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30-Minute Asian Beef Bowls

5 stars based on 22 votes


When I chat with other moms about the challenge of getting a well-balanced dinner on the table every night, they often assume that my children are good eaters. Well, I’m sorry to say: wrong! One of my kids, who shall remain nameless, tortures me every night by picking minuscule specks of onions, garlic, or fill-in-the-blank out of her food — and routinely makes Oodles of Noodles after dinner to stave off hunger. So whenever I find a new recipe that my whole family loves, I’m not just happy…I’m ecstatic. Enter these hoisin-flavored beef bowls: not only do they appeal to kids and adults alike, they can also be made in just 30 minutes from ordinary supermarket ingredients. And the beauty of “bowls” is that everyone can create their own. Like it plain? Go for it. Want to dress it up with scallions, crunchy veggies, and cashews? Yes, please. Eating low-carb? Skip the rice and spoon the beef into lettuce cups. I promise, you can’t go wrong!


Begin by mashing the ground beef with the baking soda. The baking soda raises the pH of the meat, helping to lock in moisture and make the beef melt-in-your-mouth tender.


While the baking soda works its magic, chop the ginger, garlic and scallions.


Then get the sauce ready by mixing together the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, tomato paste, sesame oil, sugar and red pepper flakes.


Once the beef is “treated,” brown it in a sauté pan until almost cooked through.


Add the garlic, ginger and light scallions.


Cook for a few minutes, then add the hoisin mixture.


Stir until the beef is well-coated in the sauce and cooked through.


Sprinkle with the remaining scallions and spoon over rice. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, shredded veggies, chopped cashews, or whatever you like. Enjoy!



30-Minute Asian Beef Bowls

Servings: 4 to 6
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes


  • 2 pounds 90% lean ground beef
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons hoisin sauce, best quality such as Lee Kum Kee or Kikkoman (use gluten-free if needed)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce (use gluten-free if needed)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
  • 5 scallions, sliced, light and dark green parts separated

For Serving

  • Rice
  • Chopped cashews
  • Sesame seeds
  • Shredded veggies, such as carrots, lettuce or bell peppers


  1. In a large bowl, using your hands, mash the beef with the baking soda. Let it sit on the counter for 20-25 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, tomato paste, sesame oil, sugar, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
  3. Once the beef is "treated" and ready to cook, heat the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Brown the beef, stirring frequently and breaking into pieces, until just slightly pink, about 5 minutes. (I don't drain the fat - there's not that much and it adds flavor.)
  4. Add the garlic, ginger, and light scallions. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, a few minutes.
  5. Add the reserved hoisin sauce mixture and cook until the beef is well-coated and cooked through, about a minute. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  6. Gently stir in the remaining scallions and spoon the beef into bowls over rice. Top with sesame seeds, chopped cashews, and shredded veggies, if you like.
  7. Note: To get this dish done in 30 minutes, chop the garlic, ginger, and scallions while the meat is being treated with baking soda.

Nutrition Information

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  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 347
  • Fat: 19 g
  • Saturated fat: 6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 11 g
  • Sugar: 6 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 32 g
  • Sodium: 979 mg
  • Cholesterol: 99 mg

Reviews & Comments

  • 3 stars

    Did not like this 5-star recipe. Made exactly as written. The meat “sauce” was overly salty–I used regular soy–we only ate a little and discarded the rest. IMO the dish definitely needs additional toppings otherwise it’s just a bowl of rice with some seasoned meat.

    - EO on April 20, 2017 Reply
  • Two questions –
    1. could you leave out the tomato paste?
    2. have you tried with all ground beef?

    Thanks. As always, looking forward to a new treat from the Chef!

    - Bonnie on April 16, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Bonnie, yes and yes! (If you’d like you can replace the tomato paste with ketchup.)

      - Jenn on April 18, 2017 Reply
  • Hello! HUGE FAN. Trying to find an alternative for white rice. Do you think quinoa with raw veggies (diced bell peppers, cucumber) in it would work?

    - P on April 12, 2017 Reply
    • Definitely!

      - Jenn on April 12, 2017 Reply
      • 5 stars

        This was really good! Hubby LOVED it. Will be adding to my weekly rotation! Thanks Jen!

        - P on April 14, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This was so good! Everyone, including the kids loved it. I had to stretch it to feed 6 people with only 1lb of beef. I put this over a bed of rice and sauteed cabbage. I put an over easy eggs on top and it was perfect. Thank you for the delicious recipe!

    - Mon on April 9, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Another hit! Will keep this recipe in rotation. Pretty easy too – delicious!

    - Kelly S on April 9, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Just made this the other night and we both really enjoyed it! I followed the recipe although decreased the beef (only two of us) but kept the same amount of “sauce”. I would probably eliminate the sugar on next round.
    This recipe prompted me to investigate the comment made by another poster regarding the use of baking soda for tenderizing and the use of corn starch. I might try the “velveting” method the next time I make this out of curiosity. I added broccoli, shredded carrots, canned water chestnuts and fresh bean sprouts and had it over thai rice noodles and jasmine rice. Big hit in our house and my son loved it for the leftovers!
    I enjoy every recipe I try of yours!! Thank you!!

    - Karen Sarnowski on April 6, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this last night for my wife and me. It was delicious! Plus, for the two of us, we had a ton of leftovers, which makes it a great midweek meal. I added the cashews as suggested. I also added raw broccoli slaw and avocado. The avocado really tasted really great with the meat! Thanks for another great recipe.

    - Marina on April 5, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This recipe is a win win for the whole family!

    - Sarah Kelly on April 4, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made the 30 minute Asian Beef Bowls last evening to rave reviews (ages 7 to 70). I added radishes, red bell peppers, cucumbers and shredded lettuce to the carrot matchsticks. I even got a thank you for dinner hug from my grandson! Thank you Jen, for another great recipe.

    - Maryalice on April 4, 2017 Reply
    • Awww, a thank you dinner hug – that’s so sweet!

      - Jenn on April 4, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I tried this recipe tonight. My family absolutely loved it so much I wanted to get online and tell you!
    I was excited to read a few modification ideas in the other reviews – such as using chicken or adding other veggies. Great ideas!

    - Christina on April 2, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made the 30 min Asian Beef Bowl. Delish! Used Korean hot pepper flakes(amazon) and coconut oil in place of
    the veg oil. Would definitely make this again. TY Jennifer!

    - Arlene on April 2, 2017 Reply
    • Coconut oil! Great idea! Thank you!

      - Karen Sarnowski on April 6, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    These are amazing! Entire family loved them. I ran carrots and summer squash through my shredder and used them as toppings.

    Also – I thought I had hoisin sauce at home, but I was mistaken
    so I made my own from a BBC recipe. I will never purchase bottled hoisin again.
    4 tablespoons soy sauce.
    2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter.
    1 tablespoon dark brown sugar.
    2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar.
    1 garlic clove, finely minced.
    2 teaspoons sesame seed oil.
    1 teaspoon hot sauce (more or less to taste)
    1/8 teaspoon black pepper.

    - Christina Copenhaver on April 2, 2017 Reply
  • Does baking soda do that to other meats? Say beef cubes?

    - Karen on April 2, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Karen, I’ve never used baking soda on other meats, but I know sometimes it’s done in Asian cooking. If you want to try it, sprinkle it on the meat for about 20 minutes then rinse it off and proceed with the recipe.

      - Jenn on April 2, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Thanks for another great recipe, Jenn! I fixed this with chicken rather than beef and it was just delicious. We made lettuce wraps using leaves from hearts of romaine, which are ideally shaped for this purpose. I made some basmati rice too, but we put it inside the wraps along with the chicken. My son has already claimed some of the leftovers for his lunch on Monday. YUM!

    - Danni on April 1, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    When you say chopped ginger and garlic, is it more like minced or actually chopped?

    - Marcia on April 1, 2017 Reply
    • Finely chopped, so more liked minced :).

      - Jenn on April 1, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I loved this dish, as I have with almost everything I have tried. The crushed red pepper goes a long way, so I would suggest cutting it in half if kids will be eating this. Also, I have a question. What would you do to lessen the salt content in this dish without sacrificing flavor. If I lessen soy or hoisin, maybe add more garlic or ginger?

    - Marcia on April 1, 2017 Reply
    • Glad you liked it, Marcia! You could cut down on the sodium a bit by using reduced-sodium soy sauce. Hoisin sauce also has a lot of sodium; there aren’t any reduced-sodium brands on the market as far as I know, but I have seen recipes for low sodium homemade versions online if you wanted to go that route. Also, you could try cutting back on both a bit, but you want to make sure you have enough sauce to adequately coat the beef.

      - Jenn on April 1, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made this for dinner tonight and everyone loved it. Seasoned just right the way it is written. So fast and easy! Will definitely be making again and again, and probably double the recipe. Thanks for another great recipe Jenn.

    - Barbara on March 31, 2017 Reply
  • Jen,

    can this be made with steak or stew meat instead?


    - Birgitte Simen on March 31, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Birgitte, It could be made with thinly sliced steak (just keep in mind that it will cook more quickly than the ground beef). I would not recommend stew meat here.

      - Jenn on March 31, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Yum! Don’t question the baking soda, it seemed to work wonders for the meat. I followed the recipe to a t but added cucumber for crunch. Next time I will try bean sprouts. I’ve been following your blog for a long time and every recipe I have made is a success. Thanks!

    - Katie on March 30, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this for this evening dinner, WOW so delicious. I added fresh carrots and broccoli to the stir fry dish. It was a hit👍🏻

    - Robin on March 30, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This was OUTSTANDING! I used ground turkey (not ground breast) and it was just great. Another home run. Plus, I used Trader Joe’s frozen rice medley, which was easy and added some additional nutrition.

    - Karen Sabbath on March 30, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Hi Jenn! I just made this (it’s almost dinner time here in CO) and it’s super delicious! I’m waiting for the rice to cook but the boys keep going back to the kitchen for “another sample” of the beef. They love it! I omitted the red pepper flakes bc the boys don’t like anything spicy but I will definitely be sprinkling it on my plate. I also added a bit more of sesame oil bc we like it. No raw cashews on hand, only salted ones, so I did a quick cold water rinse and it turned out yummy! Thanks so much! So fast and so good! This will definitely be a repeat dish!

    - Elaine on March 30, 2017 Reply
  • What a good idea. My boys are grown, gone and cooking for their own families, but when they were young I used to make salads, ramen bowls and baked potatos with lots of options for toppings. They had to have some veggies, but being able to choose was always a plus.
    I teach cooking classes and offering choices and not allowing snacks after dinner except on special occasions is my only advice for feeding kids!

    - Carol on March 30, 2017 Reply
  • This looks so good but so high in sodium per serving almost my sons daily limit.
    Want to try – would low sodium soy make a difference?
    Any other suggestions to lower sodium?

    - Terry on March 30, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Terry, the soy and hoisin sauces definitely boost the sodium in this recipe. Using reduced-sodium soy sauce will help. As far as I know, there aren’t any reduced-sodium hoisin sauces on the market, but I googled it did see some recipes for making your own reduced-sodium version if you wanted to go that route.

      - Jenn on March 30, 2017 Reply
  • Hi Jen! Love your site and this recipe looks delicious! Definitely am going to give this recipe a try tonight. Just wanted to give you a heads up that most asians tend to use corn starch instead of baking soda when marinating and tenderizing the meat. Thanks again for all your hard work!

    - Sandy on March 30, 2017 Reply
    • Good to know Sandy– thanks for the tip (and hope you enjoy the beef bowls)!

      - Jenn on March 30, 2017 Reply
  • It is so encouraging to read your posts! I have two boys, 4 and 2. They take turns being picky at dinner table. I just keep trying. I think I have cooked through almost all of your recipes on this website. My children’s recent favorite is your Italian salad dressing and they insist on dipping everything in it… I am making the beef bowl tonight!

    - Lu on March 30, 2017 Reply
  • Can this be made ahead of time or is it best served fresh? Thanks! Love ALL your recipes.

    - Janet on March 30, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Janet, I think it’s best served fresh but don’t let that stop you if you need to make it ahead – it reheats well.

      - Jenn on March 30, 2017 Reply
  • I can’t wait to try this recipe! I would prefer to have cooked vegetables than raw. Would you recommend adding the vegetables to the meat to cook together?

    - Lily on March 30, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Lily, I’m not sure the veggies will cook properly if you add them with the meat — it really depends on the veggies you use — so I’d probably cook them separately.

      - Jenn on March 30, 2017 Reply
      • 5 stars

        I made this tonight and it was delicious! I love that it was quick and easy. I would love more quick recipes from you.

        Thank you Jenn!

        - Lily on April 1, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This looks great! I’m going to try it ASAP….

    - Kathy on March 30, 2017 Reply
  • I would like to substitute ground turkey for ground beef — would you still recommend the baking soda?
    Also, do you have any good Passover recipes? Some of my guests don’t eat beef.

    - Sandy Pochapin on March 30, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Sandy, I think you could use ground turkey, but I’d suggest going with ground chicken if you eat that. Regardless of which one you choose (chicken or turkey), no need to treat it with baking soda.

      - Jenn on March 30, 2017 Reply
  • I have a niece (also nameless – she knows who she is!!) who won’t touch anything that has visible onion or garlic in it. I use the little mini processor that came with my blender stick to whizz them into a mush, then stir it in when I’ve browned the mince or whatever. In anything like this, they then literally disappear. I know in a dish like this, it is a shame not to be able to identify the scallions, but at least it gets some veg inside her – it works with celery too. She doesn’t mind carrots, so I leave those just chopped finely. This dish looks delicious – it’s going on this week’s menu.

    - Jayne on March 30, 2017 Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    Made the Shrimp and Feta…It was so good all the family loved it and might be our favorite shrimp dish. Do you think this dish could use ground turkey instead of beef?

    - O.D. on March 30, 2017 Reply
    • So glad you enjoyed the Greek shrimp! I’d opt for ground chicken over ground turkey, but either would work (and no need to treat the meat with baking soda either way).

      - Jenn on March 30, 2017 Reply
      • Confused by the “shrimp and feta” reference? Is it a different recipe?

        - Ellie on March 30, 2017 Reply
      • 5 stars

        Made this last night and split the difference-1/2 ground chicken and 1/2 ground beef. I also made Bok Choy in the wok with toasted sesame and did brown rice and quinoa. So good, the baking soda really helps. Another tested recipe that gets 5 stars.

        - O.D. on March 31, 2017 Reply
  • I love your recipes! I would love to try this one, but I don’t eat red meat. Could you make this with ground turkey? What changes would I need to make?
    Thank you!

    - Jill on March 30, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Jill, Thank you! I do think it’d work with ground turkey, but ground chicken would be better. If you go that route, there’s no need to treat the meat with baking soda. Please let me know how it turns out if you try it :).

      - Jenn on March 30, 2017 Reply
  • Can lean ground turkey be substituted for the ground beef?

    - Marcia on March 29, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Marcia, Yes but I think you’ll have better results with ground chicken (and you can omit the baking soda step – it’s not necessary with poultry).

      - Jenn on March 30, 2017 Reply

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