Pepper Steak

May 2, 2021

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A quick and easy Pepper Steak recipe! Made with tender slices of protein rich sirloin steak, fresh tender crisp bell pepper and onions, and everything is coated in a simple sauce with rich umami and peppery flavors.

Photo: Pepper Steak in a bowl over white rice. Bowl is resting on a dark green cloth over a marble surface.

Chinese Pepper Steak

Quick stir-fries – like this beefy, extra saucy Pepper Steak are a weeknight dinner staple. A great option for dinner success when not much time is available after a long day but you’re still craving a flavorful homemade dish.

Here the process is simple. We blend a few ingredients to create a savory sauce, quick sear the steak and then the veggies, toss everything in that sauce and you’ve got dinner in a flash.

As with any recipe, the first time may be a little slower, but once you get this process down it’s a breeze.

This is a delicious, ultra-satisfying dish everyone will be excited about! And you didn’t have to spend hours in the kitchen preparing it.

Serve it with brown rice or white rice to finish it off. And for a simple time saving tip – cook a big batch of rice over the weekend and keep it stashed in the freezer in portions to save the hassle when you need it on busy days.

Photo: Pepper steak and bell peppers shown in a dark skillet from above.

Beef Pepper Steak Ingredients and Possible Substitutes

  • Top sirloin steak: Flank steak works as well, I just prefer sirloin because it’s more tender.
  • Low-Sodium Chicken broth: Be sure to use low-sodium broth or even unsalted so dish isn’t overly salty.
  • Shaoxing Wine: This is a game changer in this recipe, it’s a key ingredient in many Chinese dishes. You can find this Chinese cooking wine at Asian grocery stores or buy it online. In a pinch, dry sherry or rice wine may be substituted.
  • Soy sauce: I like a bolder flavor here so I use regular soy sauce that’s not diluted with more water (which is what you’ll find with low-sodium soy sauce), but if needed you can definitely swap.
  • Rice Vinegar: If you are out, try another milder vinegar like white wine vinegar.
  • Sugar: Brown sugar or honey work well too.
  • Black pepper: I like a generous dose of this here. If you are sensitive to the hint of spiciness it has, you can reduce the amount.
  • Sesame oil: Use the dark sesame oil found in the Asian food sections of grocery stores (not the lighter un-toasted option, it doesn’t have near the flavor).
  • Cornstarch: You could try thickening with arrowroot starch instead if needed.
  • Vegetable oil: Peanut oil or canola oil are good subs.
  • Bell peppers: These are part of what give the dish it’s name, so I think of them as a key ingredient for flavor. You could swap these out for other stir-fry vegetables but it just won’t be quite the same dish.
  • Green onions: 1/2 a chopped yellow onion can be substituted. It would just need to be added along with the bell peppers since it’s much more crisp.
  • Garlic: In a rush, refrigerated garlic paste is fine.
  • Ginger: Refrigerated ginger paste is fine here as well.

Scroll down below for full recipe with ingredient amounts and print option.

Photo: Ingredients used to make pepper steak shown here. Includes bell peppers, cornstarch, steak, Chinese vinegar, vegetable oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, green onions, ginger, garlic, salt, pepper and sugar.

How to Make Pepper Steak

  1. Tenderize steak: Place steaks on cutting board, cover with plastic wrap and pound with the flat side of meat mallet to help flatten slightly and tenderize.
  2. Slice steak into pieces: Cut steak into 1/3-inch thick strips about 2-inches long. Dab steak dry with paper towels, separate pieces sticking together. Set aside.
  3. Mix sauce ingredients: In a mixing bowl whisk together chicken broth, shaoxhing wine, soy sauce, rice vinegar, granulated sugar, black pepper, sesame oil and cornstarch. Set aside.
  4. Preheat oil in skillet: Preheat a 12-inch non-stick skillet over moderately high heat. Drizzle in 2 tsp vegetable oil and add half the steak, quickly spreading apart into a single layer with space between pieces. Lightly season with salt.
  5. Sear half of the steak, transfer: Let sear just about 45 – 60 seconds on first side until nicely browned on bottom, quickly turn and let brown on opposite side about 45 – 60 seconds longer. Transfer to a sheet of foil or a plate.
  6. Sear remaining half steak, transfer: Repeat process with 2 more teaspoons vegetable oil and remaining half of the steak.
  7. Saute vegetables: Add last 2 teaspoons of oil to now empty skillet and leave over moderately high heat. Add bell peppers and saute, only tossing occasionally, about 3 – 4 minutes until slightly tender.
  8. Saute aromatics: Add in green onions, garlic and ginger and saute 1 minute longer.
  9. Pour in sauce, let thicken: Whisk sauce mixture again then pour into skillet. Let cook until it thickens.
  10. Return steak: Toss in cooked steak. Serve warm.

Photo: Four photos, first two show mixing pepper steak sauce in a bowl. Second two photos show chopping steak and searing in skillet.

Photo: Collage of four images showing sauteing vegetables in a skillet then adding sauce, then steak.

Helpful Tips

  • Be sure to sear steak in batches or it won’t brown, it will steam. This was a game changer for me when I learned this key with meats, you don’t want to overcrowd it.
  • Dab steak dry for a better sear and cook over a moderately high heat for better browning.
  • Only quick sear the beef. Over-cooked steak won’t be tender and juicy. Of course it shouldn’t be red and raw but it should have some pinkness to it in the interior.
  • Cook veggies just to a tender crispness. Soggy veggies are never good in stir-fry. When you bite into them they should still have a light firmness to them.
  • Cook sauce just long enough to thicken. You don’t want to boil the veggies in stir-fry sauce – this would just end up thinning and diluting the sauce from the juices of the veggies being extracted.

Photo: Pepper steak shown close up.

More Tasty Asian Recipes to Try

Photo: Pepper Steak in a bowl over white rice. Bowl is resting on a dark green cloth over a marble surface.
5 from 5 votes

Pepper Steak

Made with tender slices of protein rich sirloin steak, fresh tender crisp bell pepper and onions, and everything is coated in a simple sauce with rich umami and peppery flavors.
Servings: 4
Prep20 minutes
Cook10 minutes
Ready in: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 lbs. top sirloin steak
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup shaoxing wine (can buy it here)
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce*
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 2 tsp dark sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 6 tsp vegetable oil, divided
  • Salt
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped into bite size pieces
  • 6 green onions, white portions sliced, green portion chopped into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp peeled and minced fresh ginger

Instructions

  • Place steaks on cutting board, cover with plastic wrap and pound with the flat side of meat mallet to help flatten slightly and tenderize.
  • Cut steak into 1/3-inch thick strips about 2-inches long. Dab steak dry with paper towels, separate pieces sticking together. Set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl whisk together chicken broth, shaoxhing wine, soy sauce, rice vinegar, granulated sugar, black pepper, sesame oil and cornstarch. Set aside.
  • Preheat a 12-inch non-stick skillet over moderately high heat. Drizzle in 2 tsp vegetable oil and add half the steak quickly spreading apart into a single layer with space between pieces, lightly season with salt.
  • Let sear just about 45 - 60seconds on first side until nicely browned on bottom, quickly turn and let brown on opposite side about 45 - 60 seconds longer. Transfer to a sheet of foil or plate.
  • Repeat process with 2 more teaspoons vegetable oil and remaining half of the steak.
  • Add last 2 teaspoons of oil to now empty skillet and leave over moderately high heat. Add bell peppers and saute, only tossing occasionally, about 3 - 4 minutes until slightly tender.
  • Add in green onions, garlic and ginger and saute 1 minute longer.
  • Whisk sauce mixture again then pour into skillet. Let cook until it thickens.
  • Toss in cooked steak. Serve warm.

Notes

  • If needing to cut back on sodium you can use low-sodium soy sauce and unsalted shaoxing wine.
  • USDA recommends cooking steak to 145 degrees in center for food safety.
Nutrition Facts
Pepper Steak
Amount Per Serving
Calories 341 Calories from Fat 117
% Daily Value*
Fat 13g20%
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Cholesterol 84mg28%
Sodium 847mg37%
Potassium 806mg23%
Carbohydrates 15g5%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 35g70%
Vitamin A 2518IU50%
Vitamin C 100mg121%
Calcium 66mg7%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.