4-Ingredient Sichuan Crispy Beef

Crunchy, crispy beef tossed in a super umami hot chili oil that is packed with fried shallot, chili flakes, and Sichuan peppercorns. Scroll down to learn how to make this addictive dish with only four ingredients.

Crunchy, crispy beef tossed in a super umami hot sauce. A must try if you love Sichuan food. | Chinese Food | Stir Fry | Spicy |

Introducing dry stir fry

Unlike most of the saucy stir fry dishes you see outside of China, which is Cantonese style Chinese food, stir fries from Sichuan cuisine use more aromatics and chili peppers to create the flavor base. In other words, they are “dry” stir fry.

This Sichuan crispy beef belongs to this category. In China we call it dried fried steak, or 干煸牛肉 (Gan Bian Niu Rou) in Chinese.

The words “Gan Bian” refer to a Chinese cooking technique of pre-cooking the ingredients in hot oil to let them dehydrate slightly, creating a crispy crust and tender interior. This technique applies to vegetable dishes as well: for example, the famous Sichuan Dry-Fried Green Beans (干煸豆角) belongs to this category.

Once the meat or vegetable has been pre-cooked, it forms a surface that is full of nooks and crannies that hold spices very well. No matter if you’re using a splash of soy sauce, a pinch of salt, or in this case, the hot chili oil, the main ingredient will be perfectly seasoned without using a sauce.

You might not be familiar with this type of stir fry. But if you love spicy food, I highly recommend you be adventurous and give it a shot. You’ll be hooked in a matter of seconds!

Crunchy, crispy beef tossed in a super umami hot sauce. A must try if you love Sichuan food. | Chinese Food | Stir Fry | Spicy |

What is Lao Gan Ma hot sauce?

If you asked me what the most famous hot sauce brand in China is, I would say Lao Gan Ma (老干妈), or The Godmother.

This brand has numerous types of flavors, often loaded with fried soy beans, fried peanuts, crispy shallot, garlic, chili flakes, and fermented black beans. Although the “hot sauce” is closer to a flavored chili oil, we just call it hot sauce, or 辣酱, in China.

4-Ingredient Sichuan Crispy Beef Cooking Process

The sauce doesn’t taste as spicy as it looks — it has more of an intense, aromatic umami sensation.

It might not be the most healthy sauce, but it is the best shortcut if you want to recreate authentic Sichuanese flavors.

When you open the jar, you’ll immediately notice a heavenly, nutty-spicy fragrance leaping out. I wouldn’t be surprised if you start snacking on the sauce with a spoon.

Yes, it is THAT good!

When you make a stir fry, simply scoop out a few spoonful of the hot sauce to add into the pan, with a pinch of salt or a few drops of soy sauce. It instantly makes everything taste 10 times better. In fact, not just for stir fry — I heard some people use it on everything. For example, add it in salad dressing, mix it with pasta sauce, spread it on bread, or… drizzle it on cupcakes (!!??).

Crunchy, crispy beef tossed in a super umami hot sauce. A must try if you love Sichuan food. | Chinese Food | Stir Fry | Spicy |

Where to buy

You can find the Lao Gan Ma sauce in most large Asian markets, although the flavor types vary. If you do not live near an Asian market, you can get the Lao Gan Ma Chili Crisp on Amazon.

Sichuan Crispy Beef cooking notes

(1) Slice the beef against the grain, so it yields a tender texture once cooked. One of my favorite cuts for stir fry is the flank steak. In the picture below I show you how to cut half of a flank steak.

(2) To create ultra-crispy beef with a melt-in-the-mouth center, use enough oil to cover 1/4-inch (5-mm) of your pan so the beef will be deep fried properly.

(3) To create a healthy dish with less oil, use just enough oil to cover the pan. It can be anywhere from 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup if you use a large frying pan. In this case, the beef will still have a crispy crust, but it does not stay crispy as long as the deep fried beef.

(4) To add vegetables into the dish, you can use chopped onion and celery (about 2 cups chopped veggies) before adding back the beef (step 5 in the recipe).

(5) You can also add the steamed broccoli during the stir fry (in step 5), and use a bit more chili sauce.

(6) The beef remains crispy and delicious after it cools down as well, but it tastes best when it’s right off the stove.

4-Ingredient Sichuan Crispy Beef Cooking Process

Crunchy, crispy beef tossed in a super umami hot sauce. A must try if you love Sichuan food. | Chinese Food | Stir Fry | Spicy |

Other popular Sichuan dishes

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

4-Ingredient Sichuan Crispy Beef

5 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: takeout
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 543kcal
Author: Maggie Zhu



  • 1 lbs (450 g) flank steak (or skirt steak, sliced to 1/4-inch pieces again the grain)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch

Stir fry


  • Combine beef, salt and oil in a large bowl. Gently mix by hand until all the beef slices are coated with oil. Marinate for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Add cornstarch one tablespoon at a time. Mix to coat the beef. It’s OK if the beef is not evenly coated.
  • Heat oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat until hot. Carefully spread the beef slices with minimum overlapping. You might need to cook the beef in two batches depending on the size of your pan. Cook until the bottom turns golden and crispy. Flip the slices to fry the other side, until golden brown and crispy. Transfer beef to a large plate.
  • Remove the pan from the stove. Use a few layers of paper towels attached to the front of a pair of tongs to remove the oil. Alternatively, you can carefully pour the oil into a ceramic bowl. Return the pan back to the stove.
  • Return the beef, pour in the spicy chili crisp, and add the green onion. Stir and cook until the beef is evenly coated with the chili oil. Transfer to large plate.
  • Garnish with sesame seeds, if using. Serve hot over steamed rice and vegetables.


Serving: 1bowl | Calories: 543kcal | Carbohydrates: 10.6g | Protein: 73.3g | Fat: 20.6g | Cholesterol: 207.5mg | Sodium: 942.1mg | Sugar: 2.2g



Omnivore's Cookbook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
Meet Maggie

Hi I'm Maggie Zhu! Welcome to my site about modern Chinese cooking - including street food, family recipes, and restaurant dishes. I take a less labor-intensive approach while maintaining the taste and look of the dish. I am originally from Beijing, and now cook from my New York kitchen.

FREE 5-Day Chinese Cooking Crash Course

Leave a Reply

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

17 thoughts on “4-Ingredient Sichuan Crispy Beef

  1. Helen @ Scrummy Lane

    I’m amazed you can make this with just these few ingredients, Maggie – just wonderful!

    Crispy beef is always one of my favourite things to order from a takeaway – thank you for making it so easy to recreate at home!

  2. Erica

    I had a go at this tonight. I could only get Lao Gan Ma Crispy Chilli Oil so I used that. Is there a way to stop the fat from spattering every pot on the stove? I cooked the beef in a 11″ dia frying pan.
    It was very tasty and enjoyed by everyone here. I will cook it again.

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Erica, what you can do is to pat dry the beef thoroughly before cutting, so make sure there is no liquid on the surface.
      The beef will release some juice during cooking, so it’s very common to have some splatter. You can solve the problem by either using a slightly deeper pan (some of my readers use dutch oven for stir fry and reported back very positive result), or use a oil splatter screen.
      I’m glad to hear you enjoyed dish! Hope you have a great weekend 🙂

  3. Kate

    5 stars
    Hi Maggie, everything I have made from your website has all been just fantastic and this is no exception. I really enjoy working with the spicy chili crisp sauce and was wondering if you think you will be doing more recipes with this ingredient! It seems like too much of a gem to not use with more variety. =D I have actually stopped ordering so much Chinese food because the stuff I make at home is better now because of all the stuff I learn here.

  4. Amy

    5 stars
    We made this with a cheap cut of steak (Sirloin Tip) and used a 45 blade tenderizer to tenderize the meat a bit before preparing it. It turned out fabulously. I’m not sure how I stumbled upon your recipes but we look forward to making more. It was also our first time trying Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp and we love it. Thank you!

  5. Stephen Narramore

    5 stars
    I took the opportunity to prepare this dish tonight as I had eaten a “version” before and I wanted t9 experience a more authentic variety from Maggie. Fortunately in London U K I have plenty of good Asian markets nearby to source the “hot sauce”, I also sourced the Flank steak here too.
    I prepared 500g of flank steak an£ scaled the recipe up accordingly ensuring that I had rice and broccoli to go with the dish.
    Cut to the chase, the frying of the meat went well, and I have enough for 3 more portions over the next week (I will share with friends) amazing tastes and flavours as well as a good crisp beef, but I was not quite prepared for the heat, not the heat in my mouth but the sweating on my head and ears, quite amazing I must say. Perhaps I will look to dial this down a bit next time. But truly a different experience from the versions I’ve had here in London.
    Recommend this recipe whole heartedly.

  6. Tim Javidi

    We ordered the Lau Gan Ma hot sauce and they sent the version with fermented black beans. Can I use that? Or is it completely different?

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Tim, the fermented black bean sauce is quite different but I think you can still use it in this recipe to create a delicious result. I remember the black beans are soaked in red oil? It will be more on the savory side than the Lao Gan Ma chili crisp, which is chili flakes in red oil.