Make perfectly crispy shredded chilli beef tossed in a spicy, sticky and sweet chilli 4 ingredient sauce. You'll be surprised at how quick and easy it is to recreate this Chinese takeaway favourite in your own kitchen with a few simple everyday ingredients.
Looking for more quick and easy fakeaway recipes? Try my Honey Chilli Chicken, Chicken Chow Mein, Special Chow Mein, Singapore Fried rice and Turkish Lamb Shish. They're much cheaper and healthier than takeaway and tastier too.
The post contains additional information and helpful tips to ensure the recipe turns out great the first time. Please use the link above to jump to the recipe card at the end if you are in a hurry!
✅ 5 reasons why you'll love this recipe:
- Bursting with flavour
- Perfect crispy texture
- Quick and easy
- Made with simple everyday ingredients - no trip to the Asian grocery store required
Wondering what you need to make this recipe? Let's take a look at some of the key ingredients and potential substitutions.
The best type of beef to use
Sirloin is where it's at. It's got great flavour, is lean, tender and cooks quickly. Flank steak is also a good choice. You can also use rump steak, but it's not the best option. The higher amount of connective tissue in rump steak can cause it to have a chewier texture, but it can work. Just make sure you cut it thinly and cook on a high heat.
Ribeye is also a good option but is more expensive. You'll also need to remove the fat before cooking.
The beef strips are dipped in egg white then coated in cornflour to get them perfectly crispy. The cornflour gives the beef its crispiness, and the egg white helps the cornflour/cornstarch stick.
If you're wondering if you can use all-purpose/plain flour instead unfortunately the answer is no. Plain flour absorbs more moisture and won't give you a light and crispy texture.
I've added some soy sauce to the egg white and white pepper to the cornflour for extra flavour. If you don't have white pepper you can switch it for the same amount of black.
Use a neutral oil with a high burn point to fry the beef. Sunflower, vegetable oil or groundnut will all do the job well. Avoid olive oil, its lower burn point makes it unsuitable for stir-frying.
I like to fry up some long red chillis with some chilli and garlic and I also like to add a few chopped fresh chillis at the end. This does result in quite a spicy dish. If you're sensitive to spice, I suggest reducing or skipping the fresh red chilli altogether. The sweet chilli sauce which also adds a little heat to the dish.
The sauce contains just 4 ingredients:
- Soy sauce for salty savouriness. Use regular light soy sauce. Dark soy sauce will make the sauce too rich.
- Rice vinegar for tanginess. You can use apple cider vinegar instead.
- Sweet chilli sauce. Any brand is fine. I often use Blue Dragon
How to cut steak
To ensure your steak is tender, it's crucial to slice it against the grain. This means you cut through the muscle fibres, resulting in more tender pieces of beef.
Steak is easier to slice into thin pieces when it's cold. Therefore, it's best to slice it as soon as you take it out of the fridge. If the steak has reached room temperature, you can cool it down in the freezer.
🧑🍳 Recipe steps
1. Make the sauce and prep
Mix the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sweet chilli sauce and sugar in a small bowl and set aside. Combine the soy sauce and egg white and cornflour/cornstarch with white pepper in another two bowls.
2. Prepare the beef
Place each piece of beef into the egg white, then dredge in cornflour.
Top tip: It can be tempting to put all the steak pieces into the bowl of cornflour/cornstarch for speedy dredging, but this is very likely to result in a gloopy mess. I recommend dredging no more than 3-4 pieces at a time and shaking off any excess egg white mixture beforehand.
3. Fry the beef
Place a large frying pan on a medium to high heat and add the oil. Then add the steak pieces and fry for a few minutes until brown and crispy on all sides.
4. Stir fry
Remove excess oil from the pan with kitchen paper until there are 1-2 tablespoons remaining. Add the onion and fry for a few minutes until translucent then add the chilli, garlic and ginger and fry for 1-2 minutes more until fragrant.
5. Sauce and beef
Pour the sauce into the pan and leave it to bubble for a minute or two. Remove the pan from the heat, toss it together with the beef and serve immediately topped with sesame seeds, spring onions/scallions and extra red chilli if you like your food spicy.
🍽️ Serving suggestions
Topping cooked chilli beef with toasted sesame seeds and chopped green onions is a must in my view and takes the taste and texture to a whole new level. You can also add a few pieces of raw sliced red chilli if you want to up the heat.
Here are a few sides that are a great match for the tastes and texture of the dish.
- Steamed rice
- Egg fried rice
- Noodles: like Plain Chow Mein, Chicken Chow Mein, Duck Chow Mein, or Singapore Noodles
- Stir-fried vegetables like pak choi, choi sum or broccoli
- A light refreshing salad like this carrot, raddish and cucumber salad
Crispy chilli beef is very adaptable. Here are a few additions and tweaks:
- More sauce: If you prefer a saucier dish you can double the amount of sauce used in the recipe. To avoid making it too rich, you may want to reduce the quantity of soy sauce by half. Keep in mind that the original amount of sauce is enough to coat the beef, but it may not be sufficient to cover other sides like rice, veggies or noodles.
- Add more veggies: Toss in some veggies with the onions and aromatics such as beans, peppers, or broccoli.
- Change the meat: Switch up the steak for pork or chicken
👍 Expert tips
- Dredge a few pieces of beef at a time - add no more than 3-4 pieces to the cornflour/cornstarch at a time, shaking off any excess egg white mixture first. Adding all the beef at once might seem like a more efficient way of doing things, but it's likely you'll end up with a gloopy sticky mess.
- Use oil with a high-burning point - vegetable oil, sunflower oil and groundnut oil will all work well.
- Get the pan hot before you fry - to ensure your beef is super crispy. It will be soft and greasy if you add it too early.
Cuts that are lean, and tender and cook quickly like sirloin and flank/skirt steak. Ribeye is also a good option, although it does tend to be more expensive and you'll want to remove the fat first. Rump steak can work too if you cut it very thinly, but its high amount of connective tissue can make it chewy.
Reducing or skipping the fresh red chillis will make the dish much milder, although the sweet chilli sauce will still bring a mild to moderate level of heat.
Like most fried foods, crispy chilli beef is best enjoyed straight from the pan. It will lose its tasty crispy texture when left uneaten so it's not the best option for a make-ahead meal. That said, you can store cooked shredded beef in the fridge for up to 3 days, but it will lose its freshly fried crispiness.
Crispy beef is typically called "Crispy Shredded Beef" or "Shredded Crispy Beef" on a Chinese menu.
Leftover crispy beef can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, but it will lose its freshly fried crispiness. I don't recommend making this dish ahead with the intention of storing the leftovers and eating them later. It's also not a suitable dish for freezing.
You can reheat chilled shredded chilli beef in the oven or air fryer. I have tested both methods and don't have a strong preference. The air fryer makes it a little crispier than the microwave (but doesn't come close to freshly fried crispiness) and also makes it dryer.
Microwave: place in a microwavable bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a microwave-safe lid and microwave on high power for 2-3 minutes until hot.
Air fryer: heat the air fryer to 180C or 350F and cook for 5-7 minutes checking regularly and shaking the basket to ensure it doesn't overcook.
😋 Check out my other fakeaway recipes
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Chinese Crispy Shredded Chilli Beef (With Sweet Chilli)
- 6 tbsp soy sauce Note 1
- 2 tbsp rice or apple cider vinegar
- 4 tbsp sweet chilli sauce Note 2
- 4 tbsp sugar
Crispy shredded beef
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp soy sauce Note 1
- ½ tsp white pepper
- 80 g (⅔ cup) cornflour/cornstarch Note 3)
- 400 g (14 oz) sirloin steak sliced thinly into 0.5 cm / ¼ inch pieces (Note 4)
- neutral oil for frying (Note 5)
- 1 medium onion sliced
- 4 g (2 tsp) ginger grated
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 2 red chillis finely chopped
To finish (optional)
- toasted sesame seeds
- finely chopped spring onions/scallions
- Make the sauce by combining the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sweet chilli sauce and sugar in a small jug or bowl.
- Mix egg white with the soy sauce.
- Place the cornflour/cornstarch and in another bowl and stir in the white pepper.
- Place each piece of steak into the egg mixture then dredge in cornflour. (Note 6)
- Place a frying pan on a medium to high heat and pour oil into a frying pan to around 1cm / ¼ inch deep.
- Add the steak pieces when the oil is hot and steaming and fry for a minute of two on each side until they start to crisp up, then remove from the pan and set aside. Note that you may need to do this in two batches, depending on the size of your pan. (Note 7)
- Carefully remove the excess oil from the pan or use a clean frying pan (you should be left with about a tablespoon. (Note 8)
- Fry the onions unitl translucent, then add chilli, garlic and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Pour in the sauce and let it reduce for a few seconds on a high heat before adding the crispy beef pieces.
- Serve immediately, topped with spring onions/scallions and toasted sesame seeds.
- Soy sauce: Use all-purpose or light soy sauce. Avoid dark soy sauce because it will make the sauce too rich.
- Sweet chilli sauce: Any brand is fine. I often use Blue Dragon
- Cornflour/cornstarch: is essential for getting crispy beef and cannot be substituted for plain/allpurpose flour.
- Sirloin steak: You can also use flank steak or ribeye. Rump steak will also work, although it's not the best option due to its chewier texture.
- Oil: Use a neutral oil with a high burn point. Sunflower, vegetable oil or groundnut will all do the job well. Avoid olive oil, its lower burn point makes it unsuitable for frying on a high heat.
- Dredging: I recommend dredging no more than 3-4 pieces of steak at a time and shaking off any excess egg white mixture beforehand. Do not dredge all the pieces at the same time. They'll be too soggy and sticky to crisp up nicely.
- Checking the pan is hot enough to start frying: Drop a breadcrumb or small piece of beef into the oil. If it sizzles up immediately, the oil is ready, otherwise you'll need to wait a little longer.
- Removing excess oil from the pan safely: Quickly and safely clean the pan or wok by taking it off the heat. Use tongs or chopsticks to wipe away the excess oil and remove the excess cornflour/cornstarch with kitchen paper.