Hunan Beef – Discover this Ancient Chinese Dish [with Recipe]

China is a land of culture and cuisine. Known for its dragons and spicy food, China has a range of lip-smacking recipes to share with the rest of the world. One of the prominent and world-renowned dishes of China is the Hunan Beef.

Made with special Hunan Beef and ample of different spices, these recipes let your taste buds dance the tango while offering you great digestion and satisfaction.

Made in a range of formats and using different spices, the Hunan beef recipes can be made and served on different occasions and timings.  Let’s know Hunan Beef better and how it is one of the most cherished meat types to include in your special meal preparations.



What is Hunan Beef

If you are a Chinese food enthusiast, Hunan Beef is one of the preparations that you must be aware of. A traditional Chinese stir fry, this dish is made in a spicy sauce and takes no time to fully prepare.

Tender beef pieces are stir-fried to perfection, ensuring you enjoy the tender and juicy taste to the core. It is a sophisticated preparation that can be altered as per your taste preferences.

Precisely cut slices of beef are fried in hot oil and tossed with lots of veggies, chilies and the taste as per your choice. The dish is known for its tangy taste along with the spicy kick it has because of the rich use of chilies.

A thick chili paste is added to the dish to make it a spicy dish just like many of the other Asian dishes.

You can prepare this dish yourself or reach out to a restaurant and choose your choice of ingredients to play with the traditional recipes a little. Either way, any dish prepared with Hunan beef is proven to taste good till the time you cook it the right way.


Hunan Beef History of the Dish

Originated in the Hunan Province of China, Hunan cuisine has a range of dishes under its name and Hunan Beef is the most popular one. His cooking dates back to the 17th century when it was prepared traditionally using authentic stir-fried techniques.

The addition of chili peppers to the recipes was done somewhere in 1684. Though the cooking techniques have evolved in due course of time, the dish tastes as scrumptious as it used to be, when cooked traditionally.

Some of the well-known dishes cooked in Hunan Cuisine include fried chicken with Sichuan spicy sauce (麻辣鸡丁; 麻辣雞丁; málàjīdīng) and smoked pork with dried long green beans (干豆角蒸腊肉; 干豆角蒸臘肉; gāndòujiǎozhēnglàròu).

The addition of loads of chili peppers, garlic, and shallots along with the dry hotness of red chili paste makes it very easy to identify your favorite Hunan Beef around the world.


Hunan Regional Cuisine Characteristics

There are three primary cooking styles making the Hunan Cuisine:

  • Xiang River style: Originating from Changsha, Xiangtan and Hengyang
  • Dongting Lake style: Originating from Yueyang, Yiyang and Changde
  • Western Hunan style: Originating from Zhangjiajie, Jishou and Huaihua

This dish is hot and spicy in flavors and is distinctive in terms of fresh aroma and deep colors. Hunan is known to be a prominent agricultural area in the Chinese land and the abundance of veggies and fresh beef gives origin to dishes like Hunan Beef.

A lot of dishes are added to the dish to cater to the Chinese people’s liking for hot and spicy food. Once a prominent dish in China, this delicacy has made its place in the list of popular dishes across the world, especially America.

The key identifiers of Hunan Cuisine and Hunan Beef are cooking techniques like stewing, smoking pot-roasting and stir-frying, with an abundance of spices and spicy kick from chilies. The dish is made differently as per the prevailing weather conditions.

While in summer this dish can be served cold, winters see their hot version served smoky and fiery. One of the secret and most traditional ingredients added to the genuine recipe is Shaoxing wine, made from fermented rice. This particular ingredient holds significant credit for making Hunan Beef taste so heavenly.


Hunan Beef Calories – It is Healthy?

The modern generation is health-conscious and one thing that we think before ordering any dish is- “Is it Healthy”? The concerns are even higher when you are eating Chinese food as it is known for its calorie-rich contents. This dish can be the best Chinese meal choice to ensure you eat healthy and a complete meal.

When traditionally cooked, one serving of Chinese Take-out Hunan Beef offers you 230 calories. However, the calorie delivered from the serving can differ from one recipe to another depending upon the style of cooking, ingredients added and oils used.

Besides 230 calories, a traditional recipe offers 4 g of fat, 36g Carbs and 12g Protein. It is also a rich source of Vitamins offering a good load of Vitamin A, B-12, B-6, C, D, E along with other nutrients such as Calcium, Copper, Folate, Iron and Zinc.

As far as the health quotient of the dish is concerned, it is a dish made to cater to the taste requirements of those who love to eat Chinese food. However, it isn’t made unhealthy as it is rich in veggies including bell peppers, garlic and shallots.

When cooked in a high-grade oil and using traditional recipe the dish serves the protein requirements of your body to develop great muscles and carbs to ensure you do not go hungry for quite some time.

The modern restaurants offer you the option to customize your Hunan Beef Recipe. You can add as many veggies as you want and choose to keep the sauce and oil content less. It might affect the taste of the dish, but if healthy eating is your goal, you must be ready to compromise a little.


Hunan Beef Vs Szechuan Beef

The key difference between the Hunan Beef and Szechuan beef is their place of origin. While Hunan beef is a delicacy prepared and enjoyed in the Hunan province of China, Szechuan beef originated in the Sichuan province of China.

Because of the different sources of origin, both the types of beef have their own taste and aroma and differ significantly from one another. Here are the key differences between the two:


Szechuan Beef

Hunan Beef


The dish and its variants were originated in the Sichuan Province of China.

The Hunan beef recipe was first originated in the 17th century in the Western Hunan, a province in China.


Szechuan beef is spicy but not as much as the other one.

Because of its rich red chili and bell pepper content, is a very spicy and hot dish. Way too much than Szechuan beef!

Cooking techniques

Steaming, braising, and stir-frying are the key cooking techniques used to prepare Szechuan Beef.

For Hunan Beef preparations, the key cooking techniques used are stewing, smoking pot-roasting and stir-frying which gives it a crispy taste and texture.

Food preservation

Food preservation is a traditional way to keep food safe in China. For Szechuan beef, the Chinese use drying, pickling or salting methods.

The use of cured and smoked ingredients in preparing Hunan Beef ensures that it is safe to consume for a long period of time.

Key ingredients

Bell pepper, garlic, ginger and peanuts are the prominent ingredients used for preparing Szechuan beef.

In Hunan Beef, the key ingredients used include bell peppers, red chilies, garlic and shallots.



Crockpot Hunan Beef Recipe

While Hunan beef is best prepared in a Chinese wok, you do not have to worry if you do not own one. You can always try to make this recipe in a crockpot. Here are my favorite crockpots. The only thing you need to keep in mind that be quick in adding the ingredients and stir-frying them to perfection.

So let’s start with the ingredients for a perfect Hunan Beef recipe:


  • 1 pound  beef precisely cut into long thin strips
  • 1/4 tablespoon cornstarch
  • Salt
  • pepper
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1  red bell pepper  (sliced)
  • 1  zucchini  (cut into rounds)
  • 1 cup  shallots


  • 1 tablespoon  granulated/brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon  apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon  cornstarch
  • 4 cloves  garlic  (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon  fresh ginger  (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons red chili paste
  • 2 tablespoons  oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup  soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup  chicken/ vegetable broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon  red chili flakes


  • Green onions
  • Sesame seeds


  1. Marinate the beef pieces in ¼ cup cornstarch, salt and pepper and leave it aside.
  2. Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl and give them a perfect mix.
  3. Heat the crockpot and add some oil to it. Now add sauced beef to it in batches. Cook them once per side and once done, take out and put aside.
  4. Now, in the same crockpot, add some oil and then the vegetables. Cook the vegetables until they become tender inside and crispy outside.
  5. Add the stir-fried beef to the pot with vegetables and add the sauce mixture. Coat all the ingredients well in the sauce and turn off the gas.
  6. Your Hunan Beef is ready, garnish it with green onions and sesame seeds and serve with a side of rice.

Exclusive Recipe for



Hunan Beef is a healthy recipe full of spices. Traditionally cooked, the dish is easy to digest and a great delight for your taste buds. If you have the best quality beef cut to perfection, and organic ingredients to prepare the recipe, you can enjoy the authentic taste of the recipe with your choice of side. Optimum calories and other nutrients, one serving of this dish is a complete meal.

Originated from the Hunan Province of China, this dish has become widely popular across the world. Now that you know how can cook a perfect Hunan Beef recipe, give it a try and enjoy the spicy and hot taste.


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