Beef and Broccoli is an easy Chinese stir-fry recipe you can make from home in 20 minutes- it’s BETTER than take-out, and much healthier! The sauce uses very few pre-made condiments, opting instead for lots of flavor from adding fresh ginger, orange zest and juice, and garlic. The beef is SUPER tender, and it’s delicious served over cooked rice, quinoa, or noodles, or a low-carb alternative like cauliflower rice or zoodles.
No need to go to Panda Express for your next beef and broccoli fix! And no need to go to the store to get thousands of condiments for this recipe.
Whenever I look up how to make Chinese food at home, I’m always put off by the long list of ingredients. I end up spending a ton of money on jars of pre-made Asian condiments that I end up throwing out a few months later when they’ve expired. They take up space in my fridge. They’re often packed with processed ingredients. And it’s so wasteful to have to toss them!
So I set out to make a beef and broccoli recipe that relied on fresh, simple ingredients for flavor without relying on store-bought condiments. There are SO many beef and broccoli recipes out there that require hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine… the list goes on and on. All you need for this recipe (besides the obvious- beef and broccoli) is soy sauce, fresh ginger, fresh orange, and a few other things you probably already have in your pantry.
What cut of beef should you use for beef and broccoli?
The most common cut of beef used in beef and broccoli is flank steak. It’s what I used to make this. But you can use flat-iron, or another cut of steak, too.
I like using flank steak because it’s cheap and one of the healthiest cuts of beef– it’s leaner and has more protein than many other cuts. It’s packed with flavor and super tender- if you cook it right.
How to cook flank steak so it’s tender
The two key things to make sure you cook the flank steak so it’s not tough and chewy are:
- Don’t overcook it, and
- Slice it across the grain
A lot of people think it’s necessary to marinate flank steak for a long time, so the acid breaks down the connective tissue. While there is some truth to this, it’s also really easy to cook flank steak so it’s melt-in-your-mouth tender by simply not overcooking it.
For this beef and broccoli recipe, the beef marinates for just a few minutes while you prep your other ingredients in soy sauce (this is for flavor, not to make it more tender) and is sautéed briefly before the other ingredients are added to the skillet. It finishes cooking in the sauce, resulting in super tender beef and broccoli!
Should I use fresh or frozen broccoli?
I used fresh broccoli. And I used larger florets so I could include the stem (I hate wasting broccoli stems!). Here’s a tutorial on how to cut broccoli into florets!
You can also use frozen broccoli. Broccoli is blanched (boiled briefly) before it’s frozen, so it comes already partially cooked. Because of this, you won’t need to cook it as long as fresh, and it also may come out a bit mushier in texture. Still delicious, though :-)
If you use fresh broccoli, cook it for a little while before adding the sauce. If you use frozen, I recommend thawing it first and adding it with the sauce, toward the end of cooking.
Tips for success
- Gather and prep all your ingredients (zest and juice the orange, mince the garlic, etc.) before beginning to cook. This recipe moves quickly. And because it’s so important to not overcook the flank steak, you’ll want to be ready to go with all your ingredients!
- Mix the beef with the soy sauce before you prep your other ingredients. This will give it the most time to absorb all the flavors from the soy sauce.
- A microplane zester will be your best friend for this recipe. You can use it to zest the orange, mince the garlic, AND grate the ginger.
Other Easy Chinese Stir Fry recipes
Did you make this Easy Beef and Broccoli Recipe? Please comment below and Rate this Recipe
Easy Beef and Broccoli
- 1 lb. flank steak sliced thinly against the grain (flat iron or another cut can also be used)
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce divided
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper omit if you don't like spicy, or add more if you want.
- zest and juice of one orange about 1 tablespoon zest and 1/4 cup juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger minced or grated
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds preferably toasted
- 2 tablespoons water plus more if needed
- 2 tablespoons canola oil or other oil, such as olive or coconut
- 1 yellow onion quartered and thinly sliced
- 2 cups broccoli florets from 1 large or 2 small heads of broccoli
- cooked white or brown rice, cauliflower rice, or noodles for serving (optional)
- sliced green onions and more sesame seeds for serving (optional)
- Mix the sliced flank steak (1 lb.) with the half of the soy sauce (2 tablespoons) in a bowl. Set aside to sit for a minute or two.
- Whisk together the corn starch (2 tablespoons) with the remaining soy sauce (2 tablespoons) in a small bowl or glass measuring cup until it's smooth and there are no lumps remaining. Add the brown sugar (2 tablespoons), crushed red pepper (1/4 teaspoon), orange juice and zest, minced fresh ginger (1 tablespoon), minced clove of garlic, sesame seeds (1 teaspoon), and water (2 tablespoons). Whisk together until well combined and sugar has dissolved a bit. Set aside.
- Heat the canola oil (2 tablespoons) in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.
- Add the sliced onion to the skillet and cook until softened and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes.
- Turn the heat down to medium and add the marinated beef to the skillet. Continue to cook until beef is browned a bit on the outside but NOT cooked through, stirring occasionally (about 2 minutes).
- Add the broccoli and sauté for one more minute, until it begins to turn bright green.
- Pour the sauce into the skillet. Cook for about 2 more minutes, stirring frequently, until sauce is thickened and beef is fully cooked. If sauce gets too thick too quickly, you can add more water. If it takes too long to get thick, turn up the heat a bit.
- Serve beef and broccoli on top of cooked rice or noodles and garnish with chopped green onions and more sesame seeds, if desired.
- Time saving tip: Precook the rice over the weekend or buy frozen, pre-cooked rice from the store.
- Money saving tip: Flank steak is already inexpensive, but you can use a cheaper non-beef alternative, such as chicken thighs or tofu, if you prefer. You can also omit the orange zest and juice, or use bottled OJ as an alternative.
- Make it paleo/grain free: Use arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch, and use honey or maple syrup in place of the brown sugar. And be sure to use coconut aminos or another soy sauce substitute.
- I used regular sodium soy sauce for this. If you use low sodium, I recommend replacing the 2 tablespoons of water with more soy sauce so it's salty enough.
- The provided nutrition information does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. Feel free to calculate it yourself using this calculator or by adding the recipe to Yummly.
This post originally appeared on Bowl of Delicious in April 2014 as “Five Spice Orange Beef and Broccoli.” The recipe, photos, and text have been edited to be simpler, easier, and more delicious!