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This better-than-takeout Mongolian beef recipe is thinly sliced beef crisped to perfection and finished in a velvety, sweet, and savory sauce. This Chinese take-out classic takes 30 minutes to make at home!

2 bowls of mongolian beef served over rice with chopsticks next to flowers.
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Imagine the sizzle of a pan, the smell of a sweet and savory sauce, the crunch of crispy, yet tender beef… yum. There’s nothing like making your favorite restaurant meal at home. This Mongolian beef is a mouthwatering DIY version of a classic Chinese take-out dish. It’s SO simple to make, too.

Thin slices of tender beef are crisped to perfection and coated in a velvety sauce filled with the flavors of zesty ginger, garlic, and brown sugar. Add a pop of color from sliced scallions and call it a day. So before you pick up the phone to dial takeout, think again!

Why You’ll Love This Mongolian Beef Recipe

This better-than-take-out Mongolian beef is a favorite for many reasons. Allow me to name a couple.

  • Quick and easy. This homemade Mongolian beef is easy to make in 30 minutes.
  • Customizable. Making this Mongolian beef at home will give you peace of mind knowing that you’re using less grease and quality ingredients. Customize the flavors and add-ins however you’d like!
  • Crispy and flavorful. The flavor-texture combo of this dish is to die for. The sweet and savory sauce matched with beef that is perfectly crispy on the outside and delightfully tender on the inside will have you coming back for seconds.
2 bowls of mongolian beef served over rice with chopsticks next to a bowl of fliced green onions.

What Is Mongolian Beef?

Mongolian beef is a popular dish served in Chinese restaurants. Contrary to the name, this dish comes from Taiwan, not Mongolia. The typical Mongolian beef found in American-Chinese restaurants consists of thinly sliced beef stir-fried in a wok with green onions and finished in a luscious, sweet, and savory sauce.

Mongolian Beef vs Szechuan Beef

Mongolian beef and Szechuan beef both star thinly sliced beef stir-fried in a wok. The key difference is that Mongolian beef is mild, whereas Szechuan beef is spicier, made with the addition of Szechuan peppercorns and hoisin sauce instead of oyster sauce.

Hunan beef is another dish that’s prepared in a similar way to Mongolian beef, with the addition of hot chili peppers. You’ll also find many of these ingredients in my Panda Express Beijing beef copycat recipe.

Ingredients for mongolian beef seperated into individual bowls.

Recipe Ingredients

Below is a short overview with notes on the key ingredients for this Mongolian beef recipe. Don’t forget to scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements and recipe instructions.

  • Vegetable oil – Or another type of oil with a high smoke point for frying, like canola oil.
  • Fresh ginger – Substitute ground ginger in a pinch.
  • Garlic – Freshly minced garlic, or you can use garlic powder.
  • Low-sodium soy sauce – If you’re soy-free, grab a bottle of coconut aminos instead.
  • Dark brown sugar – Or light brown sugar. You can use granulated sugar or a natural sweetener, like honey, though the flavors will be slightly different.
  • Flank steak – Or a similar cut of beef (see below), sliced against the grain.
  • Cornstarch – If you don’t have cornstarch, you can use flour or arrowroot as a thickening agent instead.
  • Green onions – For garnish.

Can I Use Other Cuts of Beef?

You sure can! Flank steak is my top pick, but you can achieve a similar result with skirt steak or thinly sliced chuck roast (like you’ll find in my Vietnamese boc luc lac). Whichever beef you choose, look for a cut that has some fat in it. Fat adds to the flavor of the dish and leads to a more tender, melt-in-your-mouth entree. Interested in learning about the various cuts of beef? Check out this informative article.

How to Make Mongolian Beef

This classic Mongolian beef stir fry takes only 30 minutes to make (that’s probably less time than it would take to wait for takeout!) and is fairly simple. Here is a rundown on how to do it.

  • Make the sauce: Sauté the ginger and garlic in vegetable oil for a couple of minutes, then add soy sauce, water, and brown sugar. Whisk to combine, boil for a couple more minutes to thicken, and set aside.
  • Prep the beef. Coat the sliced beef in cornstarch and let it sit in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or so. This is a Chinese cooking technique called “velveting”, and it helps to lock in moisture, keeping the meat tender while it cooks.
  • Sear the beef. Heat vegetable oil in a wok or heavy-bottomed pan on medium-high heat before browning the cornstarch-coated beef in batches. Place the seared beef on a paper towel and, once all of the beef has been browned, discard any excess oil.
  • Put it all together. Reduce the heat to medium and add the sauce to the wok, followed by the seared beef. Stir consistently until the beef is coated in the sauce and the sauce has thickened. Add the scallions and you’re done!

What Does Coating Beef in Cornstarch Do?

In Chinese cooking, coating meat in cornstarch is called velveting, and it’s the secret to moist, tender, and crispy beef in classic Mongolian beef recipes. Meat that’s left uncoated will release its liquid as it cooks. Cornstarch locks in the juices while crisping the outside, making the meat more tender.

Tips for Success

Want to know how to take your Mongolian beef to the next level? Here are some tips and tricks that will help you achieve a successful outcome.

  • Don’t skip the cornstarch. Cornstarch is crucial in this recipe for 2 reasons. (1) It contributes to the crispiness of the beef once seared and (2) it is responsible for the thickening of the sauce at the end of the recipe. So don’t forget to coat the beef in cornstarch.
  • Don’t coat the beef too long in advance. Aim to toss your beef slices in cornstarch about 10 minutes ahead of cooking. Allowing the beef to sit in the cornstarch for too long will cause it to get mushy, and no one wants that.
  • Use enough heat. Attempting to sear the beef in a pan that isn’t quite hot enough will leave you disappointed. It will not caramelize properly and will spend too long in the pan, causing it to toughen and release liquid. Also, the cornstarch will not activate as a thickening agent unless it has enough heat to work with.
  • Sear in batches. If you crowd the pan, it will cool down quickly, making it harder to get the sear you are looking for. The beef will release its moisture, leaving you with a less-than-crispy, tough bite.

Can I Make This Recipe In Advance?

To get a headstart on this recipe, make the sauce a day or two in advance, but I recommend waiting to prep the beef until you are ready to cook it. Mongolian beef also makes great leftovers, so feel free to make the whole recipe from start to finish ahead of time. See the section below on how to properly store and reheat your Mongolian beef.

What to Serve with Mongolian Beef

Mongolian beef is often served over steamed white rice, but feel free to try it with take-out-style fried rice, or more easy side dishes. Here are some of my favorites.

Mongolian beef served in a bowl over rice next to flowers and chopsticks.

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

Chinese (better than take-out) leftovers? Yes, please. Make a double batch of this Mongolian beef and enjoy it in the coming days. Here’s how to go about storing and reheating.

  • Storing. Allow the dish to cool completely before sealing it in an airtight container and storing it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
  • Reheating. Heat a bit of oil in a pan and saute until sufficiently warm. You can also use the microwave. If you are reheating from frozen, allow the dish to thaw in the refrigerator for several hours (or overnight) first.

More Chinese Takeout Recipes

5 from 2 votes

Mongolian Beef

This better-than-take-out Mongolian beef recipe features thinly sliced beef crisped to perfection and finished in a velvety, sweet, and savory sauce.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4



  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 cup (237 ml) low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 cup (237 ml) water
  • cup (73 g) dark brown sugar
  • 2 pounds (907 g) flank steak, sliced
  • ½ cup (64 g) cornstarch
  • Green onions, sliced
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  • In a small saucepot, over medium heat, add 2 tsp. of vegetable oil and sauté ginger and garlic until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce, water, and brown sugar and stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil and let boil for 3 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, toss sliced flank steak with cornstarch, shaking off the excess. Place in fridge for 10 minutes to allow coating to stick better on the beef.
  • After 10 minutes, in a heavy bottom saucepan, over medium high heat, add 1/2 cup of vegetable oil and add the beef to the pan, in batches, to sear the outside on all sides, but barely cooked in the middle. Remove and let drain on paper towels as you finish up the rest of the beef. Pour out any excess oil in the saucepan.
  • Place the saucepan back on the burner, but on medium heat, and pour in the sauce from earlier. It should come to a boil immediately. Add in the steak and coat with the sauce. Continue cooking beef and sauce at a boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. The sauce will thicken gradually. Add in the scallions.
  • Serve hot over white or brown rice.
  • Place leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Serving: 1serving, Calories: 348kcal, Carbohydrates: 23g, Protein: 35g, Fat: 12g, Sugar: 11g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I made the Mongolian Beef tonight for my dinner. I made brown rice to go with it. The meal was delicious. I’m glad I have leftovers for tomorrow night.

  2. I make this recipe all the time. I usually sub the beef with chicken thighs. This recipe is so delicious!! Yum yum good!