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Mongolian beef is a classic Chinese-American dish that is known for its sweet, savory, and slightly spicy flavor. It is made with thinly sliced beef that is stir-fried in a sauce made with soy sauce, brown sugar, and ginger. The beef is then served over rice or noodles.

This Mongolian Beef recipe is perfect for one person. It is easy to make and only takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. The ingredients are also simple and easy to find.

Explore the world of Asian-inspired cuisine tailored for single servings, featuring dishes like Kung Pao Chicken, Beef and Broccoli, Pepper Steak, and Shrimp Fried Rice, each offering a unique burst of flavor.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Simple ingredients: This recipe uses ingredients that are easy to find.
  • Quick cooking: The beef is sliced thinly so that it cooks quickly and evenly.
  • Delicious sauce: The sauce for this recipe is made with simple ingredients that give the beef a delicious taste.
  • Easy to follow: We’ve provided a step-by-step recipe for Mongolian Beef, as well as a few expert tips, and variations you can try.
  • Versatile: This recipe can be customized to your liking.

So, whether you are a beginner cook or an experienced chef, you are sure to find something on this page that will help you make the perfect Mongolian Beef.

a plate of white rice topped with mongolian beef and its sauce next to a white bottle of soy sauce.

What Is Mongolian Beef?

Mongolian Beef is a popular Chinese-American dish, featuring tender beef stir-fried with a succulent, slightly sweet and tangy sauce, typically served over rice. The vegetables that are typically used in Mongolian beef include onions, garlic, and sometimes bell peppers. The sauce for Mongolian beef is typically made with soy sauce and brown sugar.

The Origin Of Mongolian Beef

Despite its name, Mongolian Beef originates not from Mongolia, but from the Chinese-American kitchens of the mid-20th century. Inspired by the flavors and cooking techniques of Mongolian barbecue – a style of stir-frying meats on a large, open iron griddle – Mongolian Beef showcases a unique blend of Chinese-American culinary creativity.

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Ingredients

ingredients in mongolian beef on a kitchen counter.
  • Flank steak: This is the best cut of beef for Mongolian Beef because it is lean and has a good texture. It is also relatively inexpensive, making it a great choice for budget-minded cooks. If you can’t find flank steak, skirt steak or hanger steak could be used as a good substitute. Alternatively, flat iron steak or sirloin steak could also work. If you have leftover flank steak, consider using it in Carne Asada and Steak Fajitas.
  • Cornstarch: Cornstarch is used as a thickening agent in many Asian dishes. It gives the Mongolian beef its signature glossy, thick sauce. If you can’t find cornstarch, use flour instead, but it may not provide the same clear, glossy finish.
  • Soy sauce: This gives the dish its savory, umami flavor. I prefer using low sodium soy sauce because it allows me to better control the sodium content of this dish. If you don’t have low sodium soy sauce, you could use regular soy sauce, but be aware that this might make the dish saltier. If you need a gluten-free option, tamari is a great substitute.
  • Brown sugar: This adds sweetness to the dish and helps to balance the saltiness of the soy sauce. If you don’t have brown sugar, you can use white sugar, but you might miss out on the depth of flavor that comes from the molasses in brown sugar. Consider preparing a small batch of homemade brown sugar, or you can use honey or maple syrup as an alternative.
  • Vegetable or avocado oil: These are both good oils to use for stir-frying because they have a high smoke point. This means that they can be heated to high temperatures without smoking or burning, which is important for getting a good sear on the beef. Other neutral oils like canola oil, sunflower oil, or grapeseed oil could also be used. Olive oil is another option, but its strong flavor might change the taste of the dish.
  • Fresh ginger: This adds a fresh, aromatic flavor to the sauce. It is also a good source of gingerol, a compound that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Consider using leftover ginger in Chicken Tikka Masala, Saag Paneer, or in a refreshing Green Smoothie. If you don’t have fresh ginger, you can use 1/8 of a teaspoon of ground ginger instead.
  • Garlic: Garlic provides a foundational flavor in many dishes, including Mongolian Beef. If fresh garlic isn’t available, you can use minced garlic from a jar, or garlic powder. The general rule is 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder for every clove of fresh garlic.
  • Green onions: These add a nice color and mild, oniony flavor to the dish. If you can’t find green onions or scallions, chives could be a good substitute. Leeks or shallots, while having a stronger flavor, could also work in a pinch.

If you have any ingredients leftover from this recipe, check out our Leftover Ingredients Recipe Finder.

Recipe Variations

For a spicier version, add a dash of red pepper flakes or some sliced jalapeno. Or, for an extra pop of color and nutrition, toss in some stir-fried bell peppers or broccoli. Enjoy this dish your way, every time.

How To Thinly Slice Flank Steak For Mongolian Beef

  1. Use a sharp knife. A sharp knife will make it easier to slice the steak thinly and evenly.
  2. Slice against the grain. This will help to tenderize the steak and make it easier to chew.
  3. Freeze the steak for 20 minutes before slicing. This will make the steak easier to slice and will help to prevent it from tearing. If you don’t have time to freeze the steak, you can still slice it thinly. However, it will be a little more difficult and the steak may tear more easily.
  4. Hold the steak with one hand and slice it with the other. Use a sawing motion to slice the steak thinly.
  5. Cut the steak into strips that are about 1/4-inch thick. This is the ideal thickness for Mongolian Beef.

How To Make Mongolian Beef For One

These step-by-step photos and instructions help you visualize how to make Mongolian Beef. See the recipe box below for ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions.

  1. To coat the steak with cornstarch, slice the steak into 1/4-inch strips and place the strips in a bowl. Add enough cornstarch to coat the steak evenly, then stir to make sure all of the strips of steak are well coated. Alternatively, you can place the steak and cornstarch in a ziplock bag and shake to coat.
slices of steak in a bowl tossed with cornstarch.
  1. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, and water and set the bowl aside to use later.
soy sauce, water, and brown sugar in a small bowl.
  1. Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Once heated, add the steak and cook for 1 to 2 minutes on each side until the edges start to brown. Once the steak is cooked through, transfer the strips to a plate, cover and set aside.
strips of steak cooking in a skillet.
  1. Add the chopped garlic and ginger and cook, stirring constantly for 30 seconds.
garlic and ginger sauteeing in a pan.
  1. Add the sauce to the pan and cook, stirring frequently until the sauce comes to a boil.
mongolian beef sauce simmering in a pan.
  1. Add the steak back to the pan and stir frequently for 2-3 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
mongolian beef simmering in a skillet on the stove.
  1. Add the chopped green onions to the pan and stir frequently for 20 seconds.
chopped green onions over the top of mongolian beef.

Expert Tips

  • Read through the entire recipe and the Ingredient Notes section of the post and gather your ingredients. We provide a lot of information within the body of this recipe post to ensure that your Mongolian Beef comes out perfectly every time. This dish comes together quickly so it’s a good idea to fully understand the recipe and have everything ready before beginning.
  • Control the Heat: Keep your pan at medium-high heat to ensure a perfect sear on the beef and avoid overcooking.
  • Use Fresh Ingredients: Fresh ginger, garlic, and green onions will significantly enhance the flavors.
  • To thicken the sauce, you can simmer it for a few minutes longer.

Serving Suggestions

Mongolian Beef is a versatile dish that can be served in various ways. Here are a few common serving suggestions:

  1. With White Rice: This is the most common way to serve Mongolian Beef. The rice helps soak up the sauce and balances the strong flavors of the dish. White rice works well, but brown rice could also be used for a healthier option.
  2. With Noodles: You can serve Mongolian Beef over a bed of noodles for a hearty meal. Rice noodles, Lo mein, or even buttered pasta noodles can be used.
  3. With Vegetables: Stir-fried or steamed vegetables like broccoli, red or green bell peppers, bok choy, or snow peas can be served alongside Mongolian Beef for a balanced, colorful meal.
  4. In a Lettuce Wrap: For a lower-carb option, serve Mongolian Beef in lettuce leaves. This also adds a nice crunch to the dish.
  5. As a Sandwich or Slider Filling: Although less traditional, Mongolian Beef can also be used as a filling for sandwiches or sliders for a fun twist.
mongolian beef served over white rice on a silver tray.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this recipe vegetarian or vegan?

Yes, you can make this recipe vegetarian or vegan by substituting tofu or tempeh for the beef.

Can I use ground ginger instead of fresh?

Yes, but the flavor of fresh ginger is more potent.

What is the best cut of meat for Mongolian Beef?

We like using flank steak in our recipe because it is a type of beef that cooks quickly. You can also use flat iron steak, flap steak, or sirloin.

Can I make gluten-free Mongolian Beef?

Absolutely! Replace soy sauce with tamari or coconut aminos.

Can I Double This Recipe?

Yes, this recipe yields one generous serving of Mongolian Beef. If you want to make two servings, simply double the ingredients.

Ways To Use Leftover Ingredients

If you have any ingredients leftover from this recipe, check out our Leftover Ingredients Recipe Finder or you might like to consider using them in any of these single serving and small batch recipes:

If you’ve tried this easy Mongolian Beef or any recipe on One Dish Kitchen please let me know how you liked it by rating the recipe and telling me about it in the comment section below.

Don’t forget to check out our other fantastic meals for one on our site. And if you enjoyed this Mongolian Beef recipe, share your culinary creation with us using the hashtag #OneDishKitchen on social media. We can’t wait to see your dishes!

For more information on the cooking and baking dishes I use in our “recipes for one”, please visit our FAQ page.

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Your Cooking For One Source
Because you’re worth it

Mongolian Beef For One

5 from 8 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 1 serving
Cook up a delicious and easy-to-make single serving of Mongolian Beef in just 20 minutes! This flavorful dish is perfect for a quick and satisfying meal.

Ingredients 
 

  • 6-8 ounces flank steak , sliced against the grain in ¼ inch strips
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or avocado oil or canola oil)
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • ¼ teaspoon finely minced ginger (or ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped green onions

Instructions 

  • Place the strips of steak in a medium-sized bowl. Add the cornstarch to coat the steak, then stir to make sure all of the strips of steak are well coated. Alternatively, you can place the steak and cornstarch in a ziplock bag and shake to coat.
  • In a separate small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, and water and set the bowl aside to use later.
  • Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Once heated, add the steak and cook for 1 to 2 minutes on each side until the edges start to brown. Once the steak is cooked through, transfer the strips to a plate, cover and set aside.
  • Add the chopped garlic and ginger and cook, stirring constantly for 30 seconds.
  • Add the sauce to the pan and cook, stirring frequently until the sauce comes to a boil.
  • Add the steak back to the pan and stir frequently for 2-3 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
  • Add the chopped green onions to the pan and stir frequently for 20 seconds.
  • Serve over white rice, if desired.

Notes

Expert Tips
  • Read through the entire recipe and the Ingredient Notes section of the post and gather your ingredients. We provide a lot of information within the body of this recipe post to ensure that your Mongolian Beef comes out perfectly every time. This dish comes together quickly so it’s a good idea to fully understand the recipe and have everything ready before beginning.
  • Control the Heat: Keep your pan at medium-high heat to ensure a perfect sear on the beef and avoid overcooking.
  • Use Fresh Ingredients: Fresh ginger, garlic, and green onions will significantly enhance the flavors.
  • To thicken the sauce, you can simmer it for a few minutes longer.
How To Thinly Slice Flank Steak For Mongolian Beef
  1. Use a sharp knife. A sharp knife will make it easier to slice the steak thinly and evenly.
  2. Slice against the grain. This will help to tenderize the steak and make it easier to chew.
  3. Freeze the steak for 20 minutes before slicing. This will make the steak easier to slice and will help to prevent it from tearing. If you don’t have time to freeze the steak, you can still slice it thinly. However, it will be a little more difficult and the steak may tear more easily.
  4. Hold the steak with one hand and slice it with the other. Use a sawing motion to slice the steak thinly.
  5. Cut the steak into strips that are about ¼-inch thick. This is the ideal thickness for Mongolian beef.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 461kcal, Carbohydrates: 33g, Protein: 39g, Fat: 23g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 102mg, Sodium: 1120mg, Potassium: 725mg, Fiber: 0.3g, Sugar: 23g, Calcium: 65mg, Iron: 3mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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14 Comments

  1. So satisfying! I made as directed and was so yummy. Next time I’ll try adding asparagus, or green pepper, or broccoli or….

  2. Hi Joanie! First off, thank you for all you do to support us one-two person households who were used to cooking larger meals for more. It’s difficult to adjust to making smaller meals, so I’m appreciative of all you do. I’m positive others’ will agree.
    I have a bottle of hoisin sauce in the fridge. Do you think I could sub maybe 1/2 cup in place of the soy sauce/water? I love hoisin sauce and use it in place of catsup and bbq sauce depending on the recipe. Thank you once again.

  3. Made it tonight for dinner. Delicious! Added 2 very thinly sliced zucchini. Will definitely make again.

    1. Yes, add the steak back to the pan and stir frequently for 2-3 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.

    2. Good recipe. Didn’t have low sodium soy sauce so used regular. Might try again with low sodium sauce to compare. Definitely worth making again.