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!

Pepper steak on a pile of mashed potatoes.

This Pepper Steak represents what I love about Midwestern cuisine: the ability to turn any food into comfort food. In the Midwest, Pepper Steak is served over mashed potatoes. With gravy. A sweet and spicy gravy.

In most of the country, Pepper Steak is found on Chinese restaurant menus. These recipes and any Home Cook Copycats are Asian-themed and served over rice.

What I love about Midwest Pepper Steak (just Pepper Steak to the natives) is that it takes a slightly exotic dish (or something that was exotic at some point in the past) and makes it friendly and familiar.

When I think of Minnesota farmers coming in from the fields as the sun is setting, I imagine them sitting down to a hearty platter of flank steak and mashed potatoes with vegetables and gravy all mixed together.

Pepper steak ingredients in a silver pan.

Midwest Pepper Steak

I made Pepper Steak a bunch of different times in all different ways. While my grandma uses a pressure cooker for hers (with meltingly tender results, I might add), I prefer a more modern stir-fry approach (seeing as how I lack a pressure cooker).

Pepper steak over mashed potatoes on a white plate.

I start with a short marinade (saving half the marinade for the gravy later on), then stir-fry the steak in batches and set it aside. Next, I fry the bell peppers and onions in a clean skillet until just tender-crisp. Mash in some garlic and red pepper flakes, add back in the steak, and toss with the reserved sauce. It’s that easy!

And of course, pile it all on to mashed potatoes and devour.

Midwest pepper steak on a white plate.

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!
4.94 from 15 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Servings 6 servings
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 342


  • 1 ½ pounds flank steak trimmed
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons sesame oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or canola oil
  • 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 for serving


  • 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.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine honey, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, black pepper, and sesame oil. 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.
  • 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. Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 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 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 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.


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

I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

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  1. Did I read the recipe correctly: A CUP of honey?!?! I don’t even have a DESSERT recipe that calls for that much honey. Is this a stew or an ice cream topping?

    1. Hi Lydia, the reason there is a cup of honey is because there is A LOT of sauce. As you can see, it’s mixed with a cup of soy sauce, a cup of red wine vinegar, and a 1/2 cup of Worcestershire sauce. I apologize for the confusion. Putting a cup of honey on top of steak makes no sense, but I just think having a lot of sauce to dress the mashed potatoes (or egg noodles or whatever) is really nice. So use half the sauce for the marinade and the other half you heat up for serving. To pick a single ingredient out of the list and mock it out of context is a bit unfair, but I understand where you are coming from. Thanks!

  2. Made this tonight and really liked it.  Modifications: venison tenderloin instead of beef, used green and yellow pepper and used a combo of red wine vinegar and rice vinegar because I didn’t have enough.  I was afraid it was going to be too sweet but it works.  I went back for seconds!  5 stars

    1. Hi Cathy – wow! Venison tenderloin! You really elevated this to True Midwestern Fare. You win best in show for sure…. I immediately texted my sisters to tell them about your comment. We are all so impressed. Glad the recipe worked for you, and thank you so much for stopping by!

  3. Hi, Meggan. I just received a pressure cooker. I saw this post on Foodgawker (in a search for pressure cooker) and this one was the first recipe that really called to me. Do you happen to have instructions for the way your gma cooked it? I’m a complete newbie!

    If not, I’m making it stir fry! :)

  4. Wow! Outstanding Meggan! I was very worried while making this because of all the vinegar. But it was perfect. I followed your recipe exactly and will not make any changes in future either. My husband has declared this dish as his all time favourite ever. What more can I say. Thank you for sharing.5 stars

    1. WOW! Thank you so much, Julie! And to your husband too, thank you for having faith in a complete stranger. :D All time favorite, ever? LOL. High praise indeed. It is definitely on my list of things I love to devour quickly! Thanks again for such a great comment. Hugs!

  5. I’ve never heard of midwest pepper steak! Where have I been?! I can totally see how this would re-energize and satisfy you after a long hard day. Looks delicious!5 stars

  6. There are some really fabulous flavours in this, Meggan! And I must say, it really does seem like a sort of Chinese dish but … errrr…. not! 
    What a great local dish – I’d love to try it! 5 stars

    1. Thank you, Helen! It’s really pretty delicious. I just love it. I’m so proud of the food where I come from. :)

  7. I think I would eat very well in the Midwest because we have a lot in common in that the Brits love meat and potatoes comfort food as well. This is my kind of dish and my mouth is watering looking at your pics.5 stars

    1. I think the Midwest was probably settled by loads of Brits. We are all about ‘dem meats & potatoes. 

  8. Mmmmm fabulous recipe!  This is like the ultimate easy “stew” recipe but done super quick!  I love that you marinade this first I am sure it gives it a ton of flavor!5 stars

    1. Thanks, Mila! The marinading does add a ton of flavor, and then in the heap of sauce it’s just so juicy and good. Thank you! :)

    1. Thank you so much, Mira! Of course you have a similar recipe… you’re living in the Midwest! Ha ha ha! ;) 

    2. My mom (and now I) use round steak and also add tomatoes and a soy sauce instead of Worcestershire. 4 stars