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The Easiest Panda Express Beijing Beef Copycat

In case you’re unfamiliar with the original Beijing beef from Panda Express, it’s an Americanized Chinese dish consisting of fried beef strips, bell peppers, onion, and a sweet and tangy sauce. My take aims to lighten up the sauce and swap the fried beef for lean ground beef.

For a quick nutrition facts comparison, a 5.6 oz serving of the original Beijing beef has 470 calories, 13g of protein, 46g of carbs, and 26g of fat. A 7 oz serving of my Beijing ground beef, on the other hand, has 250 calories, 23g of protein, 18g of carbs, and just 8g of fat.

Using ground beef also means you won’t need to marinate, coat, and fry the beef. Instead, you can have this dish on the table in about 30 minutes with only one pan to clean.

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How to Make Beijing Ground Beef

I’ve included a visual recipe walkthrough below with ingredient substitution notes, cooking tips, and serving ideas. If you’d like to get straight to cooking, you can skip down to the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

Ingredients for Beijing Beef

large diced yellow onion and red bell pepper on a cutting board

You’ll obviously need a pound of lean ground beef in addition to a small yellow onion, red bell pepper, and a tablespoon of olive oil. And that’s it aside from the sauce.

Here’s everything you’ll need for a Beijing beef sauce copycat:

  • hoisin
  • sweet chili sauce
  • sugar free ketchup (I like G Hughes)
  • oyster sauce
  • low sodium soy sauce
  • apple cider or rice vinegar
  • garlic powder and red pepper flakes
  • beef bone broth

The sauce is sweet, tangy, and umami. It might look like a lot of sauces, but the good news is that you can probably substitute if you’re short on one or two ingredients. While hoisin is sweeter, if you have some gochujang around from my spicy ground beef and quinoa bowls, that would still give you some fermented soy bean flavor and a bit of sweetness.

beef bone broth, sweet chili sauce, hoisin sauce, and oyster sauce beside the Beijing beef sauce in a mixing bowl

You can use any beef broth, but using a high quality bone broth makes the dish noticeably richer. You also get a little protein boost. For this Beijing beef, I used the same Austin-based Kettle & Fire that I used in my chicken birria recipe. If you’d like to try Kettle & Fire bone broth, you can get 20% off with my affiliate code mason_woodruff.

Final note: If you have all the sauce ingredients, you have pretty much everything to make another one-pan favorite in my Thai basil ground chicken.

Cooking the Bell Pepper and Onion

diced onion and bell pepper in a skillet with olive oil

You want the bell pepper to slightly soften and the onion to pick up a tiny bit of color around the edges. The veggies in the original Beijing Beef from Panda Express have some bite to them. So you don’t want to soften them too much.

Cooking the Ground Beef

cooked ground beef with the Beijing beef sauce added

Once you’ve cooked the veggies and transferred them from the pan, add the ground beef to the same pan. You want to get some browning on the beef via the Maillard reaction, so I like to press the ground beef flat to create more surface area. After you have some browning on the beef, break it up with a spatula and fully cook before adding the sauce.

Adding the Beijing Sauce and Cooked Veggies

finished Beijing ground beef

You’ll need to reduce the sauce before adding the veggies back to the skillet. If your Beijing beef sauce is taking longer than expected to reduce, turn up the heat a bit. It shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes or so.

Once the sauce leaves a trail behind a spatula, you can remove from the heat and add the bell pepper and onion back to the skillet. Stir everything together and you’re finished. Get ready to serve!

Serving Your Beijing Ground Beef

white rice in a pink bowl with the Beijing ground beef topped with scallions and sesame seeds

I like to serve with sliced green onion, sesame seeds, and a side of steamed white or brown rice. For a lower carb option, you could serve with steamed cauliflower rice or one of my favorite sides—air fried cauliflower rice.

Trader Joe’s riced cauliflower stir fry makes life easy. Just throw it in the air fryer for 20-25 minutes at 400ºF, stirring occasionally, while you cook your Beijing beef. If you don’t have access to a Trader Joe’s my air fryer fried cauliflower rice recipe has instructions for making with plain cauliflower rice and frozen vegetables.

fried cauliflower rice stir-fry

You could also make some copycat Panda Express chow mein, chicken egg rolls, or Panda Express super greens.

However you end up serving your Beijing ground beef, I hope you enjoy! If you love this recipe, I always appreciate recipe reviews or feedback of any kind in the comments. And if you have a question about this Beijing beef recipe I missed, drop it in the comments as well.

Beijing Ground Beef

Beijing Ground Beef

Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Lean ground beef with bell pepper and onion in a sweet, tangy, umami sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Ground Beef (96/4)
  • 1 Yellow Onion
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil

For the Sauce

  • 1/4 cup Hoisin
  • 2 tablespoons Sugar Free Ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Sweet Chili Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Oyster Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 cup Beef Bone Broth

Instructions

  1. Cut the bell pepper and onion into equally sized 3/4" squares. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the veggies. Cook until the peppers have slightly softened and the onion begins to caramelize around the edges, about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Transfer the veggies to a bowl and add the ground beef to the skillet. Press it flat and brown both sides before breaking apart with a spatula and fully cooking.
  3. While the beef cooks, mix the sauce ingredients together. Once the beef is fully cooked, add the sauce and cook until you have a thick sauce that leaves a clear trail when you drag a spatula across the bottom of the skillet. This should take about 4-6 minutes.
  4. Once the sauce has thickened, add the veggies back to the skillet and stir everything together. Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds, if desired.

Notes

Each serving has 6 WW SmartPoints (blue).

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: about 7 oz
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 250Total Fat: 8gCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 23g

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