This buttery beef and peanut stir-fry is a quick and easy meal made with thinly-sliced marinated beef that’s quickly cooked with leeks in butter, vinegar, and soy sauce. Crunchy salted peanuts crown this weeknight winner.
I get these intense cravings for stir-fries. Whether it’s the hottest, humid night or a blisteringly cold day, an easy meat stir-fry energizes me in a way that few dishes can. This beef and peanut stir-fry is on regular rotation in my home kitchen. I tend to go for cuts of meat that have a healthy amount of fat on them, so they don’t dry out against the intense heat of the pan.
Start by popping the meat in the freezer for 10 minutes, which makes it easier to slice. Then, measure everything else, placing the ingredients in all your little prep bowls; you want every ingredient ready to go because this dish comes together fast.
The leeks will become juicy (yes!) as they cook quickly in the butter-vinegar sauce. The beef gets a touch of caramelization from the sugar and assertive sherry vinegar. And once you realize how easy this recipe is, you’ll be making it once a week.–Andy Baraghani
Beef Stir-Fry FAQs
What is hanger steak?
Hanger steak is a cut of been taken from the lower underside of a cow. It’s often one of the most tender cuts, takes marinade well, and is wonderful for grilling or stir-frying. If you can’t find hanger steaks, you can substitute a shoulder tender steak, skirt steak, or flank steak.
What is the best way to toast peanuts?
You can toast them quickly in a pan on a stove burner, or in the oven.
To toast on the stovetop, place your 1/3 cup of peanuts into a skillet over medium heat, adding salt if desired. Toast, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, then transfer to a paper towel to cool. Your peanuts will be a little soft while warm, but will crisp up as they cool.
Can I prepare this ahead of time?
You can make the marinade, add the beef, and stash it all in the refrigerator for up to 1 day before cooking.
☞ Like beef recipes? try these:
Buttery Beef and Peanut Stir-Fry
- 1 pound hanger or skirt steak or boneless short ribs
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons peeled finely grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons packed light brown or granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- Kosher salt
- 2 medium leeks
- 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter cut into pieces
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped toasted peanuts
- Using your chef’s knife, slice the beef against the grain into 1/4-inch-thick (6-mm) strips about 2 inches (5 cm) long.
- In a medium bowl, whisk 1 tablespoon of the neutral oil, the pepper, ginger, brown sugar, and sesame oil to combine. (This marinade won’t be totally smooth, which is totally okay.)
- Add the beef to the marinade, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt, and toss to coat. Marinate in the fridge for 20 minutes or for up to 1 day.
- Trim and discard the hairy root end and the dark green tops from the leeks. Halve the leeks lengthwise, then coarsely chop on an angle into 2-inch-ish (5 cm) pieces. Give the leeks a good rinse to remove any dirt and set aside.
- Set a large cast-iron or stainless-steel skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon neutral oil and heat until very, very hot.
- Using tongs, add half the beef to the skillet in a single layer and cook, without stirring or tossing, until deeply brown around the edges, 2 to 4 minutes. (The pieces at the edges of the pan will brown faster than the ones in the center, so flip those first.) Flip and cook on the other sides until no longer pink, about 30 seconds. Transfer the beef to a plate and repeat with the remaining pieces.
- Once all the beef has browned, return it to the skillet and add the leeks, butter, vinegar, and soy sauce. Season lightly with salt and cook, tossing or stirring often, until the butter is melted, the leeks have slightly wilted, and you have a smooth sauce that coats the steak, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and scatter the peanuts over the beef. Serve immediately.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
As promised, this easy beef stir fry recipe is quick and addictive. I can see using this basic template and subbing in whatever fresh vegetables I have for the leeks and making countless variations.
I found a gem at my grocery: shaved rib eye. I felt like I was cheating, but it made this beef stir-fry recipe come together literally in minutes. While slicing partially frozen meat does enable you to do so quickly and thinly, this eliminated that step, and the fat content of the rib eye added flavor. Do try if you have the opportunity.
I thought I would miss garlic in this, but the final sauce is balanced and just perfect with that tangy sherry vinegar.
We enjoyed this with rice, air fryer garlic green beans, and pickled cucumbers.
Wow! What a great, flavourful beef stir fry recipe with very little hands-on time. The ingredients as written–steak marinated in ginger, sugar, sesame oil, and leeks with butter, soy, and sherry vinegar– look like they will never work, but they really do. So little effort was involved. We marinated the beef for a few hours, which made for fuss-free dinnertime!
We served it with steamed rice. It could have used more leeks or other greens.
I can totally see a busy parent coming home and whipping up this easy beef and peanut stir-fry for a family dinner. The recipe calls for already-on-hand or easy-to-find ingredients, and you just carry on with a few simple steps. I coasted through while I had coconut rice cooking on another burner.
The bold black pepper (huzzah!) in the marinade and the surprising addition of butter (mwah!) are brilliant with the beef. Both are sensational on steaks, so why not in Asian cooking?
Now let’s talk leeks, shall we? If you have not had leeks that are flash-cooked in high heat, do not miss this opportunity! Their texture and flavor get fabulously enhanced—crunchy, succulent, and sweet—and they’re also wonderful coated with black pepper and butter.
Are you vegetarian or cutting back on red meat? I think the flavor profile and cooking methods of this stir-fry would be wonderful with thick slices of portobello mushrooms. I would follow the recipe exactly, but just replace the beef with the mushrooms.
This beef stir fry was really good. You really can’t go wrong with beef and leek for flavor, and combined, they gave the dish a nice texture. I loved the flavors enough to make this a Tester’s Choice, but I would go a little heavier next time on the vinegar/lemon.
Popping the meat in the freezer for 10 minutes before slicing is a great tip and made cutting super easy.
This buttery beef and peanut stir-fry recipe was easy to put together and quick to cook. Once we added the leeks, it looked so appetizing we couldn’t wait a minute longer. We abandoned all thoughts of setting the table for a family meal and served ourselves right from the stovetop. It was so tasty we each had two helpings.
Since we work full time, we’re always on the lookout for a quick, delicious, easy-to-make main for a weeknight dinner. This stir-fried beef recipe just shouted at me.
To be honest, while reading it, I was a bit skeptical that a short 20-minute marination would really impart rich flavor. And only leeks in the stir-fry seemed somewhat bland. But given its quickness in preparation, it still sounded good enough to try.
Fast forward to Tuesday. I had spent the better part of that workday in exhausting meetings. I arrived home much later than usual and faced a hungry family desperate to eat, so we gave it a whirl.
The result was a true A+! The meat was perfectly tender and richly seasoned. It was coated by the buttery soft leeks that hinted at a caramelized sweetness, yet the dish retained a warm, pungent peppery flavor imparted by the ginger, brown sugar, pepper, and sesame oil marinade. Plus the sprinkle of chopped toasted peanuts offered a nice textural crunch.
My local grocery store had pre-sliced beef for stir-fry so that made preparing this meal that much faster. I stock Tattooed Chef’s Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry in the freezer, so this tasty, nutritiously-complete meal came together in just under a half hour. A nice glass (or two) of Malbec paired nicely–(I did mention it was a rough day…)–and this recipe has now become a go-to fave for a weeknight dinner.
I think this buttery beef stir fry has potential that it didn’t quite live up to as written.
The recipe was too tame in flavor for my tastebuds and needed another teaspoon of ginger, another teaspoon of brown sugar, a teaspoon of garlic, and maybe a teaspoon of chili garlic sauce like Tuong Ot Toi. I really liked the way the butter married the sauce together and coated everything. That was kind of a revelation because I’ve never before thought of adding a bit of butter to mount a stir-fry sauce, but it really worked here to bolster it without adding a starch.
I also thought the lightly sautéed leeks were wonderful. I enjoyed that they still had a lot of bite to them; I didn’t expect to be won over by leeks that were anything but caramelized!
Originally published September 9, 2022