Black Pepper Steak (黑椒牛柳)

4.95 from 20 votes
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Use a skillet to create real-deal black pepper steak that is tender, juicy and rich, with crisp veggies and a scrumptious sauce that goes perfectly with steamed rice. {Gluten Free Adaptable}

Restaurant-style black pepper steak that is tender, juicy and rich, with crisp veggies and a scrumptious sauce that goes perfectly with steamed rice. {Gluten Free Adaptable}

Making authentic tasting stir fried black pepper steak might look intimidating, but it is easier than you think. I used to think dealing with beef in a stir fry was one of the most difficult things to do in Chinese cooking. Different from chicken or pork, beef can get really tough and chewy if you accidentally overcook it. However, once you know a few tricks, you will able to make restaurant-style black pepper steak in your own kitchen in no time.

Restaurant-style black pepper steak that is tender, juicy and rich, with crisp veggies and a scrumptious sauce that goes perfectly with steamed rice. {Gluten Free Adaptable}

Best black pepper steak

1. Use a nonstick skillet instead of a wok

Even though every single Chinese cookbook insists on using a wok for stir fry, I found that a nonstick skillet works perfectly for this dish. Not only can you make beautifully charred steak with a great flavor, but you will also need less oil and the steak will not cause any sticking problems.

If you’re curious about the pros and cons of a wok, read my previous post on 10 reasons not to use a wok. And if you want to know about the perfect stir fry setup, read wok vs. stir fry pan.

2. The key for tender juicy steak

  • Choose the correct cut: I’ve tried flank steak, plate steak, boneless short ribs, sirloin, and tenderloin. All have yielded great results. If you cannot find these cuts, try to use a cut that has a finer grain and contains some fat.
  • Always cut the beef against the grain. Try to maintain the same thickness and size for each slice.
  • Always marinate the beef. The whole process will help soften the beef and add flavor. Plus the soy sauce will give the beef a beautiful char.
  • Grill the beef instead of constantly stirring. One of the reasons we use a flat skillet; if you heat up the pan really hot, it only takes 30 seconds or so to sear each side, while the inside is a little pink. Roasting the beef instead of stirring will brown the steak better.

Restaurant-style black pepper steak that is tender, juicy and rich, with crisp veggies and a scrumptious sauce that goes perfectly with steamed rice. {Gluten Free Adaptable}

3. Why you need to remove the steak once

Transferring the half-cooked steak to a plate before adding the rest of the ingredients is crucial. When you add the sauce and veggies, the pan temperature will drop significantly. So the veggies won’t be seared properly, and the sauce will reduce very slowly. Both result in a soupy dish with overcooked meat.

4. Get used to the pace of stir frying

I found that Chinese stir fry has a much faster pace than most Western cooking. When I start cooking a dish, it takes me about 5 minutes (or maybe less) to finish. This means you have less than a minute between adding ingredients. So do read through the recipe before cooking, and move quickly when you start.

One last word

Although this black pepper steak is scrumptious enough to serve by itself, I highly recommend adding a sunny side up egg to your rice bowl. I learned this pairing from Chinese diners that cater lunch for office workers. Not only does the egg add volume to your bowl, but the runny egg yolk also goes perfectly with the spicy beef. Try it once and I guarantee you’ll be hooked 🙂

Restaurant-style black pepper steak that is tender, juicy and rich, with crisp veggies and a scrumptious sauce that goes perfectly with steamed rice. {Gluten Free Adaptable}

More Chinese stir fry recipes

Happy cooking!

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

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Restaurant-style black pepper steak that is tender, juicy and rich, with crisp veggies and a scrumptious sauce that goes perfectly with steamed rice. {Gluten Free Adaptable}

Black Pepper Steak (黑椒牛柳)

4.95 from 20 votes
Restaurant-style black pepper steak that is tender, juicy and rich, with crisp veggies and a scrumptious sauce that goes perfectly with steamed rice.
{Gluten Free Adaptable}
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: restaurant-style
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 2 to 4 servings


  • 1 lb (450 g) flank steak , sliced against the grain into 1/4-inch (5-mm) thick pieces (or plate, or boneless short ribs, or sirloin)



  • 1/2 cup beef broth (or chicken broth)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari for gluten free)
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry for gluten free)
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce (Optional) (omit for gluten free)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Stir fry

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1/2 white onion , chopped
  • 2 bell peppers , chopped


  • Combine steak, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and cornstarch in a medium-size bowl. Gently mix by hand until the beef is coated with a thin layer of the mixture. Marinate for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  • Cut the aromatics and vegetables. Add the ginger and garlic to a small bowl. Add the onion and all the chopped pepper to another bowl.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a nonstick skillet (or a wok) over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add the steak. Immediately spread the beef into a single layer using a pair of tongs or chopsticks. Sear for 30 seconds or so, until the bottom is lightly browned. Flip the beef with a spatula, until both sides are browned but still a bit pink inside. Turn to the lowest heat and remove the skillet from the stove. Transfer the beef to a plate and set aside.
  • Add the remaining tablespoon of oil into the same skillet and turn to medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic. Give it a quick stir until fragrant. Add the white onion and peppers. Stir and cook for 20 seconds.
  • Stir the sauce mixture until the cornstarch is dissolved completely, and pour it into the skillet. Stir with a spatula immediately and cook until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, a few seconds. Add back the cooked beef. Quickly stir a few times to coat everything with the sauce. Turn off heat and remove the skillet from the stove. Immediately transfer everything to a big plate so the ingredients won’t keep cooking in the hot skillet.
  • Serve hot with steamed rice or on top of boiled noodles.


Serving: 1serving, Calories: 290kcal, Carbohydrates: 18g, Protein: 23g, Fat: 13.5g, Cholesterol: 43.5mg, Sodium: 502mg, Fiber: 1.3g, Sugar: 9g
Did You Make This Recipe?Don't forget the last step! Leave a comment below, and tag me @OmnivoresCookbook and #OmnivoresCookbook on Instagram!

The post was originally published on Aug 18, 2014, and updated by Nov. 15, 2017. The current recipe contains more sauce and it’s more suitable serve over rice.

Restaurant-style black pepper steak that is tender, juicy and rich, with crisp veggies and a scrumptious sauce that goes perfectly with steamed rice. {Gluten Free Adaptable}

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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Matt Robinson says:

    Wow, Maggie, this looks amazing!! Can’t wait to make this for the family!

    • Maggie says:

      Thanks Matt! Happy cooking and let me know how it goes! 🙂

  2. Russell from Chasing Delicious says:

    Such an amazing combination of flavors! I am loving this.

    • Maggie says:

      Thanks Russell! I do love the flavor of this dish too 🙂

  3. Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    5 stars
    This is one of my husband’s favorites! I can’t wait to eat this with steamed rice. I might need to make extra rice. This sounds so delicious!

    • Maggie says:

      Glad you like this one Nami! Yes, it goes great with steamed rice.:)

  4. Farah @ The Cooking Jar says:

    5 stars
    Wow, now I’m hungry and drooling. Those pics make the beef look so juicy!!!

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Farah, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! Have a great weekend 🙂

  5. Lori says:

    5 stars
    This sounded so good, I made it just for me since I’m the only one in the house that likes peppers. It turned out delicious and juicy as promised!!! I will definitely make it again.

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Lori, I’m so glad to hear the dish turned out well and you like it! If you want to enjoy the dish with the rest of your family, maybe you can skip the peppers (and add more onion), or replace the pepper with broccoli (in this case, you need to quickly blanch the broccoli and drain them well before adding into the stir-fry).
      Have a nice day 🙂

  6. swayam says:

    Looks amazing!! I am soo doing this with Chicken!

  7. Steve says:

    I cooked this last weekend while my wife was away, I had plenty left over until my wife came home. All gone when I went to the fridge, my wife liked it so much I’m cooking it again this weekend. Very nice indeed.

    • Maggie says:

      I’m so glad to hear you and your wife both enjoyed the dish Steve! Thanks for taking time and leaving a comment 🙂
      Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

  8. Deanna Flahart says:

    This looks really good. I will try it. Do you have a recipe for black pepper beef. My husband loves it at our favorite restaurant and I would like to make it for him at home.

  9. Rolf says:

    Suddenly there’s a green onion???

    • Sarah says:

      I wondered about that too..LOL. I went back and re-read the recipe three times trying to find where I missed the green onion. I used it as a garnish.

      • Maggie says:

        Ooops, typo! Sorry about the mistake. I just added the green onions back to the ingredient list. But it works as a garnish as well 🙂
        I hope your dish turned you to be alright!

  10. Cindy says:

    Tried the Black Pepper Steak and it was delicious. Do you think I can make this in a crockpot?

  11. Danielle says:

    I need to use 1lb steak. Should I just double all the ingredients and it will still turn out the same?

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Danielle, you can use 1 pound steak and double the rest ingredients. Just make sure you use a large skillet so it won’t get too crowded when you add all the veggies.
      Happy cooking and let me know how the dish turns out!

      • Tru says:

        This dish was easy to follow and my family was hypnotized by the smells. We almost didn’t make it to the table! Great weeknight meal that’s so much better than take-out!
        Thank you,

      • Maggie says:

        That sounds awesome Tru! I’m so glad to hear your family and you enjoyed the dish.
        Yep, I always prefer to make Chinese dishes at home because they do taste better 😉

  12. Lisa Huff says:

    Oh wow, this looks so good!

  13. klebefolie says:

    5 stars
    That looks delicious. I have to try it.

  14. Jwiltz says:

    We made this last night. This is the second time making it. We love it! It is superb.

    • Maggie says:

      I’m so happy to hear it! This is one of your favorites too 🙂
      Hope you have a wonderful day!

  15. Cindy leung says:

    4 stars
    Amazing recipe! The first time stir frying beef that came out juicy and tender. Used striploin sirloin steaks. The sauce was really good too but I would double the amount next time to have more for the rice!

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Cindy, I’m so glad to hear you made this dish and enjoyed it! Yes, it totally makes sense to double the sauce for serving with rice 🙂

  16. David says:

    This has to be the best site for great Chinese cuisine recipes. Every one of them I tried have turned out perfect. Thank you for sharing

  17. Cam McAlpine says:

    Enjoyed your recipe but think a better technique!
    Preparation the same!
    But use more oil in the initial cooking about 1/2 cup and heat to about 350F
    Quickly fry 45 to 60 seconds till 75% done
    Empty oil into bowl
    Clean pan
    Heat pan to high heat add 2 table spoons oil and ginger, garlic , peppers and onion for about 1 minute
    Add beef and peppercorns for 15 seconds
    Add sauce stir fry for i minute till sauce thickens

    Both recipes are similar but beef has a more silky texture with technique above.

    Have tried many of your recipes and find them excellent.

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Cam, I’d be more than happy to try out your method the next time. Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂

  18. Dawn says:

    5 stars
    Awesome recipe and came out perfect. Served over a bed of jasmine rice that was left over from a previous meal that was frozen in the deep freezer in a ziplock bag and heated up piping hot in the microwave just before the stir fry was complete. Freezing any left over rice is a great time saver for busy folks. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Maria says:

    5 stars
    I have never commented on a reecipe before but this was Absolutely delicious! Thank you so much for sharing your wonderfully detailed & delectable recipe, very appreciated. I’m a fan! My family enjoyed it immensely & will definitely be in our rotation. Looking forward to trying more of your yummy looking recipes! Thanks again

  20. Lee-Ann says:

    5 stars
    This is an amazing recipe. Will be trying it weekend or next week. Keep up the good work!

  21. Keith Nicholson says:

    Hi Maggie,

    Thank you for your Weekly email… I really enjoy all your recipes and Instructions… Excellent Job…

    I do have a question:
    I still have difficultly keeping my Beef very tender(Like Restaurants) when Stir Frying… I always use my best Wok that is seasoned really well…
    I have tried the method you suggest and also “Velvetizing” the beef ( Egg whites, Sake and corn starch – Marinate 1 Hr. – Then boil beef for seconds (No Salt in Marinade or Water)… I usually use Top Sirloin as the cut of meat… My finished product just is not as soft and tender as the Restaurant I eat at… Have you ever tried “Velvetizing” protein…? I do get the Wok very hot… The only change I can think of is to buy a really good “Dragon’s Breath” gas burner for the outside… Then I know the Wok will be Restaurant “HOT”…

    Any Suggestions…? Or am I doing something wrong…? Should I use a different cut of beef…?

    Again, I think your work is exceptional…

    Thank You,

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Keith, but boiling, do you mean boil the beef in the water? The velveting process can be achieved either by cooking the beef in the water or oil. My recipe marinates the beef first, then briefly cook them in the oil. So it has contained the velveting process.
      If you want the beef extra tender, you can use baking soda during the marinating process. I explained the process in this post:
      Hope this is helpful!

  22. munir says:

    5 stars
    great recipe i cook this all the time and im 12! great job! delicious! thanks so much maggie…ur the best

  23. Maria H says:

    5 stars
    Happy with the result! First time making it without being too soupy as used to be 😀
    Thank you for the good recipe and cooking/prep method! 😘👍

  24. Peter says:

    I noticed in other beef dishes you drain the marinade sauce from the marinaded beef and mix in cornstarch using hands just before cooking marinaded beef. In this recipe it says to mix soya,wine and cornstarch together before marinating. I’m wondering why the difference. Thanks. Love your recipies.

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Peter, the “drain and add cornstarch” approach is closer to traditional cooking and it’s the best way to minimize splatter.
      Although I did change into the “mixing all together” method in my recent recipes, to simplify the recipe. I usually try to find the good liquid ingredient and cornstarch ratio, so it won’t produce extra liquid once the marinating process is done. You can follow the method. And when you notice there’s liquid in the bowl once the marinating is done, you should always drain it before the cooking to it won’t cause splatter.

  25. Shirin says:

    Hi Maggie,
    Is it possible to make this dish without the wine?

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Shirin, yes, you can replace the wine with a bit stock. Happy cooking!

  26. Joseph Lomsak says:

    I made this meal exactly as directed. This was the best ever! It lasted for about 10 Min’s! ALL GONE!!!!! Wonderful!!!!

  27. Sashe Saarns says:

    In step 5, your recipe calls for ginger (it is not listed)–fresh? ground? how much?
    I re-read the recipe several times—did I miss something? And someone else mentioned green onions—where do these go and when and how much?
    I just bought a WOK and had such a wonderful dining experience with this dish at local Chinese restaurant (they have a really great market attached too!). I am anxious to try in my home kitchen, but am too insecure to “wing it “without knowing what to do with these omitted ingredients. I am sure that you are so accustomed to cooking these dishes that sometimes you overlook some things because they are so second nature to your cuisine but some of us need “specifics”. Thank you!

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Sashe, I just updated the recipe so now it has all the info and correct format.
      Sorry about the confusion! I moved all my recipes from another template and the format got messed up during the process. I’m fixing things little by little but it takes a long time. Thanks for letting me know about the missing ingredient.
      Re green onion, I eliminated green onions when I updated the recipe. So you don’t need them in this recipe.
      Happy cooking and can’t wait to hear your feedback on this!

  28. Susan Chee says:

    5 stars
    Great recipe, Maggie! I followed your instructions, even right down to having the sunny side up egg on top of the serving of rice and it turned out really well. I browned the sirloin steak in 2 batches so the pieces had a nice colour to them. The family truly loved this dish and this is one of many from your repertoire of excellent dishes which will be repeated often. I chanced upon your website only recently and am really happy that I did as your dishes are not difficult to perfect since your instructions are quite clear and most helpful. You’d be pleased to know that because I have had so many opportunities trying your recipes, my husband has now declared that he doesn’t think he wants to have any more Chinese meals at restaurants as they aren’t as good as my home cooking!

  29. Cheryl Ding says:

    5 stars
    Thanks for the tips on cooking the beef this is always tricky, I made this and everyone loved it! :))) thank you Maggie!

  30. Dave says:

    5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe Maggie, this was fantastic! I chose yours over others online for two reasons – it has onions, and detailed step-by-step directions. I had everything called for except the Shaoxing wine, so I substituted Extra Dry Vermouth, which seemed to work fine. I not very experienced at cooking Asian dishes – I usually let my Asian girlfriend make those 🙂 so I followed your directions to the letter and was amazed how well it came out. Served it over white rice with a sprinkling of sesame seeds – looks just like the photos! Will fry an egg to go with the leftovers. And I’ll be back to try more of your recipes…

  31. Dana says:

    5 stars
    This was delicious! We just used vegetables in the dish (peppers, onions, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower) and served it over rice. It will be added to the rotation. Thanks!!

  32. Regina says:

    5 stars
    Other than doubling the black pepper (since we love it spicy), I kept everything the same. I made it for a Lunar New Year’s feast and it was a hit.

  33. Gracia says:

    5 stars
    Taste really good👍

  34. Brittany says:

    Does the sherry wine have to be dry? I’m only finding dry sherry dessert wine

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      Yes it has to be dry otherwise the dish will end up too sweet. The dessert wine also has a very different taste.
      Could you find Japnaese sake? It is a good alternative if you cannot find dry sherry.

  35. Terracharm Alexander says:

    5 stars
    Your recipes are superb we all loved this one!

  36. Aunt Rosen says:

    5 stars
    Super delicious! I added 1/8 tsp ground white pepper to the sauce because my family really loves the flavor.

  37. Vickie says:

    5 stars
    This recipe was perfect! I increased the sauce a bit because I added some extra vegetables. So easy to make!! I’ll be making this a lot!

  38. Heather says:

    5 stars
    My husband and I really enjoyed this recipe! We moved and lack serious Chinese/Cantonese cuisine. This was quite similar to the one I always order at one of my favorite Cantonese restaurant.

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