This healthier spin on Mongolian Beef tastes better than your favorite take-out version with a good-for-you spicy and garlicky sauce and plenty of flavor.
Taking classic Asian take-out dishes and figuring out a healthier way to make them at home is one of my favorite kitchen challenges. Partly because I am almost always in the mood for any type of Asian take-out and also because I am always shocked by how many calories many Asian dishes have that are completely unnecessary.
This healthier Mongolian Beef recipe uses a simple sauce of soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, hoisin, chili paste, and a touch of sugar. Once that is made, the rest of the meal comes together in about 5 minutes. The beef cooks up in 2-3 minutes, the green onions are added, and then everything cooks in the sauce until it thickens up. Served with some brown rice, noodles, or cauliflower rice and it is one delicious, healthy meal.
One more quick recipe trick! If you have time, place your beef in the freezer for about an hour before slicing. Slightly freezing the beef makes it so much easier to slice. Trust me, it is well worth the extra step and will save you tons of time when it comes to prepping the recipe.
Plus you will get more uniform, thinner pieces of beef. Don't worry about defrosting it either. The thin slices defrost almost immediately since they aren't frozen through.
Here is everything you need to make this quick and easy dinner.
- Beef: Sirloin steak is commonly used for Mongolian beef, but flank steak or skirt steak would work as well. Choose a cut that will stay tender when it is cooked quickly and make sure to slice it thin.
- Mongolian sauce: The classic Chinese sauce is made with soy sauce, garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, Asian chili paste (like Sriracha or sambal oelek), and a touch of sugar. It is a savory sauce that is slightly sweet and slightly spicy. Red pepper flakes can be swapped in for the chili paste.
- Green onions: Green onions add flavor and texture to this dish. Swap in red onions or sweet onions if needed.
- Optional additions: Some Mongolian beef recipes also use red bell peppers that are sliced into thin strips and seared in the pan before adding the sliced beef.
How to make Mongolian Sauce?
The key to making Mongolian beef is the sweet, savory, and slightly spicy sauce. It adds so much flavor to the dish and is addictively delicious. In fact, I will usually make a large batch whenever I make this dish and keep it in the fridge for quick stir-fries or to serve over veggies. Here's how to make a big batch of lightened-up Mongolian stir fry sauce.
- 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 3 tbsp. ginger, minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2.5 tbsp Asian garlic chili paste (like sambal oelek)
- 2.5 tbsp vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
- 4 tsp. sugar (leave out for low carb/Clean eating)
- 4 tsp. cornstarch
Simply mix together all the ingredients and store the sauce in an airtight container in the fridge. Use for quick stir-fries, over veggies, over rice or grains, and to cook any lean proteins. One of my favorite quick meals is to brown a pound of lean ground turkey, a bag of coleslaw mix, and add this sauce. So good and so easy.
Recipe Ideas & Customization
There are so many ways you can adapt this recipe to make it work perfectly for your family and preferences. Here are some of our favorites.
- Let's start with spice. You can make this recipe as mild or as spicy as you like. Simply adjust the amount of Asian garlic chili paste (or Sriracha) you add. Remember you can always add more on top for that who like things extra spicy.
- The same goes for sweetness. To keep things healthy, I limited the amount of sugar in the recipe. Traditional Mongolian beef is fairly sweet, so to make it more authentic and sweet, you can add some extra sugar. Dark brown sugar is what is traditionally used.
- This works great with different proteins. Thinly sliced chicken breast or chicken thighs are the most popular swap. Toss the chicken with some baking soda before searing it to ensure it stays nice and tender. Pork will work as well. Or you may want to try this Mongolian Chicken that's made with ground chicken or this tofu version if want something meatless.
- Add veggies! I love adding extra veggies to stir-fries. Cook the veggies before cooking the beef and set aside. Then stir them back in with the sauce. Depending on how much you add, you may need to double up the sauce recipe. We love adding cabbage, snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower, or an Asian veggie mix.
Side Dish Ideas
To make it easy to turn this recipe into a meal, I love sharing side dish ideas. Since this dish is inspired by Chinese takeout, I almost always serve it with some kind of steamed rice or fried rice. Then I always add some veggies. Here are some easy ideas for what to serve with Mongolian beef.
- Steamed rice is probably the easiest option. To make it extra easy, I usually buy frozen brown rice or pre-cooked brown rice on nights I know I will be in a rush.
- If fried rice is more your style, consider this Cauliflower Fried Rice or Vegetable Fried Rice.
- When it comes to veggies, I usually make some Simple Stir Fried Veggies, Sesame Snap Peas, or this 10 Minute Cabbage Stir Fry.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to the most common questions about this Mongolian Beef recipe.
Mongolian beef is quickly cooked stir-fried beef in a savory sauce that's sweet with a hint of spice. The sauce is thick and coats the beef.
Sirloin steak is the most common cut for stir-fries, but you can also use flank steak or skirt steak. It's important to use a cut of steak that stays tender when cooked quickly. Also make sure to cut any beef you use very thin so it cooks quickly and stays tender.
Mongolian has a thick, sticky sauce that is slightly spicy and sweet. On the other hand, Beef and Broccoli has a thinner sauce that isn't as sweet or as spicy. It is a milder dish in general.
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- 2 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tsp. sugar (leave out for low carb/Clean eating)
- 1 tsp. cornstarch
- 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp. hoisin sauce
- 2 tsp. vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp. ginger, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 lb. lean sirloin beef, thinly sliced across the grain
- 8 green onions, chopped
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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