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Asian-inspired Panda Express beef stir fry is not only budget friendly but it’s also perfect for a busy weekday. And since it’s semi-homemade, it’ll be on the table in minutes. The juicy ground beef is beautifully complemented by a sweet and spicy chili sauce, resulting in a comforting dish that you’ll love. Inspired by Korean ground beef rice bowls and adapted from my popular sweet chili chicken and green bean stir fry everyone craves so much!
A Quick Ground Beef and Rice w/ Panda Express
With minimal prep and no tricky techniques, this Panda express (not a sponsored post) sweet chili ground beef bowl is a perfect recipe for beginners to start exploring Asian food. If you love Korean ground beef rice bowls then you’ll enjoy this recipe. Though you may need to pick up a few ingredients, many of them are store cupboard staples that you’ll be able to use in a wide range of other dishes.
This recipe is so easy to customize. So you can pretty much add or eliminate anything you don’t have or like and replace it with different ingredients. Now let’s get to the flavorful ingredients found in this ground beef bowl.
A great budget alternative to steak, ground beef, aka hamburger meat is also packed full of flavor. Regular ground beef works well in this stir fry recipe, with a fat content of around 25 to 30% that helps to keep it juicy and impart that beautiful meaty taste. For a healthier alternative you could use lean ground beef or even use ground turkey in its place, though the end flavor won’t be quite the same.
Panda Express Sweet Chili Sauce
This delicious, sticky condiment can be found served in a whole range of Asian inspired dishes as a dipping sauce, but is a tasty ingredient in its own right. While it’s possible to make your own (check out my homemade sweet chili sauce), this is one of those occasions where store-bought is just as good.
Sweet chili sauce adds a slightly spicy kick to this ground beef stir fry, as well as adding a nice glaze to the meat. FYI, I used Panda Express sauce. Panda express sauce is amazing on it’s own, so if you’re not in the mood to cook, feel free to ditch the extra ingredients in this recipe.
This strong-flavored oil is made from pressed and toasted sesame seeds, and adds a wonderful nutty taste to many Asian dishes. Its rich flavor balances out the sharpness of the rice vinegar and pepper in this dish, as well as helping to bring out the taste of the beef. A little goes a long way and even a small bottle should last you for months.
Don’t be put off by this sauce’s rather pungent smell – fish sauce is amazing for bringing out the umami flavor in both meat and vegetables. It is a staple Asian ingredient and is used in almost every Thai dish out there. Made up of a mixture of oily fish and salt, just a tiny amount will add a tantalizing savory element to your meal.
Ginger brings a certain freshness to this ground beef stir fry and helps to intensify the flavors. It may look a bit intimidating, but it is very easy to prepare. Simply peel off the skin and you can grate or finely chop it. It’s important not to add in any large chunks – if you bite into one it will be very overpowering. In a pinch you can just add extra ground ginger, although the flavor of the fresh stuff is really something special.
Fresh Minced Garlic
Garlic is a staple ingredient in many cuisines, and Asian food is no different. Garlic creates a delicious base flavor for this dish.
Also known as scallions or spring onions, green onions make for a great garnish on many Asian stir fry recipes. Not only do they add a splash of color to the dish, but they also have a satisfying crunch to them and a fresh yet mild onion flavor. Once used, you can even regrow your green onions at home. Just add them into a glass filled with a little water and in a few days green shoots will start growing out of the top of the bulbs.
It’s not just the color that differentiates these from yellow onions – there is also a subtle difference in flavor. Red onions have a natural sweetness and tend to be slightly sharper than their yellow counterparts. If you can’t find red, however, yellow onions will work just fine in this ground beef stir fry recipe.
A great store cupboard spice to have on hand, ginger powder adds a bit of a kick without the same flavor complexities of fresh ginger. It is possible to use it in the place of fresh ginger, but just remember that as the flavors aren’t the same, you don’t want to use them in the same quantities. Ginger powder is much more potent, and ⅛ of a teaspoon is about equivalent to one tablespoon of fresh ginger.
Crushed Red Pepper
Crushed red pepper adds some extra heat to this dish, so feel free to add it to taste. When cooking this ground beef stir fry for kids, you might prefer to omit it completely if the kids aren’t too keen on spice. While there is a bit of heat from the sweet chili sauce, the sugars help to balance it out so it shouldn’t prove too hot.
Made out of fermented rice, rice vinegar is used in a range of recipes from stir frys to sauces to salad dressing. It has a sharp, sweet taste that works beautifully with Asian flavors. There are many kinds of rice vinegar available, but most grocery stores should carry plain, white rice vinegar, which is what you’ll need for this dish.
What To Serve With Panda Express Beef and Rice
This Panda Express ground beef stir fry is best served simply alongside some boiled rice, and is a great way to use up any rice that’s leftover. To reheat it, just put the rice in a large skillet with a splash of water, cover with a lid a cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up any clumps. Or if you you’re in a cooking mood, serve it with my Peruvian fried rice (just ditch the chicken in it).
How to make it
- In a large skillet fry the ground beef, onions and garlic breaking it into crumbles until browned and no longer pink. FYI, you don’t have to go nuts trying to break the ground beef into small crumbles. I actually prefer bigger crumbles but my kids likes them smaller, so do as you please.
- In a small bowl, add the sweet chili sauce and the rest of the sauce ingredients. Whisk. Pour the mixture over the ground beef and simmer for a couple of minutes.
- Place the rice into a bowl and top with the asian ground beef. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds if you like. I added some shredded carrots for a pop of color.
And there my friend, you have an easy Asian inspired ground beef in a Panda Express sweet chili sauce that’s super quick and easy to customize.
Panda Express Sweet Chili Ground Beef Stir Fry with Rice
- 1 tbsp Corn or vegetable oil
- 1 lb ground beef 80-85% ground beef
- 1/4 cup red onions diced small
- 2 tbs green onions thinly sliced
Sweet Chili Sauce
- 1 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce I used Panda Express
- 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp rice vinegar or apple cider works too
- 1 tsp ginger fresh minced ginger
- 4 tsp garlic fresh minced
- garlic, and onion powder For taste. I only used a pinch or two of each
- crushed red pepper for taste. I used about 1/4 tsp
- In a large skillet, add the corn oil. Once hot, fry the ground beef, onions, ginger and garlic breaking it into crumbles until browned and no longer pink. *See notes
- In a small bowl, add the sweet chili sauce and the rest of the sauce ingredients. Whisk. Pour the mixture over the ground beef and simmer for a couple of minutes. Serve over white or fried rice.
- Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds if you like. I added some shredded carrots for a pop of color.