Mongolian Beef

4.89 from 84 votes

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This 20-minute dish is so easy to make, with a wonderful savory-sweet glaze coating the ultra thin slices of steak.

Mongolian Beef

Easy Mongolian Beef

My family cannot get enough of Asian food, and any time I crank out a dish that announces itself with aromas of garlic, ginger, and soy sauce I pretty much know dinner will be a success.   

Mongolian Beef

What is Mongolian Beef?

Mongolian Beef is a Chinese-American (or American-Chinese) dish consisting of beef coated with a savory brown sauce that includes hoisin (usually), soy sauce, and chili peppers (or something spicy), plus some other additions.  Usually there is some sweetness added as well, here brown sugar, which allows the sauce to caramelize so nicely.

It is highly reminiscent of the kind of dish you might get at an old-school Chinese restaurant.  Often broccoli is included, and I am going to add some next time, for for now….broccoli on the side would be great.

Mongolian Beef

Shaved Beef Steak

Look for shaved beef steak, sometimes called beef shaved steak—I don’t know why—napkin-thin slices of beef which can come from any part of the cow.  It might be labeled “sandwich steak” (designed for sandwiched like Philly subs) or shabu-shabu beef (intended for Japanese cooking, or possibly Chinese hot-pot) or Pho (used in the traditional Vietnamese soup).  It also could be called braciole beef (used in that classic Italian dish where it is wrapped around a filling, usually involving breadcrumbs and cheese).  Bulgogi in Korean markets.  Rouladen in German butcheries.  

If you have a friendly butcher ordering this cut of meat can generate some interesting conversation about the different ways to cook it.

This 20-minute dish is so easy to make, with a wonderful savory-sweet glaze coating the ultra thin slices of steak.

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How to Make Mongolian Beef  

Mongolian beef can also be made with different types of thinly sliced or small cut meat, and if shaved beef isn’t an option, place a piece of flank steak in the freezer until quite firm but not totally frozen and then thinly slice it across the grain and use that instead.  It will essentially defrost as you cut it and it waits to hit the hot pan.  This thinness of the meat allows every little bit of it to be coated with a wonderful glaze.

Coat the Beef with Cornstarch

Mongolian Beef

Dusting the slices of beef in cornstarch before sautéing them allows them to brown nicely.  Saute in batches, so it can brown evenly.  This is slightly annoying, but it goes SO fast.  And then when the beef meets with sauce the cornstarch not only helps the thicken the sauce, but also allows the sauce to coat the beef deliciously.

Saute the Beef Quickly

The beef needs just a few minutes in the pan to brown.

Mongolian Beef

Add the Sauce

Once all of the meat has been browned, put it back in the pan and add the sauce. Toss until it’s thick and the glaze looks and smells lovely.

Mongolian Beef

Finish the Mongolian Beef

The scallions add a little bit of spiciness, and some welcome fresh green (it’s a brown dish, I will say that).

Mongolian Beef

Toss until everything is well combined.

How to Serve Mongolian Beef

Serve it up over some hot rice.  For an old school Chinese-American dish I default to white rice.  This kind of food makes me wonder where the little packets of duck sauce are.  Hey, maybe next time I make this, I will see if a little duck sauce on the side hits the spot.  It seems like it could really work.

Mongolian Beef

I could probably make this once a week for my family and it would be a long time until they tired of it.  I served this up last with some Blistered Green Beans with Miso Butter.  It really worked.  And do give the beef one last sprinkle of fresh sliced scallions.

Mongolian Beef

Mongolian Vegetables

Instead of beef, try this with a mixture of broccoli florets, sliced carrots, and snow peas. Use 6 cups of vegetables in total, and treat them just as you would the sliced beef. And if you want to use half beef (3/4 pound) and half vegetables (3 cups), just sauté them separately, with 6 teaspoons of cornstarch mixed with each, and then add half of the sauce and scallions to each of the pans and finish cooking.

What to Serve with Mongolian Beef:

Other Asian Beef Recipes:

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4.89 from 84 votes

Mongolian Beef

This 20-minute dish is so easy to make, with a wonderful savory-sweet glaze coating the ultra thin slices of steak.
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 People
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  • ¼ cup approximately plus 2 teaspoons vegetable or canola oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon freshly minced ginger
  • ½ cup less sodium soy sauce
  • cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 ½ pounds beef shaved steak see recipe intro for more info
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 6 scallions trimmed and thinly sliced (white and green parts)
  • Hot cooked brown or white rice to serve


  • In a small saucepan heat 2 teaspoons of the oil. Add the garlic and ginger, and saute for 30 seconds, then add the soy sauce and brown sugar and bring to a simmer, whisking frequently over medium heat. Allow it to simmer and reduce a bit, until it gets a glazey consistency, about 4 minutes. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, toss the shaved steak in a mixing bowl with the cornstarch until evenly distributed.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet (the bigger the better) over medium high heat. Line a counter or a large plate with paper towels. Sauté the beef in batches, taking care not to crowd the pan, and flipping it as it browns, about 2 minutes in all. Use tongs to remove the beef when it is browned, transferring it to the paper towels. Repeat until all of the beef is browned, adding more oil as needed (make sure the oil has a chance to get hot before you add the next batch of beef so it browns up nicely).
  • Pour off any additional oil and return the large skillet to medium high heat. Add all of the beef back to the pan, along with the sauce and scallions. Stir for about 3 minutes until the sauce is thickened and glazes all of the meat evenly. Serve over the rice.


What the Kids Can Do:

Slice scallions with supervision, measure the sauce ingredients, and help prepare the rice.


Calories: 445.54kcal, Carbohydrates: 18.86g, Protein: 20.9g, Fat: 31.82g, Saturated Fat: 16.11g, Cholesterol: 80.51mg, Sodium: 790.26mg, Potassium: 393.8mg, Fiber: 0.48g, Sugar: 12.53g, Vitamin A: 119.64IU, Vitamin C: 2.57mg, Calcium: 44.62mg, Iron: 2.9mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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Recipe Rating


  1. denetta says:


  2. Rainy says:

    Really good and easy, but sooo salty. We are not used to eating a lot of salt plus we have a member on a heart diet and this was almost too salty to eat. Even using Kikkoman low sodium soy sauce. Do you have suggestions for a sauce that still has the flavor but not as much salt? I simply can’t find one. I hate that everything that tastes good has so much sodium. :(

    1. Katie Workman says:

      I know, it’s a conundrum to get a lot of flavor in some dishes without a lot of salt. You can reduce the amount of less sodium soy sauce in the recipe though, and maybe add a bit of less sodium beef broth to make up the liquid.

  3. Paula says:

    My husband and I retired to the country and don’t have access to international restaurants. This was a favorite we used to get back home. I cooked this for him and he ate every bite and had seconds. He loved it and wants it to be added to our weekly meals. Recipe was easy to follow, and ingredients were available at my local grocery store. Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. Cate says:

    This has become a go to favorite in my house! Quick delicious and easy weeknight dinner.

  5. Sheila says:

    My husband said one of my best meals ever! I stuck to the recipe, I just added steamed broccolini at end with meat and sauce. So good!

    1. Katie Workman says:

      love the addition of broccolini!

  6. mary ellen orchard says:

    This Mongolian Beef was the best one I’ve had! The taste was just perfect over white rice! This will be a keeper!

  7. Janet g says:

    I made this tonight and I was amazed by the flavors! Delicious!!! I didn’t put as much sugar as the recipe called for since I don’t really care for sweet dinner dishes, but it turned out great(slightly less than 1/4 cup)!!!

  8. Dena Calise says:

    Hi, I was wondering can you use flour instead of cornstarch if you don’t have any cornstarch? Thank you!

    1. Katie Workman says:

      you could — but it won’t provide quite as nice a texture to the beef.

  9. Donald says:

    I didn’t want to run out and buy something extra when my freezer is filled with ground beef from the last time it was on sale. I made the recipe otherwise just the same (I sprinkled the cornstarch over the ground beef when it was nearly finished browning)–except I doubled the sauce and ‘l proportions since I figured the ground beef would not be as juicy as sliced steak, and we wanted more sauce for the rice to soak up. It was DELICIOUS! Next time I’ll use the shaved beef!