Beef Stir Fry with Honey Pepper Sauce


Close up of Chinese Honey Pepper Beef in a skillet, fresh off the stove

A Beef Stir Fry to die for! Tender strips of beef with a sticky honey black pepper stir fry sauce, this is one of my favourite dishes at my local Chinese restaurant. This may well be the fastest stir fry recipe you make all year – 1 minute to cook the beef, 1 minute to make the sauce. And you’re DONE!

Chinese Honey Pepper Beef on a plate with rice on the side, ready to be served

Beef Stir Fry with Honey Pepper Sauce

Chinese Beef with Honey Black Pepper Sauce is one of my favourite dishes that I order at Chinese restaurants. Never take out. It has to be at a restaurant because I love the theatrics of how it’s served –  sizzling in a cast iron dish.

I don’t recreate the sizzle at home – I wish I could! If you have a cast iron dish or a small skillet so you can take it straight from the stove to the table, then you’ll get the sizzle. And I’m jealous.

But I have managed to recreate the glorious sauce for this stir fry! Sweet, salty and with a subtle peppery heat, this really does taste like what you get at restaurants. Look at it! Who could resist that??

Close up of Chinese Honey Pepper Beef in a skillet, fresh off the stove

What you need 

I promised you simple, and I exaggerate not! Here’s all you need:

What goes in Chinese Honey Pepper Beef

  • Beef – rule of thumb for stir fries: if you’d serve it as steak, it’s ideal for stir fries! Use a decent-to-good tenderloin, flank, New York strip / Porterhouse / Sirloin (same thing!), boneless ribeye/scotch fillet. It doesn’t need to be a high end dry aged steak! To use a budget slow cooking cut of beef, tenderise it the Chinese way before using (“velveting beef”);
  • Honey and black pepper – the two dominant flavours in the sauce!
  • Oyster sauce – loaded with complex flavours, a secret weapon in Chinese/Asian cooking. Sub with Hoisin;
  • Chinese wine aka Shoaxing wine – the secret ingredient in 99% of Chinese cooking. Read more about it here, sub with Mirin, dry sherry or cooking sake. For a non alcoholic sub, use chicken broth/stock (see recipe notes);
  • Soy sauce – everyday, ordinary all purpose soy sauce. Or light soy. Don’t use dark soy – too strong!
  • Garlic and onion – because not much food happens in this kitchen without these two!

How to make it

As with all stir fries, once you start cooking it moves super fast so be sure to have everything ready to toss into the wok before you start cooking!

In this recipe, we cook the beef first, then take it out – this is to control the cook time of the beef. Then we simmer the sauce in the pan until it becomes syrupy, then toss the beef back in.

How to make Chinese Honey Pepper Beef

Overhead photo of Chinese Honey Pepper Beef in a skillet

Intense flavoured stir fry sauce!

My stir fry recipes tend to err on the side of generous amounts of sauce, because a stir fry isn’t a stir fry if you don’t get to eat sauce soaked rice. Nobody wants to be left with a bowl of plain rice after eating the stir fry!!

However, this is particular Beef Stir Fry is one of the exceptions. The flavour of this honey pepper stir fry sauce is quite intense, being a concentrated syrupy sauce as opposed to being thickened with cornflour/cornstarch like they usually are.

So you don’t want nor need loads of sauce. But there’s enough to carry plenty of flavour through the rice!

Close up of Chinese Honey Pepper Beef

And another difference to most of my stir fry recipes – this Beef Stir Fry is light on the veg, whereas most stir fries are a kaleidoscope of colour of a small amount of protein with lots of veggies!

So serve this with a fresh side – like a crunchy Asian Slaw or a leafy Asian Side Salad with Sesame Dressing.

You could also sneak some veggies into the stir fry – some julienned carrots and similar shaped vegetables would be ideal.

Enjoy! – Nagi

Watch how to make it

Beef Stir Fry with Honey and Black Pepper Sauce

Recipe video above. Copycat of restaurant style Chinese Beef with Honey and Black Pepper Sauce. Very fast and easy to make – it's on the table in 15 minutes! The sauce is absolutely divine – sticky, sweet, salty and with a subtle burst of heat from the black pepper. 


  • 2 1/2 tbsp soy sauce ((Note 1))
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Oyster sauce ((sub Hoisin))
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine (, Mirin or dry sherry (Note 2))
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp coarsely crushed black pepper ((or 1/2 tsp normal ground black pepper))

Stir Fry

  • 2 tbsp peanut oil ((or vegetable or canola oil))
  • 1 garlic clove (, finely minced)
  • 1/2 onion (, peeled and sliced)
  • 500g/1 lb thinly sliced tenderloin, flank, sirloin/Porterhouse/strip, (or any other cut of steak suitable for stir frying (Notes 3))
  1. Mix the Sauce ingredients in a bowl.

  2. Heat the oil in a wok or large heavy based skillet over high heat until it is smoking.
  3. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute or until the onion becomes translucent. Keep it moving so the garlic doesn’t burn.
  4. Add the beef and stir fry for 1 minute until just cooked to your liking, then remove into bowl.

  5. Turn the heat down to medium high, pour in Sauce – it will start simmering very quickly! Let it cook for 1 minute or so until it becomes syrupy – the bubbles will be larger and caramel colour.

  6. Add the beef and onion back into the wok, along with any juices pooled on the plate. Toss in the sauce until just warmed through – 1 minute at most. Don’t overcook the beef – that would be tragic!
  7. Serve immediately with rice.

1. Soy Sauce – Use ordinary all purpose soy sauce or light soy sauce. Do not use dark soy sauce – flavour too intense.

2. Chinese cooking wine ois an essential ingredient for making a truly “restaurant standard” Chinese stir fries. Click here to read more about it.

Substitute with Mirin, cooking sake or dry sherry.

Non alcoholic substitute – sub both the cooking wine AND water with low sodium chicken broth/stock, reduce soy sauce to 2 tbsp.

3. Beef – As with all stir fries, this cooks very quickly so you need to use a decent cut of beef for it. Rule of thumb: if you’d serve it as a steak, you can stir fry it. Rump, flank, sirloin/strip/Porterhouse (same thing), t-bone and scotch fillet/boneless rib eye are excellent for this recipe.

Slow cooking cuts, like chuck, are not suitable unless you tenderise it (see How to tenderise beef the Chinese restaurant way)

Slice the beef against the grain. When you look at the beef, you will notice that the fibres are mostly going in one direction. Place the beef in front of you so the fibres are going left to right. Then cut through the fibres i.e. cut perpendicular to the direction of the fibres (see here for illustrative image). Cutting it this way makes the beef more tender!

Other proteins – terrific with pork, chicken and turkey (finely sliced).

4. Nutrition per serving, excluding rice.

Originally published July 2015. Updated November 2019 with new photos, new video and the most important thing – Life of Dozer section added!!!

Life of Dozer

It’s Melbourne Cup tomorrow, the race that stops the nation! 🐎🐎🐎 We’re heading out to a lunch and Dozer’s coming. So here he is being fitted for his Race Day outfit! 😂 Turns out his hat is a little small…. need to find a bigger one!

Dozer being fitted for Melbourne Cup outfit

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