Black Pepper Beef

5 from 32 votes
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Black Pepper Beef is a common dish you can find in my Chinese restaurants. The beef is wonderfully tender paired with crisp onions and bell peppers in a savory black pepper sauce. It’s one of my favorites and a quick and easy dish to whip up during the week! If you’re a fan of Black Pepper Beef, you’ll never need to order takeout again after trying this recipe!

Black Pepper Beef close up on a bowl

Watch the Black Pepper Beef Recipe Video Below!

raw ingredients for black pepper beef

Ingredients for Black Pepper Beef

This Black Pepper Beef recipe is such a winner and perfect for a weeknight meal with a freshly steamed bowl of rice! Here is what you’ll need for the recipe:

  • Sliced Beef – I prefer flank steak or ribeye for Black Pepper Beef
    • Make sure you are slicing against the grain. You’ll know which direction the grain is when you look at the meat – the lines will be running in one direction (the lines are the muscle fibers).
    • Slicing against the grain is an easy way to ensure your meat will be tender. (Remember, the lines are the muscle fibers – cutting against the lines means you’re cutting the long fibers, so they don’t get tough when cooked!)
  • Light Soy Sauce (low sodium recommended)
  • Baking Soda – This is the KEY ingredient to super tender beef. Baking soda is commonly used in Chinese cooking to tenderize beef. If you’re curious about the science behind it – baking soda neutralizes acid and raises the pH level, which causes the meat to become more alkaline. This means the proteins INSIDE the meat will have more trouble tightening up – when the proteins can’t tighten up, the meat ends up much more tender when cooked (instead of constricting together aka getting tough!)
  • Sesame Oil
  • White Pepper
  • Cornstarch
  • High Quality Chicken or Beef Stock
  • Garlic
  • White Onion
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Oyster Sauce
  • Shaoxing Wine – If you cannot or do not want to use wine, you can sub with sherry, mirin, or chicken stock!
  • Sugar
  • Neutral Oil – My favorite neutral oil is avocado oil, but you can also use canola or vegetable oil! I don’t use olive oil when cooking Chinese food for two reasons: 1. It has a low burning point and 2. I find that the flavor profile does not usually go with the dish.

Black Pepper Beef: Recipe Instructions

Slice the Steak

The first step in making Black Pepper Beef is cutting the steak against the grain into 2″ pieces that are 1/4″ thick (refer to photos). Cut the steak into uniform pieces so they cook evenly when we fry them.

Next, place the sliced steak into a bowl with baking soda, light soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper, cornstarch, and avocado oil. Mix well with your hands and let marinate for at least 15-20 minutes. While the steak marinates, mince garlic, slice white onion, and bell pepper.

Mix the Black Pepper Beef Sauce

Next, mix the Black Pepper Beef sauce by combining beef stock, oyster sauce, shaoxing wine, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, coarse black pepper, sugar, and corn starch. I always like to premix my sauce to have it ready to go during the fast cooking process.

Prepare Ingredients

This Black Pepper Beef (as well as a lot of Chinese cooking) comes together fast in the pan! It’s important to keep all your prepped ingredients near your pan, prepped and ready to go!

Cook the Steak

Heat 4 tablespoons of neutral oil (I prefer avocado oil) in a pan or wok over high heat until just smoking. Add the steak, in batches if needed, for 2-3 minutes until golden brown and remove and set the steak pieces aside.

Once the steak is cooked, remove the excess oil, leaving about 2 tablespoons, then sauté the minced garlic for 30 seconds until fragrant. Next, add the onions and bell peppers and cook for another 1-2 minutes until cooked but still crisp.

Add Sauce

Add back the cooked beef, followed by the sauce to the aromatics and vegetables and stir fry for another minute or two to let the Black Pepper Beef sauce come to a boil and thicken.

Finish the Black Pepper Beef

Once the beef and sauce is added to the dish, stir fry for a final 1-2 minutes until everything is evenly coated in the sauce.

Mix together and stir fry over high heat until the sauce has become thickened and glossy like this! Now you’re ready to serve your Black Pepper Beef with some freshly steamed rice!

black pepper beef in a bowl top down

Recipe Tips for Black Pepper Beef


  • The cooking process for the sauce is FAST so it’s a great idea to premix your sauce together, then add it straight into the pan! The corn starch will help thicken the sauce into that velvety texture that Chinese restaurants made so famous.


  • For a recipe that comes together extremely quickly, the key to pulling this recipe off successfully is having your ingredients prepped and in bowls right next to your wok or pan! Have your premixed sauce, steak, and vegetables ready and easily accessible during the cooking process.


  • Do not let your frying oil drop below 300F when frying! I highly recommend you use a thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature. If you see it dropping below 300F, fry your beef in batches. Frying at a low temperature will result in too much moisture (AKA SOGGY!)

If you liked this Black Pepper Beef recipe, check out some of the most popular Chinese Take-Out recipes on the blog!

If you tried this Black Pepper Beef or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the comments below!

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5 from 32 votes

Black Pepper Beef

Servings: 4
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Black Pepper Beef close up on a bowl
This Black Pepper Beef is so much better than takeout and easy to prepare at home! The beef is super tender and perfect with the onions and peppers


Vegetables & Aromatics

  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 white onion, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced



  • Slice steak against the grain into 2" pieces about 1/4" thick. Place in a bowl and add baking soda, light soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper, cornstarch, and avocado oil. Mix well and marinate for 20 minutes.
  • Mince garlic and slice onions and bell peppers and set them aside with the beef.
  • In a small bowl, mix together oyster sauce, shaoxing wine, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, coarse black pepper, sugar, beef stock, msg (optional), and cornstarch. Mix until the sauce is thoroughly combined.
  • Heat 4 tbsp of oil in a large wok or pan over high heat and cook the beef (in batches if needed) for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Remove the beef and leave about 2 tbsp of oil in the pan.
  • Over medium high heat, add the minced garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add the sliced onions and bell pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes over high heat or until the vegetables are slightly softened but still crisp.
  • Add the cooked beef back to the pan. Mix the sauce a final time to pick up any cornstarch, then pour the sauce along the edge of the wok or pan.
  • Mix and toss the sauce and ingredients for another 1-2 minutes over high heat until the sauce has thickened. Serve with white rice and enjoy!


Calories: 229kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 26gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 68mgSodium: 880mgPotassium: 510mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 932IUVitamin C: 40mgCalcium: 41mgIron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Tried this recipe?Mention @cj.eats_ or tag #cjeatsrecipes!

About CJ

I’m a third generation Chinese-American home cook who has always loved cooking & eating! Welcome to my food blog, where you can find trusted, tested, easy & approachable recipes for the everyday home cook that taste delicious! I am so glad you're here!

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