Sesame Beef

5 from 3 votes
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Super juicy and flavorful, you’ve got to make sesame beef tonight! It’s made with less oil than at a Chinese restaurant, so you can savor the flavor in a healthier way! {Gluten-Free Adaptable}

Restaurant style Chinese sesame beef on a plate

Sesame Beef: A Healthier Version

One dish that seems incredibly popular at most Chinese restaurants in America is sesame beef. The problem with this delicious dish is that in restaurants, they tend to flash-fry it with tons of oil in the wok and then cook it with a sauce. So something that would be a reasonable choice for a meal is now packing on more calories.

But this homemade takeout-style sesame beef gives you juicy and tender results with the same flavors without all that oil. I’ll show you how to pan fry it so you’re using way less oil than the restaurants use. It’s a little less crispy, but it’s incredibly delicious. And you can indulge without gobbling up more calories than you bargained for.

Easy takeout style Asian sesame beef

An Easier Cooking Method

Plus, the pan-fry method is much easier for anyone, even beginners, to master. I’ve also done something to help you out in the steps. Even for those that are comfortable in the kitchen, it’s always a turn-off to get stuck with tons of dishes after cooking. That’s why I’ve combined the aromatics into the marinade. This means you only need 3 bowls to do the prep work which makes a huge difference.

Mise-en-place for Chinese marinated aromatic beef

What Meat to Use for Sesame Beef

Choose a good cut of beef like flank or skirt steak and slice it against the grain so it’s easy to bite and chew. This plus the marinade means you’ll have beef that melts in your mouth with a tenderness you’ll love.

Step-by-step instructions for Asian stir-fried beef

What to Serve with the Sesame Beef

Make plenty of steamed rice and spoon this sesame beef on top. I also like blanching some veggies on the side to pile onto a bowl of rice and sesame beef for a well-rounded meal. Bok choy, spinach, broccoli, or even asparagus all make fine additions to your sesame beef. I have a feeling it might just become a regular in your weekly meal rotation after you try it!

Juicy tender Chinese beef with nutty seeds
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Super juicy and flavorful, you’ve got to make sesame beef tonight! It’s made with less oil than at a Chinese restaurant, so you can savor the flavor in a healthier way! {Gluten-Free Adaptable}

Sesame Beef

5 from 3 votes
Super juicy and flavorful, you’ve got to make sesame beef tonight! It’s made with less oil than at a Chinese restaurant, so you can savor the flavor in a healthier way! {Gluten-Free Adaptable}
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: takeout
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


Beef and Marinade

  • 1 lb (450 g) beef flank steak (or skirt steak) , sliced against the grain into 1/4” (5 mm) pieces
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch


  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch


  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • Toasted sesame seeds for garnish


  • Combine the beef and marinade ingredients in a medium-size bowl. Marinate for 15 minutes white preparing other ingredients.
  • Combine the sauce ingredients in a medium-size bowl and stir to mix well.
  • Add the oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat and heat until hot. Add the marinated beef and spread without overlapping. Cook undisturbed until the bottom turns golden brown, about 1 minute. Flip and brown the other side, another minute or so. Turn to low heat. Transfer the beef into a plate and set aside.
  • Stir the sauce again to dissolve the cornstarch completely, pour into the pan. Turn to medium heat and bring the sauce to a boil. Stir and cook until the sauce is thickened.
  • Turn off the heat and add the cooked beef back. Toss to coat evenly, then sprinkle with sesame seeds to garnish.
  • Serve hot over steamed rice as a main dish.


  1. To make the dish gluten-free, use dry sherry instead of Shaoxing wine, and use tamari to replace soy sauce.


Serving: 1serving, Calories: 348kcal, Carbohydrates: 17.5g, Protein: 35g, Fat: 14.5g, Saturated Fat: 3.9g, Cholesterol: 101mg, Sodium: 561mg, Potassium: 483mg, Fiber: 0.2g, Sugar: 8.1g, Calcium: 5mg, Iron: 22mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Don’t forget the last step! Leave a comment below, and tag me @OmnivoresCookbook and #OmnivoresCookbook on Instagram!

Quick & delicious sides to accompany

Lilja Walter is a part of the Omnivore’s Cookbook team and worked closely with Maggie to develop and test this recipe.

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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. James says:

    5 stars
    I cook this for dinner last night and the family loved it. Just one question though. The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of sugar and I only put 1 in and it was still sweet. Should the recipe say 2 teaspoons?

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      Hi James, you can totally reduce the sugar amount. This dish is quite sweet (at least the ones I tried from takeout) and that’s why I used quite a lot of sugar in it.

  2. Errol says:

    5 stars
    I had this two nights ago Maggie and it was so nice and easy to make.I had it on rice and was delicious.Actually I had it two nights in a row and as since you have introduced me to green onions which I love I added green onions with the meal and was very nice.So Thanks Again Maggie.

  3. Steve Bush says:

    Great recipe. Will be doing again.

  4. Philip says:

    Not that it matters too much, but I noticed when you adjust the servings with the slider, the volume/cup measurements go up or down, but not the grams. I don’t know if that’s something that can be adjusted on the html code?

  5. Chrys says:

    Does the marinade really include a 1/4 cup of cornstarch to only 1 tbsp of wine? It doesn’t seem right… unless it’s supposed to be more like a cornstarch coating. Can you clarify?

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      It is the correct measurement. Usually I marinate the meat in liquid then coat the cornstarch before cooking to help crisp up. But this one is a rather dry marinade / seasoning so you can add the cornstarch with the seasonings. It will form a dry coating. Maybe the wording sounds confusing since it’s more like a rub / coating than marinade.

  6. Natasha says:

    5 stars
    This came out really great, and is wonderful for an oh-no-we-have-no-fresh-vegetables Chinese dinner. I made frozen broccoli on the side. The only things I did different were I used a tiny bit of baking soda with the beef to tenderize it since I didn’t have flank steak, added a splash of dark soy to the sauce for color, and used a bit more oil and cornstarch in the frying step. I had to cook in 2 pans since I was making a double recipe, and I knew it would stick in my stainless steeel pan without a quarter inch or more layer of oil. The crunchiness was just right, and held even though I had to cook the beef in 2 batches to prevent overcrowding the pan. I liked the sugar level–it’s a sweet dish, but the rice vinegar provided enough sour to make it not too cloying. The garnishes–toasted sesame seeds and green onion–made the dish really attractive. We’ll definitely make this one again! Thanks for a great recipe.

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