Pepper Steak is a delicious beef dish with tender steak bites lightly fried in butter and tossed in a salty garlic glaze with stir-fried peppers and onions. The signature recipe is known for its simple ingredients, a quick cook time, easy rich flavor, and healthy ingredients. You’ll be making this classic steak and peppers recipe staple over and over again.
The recipe gets its name from vibrant red and green peppers and steak. In fact, it’s a popular dish throughout the world and is known for its incredibly rich flavor and simple cooking method. The dish is easy to elevate by using tenderloin steak that cuts like soft butter and sizzles with juices.
I’m sharing two variations on the classic pepper steak stir fry recipe. First, is an American steak stir fry version that’s commonly served in many American restaurants. This recipe uses steak, butter, garlic, pepper, soy sauce, bell peppers and onions. Just as delicious is the signature Asian Pepper Steak Stir Fry. Building onto the American version, this recipe uses sesame oil, brown sugar for sweetness, and stir fry oil with hints of ginger to the mix.
Pepper Steak Stir Fry Ingredients
■ BEEF: Pepper steak is a versatile recipe to use your favorite cut of beef. Beef tenderloin, flank steak, sirloin, or round all work in this traditional dish. My favorite is beef tenderloin. This cut of meat, sometimes called filet mignon in other countries, or beef tenderloin in the US, is incredible tender and cuts like a soft stick of butter. It’s my top choice. It is never, ever tough, which makes it ideal to cook on the stovetop in just minutes. More on beef cuts below.
■ BUTTER: Skip the oil and use real butter. The butter flavor makes this dish and smells amazing. Plus, each bite with taste like savory toasted butter.
■ BELL PEPPERS: Red and green bell peppers give this recipe its classic name. One of each is plenty enough to add a crunchy texture and fresh flavor to the stir fry.
■ ONION: Stir fry onions and peppers for just a few minutes to finish the dish. I like to keep them semi crunchy for texture and usually cook for about 4-6 minutes.
■ GARLIC: Beef, garlic, butter. Need I say more? Only the best flavors and aromas all in one simple dish. Mince garlic or simply use garlic puree from a tube.
■ SOY SAUCE: Salty and flavorful. Add deep flavoring to sizzling garlic butter steak with soy sauce.
■ BROWN SUGAR: For a sweet and salty stir fry, stir in brown sugar. TIP: Omit the brown sugar and reduce the soy sauce to 1-2 tbsp for a savory version with no added sugar. I like both versions.
■ SEASONING: Pepper, stir fry oil, and sesame oil all add more flavor.
■ CORNSTARCH: Use cornstarch to create a rich thick glaze. The sauce works to coat the steak and vegetables.
How to Make Pepper Steak
- Cut beef, peppers, and onions into strips.
- Sautee beef on stovetop with butter until golden brown.
- Stir together soy sauce, garlic, pepper, brown sugar, sesame oil, and stir fry oil, if using.
- Mix cornstarch and water.
- Add peppers and onions to skillet.
- Stir in sauce.
- Cook until sauce thickens into a glaze.
- Serve with rice, vegetables, or Asian noodle lo mein.
TWO Pepper Steak Recipe VARIATIONS
Do you have a classic pepper steak recipe that’s savory without Asian flavor or sweetness, like one I may find at a steakhouse? Yes, I’m sharing two easy variations below.
THE AMERICAN STIR FRY: Classic garlic butter with plenty of salty flavor. It starts by sauteing the beef with butter until golden brown. Next, stir in peppers and onions. Then, stir in soy sauce and garlic. Finally, finish it off with a slurry of cornstarch and water to make a thick, rich gravy glaze.
If soy sauce is an ingredient, will it have an Asian flavor? No. Soy sauce is a flavorful sauce that is my go to when flavoring beef. Adding soy sauce will not make it taste Asian. In fact, I prefer it over worcestershire sauce or A1 sauce any day.
THE ASIAN STIR FRY: The same recipe with the addition of brown sugar, sesame oil, and stir fry oil. Stir-fried with these ingredients will yield a slightly sweet and salty taste. A delicious treat to change up the flavor.
Best Cut of Beef for Pepper Steak
⬤ Beef Tenderloin – The most tender cut of beef, never tough. These tender pieces do well with a quick stove top sear, especially if you like steak without too much chew. HIGHLY RECOMMEND. Tenderloin is cut from from the loin. It’s the same area that filet mignon and porterhouse steak is cut from. This beef cuts like a soft stick of butter and will melt in your mouth. Plus, it’s an easy way to elevate the dish with exceptional texture and flavor.
⬤ Flank Steak – Traditionally used to make pepper steak. However, flank steak is a tough cut of meat which means it will have a tougher chew than other cuts. Overall, a good choice for flavor. Slice flank steak thin for best results.
⬤ Skirt Steak – Best to slice thin. Packs a robust beef flavor that’s great for stir frying.
⬤ Sirloin Steak – More firm than tenderloin but yields great hearty flavor.
⬤ Round Steak – Inexpensive cut of beef. Leaner but not as tender. Cut into thin strips to avoid a tougher chew.
Serving Pepper Steak
Making homemade pepper steak requires just 20 minutes from start to finish. Typically, I like to serve this saucy beef stir-fry recipe with a side dish or two of Fried Rice while it sizzles on the stove top. More side dishes that pair perfectly include the BEST Oven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts. An 18-minute vegetable recipe with incredible flavor. In addition, you’ll like this Easy Roasted Broccoli recipe with charred tips. Likewise, an easy classic Asian side I like is 15-Minute Lo Mein. It features Asian noodles, veggies, and soy sauce. A flavorful addition to any stir-fried recipe.
A quick steak and vegetable recipe the whole family will love!
Pepper Steak Stir Fry
- 1½ lb beef tenderloin see notes for other beef cuts
- 2½ tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 small white onion
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced discard seeds
- 1 green bell pepper, sliced discard seeds
- 4 garlic cloves, minced or 1 tsp garlic puree
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
Asian Flavor – Optional
- 5 tbsp brown sugar dark or light
- few dashes of sesame oil
- 2 tsp stir fry oil may substitute with vegetable oil
Sauce Glaze Thickener
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp cold water
- Cut beef tenderloin into 1 inch thick strips by 3 inches in length.
- Heat butter in sauce pan. Saute steak strips on both sides until golden brown, making sure not to crowd the pan to avoid steaming the meat.
- Make the sauce. I've shared two recipe choices below. Use one or the other. They are both great. One is American steak and pepper flavor and the other recipe is a classic Asian pepper steak stir fry recipe.AMERICAN STEAKHOUSE FLAVOR: Stir together garlic, soy sauce, and pepper. Skip Asian flavor by omitting brown sugar, sesame oil, and stir fry oil. No substitutions needed. Tastes like salty garlic butter.ASIAN FLAVOR: Stir together garlic, soy sauce, pepper, brown sugar, sesame oil, and stir fry oil (or vegetable oil). NOTE: This recipe is sweeter than the American version.
- Stir cornstarch and 1 tbsp cold water together. Add to sauce bowl.
- Slice bell peppers and onion into strips.
- Add vegetables and sauce to pan. Turn heat to medium high.
- Cook and stir until vegetables are slightly cooked and sauce bubbles and thickens to desired texture; about 4-7 minutes.
- Stir in extra soy sauce to taste. Serve with rice or noodles.
Nutritional information is only an estimate and it’s accuracy is not guaranteed to be exact.
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