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The Secret to the Most Tender Teriyaki Beef Stir Fry

Everyone loves a good soft beef stir fry. Succulent, tender meat strips, fresh vegetables and a glossy, sticky sauce – fingerlicking good! Here’s my secret to getting it right every time without any additives! 

The secret to the most tender teriyaki beef stir fry

Why are stir-fry beef strips tough?

Have you’ve ever bought pre-packed ‘beef strips for stir fry’ and wondered why the meat goes dry, tough and chewy?

It is because the cuts used are those that require long-slow cooking. I actually buy these for things like Beouf Bourguignon instead as they are a lot more economical. However, they turn out all dry and chewy when cooked in a stir-fry. 

Always make sure you are cooking your stir-fries quickly over high heat. This will ensure that the meat doesn’t end up ‘sweating’ and stewing, making it tough.

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How to tenderise meat strips for stir fry?

It’s simple and you will love just how effective tenderising actually is.

Using only 1 ingredient, this velveting method, helps tenderise the meat to juicy perfection. You can use it on beef stir fry strips or chicken breast for a tender, juicy and silky smooth meat every time. You know the kind you get from Chinese takeaways… yum!

Simply velvet the meat then quickly stir-fryfry, searing it then remove from pan / wok. The meat will continue to cook in its own heat and should remain soft. Cook your veges separately with the sauce and add to the meat without further cooking.

Best beef for stir fry

You can, of course, use beef fillet (tenderloin) instead because it is unvelievably tender, buttery and has a mild beef flavour. It’s probably my first choice when making a fancy stir fry. 

It may seem like a more expensive option at over $40 a kilo, but a 250g fillet goes a long way if you add more vegetables to your dish. It will also come close to satisfying the recommended requirement of 5 servings of vegetables per day!

Best thing? The beef remains soft as butter.

Choose a beef fillet cut that’s marbled with some fat for an even more juicy and tender result. Note that grass-fed beef will have less marbling. Slice thinly (3mm thin) with a sharp knife and you’re ready to go.

If price is an issue, then I would use scotch fillet steaks as my second choice, sliced thinly again.

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3.20 from 55 votes

The secret to the most tender [teriyaki] beef stir fry

It may seem like a more expensive option at over $40 a kilo, but a 250g fillet goes a long way if you add more vegetables to your dish. If price is an issue, use scotch fillet instead or buy beef from the bargain corner which tends to be reduced by up to 50% or buy in bulk with friends.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 250 g beef fillet
  • black pepper ground
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce or tamari
  • 1/4 cup honey or rice syrup
  • 4-6 tablespoons macadamia oil or sesame oil or light olive oil for frying
  • 1 Spanish onion cut into quarters
  • 2 sprigs of spring onions chopped
  • 300 g green beans cut in half // or snow peas if you prefer
  • 10 small button mushrooms cut into quarters
  • 4 cloves of garlic sliced thinly
  • 4 slices of fresh ginger diced


  • Slice beef fillet thinly, spread on the cutting board and season well with freshly ground black pepper.
  • In a measuring jug mix soy sauce or tamari with honey or rice syrup.
  • Heat oil in a wok (or a frypan) until just starting to smoke and fry beef slices in batches - only one layer should cover the pan at any time.
  • The meat will only take about 10 seconds to brown on each side. Flip using tongs and brown the other side. Place the meat in a bowl, set aside and repeat with the remaining slices.
  • Wipe down wok with paper towel. Add 1 tablespoon oil and return to heat.
  • Add onion, spring onions and beans. Stir fry until onion has separated and starts to caramelise. Add mushrooms and stir fry for another couple of minutes. Add garlic and ginger. Stir to combine. Return beef to the wok, add soy sauce mixture. Stir fry until the sauce thickens slightly and blends in with the meat and vegetables.


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Sylvia January 7, 2011 at 10:03 am

The secret is not so much of a secret now! :)
Thanks for sharing

Wholesome Cook January 7, 2011 at 10:06 am

Well, judging by how many people search for the secret I’m happy to be sharing it! I used to wonder this same thing myself until I tried the fillet.

Beef, basil (and chilli) pad se ew « Wholesome Cook June 27, 2011 at 12:34 pm

[…] you know, I believe beef fillet is the secret to a tender stir-fry. It’s pricey but you only need a little, plus you will avoid all the nasty meat tenderiser […]

ella December 12, 2011 at 10:32 pm

I’ve come back to this website at least 5 times to find this recipe, I keep losing it and researching it all over again, but hands down this is the absolute BEST teriyaki I’ve ever made!!! Thank you so much for sharing this, it’s soooo good and my family and friends just love it. Def tender!!!

Salsa Oudenaarde January 29, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Im thankful for the article.Really looking forward to read more. Awesome.

Salsa Oudenaarde January 30, 2012 at 12:47 am

This is one awesome post.Much thanks again.

Ambir March 9, 2013 at 9:05 am

It was okay, I’ve had better. Needs an acidic component and more spice. I added rice vinegar and pepper sesame oil. It was edible but I wouldn’t make it again. Think something out of P.F. Changs frozen food isle.

Kerry Hancock May 15, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Also for tender beef sprinkle 1tspn of bicarbonate of soda per 500g of beef…let it stand in the fridge for 30 mins then wash the bicarbonate off of the beef…pat dry with kitchen paper then proceed as this great recipe says. The bicarbonate has no flavor but sure tenderizes the meat…try it as it does work

The Secret to Making Teriyaki Beef Super Tender | Things To Do Yourself - DIY September 5, 2013 at 6:33 am

[…] The Secret to the Most Tender Teriyaki Beef Stir Fry […]

amanda January 5, 2014 at 8:19 am

I really enjoyed this, so did my extremely fussy Mr! Will be adding it to the food plan! Loved the fact it was all ingredients I have in my larder.

Gunhild July 9, 2016 at 5:30 am

I lost enthusiasm for your cooking site ! With the stir fry , after browning the meat ,you instruct to wipe the pan before adding the vegies . Really? Get rid of the delicious residue from frying the beef ? Not in my kitchen, lol !

Bunny Devi December 4, 2017 at 3:03 pm

Thanks for posting. Awesome article.|

Bunny Devi December 4, 2017 at 3:07 pm

Great article. Beef Stir Fry coming right up!

Megan January 7, 2018 at 2:37 am

My sauce stayed like liquid. It didn’t thicken

dave99999 September 5, 2018 at 11:03 am

How about just use long slow cooking if you don’t want to waste premium beef on something where it’s just sliced and sauced?


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