Quick Beef Stir-Fry with Bell Peppers

Recipe updated September 6, 2012

Sometime in the mid-80s I gave my father a subscription to Gourmet Magazine for Christmas. I think this goes down in family history as the most appreciated gift ever given to him by one of his kids. He continued to subscribe to Gourmet for at least 15 years. Over the last few years, mostly to get ideas for this site, dad has been skimming through decades old issues that he still has in stashes all over the house. Here’s a recipe that started out from an old issue of Gourmet and used Worcestershire sauce, but over the years has morphed into something with a more Asian flare with soy sauce and sesame oil, and onions along with the strips of bell pepper. The original recipe called for chuck, we used top sirloin, which made the beef strips very tender, but because the strips are so thin, and cut across the grain, you could easily use chuck.

Quick Beef Stir-Fry with Bell Peppers Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4.


  • 1 pound top sirloin or chuck steaks (about 1/2 inch thick), trimmed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 3 Tbsp grapeseed, safflower, canola, rice bran or other high-smoke point oil, divided
  • 2 medium bell peppers, one red, one green, sliced into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced lengthwise (root to top)
  • A dozen cherry tomatoes, cut in half, or one large tomato, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoon sesame oil



1 Season the steaks with salt and pepper and rub minced garlic over one side. Place the steaks between two sheets of plastic wrap. With a meat pounder, pound the steaks to a 1/4 inch thickness. Let the steaks sit for 10 minutes to absorb the flavor of the garlic. Then cut them across the grain in 1/2-inch wide strips.

2 Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large skillet on high heat. Add the sliced onions and bell peppers, cook, stirring, until just barely tender, about 1-2 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the pan to a bowl and keep warm.


3 Heat an additional Tbsp of oil in the skillet on high heat, until the oil is shimmering, but not smoking. Add the strips of beef let the beef brown initially, without stirring, but as soon as it is brown on one side, then stir. Cook for no more than a minute (for medium-rare). Add the peppers and onions, tomatoes, cilantro, soy sauce and sesame oil and cook for a half minute longer, stirring. Remove from heat.

Serve alone, or with steamed rice. Salt and pepper to taste.

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Showing 4 of 10 Comments

  • Cynthia

    It would be a little more work, but how about adding some lightly sauteed portobello mushrooms… steak, mushrooms, onions and veggies. Totally delish!

  • David Grant

    Both my parents and my in-laws make something like this before. It’s good, but once I went Asian, I could never go back to this. Just last night I made some beef and peppers with Lee Kum Kee’s black bean garlic sauce. Cooking rare is a must for nice tender meat, and don’t forget it will continue cooking on the serving plate too. I had the heat on the stove super hot (max) and cooked the beef and sauce quickly then threw in the peppers and cooked for another minute or so. Next time I might put the peppers in earlier like Elise did.

  • aida

    For an added flavor, I marinate the beef strips in 3 tablespoon soysauce, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tsp grated ginger and 3 cloves crushed garlic (up to an hour). I save the marinade and add about 2 teaspoonful of cornstarch to it and add the mixture to the pan after cooking the meat and vegetables. This makes a nice gravy to pour over the rice.

  • Jean Prescott

    Whenever you write about your dad, I think about mine and miss him and the slap-dash way he cooked. He would have liked this…simplicity was his middle name. And, by the way, I just so look forward to your lovely spare prose, the way you tell tales and describe an event or incident that led to your choosing a certain recipe. So many food bloggers write with a thesaurus at their elbows. Thanks, Elise, for the recipes and the tone of the site…but most particularly for stories about your dad.

    Ah, thank you Jean. My father was an English teacher who used to brutally edit my essays with a red pen, cutting out every unnecessary word. So I developed a short writing style; the shorter the prose, the fewer the cuts! ~Elise

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