A Chinese classic made right in your own kitchen! This Easy Kung Pao Beef recipe is layered with spicy, savory, sweet, and sour flavors then topped with crunchy peanuts. It’s better than takeout every time!
Better Than Take Out Kung Pao Beef
I used to always order the same thing whenever we got Chinese takeout. I was a beef with broccoli girl. Then, one day, my eyes were opened to the world of Kung Pao Chicken. With its spicy, rich and smooth sauce – plus the peanut crunch – my takeout order has never been the same.
But when I learned how to make Kung Pao Beef at home – that was the real game changer. Why order take out when you can make this go-to Chinese dish right at home? You need this recipe in your life! AND, it’s ready in 20 minutes, from start to finish.
What is Kung Pao Sauce?
Kung Pao sauce is the sauce equivalent of a fireworks display. It is the American version of the Chinese classic Szechuan sauce. The sauce is layered with flavors unlike anything my taste buds have ever experienced.
This sauce is spicy, savory, slightly sweet, and sour as you move through each and every bite. The texture is smooth and rich. It’s great on beef or chicken.
This recipe is loaded with delish Asian inspired flavors combined with tender beef and gorgeous colorful veggies.
Here’s what you’ll need for that tender beef:
- flank steak
- salt and fresh ground pepper
For the sauce, you’ll need:
- rice wine or dry sherry
- low sodium soy sauce
- chili sauce
- sesame seed oil
And, for the stir fry you need:
- vegetable/canola oil
- pepper flakes
- fresh grated ginger
- Thai red dried chiles
- green bell pepper
- dry roasted peanuts
- chopped fresh cilantro
How to Make Kung Pao Beef
- Coat the Beef: Place the beef strips in a mixing bowl. Season the beef strips with salt and pepper, then add the cornstarch and mix well. Set aside.
- Make the sauce: In a small mixing bowl combine the ketchup, dry sherry, soy sauce, chili sauce, and sesame seed oil. Whisk it together until thoroughly incorporated. Set aside.
- Saute: Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over high heat. Stir in pepper flakes and red dried chiles and cook for 10 seconds, or until fragrant. Stir in the ginger. Cook for just a few seconds. Add the green bell peppers and scallions. Cook for 1 minute.
- Add Beef: Add the beef and stir fry until it’s browned. This should take about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add Sauce: Stir in the sauce and cook for 1 minute.
- Serve: Stir in the peanuts and cilantro. Cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and serve.
Tips for the Best Kung Pao Beef
For better than takeout Kung Pao Beef, follow these tips every time:
- If you want that velvety texture to your beef that the takeout always has but is so hard to replicate at home, you really need to toss your beef in the cornstarch and let it sit for at least a few minutes.
- Be sure you slice your flank steak against the grain. This will ensure it’s as tender as possible. Cut the pieces into ¼-inch thick strips so that they cook evenly.
- If I find I’m out of both rice wine and dry sherry, I’ll sub in balsamic vinegar.
- Don’t skimp on the peanuts. That crunch really adds to the texture of the dish.
- Feel free to sub your green bell peppers for green beans or snap peas if that’s what you have available to you.
With all that meat and veggies, this is a complete meal in itself. I love to serve it over white rice garnished with fresh chopped cilantro. You could also serve it with a side of homemade fried rice or cauliflower rice. I love having homemade egg rolls, spring rolls, or scallion pancakes on the side.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- You can store your leftover Kung Pao beef in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
- First, let it come to room temperature, then add it to an airtight container. To freeze it, simply ensure your airtight container is also freezer safe. It will keep in the freezer for about 4 months.
- When you’re ready to reheat, add it to a pan or wok. Bring it to a simmer over low heat and serve when the beef strips are warm.
More Chinese Takeout Recipes
Tools Used in this Recipe
Easy Kung Pao Beef Recipe
- 1 pound flank steak, thinly sliced against the grain into ¼-inch thick strips
- salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
For the Sauce
For the Stir Fry
- 2 tablespoons vegetable/canola oil
- ¼ teaspoon pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger
- 5 Thai red dried chiles
- 1 small green bell pepper, cut into thin strips and each strip cut in half
- 3 scallions, white and green parts, cut into 2-inch pieces
- ½ cup dry roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
- Place beef strips in a mixing bowl. Season beef strips with salt and pepper; add the cornstarch and mix well. Set aside.
- Make the sauce; In a small mixing bowl combine ketchup, rice cooking wine or dry sherry, soy sauce, chili sauce, and sesame seed oil; whisk until thoroughly incorporated. Set aside.
- Heat vegetable oil in a wok over high heat.
- Stir in pepper flakes and red dried chiles; cook for 10 seconds, or until fragrant and starting to char.
- Stir in ginger; cook for just a few seconds.
- Add green bell peppers and scallions; cook for 1 minute.
- Add beef and continue to stir fry until browned; about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Stir in the sauce and cook for 1 minute.
- Stir in the peanuts and cilantro; cook for 30 seconds.
- Remove from heat.