Hunan Beef

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Hot and sizzling Hunan beef is an easy Chinese takeout recipe packed with thinly sliced flank steak and veggies tossed in sweet and spicy homemade Hunan sauce. Make this weeknight stir-fry in one pan in under 30 minutes!

Looking for more quick and tasty beef recipes? Try this sheet-pan sesame beef and broccoli, and then this easy homemade beef chow fun

Stirring through steak slices, broccoli florets, and sliced red bell peppers in a skillet.


I recently had a blast exploring my local Asian supermarket, and let me tell you, it was totally worth it! I picked up all the ingredients for a sweet-savory-spicy Hunan beef stir fry. This dish is bursting with umami from soy sauce and fish sauce, tangy rice vinegar, nutty sesame oil, honey for sweetness, and a kick of red chili. I made it to serve over rice the other night, and wow, the flavors were incredible! You’re going to love this easy and delicious beef and veggie stir fry.

Plus, I’m now equipped with all the seasonings and condiments I need to make even more Chinese takeout favorites, from my General Tso’s chicken to Chinese boneless spare ribs. If that’s not winning, I don’t know what is.

Why We Love This Easy Hunan Beef Recipe

Flavorful. There’s plenty of sweet-spicy chilis to go around, here. All the ingredients in Hunan beef come together to create its rich, spicy, and totally irresistible flavor.

Quick. I love stir-fry recipes like Hunan beef, moo shu chicken, and pork chop suey because no matter the protein, a stir-fry is the best way to pack loads of flavor onto a plate in 30 minutes or less.

Better than takeout. Making homemade versions of my family’s favorite takeout dishes is money-saving and time-saving. No more weekly call-ins to our local Chinese restaurant! Plus, the flavors are fresher. It’s also nice knowing exactly what goes into my homemade stir-fries and sauces.

Hunan beef served over rice in a bowl.

What Is Hunan Beef?

Hunan beef is a Chinese dish made from tender steak slices stir-fried with veggies in a sweet and savory, spicy cooking sauce. Hunan sauce is chili-driven, so it doesn’t have the numbing heat of Szechuan recipes, but it is spicier than, say, kung pao beef, and less sweet than Mongolian beef.

Recipe Ingredients

I’ve included some notes here on what you’ll need. Of course, your Hunan beef doesn’t have to set your tastebuds on fire. If you’re after milder sauce, it’s easy to adapt the ingredients to taste. You do you! Scroll to the recipe card for a printable ingredients list.

For the Stir Fry 

  • Oil – You’ll want to use vegetable oil with a high smoke point for frying.
  • Flank Steak – The best cuts of steak for stir-frying are tender and quick-cooking. I love slicing up flank steak for this recipe, but you can also use sirloin steak, skirt steak, or tenderloin.
  • Onion and Garlic – Sliced yellow onion and fresh minced garlic make a nice flavor base for the stir-fry.
  • Broccolini – Or use regular broccoli. In both cases, separate the stems from the florets.
  • Bell Pepper – Any color of bell pepper works here.

For the Sauce

  • Sesame Oil – Toasted or untoasted, whichever you prefer.
  • Beef Broth – I pair beef with beef broth, but you can also use chicken broth or stock.
  • Soy Sauce – Feel free to substitute soy sauce with tamari or coconut aminos if needed.
  • Fish Sauce – I love having sweet-savory fish sauce in the fridge for Asian-style recipes like Hunan beef and Thai chicken soup. If you don’t have fish sauce, replace it with extra soy sauce.
  • Rice Wine Vinegar – You can also use white wine vinegar, dry white wine, or dry sherry.
  • Honey – I like to use honey as a sweetener, but granulated sugar or brown sugar works, too.
  • Chili Paste – This can be Chinese chili paste, or another Asian-style red pepper paste like Korean gochujang, or Indonesian sambal oelek. If needed, substitute chili paste with a chili sauce, like Sriracha.
  • Cornstarch – I use a slurry of cornstarch mixed with water to help thicken up the cooking sauce.

How to Make Hunan Beef

Like most stir-fries, Hunan beef is a quick dinner recipe that needs only about 20 minutes in a hot skillet before it’s ready to serve. Once you’ve organized your ingredients, the whole dish comes together in a few short steps:

  1. Make the sauce. Whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce except the cornstarch, which you’ll whisk with water separately. Stir the cornstarch slurry back into the sauce.
  2. Brown the steak. Next, cook your steak strips in a skillet over medium-high heat until they’re nicely browned. 
  3. Saute the veggies. Remove the steak from the pan, and add your onions, garlic, broccolini stems, and bell peppers. Add the broccolini florets once the stems are tender.
  4. Put it all together. Lastly, the beef goes back into the pan along with the sauce. Stir-fry until the steak is cooked how you like it, then serve!
Image of Hunan beef in a skillet with a wooden spoon stirring through it.

Serving Suggestions

I often serve Hunan beef over a big bowl of rice with a garnish of fresh cilantro. It’s also tasty over noodles, or you can try cauliflower rice or zoodles for a low-carb option. Sometimes, I serve my teriyaki noodles on the side – the kids love that!

If I have leftover rice, I’ll sometimes put together a quick side of kimchi fried rice and serve it with sesame snap peas or crisp-tender baby bok choy to round out the meal. 

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

Refrigerate. Leftover Hunan beef keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Reheat. To reheat this stir-fry, I usually just pop it back into a skillet with a bit of water to help loosen up the sauce. You can use the microwave, but I find that makes the thin beef strips chewy.

Chopsticks picking up a piece of Hunan beef served in a bowl over rice.

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Hunan Beef

Hunan beef is an easy stir-fry recipe packed with thinly sliced flank steak and veggies tossed in spicy homemade Hunan sauce. Make this classic takeout dish in one pan in under 30 minutes!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4


For the sauce

  • tablespoons sesame oil
  • cup beef broth
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoons chili paste
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water

For the stir fry

  • tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 pound flank steak, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 broccolini, chopped, stems and florets separated
  • 1 large bell pepper, sliced
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  • Make the sauce. Whisk together the sesame oil, beef broth, soy sauce, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar, honey, and chili paste. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water and then whisk it back into the sauce. Set aside.
  • Brown the meat. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over medium-high heat and add the steak. Season the meat with salt and saute for a minute or two or until golden brown on all sides. Remove the steak and set aside.
  • Saute the veggies. Add the rest of the oil to the pan, followed by the onion, garlic, the stalks of the broccolini, and the bell pepper. Saute for 3 minutes or until the broccolini is almost fork-tender, and then add the broccolini florets. Saute for 1 more minute.
  • Put it all together. Return the beef to the pan and pour in the sauce. Saute until the sauce has thickened and the beef is cooked to your liking.
  • Serve. Remove from heat and let it rest for 2 to 3 minutes before serving.


Calories: 357kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 1729mg | Potassium: 619mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 1315IU | Vitamin C: 57mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

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