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.

Coating 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.

Mongolian Beef

Adding 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

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.

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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Mongolian Beef

This 20-minute dish is so easy to make, with a wonderful savory-sweet glaze coating the ultra thin slices of steak.
Yield: 6 People
Prep Time 8 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  • 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.

Notes

What the Kids Can Do:

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

Nutrition Information

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

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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Comments

  1. I made this recipe tonight. I made a few changes….for example, I sauteed sweet onion strips with oil, ginger, and garlic. To that, I also added crushed red peppers before I added the brown sugar and soy sauce to cook down. After browning the beef I added scallion pieces to the beef to cook for just a few moments before tossing in the sauce. It was a delightful meal! I served it over Jasmine rice. Yummy!

    1. Some recipes call for Hoisin sauce, but I didn’t – but you could add a couple of tablespoons with the soy sauce if you wish!

  2. I made this tonight for supper and it was absolutely delicious!! I steamed some broccoli florets and matchstick carrots and added them at the end….yum!! I will definitely be making this again and often.

  3. I found this recipe on a whim as I had some shaved steak leftover. This was so easy and absolutely delicious. I will try to add some kind of veges to the dish next time to get a little extra nutrition.

  4. Made this for dinner tonight and we couldn’t eat it. The beef was too crispy the taste was barely edible. Yuk!

    1. You most likely cooked the beef way too long. Did you taste the sauce when making it? If you did you could have adjusted the seasonings to your liking. Then your sauce would have been the way you liked it! I don’t see how you wouldn’t like the sauce unless you didn’t like one or more of the ingredients or if you overcooked the meat and it was burned everything would have tasted bad.
      So sorry it didn’t turn out good for you. I’m going to be making it for myself in just a little while. Instead of rice I’m going to put it over some potato gnocchi!!

    2. You had to have overcooked the beef for it to be too crispy. I made it tonight and it was juicy on the inside. Either that or the quality of the beef maybe? Either way , not the recipes fault.

  5. Just wanted to say thank you for this recipe! Made it last night and it is our new favorite!! I cleaned my plate and so did my husband. I added a teaspoon of chili pepper flakes to the sauce and it was just perfection.

    1. Delicious!! Kids and whole family loved it. I added a bag of chopped cabbage and carrots while stir frying, also some hot sauce. New fav!!

      1. What a great idea adding chopped cabbage & carrots! I’ll use your recommendation when I begin making mine in an hour or so!!

  6. Absolutely delicious! A few mods I will make going forward: cut the brown sugar to 1/4 of the amount (too sweet), reduce the corn starch and use toasted sesame oil vs canola (sesame adds much more flavor).

  7. This was so simple to make and so good! I replaced the rice with quinoa. It gave it a fried rice feel to it. I also had no scallions so I replaced those with steamed veggies on top. My three year old devoured two plates of it and normally dinner is a fight with him. Tonight it wasn’t! He even was able to help make dinner, so it was a win for all. This will definitely be a recipe that is made several times a month!

  8. Made it to recipe. Added broccoli. I wanted snow peas, but I couldn’t find them. I used a non-stick wok for the beef and broccoli and served it over jasmine rice. DELICIOUS. I loved the crunchy bits on the beef!

  9. I love this, especially how fast and easy it is! I didn’t have any scallions, so I substituted a chopped jalapeno. Will definitely make again.

  10. I substituted unbleached flour for the corn starch, seasoned the beef with creole seasoning before dusting in flour, fried it up in a caste iron pan with olive oil in small batches (very crunchy!) and then made the sauce. I served the meat over chopped Romain lettuce leaves tossed in a bit of dressing. Mine had red pepper flakes. I like it spicy!

  11. Absolutely delish. Simple and fun to make. I made it with thin bbq steaks, shaved with my sharp knife, the meat was tender and the glistening in the sauce.

  12. This was so good! I stock up on the shaved beef and freeze it now, when I can find it, just for this dish. The recipe made a lot of sauce, so ended up cutting up 2 heads of broccoli, steaming it in the microwave, and added it to the beef and sauce. Broccoli soaks up the sauce perfectly, AND I got my veggie in! Win win! (I’m always looking for ways to get veggies into stuff. This was a perfect way). Goes great with brown rice, too. Super filling. Thanks for posting!

  13. This recipe was so easy and absolutely delicious! I did add broccoli. And it’s the first time I’ve used the shredded beef. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe.

  14. Our grocery store is lacking just about everything these days. If I wanted to use ground ginger from the spice jar, how much should I use?

  15. We had this last night with steamed rice, broccoli, and peppers. So good! In my husband’s words, “I am a big fan of this!” Thank you for a great recipe to add variety to our dinners!

    Our only adjustment was that we reduced the sugar to 1/4 c. and it was still a little sweet for us, so when I make it again I’ll do 3 Tbsp.

  16. Great recipe.
    A little on the sweet side for us. I will cut back on the sugar the next time for our tastes. Other than that we loved it.

  17. This was delicious! I’ll definitely make it again. We almost always eat brown rice but next time I’ll splurge and have it with while rice. It’s worth the indulgence. The sauce was a TINY bit strong/intense – I don’t know if I cooked it a bit too long; condensing it but I’ll add a tablespoon or two of water next time. I served it with a Napa cabbage salad.

  18. This was so delicious and so easy. My husband was impressed because it was out of my normal wheelhouse but it was such an easy recipe I think this will become a staple. His exact words are “This is as good as Panda Express!” aaand he loves panda express. I didn’t have ginger so next time I’m excited to try with that and instead of sesame seeds I used and “everything but the bagel” seasoning.

  19. This was amazing. I never write reviews but this was good I had to. I added snap peas and book choy. Kids LOVED it. So happy. I am so sick of dinner!

  20. So easy and absolutely delicious. I’ll be making this to impress my family :). Thanks for sharing!

  21. Made this for my family tonight and it was a HUGE SUCCESS!! Super easy to make and really tasty!! Two thumbs up

  22. This recipe is so quick and yummy. I’ve made one that takes all day in the crock and this is so much better. Trader Joe’s has a great shaved beef. Thanks for this one ! I am a Katie, also!

  23. This was just ok. I didn’t think it tasted like Mongolian Beef at a chinese restaurant. I would cut way down on the brown sugar. Was way too sweet. Of course my kids enjoyed it that reason. I would not make this again.

  24. So good! So Easy! My family loved it! Served it with a side of roasted broccoli. Will definitely add to my rotation. Thank you.

  25. This dish was delicious, perhaps the best stir-fry I have made. I did add some veggies as was suggested. Thank you so much for the recipe!

  26. Not awful, but I would not make it again. Very bland. I usually make the P. F. Chang version of Mongolian Beef, but it is quite messy, so I thought I would see if this would work. It didn’t. Another option which is quite good is Trader Joe’s frozen Beef and Broccoli.

  27. Wow! This was super easy and absolutely delicious! I never thought to brown such thin slices before, I would have just put them right into the sauce because I would have worried about overcooking it and having little pieces of shoe leather but OMG this was soooooo good. The only problem is I could just sit down with a fork and finish it all myself!! lol!! I didn’t have scallions on hand so I added sesame seeds and it came out wonderfully!

    1. sesame seeds are perfect, and you could use any onions instead of the scallions (or leave them out as you did!)

  28. Really good, I might cut back a bit on the sugar next time to 1/4 cup, The sauce was amazing. I threw in some frozen stir fry veggies that I sauteed in the skillet after the beef was cooked.

  29. I’ve made this 3 times now. It’s been a big hit in my household. I found your recipe because my grocery store began stocking shaved beef and the search was on for a quick recipe. I found yours. It’s very flavorful on its own but I will try some of the suggestions of sesame oil as a finish garnish as well as the sriracha. Thank you

    1. I think it would, actually. You can do it in a crockpot with the same flavors and beef stew cubes though fore a different version of this dish!

  30. my husband and son(and me also) loved it. i used sesame oil and coconut aminos instead of soy sauce. i also added broccoli and sugar snap peas. absolutely delicous. sadly thete were no leftovers. thank you for sharing this recipe.

  31. In the intro, you mention that the sauce involves hoisin, but it’s not listed in the actual recipe ingredient list! :) How much would you add?

    1. Some recipes use it, which is why I mentioned it in the overall description of the dish, but I didn’t in mine, but you could definitely add a tablespoon or two to the sauce if you wanted to amp up the flavor even more!

  32. Made the recipe, really enjoyed how it turned out. Meat was very soft and tender. I topped mine with Sriracha and a drizzle of sesame oil, added a nice kick!

  33. It was very good, but next time I make it I am going to dilute the soy sauce with some beef stock/ broth. It was a bit salty even with the reduced sodium soy sauce.

      1. Hi! I am Excited to try this! I only need to make 4 servings, can I just cut all the measurements and Ingredients in half? I want To make there is enough sauce to create a thicker consistency with the beef

    1. I used some beef soup paste and water with the soy sauce. Was fantastic. I also added thinly sliced onions (paper thin) tiny broccoli bits and shredded carrots. Tasted great!

  34. Hi Katie,

    We love your Mongolian Beef recipe! I find the shaved beef sticks together, pre eating it being coated on each side. It has to be peeled apart, dredged in the cornstarch and cooked. So tedious! Am I doing something wrong?

    1. sadly, no, that’s the way this thinly sliced meat works. And you’ll probably never get it all pulled apart, some pieces will cook still stuck together it’s ok, as long as you get some browning on a lot of the surface it will be good. But you are right – it’s a bit tedious!!

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