Beef and onion stir fry features incredibly tender strips of beef stir fried with onions in a delicious savory sauce that takes everything to the next level! It’s incredibly quick and easy, and my go-to recipe for busy weeknights!
Table of Contents
- What is Beef And Onion Stir Fry?
- Why You’ll Love This Beef And Onion Stir Fry Recipe
- Ingredients to Make Beef And Onion Stir Fry
- How to Make Beef And Onion Stir Fry (Step by Step)
- Joyce's Tips For Making the Best Beef And Onion Stir Fry
- Serving Suggestions
- Recipe Variation Ideas for Beef And Onion Stir Fry
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How to Store Leftover Beef Onion Stir Fry
- Recipes To Use Up Leftover Oyster Sauce
- More Chinese Recipes You May Like
- Recipe Card
With this tasty beef onion stir fry recipe, you’ll get a restaurant-style meal in the comfort of your own home. It's incredibly easy to make and it’s a classic Asian dish that’s packed with flavor and is simple enough for even beginners to make effortlessly, especially if you have beef and onions at home!
This beef onion stir fry is one of my all-time favorites! The beef comes out so tender thanks to that velveting beef marinade. Once you get a nice sear on the meat, it instantly traps in all the juice so the beef stays tender and juicy.
I also have a beef and onion noodle stir fry, which is very similar to this dish but is a complete meal that includes noodles in under 15 minutes!
Read on to learn exactly how to make this delicious beef and onion stir fry recipe today!
What is Beef And Onion Stir Fry?
Beef and onion stir fry is one of those classic Chinese dishes you'll find at most takeout joints. It features tender slices of beef tossed up in a wok with onions, all covered in a sweet and savory Chinese brown sauce.
A really good Chinese restaurant will also make this beef and onion dish with a lot of wok hei, which can only be achieved with very hot temperatures. The wok hei gives the dish a light smoky flavor from the very quick sear sears from the wok.
Unfortunately, most home kitchens cannot achieve this type of high heat, and the only wait to achieve that wok hei at home is to use a blow torch on the final dish.
That being said, beef and onion stir fry is still incredibly delicious made at home and is quick and easy to make!
Why You’ll Love This Beef And Onion Stir Fry Recipe
Quick and Easy to Make: This beef and onion stir fry recipe is straightforward and simple. With clear steps for preparing the ingredients, marinating the beef, and stir-frying the dish, anyone can whip this up in their kitchen. It's also very quick to prepare since the beef is thinly sliced for quick cooking, and the stir-fry process itself is fast and efficient. This makes it an excellent choice for a busy weeknight dinner.
Versatile: This recipe is versatile and can be easily adjusted to suit your tastes. You can experiment with different cuts of beef, add more vegetables, or adjust the sauce to your liking.
Chinese Takeout at Home: The combination of tender beef, fragrant onions, and savory brown sauce makes this dish incredibly delicious and tastes just like Chinese restaurants.
Ingredients to Make Beef And Onion Stir Fry
Here's an overview of the specific ingredients for this delicious beef and onion stir fry recipe at home. For the exact ingredients and measurements, please scroll to the recipe card below.
- Beef: For this stir-fry, I usually use sirloin steak. It’s a lean cut of beef with a lot of flavors. You can also use flank steak, skirt steak, ribeye steak, or any thinly sliced beef. Slicing against the grain is key and helps break down the muscle fibers, making the beef more tender.
- Onion: I like to use white onion because it adds a sweet onion flavor to the dish. It also adds a bit of crunch and color to your stir fry. That being said, any type of onion will work for this dish.
- Garlic and Ginger: This duo is a must for this recipe. They are very aromatic when browned, and it pairs perfectly with the onion and beef.
- Green Onions: These add a fresh, slight onion flavor to the dish and also make a colorful garnish.
- Marinade: This is what truly infuses the beef with all the flavor! I’ve used my simple beef marinade recipe for the beef. It’s made with ingredients such as soy sauce, dark soy sauce, Shaoxing cooking wine, water, oil, and toasted sesame oil. It’ll make your beef incredibly moist, juicy, and flavorful!
For the Beef and Onion Stir Fry Sauce:
- Soy Sauce: This is the key ingredient that gives our stir-fry its characteristic Asian flavor. It adds a savory umami taste. I like to use low sodium soy sauce for this.
- Dark Soy Sauce: This adds that beautiful brown color to your stir fry. It is optional and if you can't find it, you can use regular soy sauce instead.
- Water: We'll use this to dilute the soy sauce, ensuring that our sauce isn't too salty.
- Oyster Sauce: This ingredient adds a rich, sweet, and savory flavor to the stir-fry. It's a game-changer in Asian cuisine, enhancing the taste of the beef and onions.
- Shaoxing Cooking Wine: This adds another dimension of flavor to the stir fry sauce. You can also sub it for dry sherry or rice wine.
- Sugar: A touch of sugar will balance out the salty soy sauce and oyster sauce, giving our stir-fry a well-rounded flavor.
- Sesame Oil: This oil has a distinctive nutty flavor, adding a layer of depth to our stir-fry. It also helps to bring out the flavors of the other ingredients.
- Hoisin Sauce: This adds a bit more sweetness to the sauce, and gives it a bit more flavor.
- Corn Starch: I use corn starch to thicken the sauce, giving it a nice, glossy finish. To make sure it dissolves smoothly, make sure you mix it with the soy sauce first before adding the rest of the sauce ingredients together.
How to Slice Against the Grain for Tender Beef
Now, don't get me wrong, the cut of meat you're working with obviously makes a difference when it comes to tenderness. But it's not just about the specific cut. How you actually slice and cut the meat is just as important for getting a tender, juicy result, and you can basically take any cheap cut of beef and make it amazing. The key is finding the grain - those muscle fibers running through the meat.
Muscle fibers are tough. Our teeth can break them down eventually, but it takes a lot of chewing to do it and no one wants chewy beef!
A sharp knife is way more effective at getting through the muscle tissue quickly and easily. The trick is to cut perpendicular to the grain, slicing across rather than parallel with those fibers.
Cutting against the grain shortens up those fibers, so they are not long and tough anymore. That makes them much easier to chew.
So, for tender, juicy meat that melts in your mouth, always take the time to spot the grain and slice opposite it.
To learn exactly how to do it (with step by step pictures), check out my article on how to make beef tender for stir fry.
How to Make Beef And Onion Stir Fry (Step by Step)
Making this incredible beef and onion stir fry recipe at home is super easy and will give you great results every single time. Here's how to make it step by step:
Prep the Ginger and Garlic: Slice the ginger and set it aside. Next, prepare to slice the garlic and set it aside. I like to slice it thinly, but you can finely mince it as well.
Slice the Green Onions: Next, cut the green onions into two-inch pieces. For the whites, if they are too thick, slice them lengthwise.
Prep the White Onions: Slice the white onion and separate the pieces.
Making the Sauce
Mix the Cornstarch with the Soy Sauce: First mix the soy sauce with the cornstarch together so that the cornstarch can easily dissolve without getting clumpy.
Mix the Rest of the Ingredients: Then add in the rest of the ingredients (oyster sauce, cooking wine, sesame oil, sugar, and hoisin sauce) and mix everything well.
Thin Out Sauce: Mix water into the sauce. This will create more sauce and prevent it from being too concentrated and salty.
Marinating the Beef
Slice the Beef: Thinly slice the beef against the grain and place it in a bowl.
Marinate the Beef: Mix in the marinade ingredients (soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, water, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine, and dark soy) and let it sit for fifteen minutes. Make sure you don't add the cornstarch and oil in yet.
Prepare for Velveting: Add the cornstarch to the beef after it has finished marinating and mix well. Once that's done mix in the oil to seal everything in.
Putting Everything Together
Heat the Pan: Set the stove to high heat and wait for the wok or skillet to get hot.
Cook the Beef: Once the pan is very hot, add some oil (don't be shy with the oil, I use about 3-4 tablespoons for this initial step), then add in the sliced beef and spread it evenly around the hot pan to get a nice sear and cook until it is about ninety percent done. Remove the beef from the pan and set it aside for later.
Stir Fry Onions and Aromatics: Add more oil to the pan and toast the ginger until it is golden brown. Then add in the garlic slices, and white onions and stir fry for about one to two minutes.
Add the Sauce: Stir the sauce in the bowl (the cornstarch settles on the bottom), and push the onions aside and add in the sauce mix into the pan. Keep stirring the sauce until it thickens and turns from a milky color to a dark brown color.
Combine Everything: Add back in the beef and green onions. coat everything with the sauce, and cook for about one to two minutes to full cook the beef.
Plate and Enjoy!
Joyce's Tips For Making the Best Beef And Onion Stir Fry
Preparation Is Crucial: Once you start stir frying, the process will happen very quickly, so it's important to have everything on hand to make it a smoother and easier process.
Marinate for Maximum Flavor: Marinating the beef not only imparts great flavor but also tenderizes the beef. Let the beef sit in the marinade for at least fifteen minutes before cooking, but the longer you marinade, the more flavor you'll get.
Slice Against the Grain: When prepping your beef, make sure to slice against the grain. This breaks up the muscle fibers and results in more tender beef.
Add Water to the Marinade: Adding water to the marinate will help create a quick brine, which helps the beef become even more tender and moist.
Velvet Your Beef With Cornstarch: After marinating, coat your beef slices in cornstarch. This technique, known as velveting, gives the beef a silky texture and locks in moisture when frying. Make sure you add the cornstarch after you finish marinating, this will ensure the beef will full absorb all the marinade first for the best flavor.
Try the Baking Soda Method: To get that very tender beef like you get in Chinese restaurants, you can opt to mix in ½ teaspoon of baking soda with 2 tablespoons of water into the sliced beef and let it sit for about 15 minutes. But make sure to do this before the marinating step because you need to rinse the baking soda off of the beef very well, and squeeze out any excess water or it will have a funky flavor and smell. I like to skip this step because I find adding water in the marinade is enough to get the beef tender, as long as you slice it against the grain.
Sear the Beef Slices to 90%: Sear the beef on high heat until it's about ninety percent done, then remove it from the pan before making the sauce. It's okay if you see a bit of pink. This guarantees that the beef won't overcook and become tough.
Dark Soy Sauce for Color: Dark soy sauce is used in the marinade to get that dark brown color. In case you don’t have it and can’t find it, you can substitute it for soy sauce instead.
Freeze Beef To Make It Easier to Slice: To make the beef firmer, and easier to slice, I like to put it in the freezer for 15 minutes before I start to slice it.
Don't Be Shy With The Oil: Especially when you are doing the initial searing of the beef to give it more flavor. The extra oil will also help prevent the beef from sticking to the pan as well.
- If you're a fan of white fried rice, consider serving this beef and onion stir fry over a bowl of it. The simplicity of the rice will allow the flavors of the stir fry to shine through and goes really well with the salty sauce.
- For a more flavorful option, try pairing this dish with egg fried rice, yeung chow fried rice, chicken fried rice or nasi goreng, which is a Indonesian fried rice made with shrimp paste!
- Garlic fried rice can also be a great accompaniment to this stir fry. The aromatic garlic rice will enhance the savory notes of the soy and oyster sauce in the stir fry.
- If you're looking to add more vegetables to your meal, a side of ginger soy fried cabbage is a great choice. The tangy and spicy cabbage will provide a nice contrast to the rich beef and onion stir fry.
- Another vegetable side dish option could be a colorful stir fry of bell peppers and other vegetables. The crunchiness of the vegetables will add a nice texture contrast to the tender beef.
- For a comforting end to your meal, consider serving a bowl of miso corn egg drop soup. The light, savory soup will balance out the rich flavors of the beef and onion stir fry.
Recipe Variation Ideas for Beef And Onion Stir Fry
This delicious beef and onion stir fry recipe is so flavorful and easy to make, you'll want to try out some of these delicious variations! Here are some great ideas:
Add Red Peppers: If you love bell peppers as much as I do, you’ll love this variation. Simply slice some red peppers and add them to the stir fry. The flavors will work beautifully with the onions and sauce.
Make It Spicier: For a touch of heat, consider adding half a teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes to the sauce. It’ll make the sauce spicy and even more delicious!
Add More Vegetables: If you want to increase the vegetable content of your stir-fry, this variation is a great choice. Add any of your favorite veggies to the stir fry. Broccoli florets will work great along with some carrots. Feel free to experiment with the flavors, and don’t forget to tell me your favorite combination in the comments down below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, absolutely! Although the recipe calls for flank steak, you can also use skirt steak, rib eye steak, or any other cut of beef. Just make sure that it is thinly sliced against the grain for best results.
No worries if you don't have dark soy sauce on hand. It is primarily used for color in this recipe. You can simply substitute it with regular soy sauce.
There's a trick to achieving restaurant-style tender beef! You can mix in half a teaspoon of baking soda with two tablespoons of water into the sliced beef and let it sit for about fifteen minutes before the marinating step. Just make sure to rinse off the baking soda before marinating to avoid a funky flavor.
Absolutely! Feel free to add strips of red bell peppers or any other vegetables you like. It is a versatile recipe that can easily accommodate other ingredients.
If you like your stir-fry with a kick, you can definitely add some heat. Feel free to add in some chili flakes or fresh chili peppers while cooking to spice things up.
Yes, you can replace the beef with tofu for a vegetarian version of this stir-fry. Just make sure to press the tofu to remove excess moisture before frying. You can also use other types of meat such as chicken or pork.
How to Store Leftover Beef Onion Stir Fry
To store leftover stir fry, allow it to cool down to room temperature. Once cooled, transfer it into an airtight container. You can then pop these into the fridge where they will keep for up to three days.
When you're ready to enjoy your beef and onion stir fry again, take it out of the fridge and reheat it in a pan over medium heat until it is warmed through. If you're in a rush, you can also reheat it in the microwave. Just make sure to stir it occasionally to guarantee that it heats evenly.
Unfortunately, this recipe doesn't freeze well. The process of freezing and thawing can cause the beef to become tough and the vegetables to lose their crunch. However, if you find yourself with a large amount of leftovers, you could consider repurposing them into a new dish, such as a beef fried rice or a beef and vegetable soup.
Recipes To Use Up Leftover Oyster Sauce
More Chinese Recipes You May Like
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Chinese Beef and Onion Stir Fry
Joyce's Recipe Notes
- Dark Soy Sauce for Color: Dark soy sauce is used in the marinade to get that dark brown color. In case you don’t have it and can’t find it, you can substitute it for soy sauce instead.
- Preparation Is Crucial: Once you start stir frying, the process will happen very quickly, so it's important to have everything on hand to make it a smoother and easier process.
- Freeze Beef To Make It Easier to Slice: To make the beef firmer, and easier to slice, I like to put it in the freezer for 15 minutes before I start to slice it.
- Slice Against the Grain: When prepping your beef, it's important to slice against the grain. This breaks up the muscle fibers and results in more tender beef.
- Marinate for Maximum Flavor: Let the beef sit in the marinade for at least fifteen minutes before cooking, but the longer you marinade, the more flavor you'll get.
- Velvet Your Beef With Cornstarch: After marinating, coat your beef slices in cornstarch. This technique, known as velveting, gives the beef a silky texture and locks in moisture when frying. Make sure you add the cornstarch after you finish marinating, this will ensure the beef will full absorb all the marinade first for the best flavor.
- Sear the Beef Slices to 90%: Sear the beef on high heat until it's about ninety percent done, then remove it from the pan before making the sauce. It's okay if you see a bit of pink. This guarantees that the beef won't overcook and become tough.
- Baking Soda Method: To get that very tender beef like you get in Chinese restaurants, you can opt to mix in ½ teaspoon of baking soda with 2 tablespoons of water into the sliced beef and let it sit for about 15 minutes. But make sure to do this before the marinating step because you need to rinse the baking soda off of the beef very well, and squeeze out any excess water or it will have a funky flavor and smell. I personally skip this step because I find adding water in the marinade is enough to get the beef tender, as long as you slice it against the grain.
- 300 g sirloin steak (or rib eye, flank steak or blade steak)
- ½ white onion (or yellow onion)
- 4-5 slices ginger
- 3 cloves garlic (minced or sliced thinly)
- 1 stalk green onion (cut into 2 inch pieces)
- Peel and slice ½ white onion (or yellow onion), and separate the segments. Set it aside for later
- Peel and thinly slice 3 cloves garlic. Alternatively, you can also mince it as well.
- Slice 4-5 slices ginger and set it aside for later.
- Cut off the root part of 1 stalk green onion and discard it. Then cut the green onion into 2-inch pieces. For the chonky white part, slice it in half lengthwise again. Set this aside for later.
- Thinly slice the beef against the grain and put it in a bowl.
- (Optional) To make it easier to slice, you can put it in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm it up slightly.
- Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce, ½ tablespoon Shaoxing cooking wine, 2 tablespoons water, and 1 teaspoon sesame oil into the bowl with the sliced beef and marinate it for 15 minutes.Do not add the cornstarch and oil yet.
- Once you have finished marinating the meat, add in 1 teaspoon cornstarch and mix well. This will create a velvety layer that will seal in the beef's moisture.
- Once the cornstarch is mixed evenly with the beef, add 1 tablespoon oil to it and mix well again and set it aside.
Make the Stir Fry Sauce
- In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 tablespoon corn starch until there are not lumps.
- Then add in 1 teaspoon sugar, 1½ tablespoons oyster sauce, ½ tablespoon hoisin sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, ½ tablespoon Shaoxing cooking wine, and 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce (or reg. soy sauce) and mix everything well.
- Then mix in ½ cup water and set it aside for later.
- Use a large frying pan or a wok and set it on the stove on high heat.
- Once the pan is very hot, add in the oil and sliced beef. Don't be shy with the oil, it will help the beef not stick to the pan and sear it better. I use approximately 3-4 tablespoons of oil.
- Spread the beef out throughout the surface of the hot pan to brown it to create an initial sear. Then stir fry the beef until it is about 90% cooked, approx. 2-4 minutes depending on how thinly you sliced it. Don't worry it will cook the rest of the way in the sauce at the end. Remove it from the pan and set it aside for later.
- Add a bit more oil into the pan, and the ginger slices. Toast the ginger for 1 minute until it is slightly brown.
- Then add in the onion slices and ginger and stir fry it until it is soft and slightly brown. Approx. 2 minutes.
- Push the onions, ginger and garlic to the side of the pan.
- Mix the stir-fry sauce again (cornstarch will settle to the bottom), and pour the sauce into the hot pan. Keep stirring the sauce in the pan until the sauce has turned thick and it has turned from a milky color to a dark brown color.
- Once the sauce is thick, mix the onions into the sauce, and add the beef back in as well. Add the green onions as well and stir fry everything for about 1 minute.
- Plate and enjoy with steamed rice!
*Nutritional information is calculated using online tools and is an estimate*
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