Mongolian Ground Beef

Mongolian Ground Beef

Mongolian Ground Beef combines cooked ground beef, green onions, and a simple stir-fry sauce delivering a tasty dinner the whole family will love! Mongolian Beef is a staple at American Chinese restaurants, and today we’re simplifying the dish so you can enjoy it in the comfort of your own home in about 20 minutes or less.

Overhead image of the Mongolian Ground Beef

Overhead image of the Mongolian Ground Beef

This simple Mongolian Ground Beef is part of our Back-To-School Lifesavers — a series of recipes that are intended to have little (or no) veggie chopping, minimal prep time, around 10 ingredients or less (not including pantry staples), and use kid-friendly ingredients. Click here to see all the recipes in the series!

Mongolian Ground Beef

Typically Mongolian beef is made with thin slices of steak (like flank steak). It has a mild and sweet flavor that is completely addictive! Today we’re taking the concept of Mongolian Beef and simplifying it with ground beef instead of steak. We’ve also simplified the sauce and kept overall ingredients to a minimum (in true “back-to-school life-saver” form).

What we aren’t skimping on, though, is flavor! This Mongolian Ground Beef is mega flavorful with a slightly sweet flavor and nice mild crunch from the green onions. And even though we’re packing in the flavor, we’re still keeping everything totally kid-friendly. This ground beef dish is more on the sweet, rather than the spicy side. If you would like some more spice, it’s very easy to adjust to personal preference.

Ingredient shot-- images of the ingredients used in this dish

Ingredient shot-- images of the ingredients used in this dish

Mongolian Ground Beef Ingredients

  • Lean ground beef: We like a 93/7 blend of ground beef. A higher fat percentage will work fine; you’ll just want to drain off the excess grease before adding in the sauce. We’ve also tested this recipe with lean (93/7) ground turkey and loved it!
  • Sesame oil: For a great authentic flavor, sesame oil really delivers. If you can find toasted sesame oil, that’s even better! It’s typically found with Asian ingredients, not near the other oils in the grocery store. We use this sesame oil to first sauté the ground beef in and then add the rest before adding in the aromatics.
  • Green onions: Most grocery stores sell already chopped green onions in the produce section of the store that can be used to completely eliminate chopping from this recipe. This recipe does call for the green onions to be separated, so if you opt to buy pre-chopped green onions just add them all in when sautéing the garlic and ginger.
  • QUICK Garlic and Ginger. We love Dorot’s® cubes which have crushed garlic and ginger that you can keep handy in the freezer and pop into this (and other) recipes when needed. (Check if your local store carries them; they’re typically found with frozen veggies in the grocery store). Another option is to use refrigerated garlic paste and refrigerated minced garlic (pictured below). By using the cubes or pastes, you’ll save a lot of chopping time!

And those are the main ingredients for Mongolian Ground Beef — easy enough right? Beyond the main ingredients, we have the quick stir-fry sauce which we’ll break down below.

Process shots-- images of the ginger and garlic options that can be used in this dish

Process shots-- images of the ginger and garlic options that can be used in this dish

  • Cornstarch: This thickens everything nicely, adding a rich, glossy finish to the Mongolian Ground Beef.
  • Soy sauce: We like using Kikkoman’s® regular soy sauce (not lite/low-sodium or dark) in this sauce. Lite soy sauce doesn’t offer enough seasoning (saltiness) and dark soy sauce will be too intense of a flavor.
  • Brown sugar: Mongolian Beef is typically on the sweeter side, so we add brown sugar to deliver that sweetness. Keep in mind that the mirin is quite sweet as well. Since you can always add more, but can’t take it away, add brown sugar slowly and to taste preference. 
  • Mirin. Mirin is a type of rice wine that is a very common ingredient in Mongolian Beef. It has a high sugar content and is quite sweet. Mirin is typically found in the oil and vinegar aisle or in the condiment aisle. It’s usually near soy sauce, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, etc. You can use rice wine vinegar (also called rice vinegar) in a pinch, but you may need a touch more sugar.
  • Chicken stock. This makes up the bulk of the sauce (if we use all soy sauce, sugar, and mirin, it will be too overwhelming!). We love Swanson’s® chicken stock — it has a great robust flavor and is seasoned nicely so we don’t find the need to add any additional salt/pepper to our Mongolian Ground Beef.

Process shots of the Mongolian ground beef-- images of the ground beef being browned and the onions, garlic, and ginger being added

Process shots of the Mongolian ground beef-- images of the ground beef being browned and the onions, garlic, and ginger being added

Mongolian Ground Beef Tips

  • To avoid steaming (we want to brown the meat for more flavor!), use a cast-iron pan, and wait for it to be HOT before you add in the meat.
  • In order to brown (and become more flavorful), the beef has to maintain contact with the pan for a little while. Remember that as you break the meat into smaller pieces; the moisture evaporates, which can cause the meat to steam instead of brown. Avoid this by giving the meat a few minutes to cook and develop a brown color before breaking it up with a wooden spoon.
  • Lower the heat a bit before adding in the onions, garlic, and ginger; stir constantly so they don’t burn upon contact with the hot pan.
  • Have everything ready to go! This dish moves quickly; if you’ve got everything set out ahead of time, the cooking will fly by seamlessly! 

Process shots-- images of the sauce being whisked together and the green onions and sauce being added to the pan.

Process shots-- images of the sauce being whisked together and the green onions and sauce being added to the pan.

Optional Additions

Below are some of the optional additions we like in this Mongolian Ground Beef:

  • Toasted sesame seeds: These add a nice finishing touch and flavor to the meat.
  • Red pepper flakes: Add this (optional) ingredient for a more savory (as opposed to sweet) flavor. The red pepper flakes will balance the sweetness from the brown sugar and add in some heat. This ingredient is completely optional and it’s easy to add to individual plates for those that do like the heat.
  • Boiled rice. If you haven’t boiled rice before, you are going to be thrilled with the ease and speed. All you’ll need to do is toss some rice in boiling water, boil it for 5-7 minutes, and voila — perfect rice!

Mongolian Ground Beef on a plate ready to be eaten

Mongolian Ground Beef on a plate ready to be eaten

More ground beef recipes

Mongolian Ground Beef

Mongolian Ground Beef combines cooked ground beef, green onions, and a simple stir-fry sauce to deliver a tasty dinner that the whole family will love! Mongolian beef is a staple at American Chinese restaurants, and today we’re simplifying the dish so you can enjoy it in the comfort of your own home in about 20 minutes or less.

Mongolian Ground Beef

Mongolian Ground Beef combines cooked ground beef, green onions, and a simple stir-fry sauce to deliver a tasty dinner that the whole family will love! Mongolian beef is a staple at American Chinese restaurants, and today we’re simplifying the dish so you can enjoy it in the comfort of your own home in about 20 minutes or less.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (16 oz.) lean ground beef (93/7) (or ground turkey)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, separated
  • 2 tablespoons EACH: garlic & ginger Note 1
  • 1 bunch green onions

Sauce

  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup (127g) chicken stock (we like Swansons)
  • 2 tablespoons (34g) soy sauce (all purpose, NOT dark or lite)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons (21g) mirin Note 2
  • 1-3 tablespoons (16g) light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • Optional: toasted sesame seeds, crushed red pepper flakes, cooked rice (Note 3)

Instructions

  • BROWN BEEF: Heat a skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon sesame oil and swirl to coat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the ground beef to the center of the pan. Let it cook for 30 seconds without disturbing. Then, use a wooden spoon to break the meat into crumbles and cook until it’s cooked through, about 6-9 minutes. Drain off most of the fat if there is an excess. Meanwhile, thinly slice the green onions, separating the green part from the root.

  • AROMATICS: Reduce heat to medium-high. Add remaining 1 tablespoon sesame oil, white parts of green onions, garlic and ginger. Saute until fragrant– about 1-2 minutes.

  • SAUCE: Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and chicken stock until completely smooth. Add in mirin, brown sugar (start with less — you can always add more — we usually do 1 tablespoon), soy sauce, and red pepper flakes if using (we use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon). Whisk until smooth.

  • FINISH: Pour sauce and green parts of green onions on top of the beef. Cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid has thickened and is nicely coating the beef. Garnish with sesame seeds if desired. If desired, serve over rice (See Note 3), enjoy immediately!

Recipe Notes

Note 1:  To make prep seriously quick and easy, we use Dorot garlic and ginger cubes (6 of each which is the equivalent of 2 tablespoons). Alternatively you can use pre-minced garlic and ginger paste here.
Note 2: Mirin is typically found in the oil and vinegar aisle or in the condiment  aisle. It’s usually near soy sauce, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, etc. You can use rice wine vinegar (also called rice vinegar) in a pinch, but you may need a touch more sugar.
Note 3: Here’s the quickest/easiest way to get perfect basmati rice (must use basmati for this to work!)

  • Fill a large pot with water and set it to boil.
  • Once the water is at a rolling boil, salt the water and add in rice.
  • Cook without reducing the heat, for 6 minutes (taste test to ensure it is tender) and then drain and fluff with a fork. Easy!

Nutrition information doesn’t include rice.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 254kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 639mg | Potassium: 464mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 61IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 3mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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