Hunan Beef is one of those classic low carb Chinese food dishes that you probably couldn’t tell was low in carb because it’s THAT GOOD!
A JUICY beef stir fry, covered in a delectably spicy sauce and served with veggies and rice (skip if like me you’re sticking to low carb recipes)…
It’s easy to make — in fact, it only takes 15 minutes of prep! But tastes like you spent the entire day in the kitchen. (Can I get a whoot whoot?)
Let’s dive in!
EVERYTHING about this Hunan beef recipe is amazing, but to be more specific:
- Beef stir-fries are the easiest way to get a SUUUPER juicy and flavor-packed bite of meat, with hardly any work!
- Speaking of hardly any work, this recipe takes 15 minutes of prep!
- It’s easy to customize... eat it the traditional way (which just so happens to be low carb!) by following the recipe below. And check out my tips (coming up) to better suit your eating plan
Quick and easy, here are all the tips and tricks you need to throw this Hunan beef recipe together.
Here’s your Hunan beef ingredient list:
Beef. Flank steak is my fave here! You can also use skirt steak.
Cornstarch / arrowroot. Cornstarch is used in many Chinese food recipes to thicken sauces and/or to tenderizing meat.
If you’re on a strict low carb meal plan, you can skip it — but FYI, one tablespoon contains 7.3 grams of carbs, adding less than 2g carbs per serving. If paleo, swap for arrowroot powder.
Spice. Hunan cuisine is known for being HOT AND SPICY!!
Thai chilies, also known as bird’s eye chilies, bring the spice to this dish. But, heads up: they can get REAL hot if you’re not careful. You can swap these out for jalapenos or serrano peppers, add less Thai chili, or more.
Oh yeah, very important — be sure to wash your hands after chopping the chilies — a chili in the eye is one of the many perils facing the home cook.
Tools To Make
- Sharp knife – to slice the meat as thinly as possible
- Wok or a large heavy-bottomed pan – a wok is ideal for stir fry is, as the food cooks, it’s pushed upward toward the sides, clearing the way for the remaining food to cook, without burning or drying out the food that has already been cooked to completion. Plus, the sloped sides contain any oil splatter that might escape with a traditional pan. Large heavy bottom pan will do the trick as well.
- Fry screen – If you aren’t using a wok, you’ll definitely want a fry screen. At the high heat you’ll be cooking this dish, the oil will splatter. And if that splatter hits your skin, you’ll be cursing my name. Trust. I’ve learned this lesson a few too many times.
When putting this recipe together, I found there were a few things that made the beef that much better…
- Getting a thin cut on the meat. The meat needs to be cut into very thin strips. To make this EASIER! Place the raw beef in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, then slice using a sharp knife.
- Cut the beef against the grain. While this sounds really arbitrary, it’s actually really effective in keeping the meat at peak tenderness — you’ll appreciate this when it comes time to chow.
- Don’t crowd the pan. If you aren’t using a wok, be sure to use a pan with enough room so all the ingredients make contact with the pan for even cooking. You can also cook in batches!
Stir-fries are best served immediately as the meat changes texture once it has reheated. But, if you must, store any Hunan beef leftovers you have in the fridge in an airtight container.
I prefer to eat leftover Hunan beef cold, and serve it in a salad — check out this Chinese chicken salad for inspo!
Serve this Hunan beef based on your preferences!
Veggies are optional here, but I love to include them. Slice up your favorite low carb vegetables (I like a rainbow of bell peppers) and saute or bake them before adding them into the mix!
Green onions are a must for a pop of color and added freshness.
There are tons of ways to customize this stir fry to your taste. Here are a few you may consider:
- Swap the meat. Make a low carb chicken stir fry by swapping the beef for chicken, or sub in shrimp! Just make sure to adjust cook times based on the meat you use.
- Make the sauce your way. Not a fan of spice? Cut out the Thai chilis. Want to sweeten it up? Add some honey or sugar. Taste test and adjust to you liking.
- Add in your favorite veggies. Those are totally flexible, you do you. Make a low carb beef and broccoli, or just a bowl of sauteed beef, ha!
- Skip the rice, serve it with noodles! My fave low carb pasta noodles are of course almond flour pasta or zucchini noodles — but you can do something more traditional like rice noodles here.
Hunan Beef RecipePrint Recipe Pin Recipe
Beef + Marinade
- 1 Lb Flank Steak thinly sliced against the grain
- 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
- 2 Tablespoon Sherry
- 1 Tbsp Cornstarch
- Pinch of Salt + Pepper (to taste)
- 1 3/4 Cup Mild Tasting Oil (see notes below)
- 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
- 2 Thai Chile Peppers dry, de-stemmed/seeded, crushed and minced
- 3 Garlic Cloves minced
- 1 Tablespoon Ginger minced
- 1 Teaspoon Toasted Sesame Oil
- 1 Bell Pepper sliced + deseeded
- Green Onions sliced
- Sesame Seeds
- Toss beef in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting, then slice against the grain as thinly as possible.
- In a large bowl, whisk together sherry, soy sauce, cornstarch, salt, and pepper.
- Add sliced beef to the bowl, and toss to coat in the marinade. Set aside for 15 minutes.
- Heat cooking oil in the wok until oil begins to shimmer.
- Add the beef and stir gently so it doesn't stick together. Cook for about 2-3 minutes.
- Transfer the meat to a plate heavily lined with paper towels. Dab off access oil.
- Pour most of the oil out of the wok, leaving about 1/2 tablespoon worth.
- Turn heat in the pan to high, allowing it to smoke slightly.
- Add the garlic, ginger, Thai peppers, soy sauce and sesame oil — stirring constantly until they become fragrant (about 30 seconds).
- Add the beef and mix everything together.
- Remove from heat, and serve beef over veggies and rice. Sprinkled with sliced green onions and sesame seeds. Enjoy!
- Spread bell peppers in an even layer on a greased baking sheet, and toss them in the oven for 25 minutes, or until they start to brown.
Can’t get enough Chinese food?? Me neither! It’s SO easy, SO customizable, and SO flavor-packed!
- Low Carb Egg Rolls. You get an extra serving of veggies with this one!
- Thai Chicken Salad. So many veggies packed into one delicious dish!
- Low Carb Pad Thai. Zoodles are the star of the show here…
- Thai Chicken Soup. Delicious, coconutty and comforting.
- Low Carb Sushi. You won’t miss the rice!
I hope you love this Hunan beef recipe as much as we do! Leave me a comment below and let me know what you think! Was it too spicy, or just right? Enjoy!