This Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy Beef is full of flavor and makes the perfect protein for lettuce wraps, rice bowls, and Asian inspired tacos.
This six-ingredient Slow Cooker Beef in a sweet and spicy Asian-inspired sauce is hard to beat. It takes less than 10 minutes to get into the slow cooker and the resulting melt-in-your-mouth beef can be served in so many ways. Serve it over some cauliflower rice, wrapped up in lettuce wraps, or with steamed rice and veggies.
Lately, I have been slightly obsessed with all things sweet and spicy. I have also been making lots of Asian dishes that contain chili paste, soy sauce, and sugar (or honey) since the combination of sweet, salty, and spicy is pretty much unbeatable.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy this flavor profile is using the slow cooker since the meat is able to really soak up all the flavors. Usually, I make this with chicken, but I love making it with beef as well.
The richness of the beef really works with this kind of sauce. I like to serve it with some quick-pickled vegetables. Just combine rice vinegar and some sugar and add your veggies. Then after a few hours in the fridge, you have some delicious picked vegetables.
What You'll Need and Swaps
- Beef: There are so many types of beef that would work for this recipe. Just choose something that gets tender when cooked low and slow. Options include beef chuck, stewing beef, or brisket. Chicken thighs, pork butt, and pork shoulder would all work as well.
- Asian garlic chili paste: The sauce gets a lot of its flavor from the chili paste so it's important to use one that tastes good. Sambal olek is our favorite option. Sriracha would also work. One reader said they made it with chili crisp and it works great as well.
- Soy sauce: Soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos can all work for this recipe. If you use coconut aminos, you may need to add some extra salt to finish the dish.
- Brown sugar: The sweetness balances out the savory flavor from the soy and spice from the sambal olek. Brown sugar, coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup, or agave can all be used.
- Garlic and ginger: To add a little extra punch of flavor, fresh garlic and ginger are the perfect addition. Fresh is best but the refrigerated tubes also work well.
Ways to Serve Sweet and Spicy Beef
- Tacos: If you have ever eaten at Kogi Taco or had an Asian-inspired taco, then you know just how tasty this sweet and spicy beef can be wrapped up in a toasted corn tortilla with some slaw and extra hot sauce.
- Lettuce Wraps: For something lighter, serve this shredded beef in a lettuce wrap. Butter lettuce and Romaine lettuce are the best options. Top with cilantro and pickled veggies.
- Grain bowls: If you are making this for meal prep, pair it with some quinoa or brown rice. Then add some roasted veggies (like this bok choy) or shelled edamame.
- Sandwiches: Taking inspiration from a banh mi, you can use this shredded beef in a sandwich with pickled veggies, lots of cilantro, and some Asian-inspired sauce or aioli.
- Salads: This slow cooker beef also makes a really tasty salad topping. Add Asian-inspired ingredients and lots of crunch.
Storage and Leftovers
This recipe is great for meal prep and keeps well in the fridge or freezer.
- Fridge: This beef will keep for 4-5 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Freezer: Freeze this beef for 3-4 months in an airtight container. Let defrost overnight in the fridge and then reheat in the slow cooker on low. It can also be reheated on the stovetop over low heat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most common questions about making this sweet and spicy Asian beef.
This dish works great in the Instant Pot or another pressure cooker. Simply add the sauce and beef to the Instant Pot. Cook on manual for 45 minutes and let naturally release.
This recipe works great with both chicken thighs and chicken breast. Reduce the cooking time to 4 hours to ensure the chicken doesn't dry out.
The sauce has 1/4 cup of Asian garlic chili paste so the dish is pretty spicy. If you prefer less heat, just use less chili paste. You can always add more to the final dish or sauce if needed.
Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy Beef
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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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