Pepper Steak is an easy stir-fry dish. Tender slices of beef are cooked with bell peppers in a thick savory sauce. This popular Chinese American dish can be made in less than 30 minutes and tastes better than take-out.
I really love making easy Chinese stir fry dishes, especially beef ones. I’ve shared recipes for Szechuan Beef, Mongolian Beef, and Beef and Broccoli (true restaurant-style with tips and tricks on the techniques restaurants use to make this dish). Today, I’m sharing my recipe for pepper steak.
What is Pepper Steak?
Pepper Steak is a popular Chinese American stir fry dish. It appears to be inspired by black pepper beef, a Chinese dish featuring beef, bell peppers and onions cooked in a strong black pepper flavored sauce. The American version is not spicy and does not use as much black pepper spice in the sauce. The “pepper” in the dish name also refers to the bell peppers used in the dish rather than black pepper spice.
Tips for Cooking the Steak
- Pepper Steak is usually prepared with flank steak though other steak cuts like top sirloin will also work.
- To make the beef tender, you need to make sure to slice the beef against the grain. To do this, find which direction the muscle fibers are running through the meat and slice across them rather than parallel to them.
- The other key to keeping the beef tender is cornstarch. The beef is first coated in cornstarch before it cooks. This provides the beef with a protective layer of coating so that the beef does not become tough as it cooks.
Do you have an Instant Pot? You might like my Instant Pot Pepper Steak, too.
Chinese Pepper Steak
- 1 lb flank steak or top sirloin steak thinly sliced (about 1/8 inch thick) against the grain
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp cooking oil like olive oil or canola oil
- 2 bell peppers seeds remove and thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1/2 tbsp brown sugar or sugar substitute
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- Add all sauce ingredients to a small bowl. Whisk to evenly mix and set aside.
- Sprinkle cornstarch over beef. Toss beef until evenly coated.
- Add cooking oil to a large skillet or wok and bring to medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add in the beef, spreading the slices out so that none of the pieces overlap. Sear a few minutes on one side before flipping and searing the other side. Beef should not be fully cooked, only seared on both sides.
- Add in the bell pepper strips. Cook about 1 minute. Pour in the sauce. Stir beef and peppers in the sauce. Taste and adjust sauce as needed. Cook until sauce is thickened, and beef and peppers are fully cooked. Serve immediately with rice or rice substitute.
- Rice vinegar is not the same as regular vinegar. Adding regular vinegar will be too acidic.
- This dish uses two bell peppers. I used 1 green one, half a red one and half a yellow one. But you can use all green, green and red, etc.
- To give the sauce a darker color, you can substitute 1 tbsp of low sodium soy sauce with superior dark soy sauce.
- Cornstarch is used to both keep the beef tender and to thicken the sauce.
- Estimated nutrition is calculated using olive oil and green bell peppers.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.