Crispy Honey-Garlic Beef Stir-Fry

published Apr 23, 2024
Crispy Honey-Garlic Beef Stir-Fry Recipe

The sticky honey sauce ties it all together.

Serves3 to 4

Prep15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook15 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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garlic beef stir fry in bowl with white rice
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: James Park

Crispy beef stir-fry is a popular Chinese restaurant dish for a reason — you get tender, crispy slices of beef tossed in a spicy, savory, or even sweet sauce. I’ve eaten various versions of this dish at restaurants or my family’s dinner table, and it’s always a hearty favorite. 

To keep it family-friendly, I like using an easy pantry-friendly sauce made with honey, soy sauce, and wine or dry sherry. When tossed in a well-seasoned wok or pan with the crispy beef and stir-fried green beans, this sticky, sweet-savory sauce soaks into the beef, thickens into a glaze, and completes a stir-fry that is absolutely delicious served atop fluffy white rice.

Why You’ll Love It

  • A thin coating of cornstarch means that the beef fries up nice and crisp, and stays crisp even when tossed with the sticky honey-garlic sauce. 
  • All you need is 8 ingredients, with the only fresh ingredients being beef, green beans, scallions, and garlic.
  • All you need to add for a complete dinner is some steamed rice. The stir-fry includes green beans and cooks in just one pan. 
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: James Park

Key Ingredients in Crispy Honey-Garlic Beef Stir-Fry

  • Steak. Use flavorful, thin flank or skirt steak. Flank steak will give you bigger slices, while skirt steak will take on a more shredded look. Both are tasty, with skirt frying up just a tad crisper.
  • Soy sauce. This does double duty for flavoring both the steak and the sauce.
  • Garlic. Don’t skimp on the garlic! Four minced cloves add just enough of a garlicky punch without being overpowering.
  • Honey. Honey sweetens the sauce and gives it some body.
  • Cornstarch. I’ve learned over the years of eating and cooking Chinese cuisine that cornstarch is often used to help thicken sauces (and did you know that cornstarch can also be used around the house?), but it also has a starring role here in this stir-fry. It helps make the beef crispy and also thickens the sauce at the end.

How to Make Crispy Honey-Garlic Beef Stir-Fry

  1. Prep the beef, sauce, and remaining ingredients. Thinly slice the beef and marinate in soy sauce. Stir together the sauce ingredients, trim the green beans, and chop the scallions and garlic.
  2. Fry the beef. Coat the beef in cornstarch, then fry in a thin layer of oil in two batches until crispy.
  3. Finish the stir-fry. Steam the green beans in the pan with a little water, then stir-fry with garlic. Add in the sauce and beef and cook until the sauce thickens and coats everything nicely.

Helpful Swaps

  • Boneless sirloin or ribeye steaks, ideally 1-inch thick, can be used in place of the flank or skirt steak.
  • If you want to keep the dish gluten-free, use tamari or gluten-free soy sauce (learn more about the difference between soy sauce and tamari here).
  • Shaoxing wine is the traditional ingredient in the sauce, but you can use dry sherry instead. For an alcohol-free alternative, use low-sodium chicken broth in place of the wine or sherry.

If You’re Making Crispy Honey-Garlic Beef Stir-Fry, a Few Tips

  • Cut the beef across the grain. To ensure the beef cooks up tender in a short amount of time thinly slice it across the grain, which means cutting across the fibers or grain that run through the beef; this makes the beef more tender and easier to chew.
  • Don’t skip any prep. Once the stove turns on, this stir-fry cooks fast. Make sure the beef is marinated, everything else is chopped up, and the sauce is stirred together before cooking.
  • Watch out for splatter. Use a well-seasoned wok if you have one to take advantage of the high sides, as the beef will splatter as it fries. If you are using a frying pan, use a splatter screen if you have one.

Crispy Honey-Garlic Beef Stir-Fry Recipe

The sticky honey sauce ties it all together.

Prep time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Serves 3 to 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the stir-fry and serving:

  • 1 pound

    beef flank or skirt steak

  • 1 tablespoon

    soy sauce or tamari

  • 12 ounces

    green beans

  • 4 cloves

    garlic

  • 3

    medium scallions

  • 1/4 cup

    cornstarch

  • 1/3 cup

    vegetable or canola oil

  • 1/4 cup

    water

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • Cooked white rice, for serving

For the sauce:

  • 1/4 cup

    honey

  • 2 tablespoons

    Shaoxing wine or dry sherry

  • 2 tablespoons

    soy sauce or tamari

  • 2 tablespoons

    water

Instructions

  1. Cut 1 pound flank or skirt steak crosswise (with the grain) into 2- to 3-inch-wide strips. Cut each strip across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick pieces. Place in a medium bowl, add 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and toss to coat.

  2. Trim the stem end from 12 ounces green beans. Finely chop 4 garlic cloves. Thinly slice 3 medium scallions, keep the white and light green parts separate from the dark green parts; reserve the dark green parts for garnish.

  3. Place 1/4 cup honey, 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine or dry sherry, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl and whisk with a fork until combined.

  4. Heat a large frying pan (preferably nonstick) or flat-bottomed wok over medium-high heat for a few minutes. Meanwhile, line a large plate with paper towels. Add 1/4 cup cornstarch to the beef and toss with your fingers, separating the slices, until each piece is evenly coated and the cornstarch is absorbed.

  5. Add 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil to the pan and let heat for about 10 seconds, then swirl the pan to coat the bottom. Add half of the beef to the pan with your hands, spreading it out into a single layer. Cook undisturbed until browned on the bottom and crisp, about 1 minute. (Careful, it will splatter! Use a splatter screen if you have one.)

  6. Using a flat spatula, preferably metal if cooking in a wok or stainless steel skillet, scrape up the beef and flip it as best you can, spreading it back into an even layer. Fry until the second side is browned and crisp and the beef is just cooked through, about 1 minute.

  7. Using the spatula, transfer the beef to the paper towel-lined plate, leaving behind as much of the fat in the pan as you can. Add the remaining beef to the pan and repeat frying. Turn off the heat and transfer the remaining beef to the plate. Pour off the grease in the pan into a heatproof bowl (discard when cool).

  8. Return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the green beans, 1/4 cup water, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Cover and cook over medium-high heat until the green beans are bright green in color, about 2 minutes. Uncover and stir-fry, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the water is evaporated, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the garlic and scallion white and light green parts, and stir-fry until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

  9. Add the sauce and return the beef to the pan. Stir-fry until the sauce thickens slightly and coats the beef and green beans, about 30 seconds. Garnish with the reserved scallion greens and serve with white rice.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The sauce can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.