If your family enjoys Asian takeout, they’ll LOVE this quick and easy 20 minute ground beef stir-fry. It’s loaded with healthy vegetables, tossed in a sweet and sticky sauce, and cooked in one pan for easy clean up. It’s a great weeknight meal that’s sure to satisfy kids and adults on even the busiest of nights.
Ground Beef Stir Fry – The EASY Way!
When those busy weeknights are upon you and a quick, family friendly meal is essential, this ground beef stir fry recipe is exactly what you’re looking for. It’s loaded with everything both kids and adults need for a satisfying, filling meal including tons of vegetables and protein. It cooks in one pan in just 20 minutes for the perfect quick and delicious dinner.
What makes it so yummy is the homemade, super quick Asian stir fry sauce that you can whip up with simple ingredients right at home. It coats the beef and vegetables in a sweet, sticky, savory sauce that kids will love so much that they’ll eagerly gobble up every bite! It’s like ordering a favorite Asian takeout dish, but faster, fresher, and super delicious!
Why I LOVE this recipe!
- SO Easy! – Everything about this ground beef stir fry is easy. Simple prep, one pan cooking, and fast clean up!
- 20 Minute Meal – From fridge to table you can have this meal ready in under half an hour.
- Simple to Customize – Swap in your family’s favorites vegetables to make this exactly how you like it.
- Family Friendly Flavors – The sweet, sticky sauce over savory ground beef and vegetables makes this stir fry irresistible for kids and adults.
What to Serve with Ground Beef Vegetable Stir Fry
Since this dish has the classic flavors of Asian takeout, it will pair well with many of your favorite Asian and traditional side dishes. There are both classic options and some healthy options to keep it light.
Side Dish Ideas
- Rice – A grain like white or brown rice, or even quinoa, would be great beside the saucy stir fry.
- Shredded Cabbage – Thinly shredded cabbage is a healthy, fresh way to make dinner complete. Or try my Sriracha Slaw for a cabbage dish with a kick!
- Cauliflower Rice – Swap starch for more veggies with riced cauliflower or broccoli to soak up the sauce.
- Noodles – Cook ramen or udon noodles and toss it with the stir fry for a delicious homemade chow mien style meal.
- Asian Cucumber Salad– This salad is light and flavor packed!
You can choose one or add a few sides to make a wholesome, well rounded dinner.
This ground beef stir fry recipe is as simple as promised! Just one pan and 30 minutes for a family friendly meal.
In this section I am going to go through a few tips and tricks I use when making this recipe to get the absolute best and most delicious results.
Make sure to scroll to the bottom for the FULL recipe card.
Ingredients + Substitutions
- Ground Beef – I love to use lean ground beef simply because I don’t usually have to drain off extra grease and that saves me time! But you are free to use any ground beef you have or like.
- Sesame Oil – If you love Asian recipes then I suggest getting yourself a bottle of this. It lasts forever in the fridge and really adds that subtle sesame flavor that makes this recipe shine! It’s usually in the ethnic or Asian food aisle at the grocery store, but you can absolutely just use canola or any other neutral cooking oil instead.
- Vegetables – One of the best qualities about this recipe is how adaptable it is. You can completely customize what veggies you add in based on what your family likes. We like a combination of zucchini, bell pepper, carrots, broccoli, and red onion. Other options include sugar snap peas, snow peas, corn, cabbage, mushrooms, or anything else you might like.
For the Stir Fry Sauce:
If you like to make a big batch so you can have it on hand to make whenever the craving hits, see my Easy Stir Fry Sauce recipe here.
- Soy Sauce – You can swap in coconut aminos, liquid aminos, or tamari if needed.
- Brown Sugar
- Fresh Ginger
- Sriracha– You can omit this if you are sensitive to peppers. It doesn’t make the stir fry spicy, it just adds a layer of flavor.
- Garnish – We love to add green onions and sesame seeds on top for that perfect finishing touch. Chives or scallions also work, or add a sprinkle of chopped peanuts or cashews for a bit of crunch. These are all optional, but recommended!
- Prep everything ahead – 20 minute recipes like this one cook very fast, so it’s super important to have all the components ready to go before you add things to the pan. Make sure all the veggies are chopped, the sauce is made, and the ground beef is nearby so you can cook without distractions.
- Whisk the sauce really well – It’s important to take a minute or two and really whisk the sauce together so that ALL the sugar dissolves. If you skip that step, you’ll end up with a layer of sugar left in your bowl when you add it to the pan, and we want it in the sauce! It’s also important to whisk the cornstarch together with the water until it’s completely smooth so there will be no lumps.
- Use a large pan – Once you get all the beef and veggies cooking in the pan it can get very difficult to stir if it’s not big enough. Use the largest, high-sided skillet you have to help keep all that yummy food IN your pan, and not on your stovetop.
- Drain the beef – If you use a ground beef with a higher fat content you may have grease in the pan after browning. Drain that off, then proceed with the oil and vegetables.
- Cook the veggies briefly – I recommend only cooking the vegetables until they’re barely tender. Overdoing it can lead to mushy vegetables after they finish cooking in the sauce and they’re better if they retain some texture.
- Be mindful of the vegetables you choose – Avoiding mushy vegetables also means paying attention to which ones you choose and how quickly they cook. We love a ground beef zucchini stir fry for instance, but zucchini cooks much faster than harder veggies like carrots. To avoid it getting mushy I cut squash into large chunks that way everything cooks at the same rate. Or, you could simply wait to add the softer, quick cooking veggies until the last 1-2 minutes instead.
Recipe Short Cuts
If you need to make this recipe, but are extra short on time, here are a few ideas that can help make this recipe even faster!
- Use pre-chopped vegetables– Utilize the prepared vegetables in the produce section or opt for a bag of mixed frozen veggies to really cut down on prep time. Frozen veggies can be added directly to the pan, no thawing needed.
- Make it ahead– It’s easy to whip this up quickly, but if you’re going to be scrambling at dinner time then make this ahead and simply reheat gently on the stove for a hot, delicious meal.
If you love this recipe as much as we do and want some quick ways to change it up for variety, these little tips will do the trick!
- Ground Turkey Stir Fry– The same sauce and vegetables can just as easily be paired with lean ground turkey as well. Make that swap and the rest of the recipe can be followed as written.
- Steak Stir Fry– Swap the ground beef for thin slices of steak like I do in my Pepper Steak Stir Fry. Cook it in the hot pan for 2-3 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook it for another minute. Continue with the rest of the recipe as written.
- Spicy Ground Beef Vegetable Stir Fry – Amp up the heat by adding 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes to the ground beef as it browns. Increase the sriracha by 1-2 teaspoons depending on your family’s preference for spice. Make the rest of the recipe as directed.
Freezer Meal Instructions
Making this ground beef zucchini stir fry recipe into a freezer meal is simple! Follow the steps below and you can store this recipe in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- Arrange chopped vegetables on a freezer safe flat surface and freeze.
- Transfer them a freezer safe container or bag.
- Portion the beef into a second bag.
- Combine all the sauce ingredients except for the cornstarch and water in a final container.
- Freeze all three.
- When ready to use, thaw the beef and sauce in the fridge for 24-48 hours.
- Cook according to the recipe instructions, adding the vegetables in from frozen in step 4.
Stir Fry with Ground Beef Leftovers
If you have leftovers after making ground beef vegetable stir fry, then it is your lucky day! They save and reheat well, and can make the start of another delicious dish.
To save leftovers, separate into meal sized portions and then place in an airtight container and store:
- in the refrigerator for 3-4 days
- in the freezer up to a month
Here are a few ways to repurpose those leftovers and give them a delicious makeover!
- Ground Beef Stir Fry Lettuce Cups– Arrange clean and dry lettuce cups from either butter or romaine lettuce varieties. Gently rewarm the leftover stir fry and spoon into each lettuce cup. Top with crushed peanuts or sesame seeds and serve.
- Ground Beef Vegetable Stir Fry Egg Rolls – Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of leftover ground beef stir fry into egg roll wrappers and roll them up. Seal the edges with a little bit of beaten egg or water. Heat oil to 375°F and drop in the egg rolls. Cook until golden brown and crisp then transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Serve hot with yum yum sauce for dipping.
- Asian Ground Beef and Vegetable Sliders– Lightly toast slider buns or Hawaiian rolls. Reheat the stir fry and scoop onto each bun. Top with a drizzle of Japanese spicy mayo or yum yum sauce, close the sliders, and serve.
More EASY Ground Beef Recipes
If you enjoyed this recipe, I really hope you will take a moment to grab a few more easy recipes for another busy night!
You can check out all of my easy dinner recipes here, or see a few of our readers favorite recipes below.
- Easy Philly Cheesesteak Sliders
- Creamy Beef and Shells
- Hawaiian Roll Cheeseburger Sliders
- Korean Beef Lettuce Wraps
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
- 2 cups zucchini, sliced into thick half moons
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- 1/2 pound broccoli, cup into small florets
- 1/2 red onion, diced
Stir fry sauce
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger, (1 teaspoon ground ginger)
- 1 teaspoon sriracha, optional
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon water
- sesame seeds
- chopped green onion
- In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and sriracha. Mix the cornstarch and water together until the cornstarch is dissolved, then whisk into the stir fry sauce.
- Heat a large, high-sided skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil over medium high heat.
- Once the pan is hot, add the ground beef to the pan. Cook for 6-8 minutes working the ground beef with a spatula to break it apart. Once cooked through, remove from skillet, drain any grease or excess liquid, and set aside.
- Add the remaining oil in the pan, then add the vegetables. Cook stirring occasionally for 4-6 minutes or until the veggies become tender.
- Add the meat back the pan and pour the stir fry sauce in and toss to coat in the sauce. Cook 1-2 minutes or until the sauce has thickened then remove from heat.
- Garnish as desired with green onion and/or sesame seeds.