You may be familiar with chicken cooked with 40 cloves of garlic, a version of a traditional French dish that uses amazing caramelized garlic in a comforting cream sauce. I figured, “Why not try it with beef?”

Tender top sirloin and fresh herbs work beautifully with the garlic, which is gently stir-fried to enhance the flavor without being overpowering. The traditional accompaniment is mashed potatoes, but pasta or rice are also excellent choices, as is a slice of crusty bread to sop up every bit of the sauce.–Jessica Formicola

Stir-Fried Beef with Garlic Sauce FAQs

What is the best cut of beef for stir fry?

This recipe calls for top sirloin because it doesn’t require much tenderizing. You can also use chuck or strip steak, but you’ll have to do some tenderizing first (see below). Save anything with lots of fat and marbling for the grill.

How do I tenderize steak strips for this recipe?

Depending on the cut you go with, you might want to tenderize it a bit before cooking. Salting your beef is a good start so salt the entire piece before slicing it—but make sure to let it sit for at least 40 minutes before cooking. The other way to ensure that you have tender beef for your stir fry is by cutting it against the grain. Hold your knife at a 45-degree angle and slice thin strips to make the muscle fibers shorter, making the beef less chewy.

Do I really need to use 40 cloves of garlic?

We think so. We always measure garlic with our hearts. Don’t be afraid – the low simmer in butter, broth, and herbs will take the spicy bite out of the garlic and make it sweetly herby, soft, and creamy. You’ll want a clove with each bite of beef. You’ll be spreading that sensational soft garlic onto bread. You’ll be smooshing it into your mashed potatoes or rice. Promise.

A cast-iron skillet filled with stir-fried beef with garlic sauce and a blue and white oven mitt on the side.

Stir-Fried Beef with Garlic Sauce

5 / 4 votes
Tender pieces of stir-fried beef combine with an irresistibly creamy garlic sauce in this easy comfort meal that's on the table in just over an hour.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories405 kcal
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour 5 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds top sirloin, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter
  • 40 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 1/2 cups store-bought or homemade chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Cooked rice, mashed potatoes, or egg noodles, for serving


  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil.
  • Sprinkle the beef with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add the beef to the hot skillet, browning it evenly, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer it to a paper towel–lined plate. Reduce the heat to medium.
  • Carefully wipe any residual liquid from the skillet. Add the butter and garlic cloves, and sauté until browned and fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes. Splash in 2 cups of the broth, the thyme, and rosemary. Simmer over low heat for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and cream until a paste forms. Pour in the remaining 1/2 cup broth, whisking until smooth.
  • Return the beef to the skillet with the garlic and toss until heated through. Remove the skillet from the heat, pour the cream sauce into the hot skillet, and stir to combine. Let the sauce thicken, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Serve over cooked rice, potatoes, or pasta.
Beef It Up! Cookbook

Adapted From

Beef It Up!

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 405 kcalCarbohydrates: 15 gProtein: 43 gFat: 19 gSaturated Fat: 8 gMonounsaturated Fat: 6 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 124 mgSodium: 148 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 1 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2022 Jessica Formicola. Photo © 2022 Dominic Perry Photography. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I am not a big beef eater, save for burgers, meatballs, and corned beef. (I always say I’m a cheap beef date.) My beloved is, however, so I was excited to make this stir-fried beef with garlic sauce for him. I’ve made chicken with 40 cloves of garlic many times and we love it, so I thought the beef iteration would be a fun twist on an old favorite. It was!

A blue plate topped with rice, asparagus, and stir-fried beef with garlic sauce.

We relished the French feel of this fairly quick meal. It gave us the meaty, stewy, garlicky vibes of beef Bourguignon, but in a lot less time, and with fewer ingredients and much less effort. The quick browning of the sirloin pieces left them perfectly medium and tender inside. The garlic cloves were sweet, mild, and perfect for mashing into the rice with that glorious sauce. I’m still a chicken girl and prefer the original, but this is an easy and scrumptious “compromise” to satisfy my beef lover from time to time. Next time we’ll pair it with mashed potatoes or buttered egg noodles to better soak up the sauce.

Don’t be put off by the amount of garlic used here. While it seems that a stir-fried beef recipe with 40 cloves of garlic would be very potent, because of the cooking method, the garlic flavor is not overwhelming. In fact, the cloves are quite mild, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much we enjoyed them. Overall, it is a very mild flavor. If you desire a stronger flavor, I suggest adding more herbs. The actual cook time is fairly short. However, it does take a bit of time to peel 40 cloves of garlic. Served over rice with crusty bread, this was a nice weeknight meal. 

I would add more salt and pepper and definitely more herbs. They were very fragrant when added to the pan with the broth, but I did not get much flavor from either the rosemary or the thyme in the finished dish.

This made 4 nice servings with the rice and bread.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this dish, but it was delightful. It had a bit of a Stroganoff feel to me, despite the French origins of the garlic-centric recipe.

Peeling the garlic was the most onerous part of the process. It was quite easy to make otherwise, though I found I had to keep adjusting temperatures down to keep things from cooking too quickly.

You do want to use cloves of about the same size. I weeded out the smallest but still had a bit too much range of variability for even cooking.

The beef browned in 5 1/2 minutes. This generated a substantial amount of liquid (at least 1/4 cup), even with such a small amount of fat. (The meat was also pretty thoroughly trimmed). I saved this excess and used it as the au jus for brisket sandwiches. That was a fabulous repurposing of something I didn’t want to discard. We had the beef and rice with fresh pita bread and hummus.

When I was a girl, my favorite dinner was country-fried round steak and gravy, served with rice. I always knew when it was on the menu from the smells coming from the kitchen. The smell of this recipe triggered that sense memory and my anticipation began to build. And, what a treat it was – a more complex and sophisticated version of my childhood favorite. If this much garlic worries you, it came out soft and sweet; my husband, not the garlic lover I am, ate every one of his. This stir-fried beef with garlic sauce recipe will be my go-to every time I start craving my childhood favorite!

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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