This black pepper ground beef pairs pan fried extra lean beef with a sweet, salty, and umami black pepper sauce to make an awesome one skillet meal prep solution. Serve this crispy ground beef over rice or ramen, in lettuce wraps, or with stir fry vegetables for a high protein meal in no time at all.
How to Make Black Pepper Ground Beef
This recipe was inspired by Lucas Sin’s black pepper beef, which is a traditional Cantonese restaurant favorite. My recipe is a very loose adaptation that’s been slightly simplified for the home cook. I think you should have nearly everything on hand in your pantry.
- Ground Black, White, and Szechuan Peppercorns – I’ve made this beef with only black pepper and it still turns out great. However, the white and Szechuan peppercorns add a lot to the dish and would be great additions to your spice cabinet.
- Black Vinegar – You may see this called black rice vinegar or Chinkiang vinegar in stores, and it has a more fermented, malty taste than standard rice vinegar. I wanted some fermentation to make up for the lack of fermented black bean paste in my recipe. Rice vinegar would work as a substitute in a pinch.
- Granulated Sugar – This dish is not nearly as sweet as my firecracker ground beef, but the sugar balances out some of the other flavors. You can reduce to cut carbs, but flavor will be affected.
- Ginger and Garlic – I like buying the frozen cubes and crushed garlic and ginger (pictured below). Such a time saver and it’s still fresh, unlike other pre-minced garlic.
- Soy Sauce
- Toasted Sesame Oil
You’ll also need water, olive oil, and ground beef.
You’re looking for very well browned ground beef to create as much texture as possible.
Once the beef is browned, minced, and fully cooked, stir in the black pepper sauce. Then leave the beef untouched until the sauce cooks off and you’re left with crispy caramelized black pepper ground beef.
I mention in the recipe card’s notes section that a fattier cut of beef will create even crispier beef. If you’d like to replicate it with extra lean ground beef (or another protein), add an extra teaspoon or two of olive oil.
And there you have it—black pepper ground beef. Garnish with scallions, a little soy sauce, and chili oil before digging in. Let me know in the comments if you have a recipe question.
For a fun way to adapt this recipe, check out my ground beef fried rice or teriyaki ground bison with cauliflower rice and simply swap this black pepper sauce for the sauce in those recipes. Or simply pair leftover black pepper beef with fried rice like you can see in the recipe video below.
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 2 pounds Ground Beef *
For the Sauce
- 2 teaspoons Black Pepper
- 1 teaspoon Ground Szechuan Peppercorn
- 1 teaspoon White Pepper
- 1/4 cup (48g) Granulated Sugar
- 4 cloves Garlic, grated
- 2 teaspoons Grated Ginger
- 1/4 cup (60g) Black Vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons (30g) Soy Sauce
- 2 teaspoons Toasted Sesame Oil
- 1/2 cup Water
- Whisk together the sauce ingredients.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with the olive oil. Once hot, add the ground beef and brown both sides for 3-4 minutes until a nice crust has developed. You want as much browning as possible. Break apart to fully cook.
- Add the sauce to the cooked beef and stir well. Leave untouched until the sauce has reduced and caramelized on the bottom, another 3-5 minutes. Be careful not to burn.
- Serve with rice or noodles and garnish with freshly sliced scallions, toasted sesame seeds, and soy sauce and/or chili oil.
*I used 96/4 ground beef, but a higher fat % will make even crispier beef. Try 93/10 or 90/10 if you can spare the calories.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: about 3 oz
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 190Total Fat: 7gCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 22g