Pepper Steak, updated with a sweet and spicy gravy and served over mashed potatoes, becomes the ultimate comfort food when it’s made in the Midwest. Hearty and filling, your family will love this meal any day of the week!

A bowl of Midwest Pepper Steak over mashed potatoes.

When I think of Minnesota farmers coming in from the fields, their backs against the setting sun, I imagine them sitting down to a hearty platter of steak, mashed potatoes, and vegetables, all smothered in gravy.

Midwest Pepper Steak is one tasty way to do that. This recipe is based on one my grandma always made, and it exemplifies the Midwestern sensibility of translating a slightly exotic recipe into something friendly, familiar, and delicious.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Midwest Pepper Steak Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for Midwest pepper steak.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Flank steak: A large, flat cut from the underside of the cow that is thin and cooks quickly. It’s slightly chewy and should always be sliced against the grain.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together honey, brown sugar, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and black pepper to taste (I like 2 tablespoons; use less if you don’t love black pepper). Measure out ¼ cup of this sauce and pour it into a large zipper-top plastic bag or glass bowl for marinating the meat. Reserve the remaining sauce for the stir-fry.
A bowl of marinade for Midwest Pepper Steak.
  1. Freeze steak for 15 to 20 minutes, just until the outside is chilled but the steak is not frozen solid. This will make it easier to slice the steak thinly. Remove the steak from the freezer and slice thinly against the grain.
Cutting steak into strips against the grain of the meat.
  1. Add the steak to the large plastic bag or bowl with the marinade and marinate at room temperature at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour.
Steak marinating in a plastic bag.
  1. Remove the steak from the plastic bag, discarding the marinade, and pat dry with paper towels. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil until shimmering. Season half the meat with ¼ tsp salt, add to the skillet in a single layer, and cook for 1 minute without stirring, until browned on one side. Stir the meat and continue to cook for 1 minute longer, until browned all over. Transfer to a clean bowl. Wipe out the skillet, add another tablespoon of vegetable oil, and repeat with the remaining steak.
Steak cooking in a skillet.
  1. When the meat has been cooked and set aside, wipe out the skillet. Add the last tablespoon of vegetable oil and heat until shimmering. Add the peppers and onions and stir-fry until tender-crisp and still bright, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Vegetables cooking in a skillet.
  1. Meanwhile, stir the cornstarch into the reserved stir-fry sauce. Clear a space in the middle of the vegetables. Add the garlic and ginger to the skillet and mash together, then mix in to the vegetables.
Vegetables cooking in a skillet.
  1. Return the steak and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Pour in the reserved stir-fry sauce and cook over medium-high heat until the sauce boils and thickens slightly, about 2 minutes.
Adding stir fry sauce to Midwest Pepper Steak.
  1. Remove from heat and serve over mashed potatoes.
A skillet full of Midwest Pepper Steak.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes 6 hearty servings.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Make ahead: The marinade can be mixed 1 day in advance. The peppers and onions can be sliced 2 days in advance (store separately in the refrigerator).
  • Freezer: Midwest Pepper Steak (but not the mashed potatoes) can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat on the stove to 165 degrees.
  • Serving suggestions: Serve Midwest Pepper Steak over mashed potatoes, buttered noodles, or cooked rice.
A bowl of Midwest Pepper Steak over mashed potatoes.

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More Midwestern favorites

Midwest pepper steak over mashed potatoes in a white bowl.

Midwest Pepper Steak

Pepper Steak, updated with a sweet and spicy gravy and served over mashed potatoes, becomes the ultimate comfort food when it’s made in the Midwest. Hearty and filling, your family will love this meal any day of the week!
4.95 from 18 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Servings 6 servings
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 342

Ingredients 

For the sauce:

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

For the steak:

  • 1 ½ pounds flank steak trimmed (see note 1)
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil divided
  • 2 bell peppers any color, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 1 onion halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger minced
  • 2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Mashed potatoes hot, for serving

Instructions 

To make the sauce:

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together honey, brown sugar, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and black pepper to taste (I like 2 tablespoons; use less if you don't love black pepper).
  • Measure out ¼ cup of this sauce and pour it into a large zipper-top plastic bag or glass bowl for marinating the meat. Reserve the remaining sauce for the stir-fry.

To make the steak:

  • Freeze steak for 15 to 20 minutes, just until the outside is chilled but the steak is not frozen solid. This will make it easier to slice the steak thinly.
  • Remove the steak from the freezer and slice thinly against the grain. Add the steak to the large plastic bag or bowl with the marinade and marinate at room temperature at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour.
  • Remove the steak from the plastic bag, discarding the marinade, and pat dry with paper towels. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil until shimmering. Season half the meat with ¼ tsp salt, add to the skillet in a single layer, and cook for 1 minute without stirring, until browned on one side.
  • Stir the meat and continue to cook for 1 minute longer, until browned all over. Transfer to a clean bowl. Wipe out the skillet, add another tablespoon of vegetable oil, and repeat with the remaining steak.
  • When the meat has been cooked and set aside, wipe out the skillet. Add the last tablespoon of vegetable oil and heat until shimmering. Add the peppers and onions and stir-fry until tender-crisp and still bright, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, stir the cornstarch into the reserved stir-fry sauce. Clear a space in the middle of the vegetables. Add the garlic and ginger to the skillet and mash together, then mix in to the vegetables.
  • Return the steak and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Pour in the reserved stir-fry sauce and cook over medium-high heat until the sauce boils and thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and serve over mashed potatoes.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Flank steak: A large, flat cut from the underside of the cow that is thin and cooks quickly. It’s slightly chewy and should always be sliced against the grain.
  2. Yield: This recipe makes 6 hearty servings.
  3. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  4. Make ahead: The marinade can be mixed 1 day in advance. The peppers and onions can be sliced 2 days in advance (store separately in the refrigerator).
  5. Freezer: Midwest Pepper Steak (but not the mashed potatoes) can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat on the stove to 165 degrees.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 342kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 27gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 68mgSodium: 1147mgPotassium: 586mgFiber: 2gSugar: 18gVitamin A: 1253IUVitamin C: 52mgCalcium: 50mgIron: 3mg
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Comments

  1. I thought this came out so darn good ! It’s full of flavor and was a nice step up from the traditional peppered steak my mom would make. Absolutely delicious!5 stars

  2. Per an earlier comment, it appears the recipe has been updated since it was first posted. I no longer see any Worcestershire sauce, the amounts of soy sauce and red wine vinegar have been halved, and the amount of honey looks like it’s been cut back to just a quarter of the original recipe. Any particular reason for these changes? Would Worcestershire sauce detract from the flavor in your opinion? I have no problem experimenting; was just curious what motivated the recipe changes.

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