like them, feel free to leave out the peanuts or serve on the side to let others add.
Chopped beef, red bell peppers, and scallions cooked together in a cast iron skillet.

Serving Suggestions

Serve tender, spicy, savory, and saucy beef stir fry with fluffy white rice or brown rice.

For a low-carb version of this Chinese dish, pair it with Roasted Cauliflower Rice or Broccoli Rice.

Make it a complete family-style meal and enjoy it with homemade Veggie Lo Mein, Chinese Dumplings (potstickers), Panda Express Super Greens, and Egg Drop Soup. Serve everything in individual dishes and let everyone dig in!

Kung pao beef stir fry serving in a white bowl with white rice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Kung Pao beef spicy?

Yes! This recipe has both spicy chiles and Szechuan peppercorns. You can omit these for a mild dish.

What does Kung Pao taste like?

The stir-fried beef is tender with a bit of great chewiness. Each piece of meat and the sweet bell peppers is coated with a thick savory and spicy sauce. So the entire dish has a delicious punch of heat and a nice umami/sweet balance of flavors.

What is the difference between Kung Pao beef and Mongolian beef?

Mongolian Beef includes a sweeter sauce made with brown sugar, soy sauce, and ginger. It is not at all a spicy dish (unless you add crushed red pepper), so is a better option for folks that don’t appreciate the heat of Kung Pao.

How long do leftovers last?

Beef stir fry recipes are great for meal prepping! Let cool completely, then store in an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Kung pao beef stir fry serving in a white bowl with white rice.

Looking for More Easy Dinner Recipes? Be Sure to Also Try:

Kung pao beef stir fry serving in a white bowl with white rice.
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Kung Pao Beef Stir Fry

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Homemade Kung Pao beef stir fry with bell peppers and peanuts is savory, spicy, and just as delicious as your favorite takeout restaurant dish!
Servings: 4 – 6 servings

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Cut the flank steak in half, against the grain. Then cut each half into very thin slivers. *Flash freezing the steak, to make it firm, makes the slicing process easier. If you have time, throw the flank steak in the freezer for 30 minutes before slicing.
  • Toss the flank steak strips with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and set aside.
  • Chop the scallions, and separate into whites and greens. Then chop the red bell pepper, mince the garlic, and grate the ginger.
  • Set an extra-large skillet, or a wok, over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of sesame oil to the skillet and swirl around to make sure it is completely coated in oil.
  • Once the skillet is hot, stir fry the beef slices until seared brown on all sides.
  • Move the beef slices to the side of the pan. Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons of sesame oil into the skillet, and add the scallion whites, red bell peppers, Chinese chilies, garlic, and ginger. Stir fry the vegetables for 3 to 4 minutes to soften.
  • Now, pour the cooking sherry over the top of the vegetables, followed by the soy sauce, black bean garlic sauce, black vinegar, and Szechuan peppercorns. Mix the sauce and vegetables into the seared beef, making sure it is coated on all sides. If the sauce seizes up too much, add 2 to 4 tablespoons of water to the sauce to loosen.
  • Once the sauce is to your desired consistency, stir in the peanuts, and scallion greens. Serve warm over steamed rice, or over cauliflower rice for a lower carb version.

Video

Notes

Beef stir fry recipes are great for meal prepping! Let cool completely, then store in an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup, Calories: 524kcal, Carbohydrates: 14g, Protein: 44g, Fat: 32g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g, Monounsaturated Fat: 13g, Cholesterol: 102mg, Sodium: 606mg, Potassium: 919mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 976IU, Vitamin C: 41mg, Calcium: 88mg, Iron: 4mg
Course: Main, Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese, Indo-Chinese
Author: Sommer Collier
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