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!

crispy chilli beef in a blue bowl on a dark background. Dark napkin and set of chopsticks also in shot.
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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?

Ingredients for crispy chilli beef on a wooden table
  • 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 1/2 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.
6 image collage showing the initial steps for making crispy chilli beef
  • 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.
6 image collage showing how to make crispy chilli beef

Serve up with noodles (how about these sesame noodles), boiled rice or egg fried rice.

crispy chilli beef in a blue bowl with 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.

🍲 More fantastic Asian-inspired recipes

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4.88 from 110 votes

Crispy Chilli Beef

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!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese

Ingredients

  • 360 g (¾ lbs) 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
  • 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 paste for US
  • 6 tbsp caster sugar or superfine sugar
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce I use Thai-style
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Instructions 

  • Place the steak strips in a bowl and add the egg. Mix together to thoroughly coat the steak in the egg.
    360 g (¾ lbs) thin-cut sirloin steaks, 1 small egg
  • Add the cornflour, salt, pepper, and white pepper.
    4 tbsp cornflour, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp black pepper, 1/8 tsp 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.
    4 ½ tbsp sunflower oil
  • 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.
    1 medium onion
  • Add in the finely chopped chilli, minced ginger, and minced cloves of garlic and cook whilst stirring for 30 seconds.
    1 red chilli, 1 tsp minced ginger, 3 garlic cloves
  • Add the rice vinegar, soy sauce, tomato puree, sugar, tomato ketchup, and sweet chilli sauce to the pan.
    2 tbsp rice vinegar, 3 tbsp dark soy sauce, 2 tbsp tomato puree, 6 tbsp caster sugar, 2 tbsp tomato ketchup, 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 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.

Video

Notes

Note 1* – Slicing the steak
It’s easier to cut the steak into thin strips if you place it in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up a little.

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

Nutrition

Calories: 472kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 100mg | Sodium: 1141mg | Potassium: 469mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 247IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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).

Bowl of rice topped with crispy beef strips in a tangy spicy sauce with broccoli.

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links – which means if you buy the product I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you). If you do buy, then thank you! That’s what helps us to keep Kitchen Sanctuary running. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors. For more information please see our Terms & Conditions.

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Hi, I'm Nicky and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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Comments

  1. Julie Brandwood says:

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious, better than any Chinese takeaways, we love it !!!

  2. Irene Addison says:

    4 stars
    This is a very easy to follow recipe and the sauce is delicious.
    The only thing I found was that the beef strips ceased to be crispy as soon as they were put into the sauce to re-heat.
    I think next time I will pop the strips into the air fryer to briefly re-heat and keep the crunch! Definitely worth another go! 😄

  3. Cate says:

    5 stars
    I almost never come back to leave a comment on a recipe, but this one is worth the time. This was SO good, and was instantly added to our family’s favorites list. I still need to master cooking the meat a little better, but that’s on me and no fault of the author haha. Her instructions and very helpful so just user error, but I will have plenty more opportunites to practice because I will definitely be making this again. This is so flavorful and one of the best make-at-home “Chinese” style recipes I’ve made. I will try to not be as lazy next time and actual hunt down the chilli, but even without that, this recipe was a 12/10 in my book. YUM!

  4. Gus says:

    Banging. In that I mean, it was wonderful. Very much like the takeaways, only better, although I used much less sugar than your recipe and added thinly sliced carrots when frying the onions.

  5. Kellie says:

    5 stars
    I have not made this recipe yet but it looks amazing and I am going to make it soon. But I had to come here and comment on the format of the recipes directions. This is something that really helps when making a recipe…the way you have the ingredients and amounts under each step is so helpful! You don’t have to keep scrolling back to the top to check how much of each thing after reading each step. I hope more recipes start having this. Amazing!

  6. Milly says:

    I like the way the beef came out, I used sirloin cut into strips. But being on a low sugar diet, the sauce was too rich and sickly for me. I only put 3 tbsp sugar (well xylitol) in it and didn’t have ketchup or sweet chilli but those two have a lot of sugar in it themselves. Not a recipe for low sugar people but probably worth trying if you don’t mind all the sugar. Was worth a try! Thanks for posting the recipe