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Firecracker Ground Beef

This firecracker ground beef is a staple in our house. It’s such an easy one pan recipe, coming together in about 15 minutes. The ground beef is sweet, spicy, and has awesome little crispy bits.

You can serve it over rice, in ramen or with tingly chili noodles, and even adapt the recipe to make a stir fry for a complete one pan meal.

spicy ground beef in a bowl

Firecracker Ground Beef Ingredient Notes

Below you’ll find a list of some key ingredients along with potential substitutes.

  • Dark Brown Sugar – This helps balance out the heat from other ingredients and caramelizes, which helps the sauce stick to the beef. I’ve included notes on a lower carb option in the recipe card’s notes section below.
  • Buffalo Sauce – Any hot sauce or pepper sauce works here. Buffalo sauce is unique to “firecracker” sauce, but staples like sriracha or chili garlic would be fine.
  • Garlic Powder and Ground Ginger – Sometimes the flavor profile of dried spices works better than fresh, in my opinion. Still, I’ve included notes below and using fresh. The frozen minced ginger and garlic from my black pepper ground beef recipe would keep this recipe quick and easy.

It’s also worth mentioning, this sauce works with any protein. This recipe was based on my popular firecracker ground chicken recipe, for example.

bowl of noodles with firecracker beef in front of a jar of chili oil and a bowl of spicy ground beef

You’ll find a few more notes about making this firecracker ground beef in the recipe card below. If you have a question I haven’t covered, leave it in the comments at the bottom of this post. And if you love this recipe, recipe reviews are always appreciated!

Be sure to check out my ground beef fried rice and honey sesame ground chicken recipes next. And if you want some side dish ideas, check out the peanut butter noodles from my ground chicken noodle bowls or my bulgogi bowls and all the banchan (Korean sides) included.

bowl of firecracker beef with noodles and chili oil

Firecracker Ground Beef

Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Extra lean ground beef cooked in a delicious sweet and spicy firecracker sauce.


  • 1/2 Tablespoon Olive Oil or Chili Oil
  • 1 pound Ground Beef
  • 1/2 cup (96g) Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60g) Buffalo Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) Rice Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes


  1. Mix the sauce ingredients together and set aside.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the olive oil and brown both sides of the ground beef for 1-2 minutes per side. Break apart and fully cook.
  3. Pour the sauce over the cooked ground beef and stir everything together. Leave untouched for 30-60 seconds until the sauce begins to caramelize on the bottom of the pan. Stir and continue until the beef is coated in the sauce and you start to see crispy bits.
  4. Serve over rice or noodles with scallions and toasted sesame seeds.


The nutrition facts were calculated with extra lean 96/4 ground beef and real dark brown sugar. A zero-carb brown sugar replacement like Swerve Brown is a great way to reduce the carb and calorie content of this dish.

If you'd like to use fresh ginger and garlic, create a well in the center of the cooked beef, add another 1/2 tablespoon of oil, and add minced garlic and ginger. Cook for 30-60 seconds until fragrant before stirring into the beef and adding the sauce.

You can add vegetables for a stir fry by transferring the cooked beef to a bowl before adding the sauce and adding veggies to the pan with a bit of oil. Then return the beef to the pan before adding the sauce. See this ground beef stir fry for an example of bell pepper and green beans with firecracker sauce or my teriyaki ground beef with broccoli for another example.

Or if you'd like a separate veggie pairing, check out the roasted broccoli from my bison bowls or cucumber crunch from my Korean inspired ground turkey rice bowls.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: about 4 oz
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 240Total Fat: 6gCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 21g

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Wednesday 3rd of April 2024

We made this for dinner tonight and it was a huge hit! Even my 4 year old loved it. Also liked that I already had all the ingredients in my pantry.

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