This Chinese pepper steak recipe is done in minutes, with seared peppers and thin strips of steak stir fried in a flavorful sauce. It's easy to make and better than any restaurant!
Pepper Steak Recipe
One of my favorite cuts of meat is flank steak. Flank steak is a leaner cut of meat that is huge on flavor. It isn't quite as tender as a cut like ribeye or tenderloin, but it's hard to beat the taste. It's perfect for marinating and cooking up quickly either in a hot pan or on the grill. Because it is so thin, it cooks up in minutes, making it perfect for quick and easy weeknight meals.
Like this particular recipe - pepper steak. I love a good Chinese pepper steak. You may have enjoyed this recipe at your local Chinese restaurant or take out. It's essentially a classic steak stir fry made with sautéed steak, lots of cooked bell peppers, all tossed together in a simple yet highly flavorful sweet and savory brown sauce.
Sometimes it is called pepper steak and rice, as it's a Chinese-American dish popularly served over white rice or sometimes brown rice. This homemade version is so much better. You'll never want to order take out again.
Pepper Steak Ingredients
- Flank Steak - You can use other cuts of beef for this recipe, though flank steak is more traditional.
For the marinade:
- Soy Sauce - Low sodium soy sauce is good.
- Rice Vinegar
- Sesame Oil - Or vegetable oil.
For the veggies and seasoning:
- Vegetable Oil - Olive oil is good, though I prefer a more neutral oil like canola oil or peanut oil.
- Sesame Oil - I love the flavor of sesame oil.
- Green Bell Pepper
- Red Bell Pepper - You can use other color bell peppers, too, like orange or striped.
- Jalapeño Peppers - Optional - use serrano peppers for even spicier pepper steak!
- White Onion
- Garlic Powder - Or fresh garlic.
- Fresh Ginger
For the pepper steak sauce:
- Soy Sauce
- Rice Vinegar
- Brown Sugar - Or use honey.
- Paprika - Or use cayenne for more heat.
- Ground Black Pepper - To taste.
How to Make Pepper Steak
Prepare the steak. Thinly slice the steak against the grain to bite sized pieces and add them to a bowl with the soy sauce, rice vinegar and oil. Toss to coat and cover.
Marinate. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 10 minutes. You can marinate longer if you'd like, even overnight. I usually start my marinade in the morning, if I've planned ahead.
Sauté the peppers and onions. Heat the sesame oil and vegetable oil in a large skillet to medium-high heat and add the peppers and onions. Cook them for 5 minutes to soften. Use other chili peppers as desired. I toss in jalapeños or serranos for extra heat for me.
Garlic and ginger. Add the garlic and ginger and cook another minute, stirring, until you can smell that gorgeous garlic. Remove from heat and set the vegetables into a bowl. Save the oil in the pan.
Cook the steak. Heat the same pan to high heat. Add the beef to the skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes per side, until cooked to your liking. Cook time can vary.
Return the vegetables. Add the cooked vegetables into the pan and stir.
Make the sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients until well combined.
Stir in the sauce. Stir the sauce into the pepper steak and heat, stirring, until it thickens in the pan, about 1 minute. Cook and stir. Be sure to keep stirring lightly, as this will help thicken the sauce more evenly, and also helps to coat everything nicely. Big flavor here!
Serve! I serve mine over white rice with chili flakes and scallions, maybe some sesame seeds. Pepper steak and rice is so good.
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Use the right meat. Flank steak is traditionally used to make Chinese pepper steak, though you can use other cuts of beef. Skirt steak is just as good, or top sirloin. It's not quite as tender as flank steak, but it has a more intense flavor. I've also made this with sliced ribeye and LOVED it, though it is more costly. It's really hard to go wrong with sirloin steak and all those wonderfully flavorful cuts.
- Pick the right peppers. Bell peppers are the most commonly used peppers for most pepper steak recipes. Red and green bell peppers have no heat but a lot of substance, and they're ideal for making stir fries. I like to add in a couple jalapeno peppers for more heat and flavor, and sometimes a serrano pepper or two. You can use other sweet peppers to your preference, and toss in a hotter pepper as you'd like for that extra blast of heat.
- The very best sauce. The sauce for the pepper steak is super easy to whip together and customize. I like to include cayenne for extra heat. Other optional add ons are oyster sauce, sesame oil, sherry, and other soy sauce alternatives. Try mixing in fresh scallions or chopped herbs.
Storage and Reheating
Once fully cooled to room temperature, you can store any leftover Chinese pepper steak you have in an airtight container. Properly stored in the fridge, it should stay fresh for 2-3 days.
Reheat for 30 seconds at a time in the microwave, stirring each time it stops, until warmed all the way through.
Try Some of My Other Popular Beef Recipes
- Mongolian Beef
- Beef Bulgogi
- Carne Asada
- Beef Barbacoa
- Szechuan Beef
- Grilled Tri Tip Steak Fajitas
- Grilled London Broil
- Chimichurri Steak
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Pepper Steak Recipe
- 1 1/2 pound flank steak or use skirt steak
FOR THE MARINADE
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil or vegetable oil
FOR THE VEGETABLES and SEASONING
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 large green bell pepper sliced
- 1 large red bell pepper sliced
- 1-2 jalapeno peppers sliced (optional)
- 1 medium white onion sliced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
FOR THE PEPPER STEAK SAUCE
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar or use honey
- 1 teaspoon paprika or use cayenne for more heat
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Thinly slice the steak against the grain to bite sized pieces and add them to a bowl with the soy sauce, rice vinegar and oil. Toss to coat and cover. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 10 minutes. You can marinate longer if you'd like, even overnight.
- Heat the sesame oil and vegetable oil in a large pan and add the peppers and onions. Cook them down for 5 minutes to soften.
- Add the garlic and ginger and cook another minute, stirring, until you can smell that gorgeous garlic. Remove from heat and set the vegetables into a bowl. Save the oil in the pan.
- Heat the same pan to high heat and add the steak. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side, until cooked to your liking.
- Add the cooked vegetables into the pan and stir.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients (soy sauce, vinegar, corn starch, brown sugar or honey, paprika and black pepper) until well combined. Stir the sauce into the pepper steak and heat, stirring, until it thickens in the pan, about 1 minute.
- Serve! I serve mine over rice with chili flakes and scallions.