Pepper Steak Stir Fry

5 from 1 vote

This Chinese-inspired pepper steak recipe is quick, easy, and undeniably delicious. It is a simple combination of succulent steak, crisp peppers, ripe tomatoes, and onion in a tangy, savory, garlic-ginger sauce. Make this mouthwatering meal in just 30 minutes!

overhead: white plate of pepper steak with onion and tomatoes

My recipe for pepper steak with onion and tomatoes is your ticket to a quick weeknight dinner with an Asian twist. With tender lean beef and loads of fresh vegetables in a garlicky ginger sauce, this dish is a complete meal that can also be added to rice or noodles. I just love finding those easy recipes that are both hearty and healthy!

While pepper steak is an American-Asian fusion, it is still brimming with everything you love about traditional Chinese Cuisine. Plus, you get to bring this rich culinary tradition into your own kitchen — no takeout required!

detailed map of china and surrounding countries

If you want to try more restaurant favorites at home, check out my Kung Pao Chicken, Broccoli Beef, and Honey Garlic Shrimp.

closeup: pepper steak stir fry with vegetables and sesame seeds in dark sauce

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Steak – Choose lean meat like flank steak or top sirloin. Avoid packages labeled as “stir fry meat” as they usually have too much connective tissue and are typically scrap pieces. 
  • Dark Soy Sauce – Much different than all-purpose soy sauce, this fermented soy sauce is black with a thick texture and rich umami flavor. If you are unable to find it, hoisin or oyster sauce are acceptable substitutes. 
  • Bell Peppers – Green bell peppers are the traditional choice, but feel free to use other colors for a sweeter flavor. 
  • Onions and Tomatoes – I prefer white onions, but yellow or red onions work just as well. I included tomatoes to add a bright acidic flavor and pop of color. If you prefer to leave these ingredients out, go right ahead.

Tip From Kevin

Is there a difference between light and dark soy sauce?

Yes. Light and dark soy sauces are both essential in Asian cuisine, but they serve different purposes. Light soy sauce is thinner, saltier, and lighter in color. It’s used to season dishes, enhance flavors, and add a salty kick. Dark soy sauce is thicker, less salty, and has a deep, rich color. It’s primarily used for color and depth in dishes, like stir-fries or braised meats, offering a sweet, umami flavor and a glossy finish. Depending on your recipe, you may choose one or the other, or even a combination of both for a balanced flavor and appearance.

overhead: pepper steak with onion in a wok with wooden spoon

How to Make Pepper Steak

  1. Cut the Steak. Going with the grain, slice the steak or steaks into 2 inch strips. Then, go across the grain and slice the strips into ¼ inch sized pieces. 
  2. Marinate the Meat. In a small bowl, combine the beef with a tablespoon of oil, cornstarch, soy sauce, salt, and white pepper. Stir the mixture and make sure all the meat is coated. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. 
  3. Chop the Vegetables. In the meantime, prepare your veggies. Start by trimming the tops off of the bell peppers. Deseed the peppers, then cut them into 1 inch-sized pieces. Peel the onion and cut it into 1 inch pieces as well. Slice each tomato into 8 equal sized pieces. Place all the vegetables in a large bowl or on a plate. Cover and set aside. 
  4. Mix the Sauce. Combine the beef broth, cornstarch, soy sauce, and sugar in a small bowl. Whisk together and set aside. 
  5. Cook the Beef. Place a wok or large skillet over high heat. Let it get hot, then add 2 tablespoons of oil, the onion, ginger paste, and garlic. Stir fry the mixture for one minute, then toss the marinated beef pieces into the wok. Stir fry for about 3 minutes, tossing occasionally. Once the beef is no longer pink, remove it from the wok and set it aside. 
  6. Cook the Vegetables. If needed, add a bit more oil to the wok before tossing in the tomatoes and stir frying for one minute. Then, pour the broth and cornstarch mixture over the top of the tomatoes, tossing to coat. Let the sauce cook long enough to thicken, then stir in the beef and bell peppers. Add any accumulated juices to the wok and stir fry for another minute. 
  7. Garnish & Serve. Remove the wok from heat, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and garnish with plenty of chopped cilantro. Serve as is or with your favorite rice or noodles.
extreme closeup: Chinese pepper steak stir fry garnished with white sesame seeds

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you make pepper steak soft and tender?

First, be sure that you are choosing a lean cut of beef, like flank steak or top sirloin, with as little connective tissue visible. Since stir-fries cook so quickly, there is not enough time to tenderize connective tissue the way other cooking methods can. 

Next, be sure to pay attention when slicing the meat. It is okay to cut with the grain at first, but be sure to slice against the grain when making your final cut. This shortens the muscle fibers and leads to a more tender bite. 

Finally, don’t forget to velvet. Velveting is basically marinating meat in a mixture of soy sauce, cornstarch, and other ingredients to break down proteins and tenderize. It is a simple step with a huge payoff. It is also how they get their stir-fry meat so tender at Chinese restaurants.

What can I serve with pepper steak stir fry?

Like most stir fry recipes, pepper steak with onion and tomatoes is perfect when served over a steaming pile of Jasmine Rice or over a bed of your favorite noodles. 

For a full Chinese-inspired meal, enjoy your pepper steak with Crispy Egg Rolls, Hot and Sour Soup, and a fresh Chinese Cucumber Salad.

Do I need a wok to make this pepper steak stir fry?

A wok is ideal for both its shape and heat conductivity, but you can make a dynamite pepper steak with a large skillet or regular frying pan. Choose one that is wide, shallow, and has a flat bottom. The more surface area available, the more evenly your stir fry will cook. 

Get the pan nice and hot before adding any ingredients and be sure to stir almost constantly.  Depending on the size of your skillet, you may need to cook in batches. It can be tempting to just toss everything in the pan, but overcrowding will cause the dish to steam rather than stir fry.

closeup: stir fried pepper steak with onion and tomatoes
Still Hungry?
Subscribe to my Newsletter, follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube for all my latest recipes and videos.
overhead: white plate of pepper steak with onion and tomatoes

Pepper Steak Stir Fry

5 from 1 vote
This recipe for pepper steak features tender bites of steak and crisp vegetables stir-fried in a delightfully tangy, garlic-ginger sauce.
Servings: 6
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 6 minutes
Total: 26 minutes


  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless top sirloin steak or flank steak



Stir Fry


  • Cut steak(s) with the grain into 2-inch strips, then cut across the grain into 1/4-inch pieces.
  • Add beef to a bowl with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, cornstarch, soy sauce, salt and white pepper. Stir to coat, cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  • While steak is marinating, trim tops off bell peppers and remove seeds. Cut peppers into 1-inch pieces. Peel and cut onion into 1-inch pieces. Cut each tomato into 8 pieces. Place all veggies in large bowl or on plate and set aside.
  • In small bowl, whisk together beef broth, cornstarch, soy sauce and sugar. Set aside.
  • Heat a wok over high heat. Once hot, add 2 tablespoons oil, the onion, garlic and ginger. Stir fry one minute, then add the beef. Continue stir frying for 3 minutes, tossing occasionally until beef is no longer pink. Remove from wok and set aside.
  • Add more oil to wok if needed, then stir fry tomatoes for 1 minute. Pour broth and cornstarch mixture, toss to coat tomatoes, and cook until sauce thickens. Add bell peppers and beef (with accumulated juices) to wok and stir fry 1 minute more.
  • Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and cilantro sprigs (optional). Serve as is, over noodles or with steamed rice.



  1. Dark soy sauce is much different than traditional light, all-purpose soy sauce. It’s very thick, with a rich umami flavor and is fermented/aged rather than being chemically processed like all purpose soy sauce. The color is very dark, almost black. If you can’t find dark soy sauce, oyster sauce or even hoisin sauce could be used instead.


Calories: 263kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 69mg | Sodium: 753mg | Potassium: 601mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 393IU | Vitamin C: 52mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 2mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: main dishes
Cuisine: Chinese
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): stir fried pepper beef


I was bitten by the cooking bug as a kid cooking and baking along side my mom. After an ROP restaurant course in high school, I went to work in restaurants and catering. My love of travel and food has led me across the world and I love to share those foods with family and friends.

Free Bonus
Kevin's Guide to Amazing International Cooking
My secrets to authentic & delicious international recipes

Explore More

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Got off work at noon and hit up the store to get the dark soy sauce and some other things for this that I didn’t have at home. Made it for lunch, which is my big meal, and I have to say WOW! This came out great and not only am I glad I found dark soy sauce because of the flavor, but the tomatoes in this made it. Keep it up my man!