Hunan Beef

Are you ready to stop paying a fortune for Chinese takeout? Then it’s time to make some delicious Hunan Beef at home! Made with thin slices of beef, vegetables, and a flavorful sauce, this dish is sure to satisfy your cravings for takeout. In this post, we’ll be sharing a quick and easy recipe for the best Hunan beef, along with our best tips and tricks to success. So grab your wok (or skillet) and let’s start stir-frying!

Pan of Hunan beef

Why I Love This Hunan Beef Recipe

Like everyone else in the country, the increasing cost of getting our favorite takeout dishes is out of control. Spending $20+ for one order of stir fry or curry is just more than our large family budget can handle. So, over the past few months, I’ve been recipe-testing my favorite takeout dishes so I can make them at home for significantly less money.

The first takeout recipe I mastered was my favorite Panang Curry and we love the at-home version more than the restaurant version. Then I mastered Moo Shu Chicken! My goal was the same with this Hunan Beef recipe. The end result needed to be so good that I wouldn’t be tempted to spend a fortune at my local restaurant. My friend, that goal is here and I can’t wait for you to try my recipe!

What is Hunan Beef

Hunan beef is a traditional Chinese dish that originated in the Hunan province of China. It is known for its bold flavor, which can be spicy depending on the recipe. The dish uses very thin slices of beef, stir-fried with vegetables, and a sauce made of chili paste, black bean garlic sauce, rice vinegar, and oyster sauce. Hunan beef is often served over rice or noodles and is a popular choice around the world.

Pan of Hunan beef

Hunan Beef Ingredients and Tools

  • Thinly sliced flank steak
  • Broccoli florets
  • Red bell pepper
  • Baby portobello mushrooms
  • Carrots
  • Red onion
  • Serrano pepper
  • Baby corn
  • Fresh ginger
  • Fresh garlic
  • Sambal Oelek chili paste
  • Black bean garlic sauce
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Oyster sauce
  • Low sodium soy sauce
  • Honey
  • Canola oil
  • Beef broth
  • Corn starch
  • Large skillet or wok

How to Make Hunan Beef

Cutting up the beef and vegetables takes about 10 minutes, but then the rest just flies by once you pull out the wok or skillet.

Time needed: 20 minutes

How to Make Hunan Beef

  1. Prepare the Hunan sauce

    Simply mix together all the ingredients of the sauce in a small bowl. Be sure to use the proper ingredients, even if they are ones you’ve never heard of before. They make the recipe! Most grocery stores carry them in their international aisles, or you can always find them on Amazon.

  2. Cook the beef

    The key to properly cooked beef is to be sure the pan is screaming hot and you remove it from the pan as soon as there is just a hint of pink left. If you overcook it, the beef will be tough and stringy.

  3. Add the aromatics

    Onion, fresh ginger, and fresh garlic add tons of flavor to the dish and only cook for 1 minute before adding more vegetables. Just long enough to release their aroma.

  4. Add the vegetables

    Once the carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, bell pepper, and Serrano pepper have been added, let them cook for a few minutes to begin to soften.

  5. Pour in the Hunan sauce

    Once you add the Hunan sauce to the hot pan, allow it to begin to bubble and thicken up.

  6. Bring the cooked beef back into the pan

    Add it to the veggie mixture and stir it to coat it in the thickened Hunan sauce.

  7. Serve immediately

    You can serve it as is, or over some steamed rice or noodles.

beef and vegetable stir fry

Recipe FAQs

What is Hunan beef made of?

Hunan beef is made from very thin slices of flank steak that are stir-fried with vegetables like broccoli, bell peppers, and carrots. The sauce gets a hint of spiciness from fresh chilis and Sambal Oelek chili paste. The use of black bean garlic sauce creates a deep umami flavor.

What is Hunan beef vs Szechuan beef?

Hunan beef and Szechuan beef are both traditional Chinese dishes that feature beef as the main ingredient, but they have some key differences in terms of flavor and preparation.

Szechuan beef tends to be sweeter and creates a numbing and tingling effect from the use of spicy Szechuan peppercorns in its sauce. Szechuan beef has fewer vegetables and often includes crunch from peanuts or cashews.

Hunan beef has a lot more vegetables and a crunchier texture from those veggies. The sauce is dark brown with a subtle amount of sweetness and a heat that most people are used to from fresh chilis.

Is Hunan beef spicy?

The Hunan beef recipe included in this post has a mild spice level but it certainly can be made spicy if that is what you are looking for. Simply use more chili paste in the sauce and leave the seeds and white membrane in the Serrano chili.

Where can I find the Chinese sauce ingredients?

While these three sauces might sound hard to find to you, most grocery stores carry them in their international aisle. All three are very common ingredients in Asian dishes. If you cannot find them at your grocery store, Amazon carries them all as well.

Pan of Hunan beef

Hunan Beef Recipe Variations

Being a home cook provides endless opportunities to experiment with recipes, personalizing them to your tastes and creativity. Any of the following variations would be great spin-offs of this Hunan beef recipe.

  • Try different proteins instead of beef. Chicken, pork, and shrimp would all be delicious in this recipe. If you use this variation, be sure to swap out the beef broth as well for the matching broth flavor to the new protein.
  • Add spice by using extra chili paste or Serrano peppers. Or, make it as written then add a squeeze of sriracha over the finished dish.
  • Include some crunch by topping the finished dish with some roasted peanuts.
  • Increase the veggies by doubling the amount of broccoli, peppers, and carrots.
  • Add sweetness by doubling the amount of honey in the Hunan sauce.

Looking for More Great Asian Recipes?

I know you loved this Hunan Beef recipe so be sure to check out these other delicious recipes so you can make takeout at home anytime!

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Pan of Hunan beef

Hunan Beef

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Ready in just 20 minutes and better than any takeout you’ll ever order!

  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8

Ingredients

Scale

Sauce

2 teaspoons corn starch

3/4 cup beef broth

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

3 tablespoons oyster sauce 

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

2 rounded tablespoons Sambal Oelek chili paste 

2 rounded tablespoons black bean garlic sauce

Stir Fry

2 tablespoons canola oil, divided

1 pound flank steak, cut against the grain into very thin slices

1/2 large onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 cup sliced carrots

1 cup sliced baby portobello mushrooms

1 red bell pepper, chopped

3 cups broccoli florets

1 Serrano pepper, minced 

15-ounce can baby corn

Instructions

  1. Mix together all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside. 
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Let the pan get very hot, until you see the first wisps of smoke from the oil. Add the beef and stir fry until the beef is brown on the outside with just a hint of pink inside.
  3. Remove the beef from the pan and set aside. 
  4. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Stir and cook for 1 minute before adding the carrots and mushrooms. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the remaining vegetables, stir, and cook for 2-3 minutes. 
  6. Add the sauce and allow it to bubble and thicken. 
  7. Return the beef to the pan and stir it all together to coat everything in the thickened sauce. 
  8. Serve immediately over steamed rice or noodles if desired.

Notes

The heat level on this recipe as written is fairly mild. If you want it spicy, use more Sambal and leave the seeds and white membrane in the Serrano pepper.

  • Author: Carole Jones
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stir Fry
  • Cuisine: Asian

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/8th
  • Calories: 285 kcal
  • Sugar: 8 g
  • Sodium: 627 mg
  • Fat: 10 g
  • Saturated Fat: 8 g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 2 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 20 g
  • Fiber: 12 g
  • Protein: 28 g
  • Cholesterol: 28 mg

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Carole Jones

Carole Jones is an Arizona-based cookbook author & food blogger. She's authored The 30 Minute Cooking From Frozen Cookbook and the self-published Take 5: Chicken e-cookbook. For the past 15 years, Carole has shared her culinary adventures cooking and baking for her six brutally honest children here on My Kitchen Escapades. Hot, crusty bread is Carole's love language, but her two adorable grandchildren are a close second. Yes, second. Don't judge.

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