Simple, quick, and delicious, these Asian-inspired bowls make the perfect weeknight meal.
Similar to PF Chang’s famous Mongolian Beef, you’ll be remaking this recipe time and time again.
💕 Here’s why you’ll love this recipe:
- It takes just 20 minutes to throw together.
- It’s gluten-free and clean eating comfort food.
- It’s packed with protein and can be paired with (hidden) veggies for a rounded meal.
- You’re not limited to using just beef but you can opt to use ground chicken or even ground turkey if you prefer.
- The flavors and spices can be adjusted to suit your personal preference.
- This is one of those dishes whose leftovers have the potential to taste even better the next day!
To make these beef bowls we’ll need the following:
- Ground beef: I’m using an 80/20 mix but you can also use 90/10 if preferred. Or alternatively you can use any ground protein of your choice from chicken to turkey.
- Garlic: Though it might seem excessive, we’re using 5 whole cloves for this recipe, finely minced or grated. Don’t worry though, the garlic flavor will not by any means overpower the dish!
- Raw cane sugar: I’m using raw cane sugar but you can also use evaporated cane juice sugar if preferred.
- Soy sauce: To keep this recipe gluten-free, use a gluten-free soy or tamari sauce. I highly recommend using a reduced sodium sauce.
- Smoked paprika: The smoky, sweet, almost fruity and earthy flavor of this spice is a great complement to this dish.
- Ginger: Fresh, finely grated ginger is the way to go here.
- Red pepper flakes: Though optional, the use of red pepper flakes is a great heat addition to round out all other flavor profiles from the sweet to the salty to the umami.
- Molasses: Dark, sticky and with a deep complex flavor and notes of bitterness to it, this ingredient is a small touch that amplifies our sauce.
- Vinegar: I’m using a rice vinegar but if you happen to have any on hand a Chinese black vinegar is also great to use. This little touch of it brightens the sauce and complements all other flavors.
- Sesame oil: Toasted or pure, the nuttiness of sesame oil is one flavor you shouldn’t omit.
- Fish sauce: A small touch of fish sauce gives a great earthy richness and savory umami that works great in conjunction with the soy sauce. Though optional, if you happen to have it on hand, then you’ll definitely want to include it!
- Green Onion (aka Scallions): Though it may seem like a garnish, green onions are the final aromatic element that really pulls this dish together. Their slightly sweet, oniony flavor and almost silky mouthfeel when softened by the heat of the beef.
- Sesame seeds: An – optional – garnish to finish your dish, you can use toasted or untoasted or black or white sesame seeds.
Though I didn’t do it for this post’s images, I like to grate and add in a carrot or two to the cooked and sauced meat. The carrots blend in nicely and add a great pop of color. Even if you don’t add in any veggies to the meat itself, this dish pairs amazingly with a side of steamed or sautéed veggies. I highly recommend bok choy, broccoli/broccolini or even Brussel sprouts!
Now, here’s how easy this dish is to throw together:
The very first step is to make our sauce by whisking together the soy sauce, sugar, and other seasonings including the paprika, ginger, red pepper flakes, rice vinegar, molasses, fish sauce, and sesame oil. While it’s not essential to mix it until the sugar fully dissolves you want it to be at least halfway dissolved to the point where the sauce starts to thicken. Set it aside to let its flavors develop while we work on the beef…
To a heavy-bottomed pan (I love using my cast iron skillet for this) add your beef and the finely minced garlic and cook it on medium heat until the beef is no longer pink. Be sure to break up any larger pieces into crumbles. I like to cook the beef to the point where some bits begin to brown and crisp for maximum flavor.
Keeping your heat at medium ensures that the beef cooks and browns but that the garlic doesn’t burn.
With our beef cooked, pour your prepared sauce over the beef crumbles. It will bubble and even sizzle once it hits the pan and might release some steam so be careful. Scrape your sauce bowl clean and stir the sauce into the beef and allow it to cook for a couple minutes, this will allow the beef to absorb the sauce and flavors as well as help the sauce to thicken and caramelize a little for maximum flavor. Again, you want to ensure that your pan isn’t too hot for this step because your sugar will burn and become bitter. We definitely don’t want that!
Once the sauce thickens and the beef is fully coated, add in a generous amount of sliced green onions (scallions). The green onions lends an amazing flavor to the beef and helps balance the dish so don’t skip it! Garnish with some sesame seeds if you like and there you have it! Your ground beef is done. Now all that’s left to do is…
Assemble and serve!
For today’s meal, I’m topping my beef with more sesame seeds and more green onions and serving it with some steamed brown rice and a side of garlicky Sautéed Broccolini garnished with lemon wedges. But how you enjoy and compose your bowl is up to you while some steamed rice is honestly the best pairing (in my view at least!), you can also serve it with a side of skillet fried potatoes or noodles of your choosing.
As for the veggie side, freshly grated carrots mixed into the beef or served on the side or even lightly pickled in a quick salt/sugar/vinegar brine pairs amazingly. As does a side of broccoli/broccolini or sautéed bok choy.
Or another great use for this ground beef is to use it as the filling for my clean eating Pan-Fried Steamed Bao Buns that are soft and fluffy with a browned and crispy bottom and stuffed with this flavorful ground beef. 🤤
Ground Beef Teriyaki Bowls
- 1/4 cup soy sauce reduced-sodium
- 1/4 cup raw cane sugar
- 2 tsp molasses (unsulphured)
- 3 tsp pure sesame oil
- 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
- 1/2 tsp fresh ginger grated
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp fish sauce optional
- 1 lb ground beef
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1-2 med carrots grated, optional
- ½ cup green onions sliced
To garnish: Sesame seeds.
To serve: steamed brown rice, a side of steamed/sautéed veggies.
- Make the sauce: In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, sugar, molasses, sesame oil, vinegar, paprika, freshly grated ginger, red pepper flakes, and fish sauce together until the sugar is mostly dissolved and the sauce thickens. Set it aside.
- Cook the beef: In a large skillet on med heat, add your beef and garlic and cook until your beef is no longer pink, being sure to break up any larger pieces.
- Add the sauce: Pour your sauce over your cooked beef crumbles (it will bubble and sizzle) and mix to evenly coat all the bits of beef in the sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes. As the sauce cooks it will thicken up and the sugar will caramelize a bit.
- Add in optional veggies and garnishes: If using grated carrots, add them in and toss to evenly distribute them. Add a generous 1/3-1/2 cup of sliced green onions and top with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
- Serve and Store: Serve your beef with steamed brown rice and a side of sautéed veggies (I highly recommend bok choy or broccoli/broccolini).Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.