Perfect crispy strips of beef in a tangy spicy sauce. This is my favourite dish from the Chinese takeaway, so it has a lot to live up to.
I'm going to show you how to get that lovely craggly exterior and even better, we don't need to use the deep fryer!
This is one of my go-to dishes. Whenever I ask Chris what he fancies for tea, you can pretty much guarantee that he'll pipe up 'Crispy Chilli Beef!'.
It's actually my favourite meal from the Chinese takeaway too. We always order a portion, but it can be a bit hit-and-miss. Sometimes it's great, other times the beef is so crispy it's hard to tell if there's any beef in it all all.
I want my crispy coating, but I also want to taste the beef - which is why I prefer the homemade version. A crispy, craggly coating with tender beef inside - perfect every time!
📋 What do we need?
- I like to use thin-cut or quick-cook sirloin steak for the BEST flavour. You can replace with ribeye, or you can also use flank/skirt steak or rump steak. If you're using flank/skirt or rump steak, be sure to cut really thinly, as it can be chewy if sliced too thick. Always sliced AGAINST the grain.
👩🍳PRO TIP - Place the steaks in the freezer for around 30 minutes to firm up a little. This will make it much easier to slice the steak nice and thinly.
🔪 How to make Crispy Shredded Chilli Beef
**Full recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post.**
- Place thinly sliced steak in a bowl and coat in one small egg.
- Add in cornflour, salt, pepper and white pepper and mix it all together. It will stick together, but be need that sticky coating for that lovely crisp exterior.
- Fry the steak in 2 batches in very hot oil. I prefer to shallow fry (so I don't have to dispose of a big pan of oil afterwards!) - so we only need about 4 ½ tablespoons of oil for the whole recipe.
- Remove the steak from the pan, then fry up slices of onion along with sliced red chilli, ginger and garlic.
- Now we're going to add the sauce to the pan. This is made up of rice vinegar, dark soy sauce, caster sugar, ketchup and sweet chilli sauce.
- Mix it all up in the pan and let it bubble for a minute, then add the beef back in and toss it all together to coat the beef.
Serve up with noodles, boiled rice or egg fried rice.
Want more sauce?
This recipe makes enough sauce to coat the beef, with a tablespoon or two of sauce left at the bottom of the pan.
If you want more sauce, you can double the sauce ingredients (double the ginger, garlic, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, ketchup and sweet chilli sauce). It's a very rich sauce, so if you wanted it to be a little lighter, you can use half light soy sauce and half dark soy sauce.
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Crispy Chilli Beef
- 360 g ¾ lb thin cut sirloin steaks - - (approx 3 thin steaks) cut into thin strips *Note1
- 1 small egg
- 4 tbsp cornflour - (cornstarch)
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ⅛ tsp white pepper
- 4 ½ tbsp sunflower oil - divided
- 1 medium onion - peeled and sliced into thin strips
- 1 red chilli - – finely sliced- discard the seeds if you don't like it too hot
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 3 garlic cloves - - peeled and minced
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 3 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp tomato puree - (tomato paste)
- 6 tbsp caster sugar - or superfine sugar
- 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
- 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce - I use Thai-style
- Place the steak strips in a bowl and add the egg. Mix together to thoroughly coat the steak in the egg.
- Add the 4tbsp cornflour, ¼ tsp each of salt and pepper and ⅛ tsp of white pepper.
- Toss together to coat the steak. It will be a sticky mixture.
- Heat 3 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan (skillet) or wok over a high heat until very hot.
- You will probably need to work in two batches, so when the oil is hot, add in half the beef - a strip at a time - and spread it out.
- Fry the steak until dark brown and crispy. Try not to move the meat around too much as this reduces the amount of crispiness you get. It generally takes about 5 or 6 minutes to crisp up the beef, with about 3 or 4 stirs during that time.
- Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the beef from the pan and place in a bowl lined with kitchen roll to soak up excess fat.
- Add a further tablespoon of oil and repeat - cooking the second batch of beef and then placing in the bowl with the first batch.
- Once you’ve removed all the beef from the pan, add the remaining ½ tbsp of oil to the pan and turn the heat down to medium.
- Add in the sliced onion and cook for 2 minutes until slightly softened.
- Add in the finely chopped chilli, 1 tsp minced ginger and 3 minced cloves of garlic and cook whilst stirring for 30 seconds.
- Add the 2 tbsp rice vinegar, 3tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp tomato puree, 6 tbsp sugar, 2 tbsp tomato ketchup and the 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce to the pan.
- Turn up the heat and let it bubble for a couple of minutes until the sauce starts to reduce a little.
- Add the beef back in, give it a stir and heat through for 1-2 minutes – until the beef is hot.
- Serve with rice or noodles.
Can I make it gluten free?Yes! Replace the soy sauce with tamari. I've done this lots of times and it works really well.
Also check your tomato puree, ketchup, sweet chilli sauce and rice vinegar, so make sure they're gluten free
Can I freeze it or make it ahead?This recipe works best when made and served right away. Freezing/chilling then reheating means the beef won't be crispy.
However, it does still taste really good. So if you did want to freeze it, then cool, cover and freeze. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and reheat thoroughly in the wok or a microwave until piping hot throughout. You can add a splash of water if it's a little dry. Ingredient swaps This recipe also works great with leftover roasted meat - you can use cooked and sliced/shredded pieces of chicken, duck, roast beef or my personal favourite - roast lamb in this dish.
Cook in the same way as you would the raw steak (you need to cook it for the same amount of time to get the coating nice and crispy). Nutritional information is per serving and doesn't include rice or garnishes
This post was first published 19th April 2014. Updated March 2021 with new photos, video, tips and recipe tweaks.
If you came to this page looking for the crispy tangy chilli beef with broccoli, you can find it here (click on the image).
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Dave Thomas says
I do adore this, its totally delicious. However the cornflour coating process is not quick, unless you know a better way, its half an hour at least, and incredibly messy.
I do have a load of plant based "beef" pieces, I wonder if it would work, I may have to try.
Maria Beatriz Rodriguez Alvarez says
Delicious and easy to make
This recipe is stunning! Thank you
Delicious, I love things sweet and I halved the sugar, turned out great. Sauce is great if like sweet chili sauce. I’m my rotation for sure.
This was sooooo good! Husband and son have been on at me to find a recipe as this is their fav meal when out. Found it and made them cook it! So good!
Paul Wilk says
Well worth making, enjoyable from start to finish
Was a little too sweet I may adjust the sugar but it was truly delicious