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21 June 2021

This Szechuan beef recipe is perfect for spicy food lovers with tender cuts of beef and sliced peppers stir fried in a bold sauce with fiery Szechuan flavors.

We’re cooking up a pan of steaming, spicy Szechuan Beef in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen tonight, my friends. Would you care for a bowl? Do you prefer it with rice or noodles? Or on it’s own?

Szechuan beef is a perfect recipe for the spicy food lover, with thinly sliced beef stir fried in a steaming hot pan, served up with chili peppers of your choice.

The key is the homemade Szechuan sauce, which you can whip together in very little time, along with some wonderfully vibrant and spicy flavors characteristic of Sichuan cuisine. Szechuan peppercorns in particular add a unique flavor and tongue-numbing quality, which greatly compliments the expansive umami of the Szechuan sauce.

You can buy Szechuan sauce from the grocery store, but my homemade version is so much better, and you can control the amount of spice and heat to your preference.

It’s a quick and easy dish to put together, ideal for weeknight meals, on the table in 30 minutes or less. I personally enjoy this recipe when the garden is producing, as I can grab out whatever peppers and vegetables I’m in the mood for.

It’s very easy to customize with both heat and overall vegetables, making it super versatile.

Let’s talk about how we make Szechuan Beef, shall we?

Szechuan Beef in a pan with lots of peppers

Szechuan Beef Ingredients

  • FOR THE SZECHUAN BEEF
  • Beef – I am using flank steak, though you can use other cuts of beef. See the recipe notes for other beef options.
  • Salt and pepper 
  • Sesame oil – or use olive oil, chili oil or vegetable oil
  • Bell pepper – I love red bell pepper
  • Dried chile de arbol peppers – optional for extra spicy, or use japones or other dried peppers you love
  • Sichuan peppercorns – aka Szechuan Peppercorns, or use black peppercorns
  • FOR THE SZECHUAN SAUCE
  • Soy sauce
  • Oyster sauce
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Sesame oil
  • Ground ginger – fresh minced ginger is good, too
  • Honey 
  • Chili garlic sauce
  • Garlic powder – fresh minced garlic is good, too
  • Sriracha or more to taste
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Chicken stock
  • Cornstarch, for thickening
  • Sichuan peppercorns lightly toasted and ground (or use black peppercorns instead)
  • Chinese 5 spice
  • FOR SERVING
  • Cooked white rice or noodles, spicy chili flakes, chopped green onion, toasted sesame seeds

Szechuan Beef in a pan

How to Make Szechuan Beef – the Recipe Method

Make the Szechuan Sauce. Whisk all of the ingredients except the cornstarch together in a small bowl. Pour into a pot and bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes. To thicken the sauce, dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 2 tablespoons of water until well mixed. Stir it into the szechuan sauce and stir until it thickens up, 2-3 minutes. Set it aside for now.

Szechuan Sauce on a spoon

Cook the Beef. Heat the oil in a large pan to medium high heat. Season the sliced beef with salt and pepper. Add it to the pan in a single layer and cook, stirring, 3-4 minutes, or until it is nicely seared and cooked to your preference. Remove the beef and set it aside.

Cooking the beef in a hot pan

Cook the Peppers. Heat the pan back to medium-high heat and add the peppers. Cook for 5 minutes to soften. Add the chiles de arbol (or japones) and peppercorns and cook another 2 minutes, stirring.

Cooking the peppers in a hot pan

Make the Szechuan Beef. Add the beef back to the pan along with the homemade Szechuan sauce. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Stirring together the Szechuan Beef ingredients in a hot pan

Serve it Up. Serve with rice or noodles. Garnish with spicy chili flakes, sesame seeds and sliced green onion.

Boom! Done! Your Szechuan beef is ready to serve! Looks wonderful, doesn’t it? Nice and spicy for sure. Definitely a favorite in our home. I love this recipe.

Serving up Szechuan Beef

Recipe Tips & Notes

  • The Beef. I am using flank steak for this recipe, which is fairly common. You can use other cuts of steak to your preference. Some great options include skirt steak, tri tip, or flat iron steak. Ribeye is an outstanding choice for more tender beef, though a pricier option. Use your favorites to make it your own.
  • Szechuan Peppercorns. Szechuan peppercorns are a unique ingredient, common to Szechuan cuisine. They bring a slight floral quality along with spicy heat that can numb the tongue. You can usually find them in Asian grocery stores, though you may need to order some online. Black peppercorns are the best substitute and even welcome addition, but do not have the same flavor or impact to this dish.
  • Additional Ingredients. Feel free to add in other vegetables to your preference, like sliced onion, other chili peppers, broccoli, snap peas, or any of your favorites. Try it with peanuts or cashews. So good.

That’s it, my friends. I hope you enjoy this Szechuan beef recipe. Let me know if you make it and how you change it up. I’d love to hear how it turned out for you. Keep it spicy!

Szechuan Beef in a bowl over rice

Cookbook Recommendation

If you enjoy cooking Asian cuisine, I recommend this book for a lot of easy and iconic recipes from a great chef. I’m learning a lot from it and it helped me to make this dish.

Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes

Try Some of My Other Beef Recipes

Mike taking a forkful of Szechuan Beef from a bowl

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.

Szechuan Beef Recipe

This Szechuan beef recipe is perfect for spicy food lovers with tender cuts of beef and sliced peppers stir fried in a bold sauce with fiery Szechuan flavors.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Chinese
Keyword: beef, flank steak, peppercorns, Sichuan, spicy, Stir Fry, szechuan
Servings: 4
Calories: 314kcal

Ingredients

FOR THE SZECHUAN BEEF

  • 1 pound flank steak sliced into bite-sized pieces - you can use other cuts of beef. See the recipe notes.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil or use olive oil
  • 1 large bell pepper chopped
  • 2 jalapeno pepper chopped (optional for spicy - use serrano peppers for extra!)
  • 10 dried chile de arbol peppers - optional for extra spicy - or use japones or other dried peppers you love
  • 1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns - or use black peppercorns

FOR THE SZECHUAN SAUCE

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger - fresh minced ginger is good too
  • 1 tablespoon honey or more for sweeter
  • 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder - fresh minced garlic is good too
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch for thickening
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon szechuan peppercorns lightly toasted and ground or use black peppercorns instead
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice

FOR SERVING

  • Cooked white rice or noodles, spicy chili flakes, chopped green onion, toasted sesame seeds

Instructions

FOR THE HOMEMADE SZECHUAN SAUCE

  • Whisk all of the ingredients except the cornstarch together in a small pot.
  • Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes.
  • To thicken the sauce, dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 2 tablespoons of water until well mixed. Stir it into the Szechuan sauce and stir until it thickens up, 2-3 minutes. For thicker Szechuan sauce, use 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Remove from heat and set aside.

FOR THE SZECHUAN BEEF

  • Heat the oil in a large pan to medium high heat.
  • Season the sliced beef with salt and pepper. Add it to the pan and cook, stirring, 3-4 minutes, or until it is nicely seared and cooked to your preference. Remove the beef and set it aside.
  • Heat the pan back to medium-high heat and add the peppers. Cook for 5 minutes to soften.
  • Add the chiles de arbol (or japones) and peppercorns and cook another 2 minutes, stirring.
  • Add the beef back to the pan along with the homemade Szechuan sauce. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Serve with rice or noodles. Garnish with spicy chili flakes, sesame seeds and sliced green onion.

Notes

Nutritional information estimated without rice or noodles.
The Beef. I am using flank steak for this recipe, which is fairly common. You can use other cuts of steak to your preference. Some great options include skirt steak, tri tip, or flat iron steak. Ribeye is an outstanding choice for more tender beef, though a pricier option. Use your favorites to make it your own.
Szechuan Peppercorns. Szechuan peppercorns are a unique ingredient, common to Szechuan cuisine. They bring a slight floral quality along with spicy heat that can numb the tongue. You can usually find them in Asian grocery stores, though you may need to order some online. Black peppercorns are the best substitute and even welcome addition, but do not have the same flavor or impact to this dish.
Additional Ingredients. Feel free to add in other vegetables to your preference, like sliced onion, other chili peppers, broccoli, snap peas, or any of your favorites. Try it with peanuts or cashews. So good.

Nutrition

Calories: 314kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 69mg | Sodium: 1558mg | Potassium: 682mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1508IU | Vitamin C: 50mg | Calcium: 69mg | Iron: 4mg

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