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Oh Mongolian beef. That Chinese take-out classic. Thinly sliced beef crisped to perfection and finished in a velvety, sweet, and savory sauce…what more could you ask for? This easy Mongolian beef recipe only takes 30 minutes and might just convince you that homemade is better than take-out.
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 and having it turn out even better than what you would have gotten had you dialed take-out. This Mongolian beef recipe will allow even those of you who are beginners in the kitchen to achieve that goal.
In this classic Chinese take-out dish, a velvety sauce perfectly balanced between sweet and savory coats thin slices of tender beef crisped to perfection. Add a pop of color via sliced scallions and call it a day. Did I mention it only takes 30 minutes to make?
Why You’ll Love This Chinese 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 recipe only takes 30 minutes to make round trip and is so simple to make. So before you pick up the phone to dial takeout, think again!
- Better for you (than takeout). Not to bash takeout, but it can often be packed with unneeded, unwanted ingredients that won’t do your health any favors. Making this Mongolian beef at home will give you peace of mind knowing that you are putting a quality meal into your tummy.
- 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.
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 but we won’t get into that here. The typical Mongolian beef that you will find in an American Chinese restaurant 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 not spicy whereas Szechuan beef is. The spice in the latter comes from the use of hoisin sauce in the place of oyster sauce and often the addition of red chili flakes. Other than that, these two delicious favorites are pretty much the same!
You don’t need much to make this Mongolian beef. Here I have listed the required ingredients. Scroll down to see the full recipe for specifics on quantities, etc.
- Vegetable oil
- Fresh ginger
- Low-sodium soy sauce. If you can’t do soy, grab a bottle of coconut aminos instead.
- Dark brown sugar
- Flank steak. Sliced against the grain.
- Cornstarch. If you don’t have cornstarch, you can use flour or arrowroot as a thickening agent instead.
- Green onions
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. You want to look for a cut that has some fat in it. the fat really 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 recipe only takes 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 sure to scroll to the recipe below for more thorough instructions.
- Make the sauce: Sauté the ginger and garlic in a bit of vegetable oil for a couple of minutes before adding the soy sauce, water, and brown sugar. Whisk to combine, boil for a couple more minutes, and set aside.
- Prep the beef. Coat the sliced beef in cornstarch and let it sit in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or so.
- 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!
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.
- 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.
- 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.
Can I Make This In Advance?
There’s not much ahead of time prep you can do here. You can make the sauce a day or two in advance, but I highly suggest waiting to prep the beef until you are ready to get cooking. Allowing the cornstarch to sit on the beef for too long will cause it to get mushy. No one wants that. That being said, Mongolian beef makes for great leftovers. So feel free to make the whole recipe from start to finish ahead of time. See my note below on how to properly store and reheat the dish.
What to Serve with Mongolian Beef Stir Fry
Mongolian beef is often served over steamed white rice. This is a great place to start, but feel free to play around with some other side dishes as well. Here are some of my favorites.
- Ridiculously Amazing Asian Ramen Salad
- Mantou 饅頭 (Chinese Steamed Buns)
- Chinese Cabbage Stir Fry
- Garlic Roasted Green Beans
- Spicy Chinese Cucumber Salad
How to Store & 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
- Vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
- 2 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 cup (237 ml) low sodium soy sauce
- 1 cup (237 ml) water
- ⅓ cup (73 g) dark brown sugar
- 2 pounds (907 g) flank steak, sliced
- ½ cup (64 g) cornstarch
- Green onions, sliced
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.
- 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.
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.