This easy pepper steak recipe is made with thin slices of flank steak and sliced onions, along with colorful, tender-crisp bell peppers tossed in a savory sauce made with soy sauce, beef broth, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and sesame oil.
Table of contents
Pepper Steak and Rice
There’s something so satisfying about making an easy stir fry at home. Knowing that I can control the ingredients and avoid high sodium, without sacrificing the flavors everyone loves, makes me happy.
This pepper steak with onions is a quick stir fry recipe that can satisfy cravings for Chinese takeout from your favorite restaurant. Or both! It doesn’t take long to make and it’s much healthier than ordering out too.
For the Stir Fry Sauce
- Beef broth: For a rich and robust beefy flavor in the sauce. Use homemade, regular, or low-sodium store-bought.
- Soy sauce: A deliciously sweet and savory umami-flavored condiment widely used in Chinese cuisine, especially stir-fries. Use your preference of regular soy sauce or low-sodium soy sauce.
- Rice vinegar: This is made from fermented rice so it isn’t as acidic as other kinds of vinegar.
- Sesame oil: A nutty, depth of flavor that is also a signature flavor in many Asian-inspired recipes.
- Cornstarch: Helps to thicken the sauce so it coats the steak, onions, and peppers nicely.
- Grated garlic & ginger: Aromatics that add more fresh flavors. Use a tablespoon of garlic powder if you prefer.
For the Stir Fry
- Flank steak: Also called skirt steak. This is a lean steak without a lot of fat or connective tissues, so it’s best when tenderized and pounded ahead of time.
- Olive oil: For sautéing and browning the meat, onions, and peppers. You can use any vegetable oil or more sesame oil.
- Onion: Thinly sliced onions are cooked down and softened and become caramelized and sweet when coated in the stir-fry sauce.
- Bell pepper: I use both red and green bell peppers for a sweet and savory balance but you can use whichever colors you prefer.
- Optional garnish: Sesame seeds and sliced green onions.
1. Replace the beef broth with chicken broth or vegetable broth in a pinch. It won’t be as rich but still works.
2. For a gluten-free version use tamari or coconut aminos.
3. Other veggie options to toss in there could be broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, peas, corn, etc.
4. If sticking with just bell peppers, you can switch up the colors and use orange end yellow instead.
5. Add some sweetness to the sauce by using a bit of honey or brown sugar.
6. Make it a spicy sauce with red pepper flakes or sriracha sauce.
6. Stir in a little oyster sauce or hoisin sauce if you’d like a little thicker sauce.
What steak to buy for pepper steak?
You can use a top round, New York strip or top sirloin steak if you prefer. They are both firm and good quality cuts, that can cook quickly. Whatever is on sale is always a good way to determine what you will be using!
How to Make This Easy Pepper Steak Stir Fry Recipe
Pepper steak is great when time is not on your side because this dish is ready in 25 minutes!
Step 1: Whisk the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set it aside.
Step 2: Place the sliced steak between two pieces of plastic wrap and use a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound it down to approximately ½ thick. Thinly slice it to about ⅛” thick across the grain.
Step 3: Sprinkle with salt and pepper and sauté it in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side in a single layer without overlapping, fitting as many pieces as you can at a time. Cook in batches if necessary, then set the beef aside.
Step 4: To the same skillet, add some more olive oil and sauté the onion slices for 2-3 minutes until they start to soften.
Step 5: Add the bell peppers and continue cooking for another 4-5 minutes until tender.
Step 6: Transfer the seared steak back to the pan and stir in the sauce. Cook until the sauce has thickened and the steak has warmed through.
With such great flavor, this saucy, juicy, tender beef dish is best served over rice to help soak up all of that yumminess, any night of the week!
Why is my pepper steak tough?
It’s all in the preparation. Flank steak is lean which means it doesn’t have a lot of fat to keep it moist and juicy. Tenderizing it (or pounding it) will help with that.
You also want to make sure to cut against the grain (the muscle fibers) which means when slicing it you’re cutting the beef crosswise shortening the tendons and making it less chewy when eaten.
- If you have extra time, marinate the meat the day before. This will also help tenderize the beef and add more flavor. Add the corn starch when cooking.
- Have everything ready to go. Stir-fries cook quickly, so it’s helpful to have everything sliced and ready to cook.
- Cook in batches. This is to make sure you’re browning the steak slices to look in moisture and intensify the flavor. If the pan is overcrowded the beef will just steam.
- Use fresh vegetables. Look for bell peppers that have no discoloration, soft spots, or wrinkles.
- Do not overcook anything. Everything happens quickly, even the cooking. You don’t want to overcook the beef or the veggies, or you’ll end up with tough meat and mushy veg. As long as the beef has an internal temperature of 145° F you’re good.
What to serve with pepper steak?
White rice or brown rice is the traditional answer, but you can always switch it up to suit your preferences.
Go low-carb with some cauliflower rice or serve it on its own with a side salad.
You can also go with stir fry noodles or use it in a sub roll and make a pepper steak sandwich.
Keep any leftovers stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. You can also freeze it for 3 months in a freezer-safe bag or container. Thaw in the fridge overnight.
Reheat the pepper steak in a skillet on the stovetop, adding a splash of broth to thin out the sauce if needed. You can also pop it in the microwave for a quick reheat of a single serving.
Pepper Steak Stir Fry
For the Sauce
- ⅓ cup beef broth
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon grated garlic
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
For the Stir Fry
- 1 pound flank steak
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion sliced thin
- 1 large red bell pepper sliced thin
- 1 large green bell pepper sliced thin
- Sesame seeds and sliced green onion optional garnish
For the Sauce
- In a small bowl, add all of the sauce ingredients and whisk together.⅓ cup beef broth, ¼ cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, 1 teaspoon grated garlic, 1 teaspoon grated ginger
For the Stir Fry
- Place the flank steak on a cutting board and cover it with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Using a meat mallet, pound it to approximately ½” thick. Slice the steak as thinly as you can (to about about ⅛” inch.1 pound flank steak
- Sprinkle the steak with salt and pepper.
- Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet and heat it over medium-high heat .2 tablespoons olive oil
- Add as much steak as will fit in the pan in a single layer without overcrowding the pan. (cook in batches if necessary).
- Cook the steak for 1-2 minutes per side, or until cooked to your desired doneness.
- Remove the steak from the skillet and place on a plate. Continue cooking the steak in batches until it all is cooked.
- Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and heat for about one minute on medium high.
- Add the sliced onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes until they are starting to soften.1 large onion
- Then add the red and green bell peppers. Cook for an additional 4 -5 minutes or until they are tender.1 large red bell pepper, 1 large green bell pepper
- Add the seared steak and sauce to the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and the steak is warmed through again.
- Serve over rice garnished with sesame seeds and sliced green onion if you’d like.Sesame seeds and sliced green onion
Nutritional facts are estimates and are provided as a courtesy to the reader. Please utilize your own brand nutritional values to double check against our estimates. Nutritional values are calculated via a third party. Changing ingredients, amounts or cooking technique will alter the estimated nutritional calculations.
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