How To Make Szechuan Beef: Step-by-Step Tutorial

by Ella

When I go to my local Chinese restaurant, I always order the Szechuan beef. It’s got the perfect blend of tender steak and veggies with sweet, savory and spicy flavors. My version uses ingredients that are available in most grocery stores which makes this recipe quick and easy!

What Is Szechuan Beef?

This dish is a stir fry that contains plenty of spice in the form of sichuan peppercorns and dried red chilies. Szechuan food comes from the Sichuan providence of China, which is how it got its name. Szechuan beef also typically contains vegetables such as peppers and onions, and also may contain peanuts or other nuts in some cases.


How To Make Szechuan Beef

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 people


  • 1 Wok or large skillet
  • 1 Knife for slicing
  • 1 Cutting Board
  • 2 Mixing bowls
  • 1 Spatula or tongs
  • 1 Serving plate


  • 1 pound beef steak, thinly sliced thinly sliced(450 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger minced
  • 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons fermented black beans rinsed and mashed
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili flakes (adjust according to your spice preference)
  • 1 amount red bell pepper thinly sliced
  • 1 amount green bell pepper thinly sliced
  • 4-5 amount dried red chilies deseeded and cut into small pieces
  • 2 amount green onions, chopped
  • some Salt


Marinating the Beef

To ensure tender and flavorful beef, marinating is a crucial step in preparing Sichuan Beef. Start by slicing the beef into thin strips, about ¼ inch thick. In a bowl, combine the beef with a marinade comprising soy sauce, Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine), cornstarch, and a pinch of salt. Allow the beef to marinate for at least 15 minutes, but if time permits, marinating for 30 minutes to an hour will result in more infused flavors.


Stir-frying is a fundamental cooking technique in Sichuan cuisine and is key to achieving the characteristic flavors and textures of Sichuan Beef. Follow these steps to perfect your stir-frying technique:
Step1. Preheat your wok or a large skillet over high heat until it becomes smoking hot. Add a neutral cooking oil with a high smoke point, such as vegetable or peanut oil, and swirl it around to coat the surface.
Step2. Add the marinated beef to the hot wok, spreading it out in a single layer. Allow the beef to sear for a minute or two before tossing or flipping it to ensure even cooking. Stir-fry the beef for another minute or until it is just cooked through. Be careful not to overcook the beef, as it can become tough.
Step3. Remove the beef from the wok and set it aside. Wipe the wok clean with a paper towel if necessary.
Step4. Add a little more oil to the wok and heat it over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and ginger, and stir-fry for about 30 seconds or until fragrant.
Step5. Add the ground Sichuan peppercorns and dried chili peppers to the wok. Stir-fry them with the garlic and ginger for another 30 seconds to release their flavors and aromas. Take care not to burn the spices, as they can become bitter.
Step6. Return the cooked beef to the wok, along with the chili bean paste. Stir-fry everything together, ensuring the beef is well-coated with the flavors of the spices and chili bean paste.
Step7. Add a small amount of water or beef broth to create a sauce that coats the beef. Stir-fry for another minute or two until the sauce thickens slightly and coats the beef evenly.
Step8. You can add a pinch of sugar or a splash of soy sauce to balance the flavors.

Tips For The Perfect Stir Fry

Sichuan peppercorns are what gives this dish its authentic flavor. These peppercorns have a citrus flavor and also provide a tingly numbing type sensation in the mouth which contributes to the heat of this dish. I am able to find the peppercorns in larger grocery stores and in Asian markets. If you can’t find this spice, it’s fine to omit it. You can break open a few of the chili peppers and sprinkle the seeds into the dish to create more heat if you don’t have the peppercorns.


Dried red chilies contribute a lot of the heat and a mild nutty flavor. While several types of dried red chilies can be used in Szechuan dishes, I use an Asian red chili or chiles de arbol. Chiles de arbol are small Mexican chili peppers that are commonly found in grocery stores. They add a lot of flavor and meld well with the sauce.


This recipe uses hoisin sauce as part of the flavoring components. Hoisin sauce has a dark brown appearance and a slightly sweet and tangy flavor. Many Chinese dishes use hoisin sauce to provide depth of flavor to the dishes. You can find hoisin sauce in the Asian section of your local supermarket.


Szechuan beef will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 4 days which makes this a great dish for meal prep.

I recommend serving your stir fry over steamed rice to help temper the heat. Other options include quinoa, stir fry noodles or cauliflower rice.

While I typically use flank steak because it is tender and readily available, you can use a different cut of steak such as sirloin.

Flavor Variations

This dish is great as-is, but you can also change up the ingredients to customize it to your tastes.

Protein: Instead of steak, try cubed chicken breast, chicken thighs, shrimp or tofu.

Vegetables: While bell peppers are commonly found in this dish, I’ve also seen it served with other vegetables including mushrooms, broccoli and carrots.

Nuts: Some versions of Szechuan beef contain peanuts. Roasted cashews or sliced almonds would also be a good choice.

You can’t go wrong with the sweet and spicy flavors of this classic recipe. Next time you’re craving Chinese food, skip the take out and make it at home!



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