Quick and Easy Chinese Orange Beef

I was a little behind this week and didn’t get to photographing today’s recipe until yesterday late afternoon.  As I went to make a yummy vegetarian dinner starring black beans, I was shocked and surprised to find my black beans were a funny shade of red.  Probably because the giant Costco case I just bought was actually kidney beans.  Looks like I have a lot of chili in my future.  It reminded me of the time I first made Kate’s Red Beans and Rice and thought they were horrible.  That was until I realized I accidentally made them with pinto beans (tuns out the real recipe is awesome and amazing and delicious.)  Apparently I need to look more closely when I’m shopping for beans.  Anyway, since my family observes the Sabbath, we don’t shop on Sundays, so that meant my procrastination and lack of black beans led to a quick change in plans.  I had a flank steak that needed cooking, and I had been thinking all week about my Asian Orange Chicken recipe from our cook book and remembered I wanted to try this beef recipe, which was really similar. It was a happy change of plans because we absolutely devoured this Orange Beef.  It boasts perfectly balanced flavors and can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes on the stove top with pretty normal ingredients.  Can’t beat that!  It’s a great week-night dinner that’s faster, healthier, and better tasting that its take-out counterpart.

Quick and Easy dinner in under 30 minutes- from Our Best Bites

The base for this bright, flavorful sauce comes from fresh oranges.  I’d grab 2 just to be sure you have enough.  First zest an orange into a bowl, and then add some of the fresh juice. If you don’t have a microplane, get one.

Orange Zest and Juice

It’s no secret that we’re citrus junkies around here.  Fresh zest adds ridiculous flavor and it’s one of the best ways to brighten up a dish.

Orange zest

The rest of the ingredients are really simple.  A little dark brown sugar, ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and Asian chili sauce.  We’ll also put in a little cornstarch to thicken it.

Bottled Ingredients

These are all things that will last forever in your fridge and pantry, so buy them once and use them for a while.  Rice vinegar can be found with all of the other vinegars at the grocery store, and look in the Asian Foods aisle for the Sweet Chili Sauce (sometimes called “Asian Chili Garlic Sauce” or “Thai Sweet Chili Sauce”).  I can often find it in bottles like this:

Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

Or sometimes small glass jars, but it’s something that should be pretty available in most grocery stores.  It’s got a little kick to it, but it’s not super spicy.  It adds sweetness and flavor and little flecks of color, too.

Thai Sweet Chili Sauce in Spoonn

You’ll also need a little fresh ginger.  If the looks of that scares you off, just read this post all about using fresh ginger.  It tastes amazing, and keeps for a long time in the freezer if you don’t use it all.


Once that quick sauce is whisked up, just set it aside and bust out the beef.  We’re using flank steak here and since we need it cut super thin, it really helps to pop it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes before you cut it.  You don’t want it completely frozen through, just firm enough to add some resistance so you can slice it as thin as possible.

Make sure you cut it across the grain.  You’ll notice the lines or “grain” in flank steak run horizontally, the long way.  See the little lines in my photo from left to right?  Cutting “against the grain” means to cut perpendicular to those lines.  If you don’t do that, you’ll get a horribly chewy piece of meat.  Cut the steak as thin as you possibly can- cutting it thick with also result in chewy steak and we don’t want that.

Slicing Flank Steak

Give your sliced steak a very light sprinkling of salt and pepper

Sliced Flank Steak

And then toss it in a hot oiled skillet.  You’ll want to do half of the steak at a time so you don’t crowd the pan and boil the meat instead.  Let it cook for about a minute without turning it at all.

Cooking Flank Steak

Then toss it around for another couple of minutes until it’s cooked through.  It’s super thin so it only takes a couple of minutes- avoid overcooking so it stays nice and tender.

Cooked Beef

When the meat is done cooking, remove it from the pan and add the sauce in there.  Bring it to a simmer and use a spatula to help get all of those browned bits off the bottom of the pan.  When the sauce simmers for a minute or two it will become nice and thick.

Simmering Orange Sauce

And then you can add the steak back in and toss to coat.

Beef in Sauce

Slice up some green onions,

Sliced Green Onions

And serve it over brown or white rice.

Easy Orange Beef from Our Best Bites

It’s sweet and savory and bright and flavorful.  This sauce is spot on, and it perfectly clings to the tender steak.  It’s loads better than take-out, and faster too!


GIVEAWAY smWho’s up for a  movie night?  Make sure you enter the fun giveaway we have going on right now!  One lucky reader will get a $100 Visa Gift Card– that’s enough to take the family to see the new DreamWorks Animation Picture, The Croods!  Plus you can even buy the expensive candy at the theater instead of sneaking in your own 😉  Head over and enter!


  1. I may just be blind but I think the brown sugar is missing from the ingredients list…I’m assuming it’s 1/4 cup since that’s what you have in your pictures, but I just wanted to let you know. The recipe looks amazing, can’t wait to try this out this week. Thanks for sharing!!

  2. This sounds delicious! I have a question about “boiling the meat.” Does that happen just from trying to cook too much at once? I have never been able to figure out why it happens sometimes and not other times. We have 8 people in our family so I am usually cooking a lot at once. Will cooking half at a time prevent the problem or are there other contributing factors?

    1. I also meant to ask whether clementines will work or if they need to be big oranges. Other than needing to use more of them, does it matter?

      1. I think the “oranges” I used were actually something like tangelos and it was fine. The flavor was just a little more intense. 🙂

      2. I’ve totally done that in a pinch! They’ll work, although the flavor will be a little different and you’ll need a bunch! I’d use oranges if you can, but in a pinch, something like clementines will work just fine.

    2. There’s a few factors. First you want to make sure your meat is defrosted and patted dry. Then make sure your pan is properly heated up before you add meat to it (hot, not warm) but biggest factor is when you crowd a pan. The meat needs surface area to give off moisture and then let it evaporate to facilitate browning. If you crowd lots of meat in the pan, some of it won’t have direct contact with the heat surface. The large quantity of meat will then release a lot of moisture and have no place to go, so it just creates a pool where the meal “boils”. If you’re cooking a lot at once, it’s worth it to use a large pan and cook it in batches. Hope that helps!

    3. I’ve had the same problem cooking quite a bit at once. I generally just drain off most of the excess liquid so that it fries rather than boiling, but cooking it half at a time might work as well.

  3. I made this for dinner tonight (I am many time zones ahead of you). DELICIOUS. I loved the zing of the real orange flavor. Thanks for the great recipe!

  4. This looks good! I love creating dishes at home that you usually get for take out. They are always much better, healthier and cheaper. I will be adding this to my list of recipes to try.

  5. This recipe looks great. Is there a substitute you recommend for zest? I get really sick if I eat anything with zest, lemon and orange. The juice is fine, but for some odd reason, zest does not sit well. I tend to leave out the zest and make recipes with just the juice, but I hear how the zest intensifies the flavor and wondered if there were any options for me that are zest less.

    1. Honestly, while there’s some things that could intensify the citrus flavor (dried zest, flavored oils, etc.) there’s really no great substitute for the flavor and brightness that fresh zest adds to a recipe.

  6. Thanks for this. Orange beef is my favorite Chinese dish and not always easy to find. It’s good to know there is a healthier homemade option that I can actually cook (read: not so complicated it’s off-putting). Thanks again!

  7. This looks so good! I’ve been looking for more recipes without garlic and onions because they make me nauseous right now. Thanks for adding another to my list! 🙂

  8. Dang! I have everything to make this except the Asian Chili Sauce. I’m guessing there is no substitute for that. This looks amazing though.

    1. Make it anyway! Throw a pinch of red pepper flakes in there (or a dash of hot sauce or sprinkle of cayanne) and a little garlic powder. It will still be yummy!

  9. Really want to try, it looks so tasty! Question, will there be a big difference in taste if I use light brown sugar instead of dark brown sugar?

    1. Nah, go ahead and use light if that’s what you’ve got- it will be just as good. The dark just adds a little more depth of flavor.

  10. Can’t wait to try this. What kind of knife do you use to cute your meat? Serrated? I seem to have a hard time getting my meat cut super thin. Thank you!

  11. You guys seriously are too much of a good thing. On the spot dinner and photograph and post about it? I dont know how you do it

  12. I’m finding that I don’t love the taste of fresh ginger. I think it is because I always expect a sweet taste but it is more salty. If I leave ginger out of this recipe…would it still be yummy or would it be way too sweet? Thanks!

    1. Ginger isn’t salty, at all. It’s more of a citrus flavor, bright and fresh. I personally wouldn’t leave it out of this recipe!

    2. Try the tubes of fresh ginger in the produce section. They are SUPER easy (no grating necessary!), super tasty, and you can pop them in the freezer and save for later. 🙂 You also won’t get any “woody”ness that you sometimes find if the ginger isn’t really fresh.

  13. I’ve noticed y’all use dark brown sugar in a lot of your recipes, I’m guessing it is to add a deeper flavor, yes? Do you keep light brown sugar on hand for anything or should I just always use the dark stuff? I’m just wondering about containers…get an extra one for dark brown or scrap the light stuff and use that container….important stuff, ya know!

    1. Yep, you’re right. Dark brown sugar just has more molasses in it, giving it a deeper, richer flavor. Most recipes call for light brown sugar, so that’s what I usually use, but if a recipe specifically calls for dark brown it’s nice to have on hand. When it comes down to it, you can easily get away with using either/or in a recipe. I sometimes swap them just depending on what I have.

  14. Oh my. What beautiful measuring spoons! (Ok, weirdest thing I’ve said all day…) No, but really… Where did you get them? 🙂 This looks delicious!

  15. Okay, I am apparently a totally clueless cook, but I can’t figure out if you mean 1 flank steak that is 1/2 lb. or 1.5 lbs of flank steak… Could you clarify for those really special people out there? 🙂

    1. Haha, no it’s tricky! I actually re-worded the way I wrote that multiple times! You want to use one flank steak, that weighs about 1.5 pounds. Does that make sense?

    1. No, my husband has never worked for ATK- why do you ask? Lol. I’m just a big fan so I use their recipes a lot! That is an All-Clad pan, I have a couple of them, but I don’t use them exclusively.

  16. Love all your recipes! I cannot wait to try making this chinese orange beef!Can you PLEASE tell me what kind of pans you use (not just for this recipe)? I have been shopping for new cookware (pan set)…it is so overwhelming! I LOVE to cook & bake so I need a good set of cookware! Thanks for any input!

  17. My hubby and I have 14 wonderful grandchildren. So we would definitely use the prize money and have a great time with the gang! This is one grandma who loves your recipes!

  18. This was a total lifesaver. I found myself at 5:00 wondering what I was going to make for dinner. I had everything on hand and threw it together. Delicious!

  19. Love this site. Just got both cookbooks and right now am chowing down on the cheesy enchiladds (pg 29?) Anyway, so good. This website helps fuel my love for cooking, and of course eating. I literally fell asleep on my couch reading one of the books cover to cover-that’s how excited I was. You have some great healthy recipes included in your other books, would be neat to see a cookbook focused on all healthy recipes (ironic to mention after eating the cheesy enchiladas. But anyway…) Big fan of you guys 🙂

  20. I’m trying to add more veggies to my family’s diet. Do you have a side dish that you recommend serving with this? It looks wonderful.

  21. Hmm, I hate to ask this since the name of the recipe IS Chinese *Orange* beef, BUT – do you think anything else would do the trick besides orange? Would lemon just be wrong?

      1. Yes, I definitely think orange would be best, but my poor hubby had to go and be all allergic to orange on me…. haha.
        The recipe does look amazing though!

  22. I just made the Quick and Easy Chinese Orange Beef for dinner and it is the best I have ever tasted, my husband loved it as well. As stated, it was very easy. We will surely make it again and again.

  23. This was AWESOME! We really enjoyed it. Recommend adding a healthy dose of siracha (to taste) to the sauce if you like spicy like us.

  24. I made this for dinner last night and it was DELICIOUS! I’m a busy lady so the easy to follow pictures and the instructions on the blog made this a breeze. Thanks so much!

  25. Wow–this was amazing and so easy to make! We liked it so much, I am going to make it again next week! 🙂 The only changes I made were: I added minced garlic and I reduced the amount of chili sauce.

  26. Oh I so want to get the ATK Quick Family Cookbook. Have you liked it? If the recipes in it are all like this delicious looking one, I’ll have to get it soon.

  27. I was so excited about this recipe because I had no idea what i was making for dinner then I saw this and was thrilled that I already had all of the ingredients. I have never found a recipe of yours that I didn’t like (I have tried a ton of them) and I especially love Asian chili sauce so I thought for sure this recipe would be amazing. Unfortunately however, this was not a hit with me. My husband loved it so obviously there is just something wrong with my taste buds. I’m not sure what it was maybe something about the orange flavor?

  28. Sweet Chili sauce….FREAKING YUM!!!! I use that for my salad dressing quite a bit. There’s only one kind I really like that is a different kind but similar.

    This looks absolutely amazing!

  29. This was delicious and super easy. I used a Cara-cara orange and it’s juice, and 1 Tbsp of sriracha for some kick, also no fresh ginger, I used dried. Perfect balance of sweet and spicy. I used flank steak, but this could easily be adapted for chicken, pork or shrimp. Thanks for a new recipe for my rotation.

  30. Oh, my goodness! This was divine! And miracle of miracles, my children liked it. SO much, in fact, that my oldest (9yrs) asked me to make it for his birthday dinner! And pretty easy to make, too.

  31. So I made this last night and it ended up being ridiculously spicy. Now granted the hubs and I are spice wimps but did I do something wrong? I don’t get it? I used the asian chili garlic sauce. I put in two tablespoons because that is what it said however I noticed in your pic you used a teaspoon so was it supposed to be 2 teaspoons? Help! : (

    1. That’s so weird. It IS 2 teaspoons, but I have a page printed off from this very post and mine says teaspoons. Maybe it somehow got changed?? Only one other person commented on it being too spicy, so I’m not sure what happened! Asian chili sauces really vary in heat levels too. The one I use isn’t spicy at all so I could use a ton without a problem. I made sure the printable version is correct now, I’m sorry yours turned out so hot!

  32. Loved it! I walked in the door from work at 5:10 and had it on the table by 5:45. I used some random steak that was in the freezer (defrosted just a bit in the microwave so I could slice it) and served it with a bag of frozen stir-fry veggies and some grilled pineapple on the side (yeah, that was a treat). Next time I think I’ll do it with chicken. I love recipes that I can whip up using my pantry and freezer items!

  33. My Fiance and I made this for dinner last night and it was great! He asked me to add it to our regular rotation. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  34. I made this tonight and it was delicious but WAY too HOT! We had to pull all traces of the steak and sauce out of our kids rice before they tried it! I am thinking next time I go shopping for Asian Chili Sauce, I won’t be buying the one that says “hot”. Just a word of warning for all you who are putting it on your shopping list (I usually like spicy foods but this was intense!)

    1. Oh no! Yeah, most chili sauces (like the one pictured) aren’t very spicy, they’re more sweet and tangy. That’s a good word of warning though; you never know!

  35. I made this with some thinly sliced leftover roast beef, and wow was it ever good! That sauce is amazing, and my husband agreed it was way better than any takeout!

  36. This looks yummy and I’m going to try it this weekend but can you substite chicken breast or thighs for the steak?

  37. Made this a couple weeks ago and the hubby LOVED it…today I was wanting a crock pot recipe to throw in before church and decided to give this a shot. SO DELICIOUS! I doubled the sauce to make sure it didn’t dry out, cooked it on low all day, threw in the orange peels for extra flavor, and the beef was melt in your mouth amazing!! Plus, the whole house had an awesome orange scent all day 🙂

  38. Can you make this as a freezer meal? I try to see which ones of ya’lls meals can be freezer mea;s but only a couple have directions to freeze. I am in a meal swap group for freezer meals and your website come up alot in my head to get ideas from. but i wish they all had directions for freeing them! I never know whether or not to cook the meat then freeze or leave it raw..etc.

  39. I made this last night and it was delicious! It tasted better than take-out, and much healthier. I served it with rice and broccoli. My entire family loved it – even my three-year-old. It was so quick and easy to put together too!

  40. Just finished eating this and I loved it! Couldn’t find the chili sauce, so I used shichimi to add a little kick in its place. Beef is super expensive here, so thinking of replacing half the meat with veggies next time. Thanks!

  41. I haven’t made this –YET!!! But to anyone wondering if thry could freeze this: According to my friends on a Yahoo Foodsaver group site, they freeze everything! I’m waiting for my Foodsaver to get here and then I can cook to my heart’s content — or until I’m tired. I live alone so making my own dinners from “leftovers” will be wonderful. My Foodsaver friends say that everything they’ve “Saved” tastes like “just made”. No, I’m NOT a Foodsaver representative. Just a wannabe — soon-to-be user. SOOOOO — if it can be vacuum frozen, why not ziplock bag frozen?

  42. So, I’m guessing if I use HOT chili sauce, it will be way spicier than you intend by suggesting SWEET chili sauce? Or can they be interchanged?

  43. I am always looking for recipes with beef and this one looks delish!!!!!!!!!!! We eat too much chicken.:)
    My boys(husband & son)tend to love recipes with an asian-sweet kick to it!!!
    I will be tryig this recipe soon.
    Thanks Sara!

  44. Made this tonight and served it over coconut jasmine rice. It was amazing! I’ve been suffering from a case of meal boredom recently and I’m so glad I decided to branch out with this recipe. It was way better than Chinese takeout. The orange zest and fresh juice take this dish over the top. I’ll definitely add some broccoli next time to round out the dish and to make it go a little further on my budget. It will be a miracle if I don’t make this again next week. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

  45. This was a huge hit! I loved the orangey flavor and I ADORED that I whipped it up in less than 30 minutes. Wouldn’t change a thing about the recipe. Just what I needed 🙂 Thanks!

  46. Made this tonight for dinner…soooo delish, as are all your recipes I’ve tried. Thought I had some fresh ginger but realized I was out so i used dried. I can’t wait to make it again with fresh…I’m sure it’s even better!

  47. Simply awesome. We don’t use organges, we just use the amount of organge juice and it is citrusy for sure. I wouldn’t want more citrus taste. We serve over rice noodles (vermicelli) and it is so good. It’s seriously better than take out. Sara and Kate seriously know their asain. I trust their recipes after trying probably 8 of them with complete and total success.

  48. Mmmm! We love your recipes! This comment is long overdue, but a little over a year ago, I went into labor while cooking this up for the first time! By the time I was finished cooking and we were ready to eat, I was so uncomfortable with my contractions that I couldn’t sit in a chair. Instead, I bounced on my birthing ball at the table and shoved delicious forkfuls into my mouth in between contractions! It was intense, but I still savored every bite! You guys have earned a permanent place in my first labor story!

  49. This is such a great and easy recipe. My husband and I moved into our new home last week and this is the first meal I made. It was a hit! And soooo easy. Thanks for a wonderful recipe!

  50. This has been a staple in our house ever since you posted it. My husband always comments on what a good meal it is when I make it. Thank you!

  51. Okay, I’m late to the party, but this recipe is amazing! I had a whole box of oranges I need to get through so this recipe was appealing. I used sirloin because it was on sale. I cut it into strips like the recipe said (partially frozen) and barely seared them in my very hot wok to make sure I didn’t overcook it. I was blown away by how good this tasted with relatively simple ingredients. We loved it! I will definitely make this again. Soooo much better than take out!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.