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25 December 2020

The best pepper steak recipe is easy to make, with marinated strips of flank steak, lots of peppers and flavorful sauce, better than any Chinese restaurant. Make it at home tonight!

Are you a steak lover? We LOVE steak in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen. Any cut of steak is great. I’ll take a perfectly grilled ribeye or a nicely seared filet mignon any day of the week.

One of my favorite cuts, though, 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.

Flank steak is 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. Print this recipe off, my friends. It’s going to be one of your new favorites. I, of course, make mine just a touch spicy.

Pepper steak in a bowl, ready to enjoy

Let’s talk about how to make Chinese pepper steak, shall we?

Pepper Steak Ingredients

  • Flank steak (or use skirt steak) – you can use other cuts of beef for this recipe, though flank steak is more traditional. 
  • FOR THE MARINADE
  • Soy sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Sesame oil (or vegetable oil)
  • FOR THE VEGETABLES 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, sliced
  • Red bell pepper, sliced (you can use other color bell peppers, too, like orange or striped)
  • Jalapeno peppers, sliced (optional – use serrano peppers for even spicier pepper steak!)
  • White onion, sliced
  • Garlic, minced
  • Fresh ginger
  • FOR THE PEPPER STEAK SAUCE
  • Soy sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Corn starch
  • Brown sugar (or use honey)
  • Paprika (or use cayenne for more heat)
  • Ground black pepper to taste

How to Make Pepper Steak – the Recipe Method

First, 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. I usually start my marinade in the morning, if I’ve planned ahead.

Marinating the steak to make pepper steak

Heat the sesame oil and vegetable oil in a large skillet to medium-high heat and add the red and green peppers and onions. Cook them down for 5 minutes to soften. You can use other chili peppers here as desired. I toss in jalapenos or serranos for extra heat for me.

Cooking the peppers in a hot pan

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. Add the beef to the skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes per side, until cooked to your liking.

Cooking the steak in a pan

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. I like a lot of black pepper with mine.

Pepper steak sauce in a bowl

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!

Combining the steak with peppers and sauce in a hot pan

Serve! I serve mine over white rice with chili flakes and scallions, maybe some sesame seeds.

Pepper steak in a pan with garnish

Boom! Done! Pretty easy to make, isn’t it? Such a great recipe, and very easy. And delicious!

Recipe Tips & Notes

  • The Steak. Flank steak is traditionally used to make Chinese pepper steak, though you can use other cuts of beef. Skirt steak is just as good here. 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 and may not be worth it. Delicious, though. It’s really hard to go wrong with sirloin steak and all those wonderfully flavorful cuts.
  • The Peppers. Bell peppers are the most commonly used peppers for most pepper steak recipes. 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 Pepper Steak Sauce. The sauce for the pepper steak is super easy to whip together and contains only a few ingredients. It’s primarily soy sauce with a bit of vinegar and honey or brown sugar, thickened with corn starch. I like to include cayenne for some heat for myself. Other optional add ons are oyster sauce, sesame oil, sherry, and other soy sauce alternatives. Try mixing in fresh scallions or chopped herbs.
  • Other Meats. Yes, you can make Chinese pepper steak stir fry without steak, though you surely can’t call it “pepper steak” any longer, right? Try it with cuts of chicken breast or chicken thigh, or lean pork. All are very good!

Pepper Steak in a bowl over rice, ready to serve

That’s it, my friends. I hope you enjoy my pepper steak recipe. I love this recipe. Super tasty, and so easy to make! Easy is good. A perfect quick and easy weeknight meal. Your family will love it. You’ll have dinner on the table in under 30 minutes. Wonderful!

Let me know how it turns out for you. I’d love to hear!

Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes

Pepper Steak in a bowl over rice

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
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Pepper Steak Recipe

The best pepper steak recipe is easy to make, with marinated strips of flank steak, lots of peppers and flavorful sauce, better than any Chinese restaurant.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Chinese
Keyword: bell peppers, chili peppers, flank steak, jalapeno
Servings: 4
Calories: 362kcal

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 362kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 1157mg | Potassium: 799mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1326IU | Vitamin C: 69mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 4mg

Pepper Steak in a bowl

 

NOTE: This recipe was updated on 12/25/20 to include new information and video. It was originally published on 3/6/20.

Pepper Steak Recipe

10 comments

  1. tom orlando

    5 stars
    So I tried another of your recipes, one I been dying to cook. I love a good clean tasting pepper steak with lots of fresh flavor. Mike, your recipe nailed it! I taken my time and followed exactly how you lay it all out. I purchased fresh Flank from my butcher and picked up all the other produce from a fresh market. I prepared everything in separate plates and small bowls for the vegetables, steak marinade and sauce. It was easy once I got my head around it (fairly simple) and then cooking was under 15 minutes. I used one small jalapeno pepper for heat and everything else identical to your perfectly balanced recipe. Well I did add one extra clove of garlic since I sliced it, couldn’t hurt anything. I added sesame seeds and scallion at the end. Wow, yes indeed the ultimate and best pepper steak I and my girls every eaten. I mean it look great, smelled delicious and the desired fresh clean flavor was over the top. THANK YOU! Hooked on chili-pepper-madness for life. Thank you Mike for your dedication and for sharing such wonderful mouth watering recipes. Tom

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Tom! Great to hear it and happy to receive this comment. I’m glad you and your girls enjoyed it, and I hope you find loads more recipes here. All the best.

  2. 5 stars
    Mine,

    You won’t regret getting into doubanjiang at all! The fermented beans and Chinese chili pepper mix adds some heat but tons of funky umami flavor. Honestly, just cooking a tsp or 2 in some sesame oil and then stir frying some noodles or rice in the reddish, spicy, funky oil makes a great dish but add in some dry fried and crushed Sichuan peppercorns and a Thai chili pepper or 3 and some onion and chopped bell pepper… Meat or meatless… is devine. The only issue is finding a really good doubanjiang. The best comes from Pixian in the Sichuan province.

    Can you tell I’ve dove in head first into Sichuan cooking? LOL!

    If you haven’t tried Mapo Tofu you will love it. It’s one of those dishes that some people just love and others become obsessed with. Also fried Tofu is awesome and takes on a bacon like flavor.

  3. 5 stars
    Excellent as usually Mike. Pepper steak is an all time favorite. It’s so easy to make and just as easy too either spice up or tone down depending on who is joining you at the table.

    Personally, I would add snow peas pods to this and use some doubanjiang (my new favorite ingredient). Even a dab in some eggs with bacon is game changing. Just make sure it’s from Pixian, Sichuan, China.

    Just a long shot but do you have a recipe for Mapo Tofu? If do, I would LOVE to have that. In fact, any Asian dishes would be welcome… Especially ramen! Although I’m doing for a great, spicy Mapo Tofu recipe.

  4. 5 stars
    I hunted everywhere in my recipe box for a circa 1970s recipe but couldn’t find it so turned to the web and found this GEM. It was absolutely fabulous! I used a few peppers from the farm market (ancho? long green ones) plus some fresh bell peppers and a jalapeno. It was magnificent. I remembered that my vintage recipe called for two tomatoes cut in 8 wedges added just before the sauce and they really brightened it up (otherwise I followed the directions explicitly). I also added black sesame seed garnish to the Japanese rice (Hinode) I served it with and it really added a nice little crunch. Thank you for such a detailed and magnificent recipe. One caveat–it takes a whole lot longer for the typical home cook to prep all these veg so 10 minutes is a bit ridiculous…

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Mary Kay. Glad you enjoyed it. Prep times are always a bugaboo in recipe writing. Everyone works a little differently. I’m actually very slow in the kitchen. Guess I chop pretty fast?

  5. Looks gorgeous, looking for the amount of ginger the directions yet not the ingredients mention. Did I miss it?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Gina. Use 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger. It’s listed under garlic. Just add it when you add the garlic. Let me know how it turns out for you! Enjoy.

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