Slow-Cooker Pepper Steak Recipe photo by Kristina Vanni for Taste of Home

Slow-Cooker Pepper Steak

Total Time
Prep: 10 min. Cook: 6-1/2 hours
From the tenderest meat to flavorful vegetables, this slow-cooker pepper steak is a perfectly tasty weeknight meal that doesn’t require too much thought to throw together.

Updated: Jun. 03, 2024

Chinese pepper steak is a dish known for its tender meat, and what better way to achieve melt-in-your-mouth results than cooking that meat in your slow cooker? Not only does your handy-dandy slow cooker make it easy to get dinner on the table without having to put in a lot of work, but these machines make it easy to slow-cook meat to absolute perfection, especially when it comes to this slow-cooker pepper steak recipe.

This easy slow-cooker recipe starts with beef cooking slowly in a tasty sauce for hours, then vegetables are mixed in and cooked until tender crisp. After a quick half hour on high to thicken the sauce with cornstarch, this slow-cooker pepper steak is ready to serve with your side dish of choice, making dinnertime during the week a stress-free experience.

Ingredients for Slow-Cooker Pepper Steak

  • Beef top round steak: Top round steak such as London broil works well for slow-cooking in a crock pot. In some cases, top round might be categorized as bottom round or rump roast. Be sure to slice the meat across the grain to get the most tender results.
  • Canola oil: The oil is used to initially brown the beef before it’s transferred into the slow cooker. Vegetable oil can work as a substitute, as well as another oil with a high smoke point, such as safflower oil.
  • Yellow onion: Onion is cooked slow with the meat and sauce and reaches an almost caramelized consistency. Yellow onions work best for this dish, but a red onion could also work if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Soy sauce: Soy sauce is used as part of the base sauce that the beef slow-cooks in. We recommend using a reduced-sodium soy sauce for this recipe. Coconut aminos could also work, but keep in mind that it will likely create a sweeter-tasting sauce.
  • Ground ginger: Ginger is one of the main aromatics used in Chinese pepper steak. This recipe calls for ground ginger from the spice rack, but if you want to pack a little more of a flavor punch, you could always use fresh ginger root instead.
  • Garlic cloves: Minced garlic is another aromatic used in this recipe, whisked in with the sauce that the beef slowly cooks in.
  • Sugar: Sugar is used to sweeten the sauce, giving it a similar taste to the brown sauce used to coat a typical Chinese pepper steak you’d find at a restaurant.
  • Tomatoes and green bell peppers: These vegetables are added to the slow cooker during the last hour of cooking, to the point where they are tender but not overcooked.
  • Cornstarch: The sauce in this dish is thickened with the use of a cornstarch slurry (cornstarch dissolved in water) during the last 20 to 30 minutes of cooking.

Directions

Step 1: Prepare the beef

Cut the steak into strips, about 1 inch thick and 3 inches long. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Brown the edges of the beef, but do not overcook it; give it just enough time in the skillet to brown the edges.

Step 2: Combine the ingredients and slow-cook

Add the beef to the slow cooker, then top it with the onion, soy sauce, minced garlic, sugar, ginger, salt and pepper. Cover and cook the meat on low for five to six hours, or until the meat is tender.

Step 3: Add the tomatoes and green peppers

During the last hour of cooking, add in the sliced tomatoes and green bell peppers. The vegetables will become tender within that hour of cooking.

Step 4: Thicken the sauce

Combine the cornstarch with the cold water, whisking until it’s smooth and there are no clumps. Slowly pour the cornstarch slurry into the slow cooker. Switch the settings to high, and let the meal cook for another 20 to 30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Once it’s finished, serve your slow-cooker pepper steak on a bed of noodles or rice.

Slow-Cooker Pepper Steak Variations

  • Try different cuts of beef: Although beef top round is the cut of steak recommended for this dish, chuck roast and beef top sirloin are other cuts that would also work well for this slow-cooker recipe.
  • Opt for even more crisp vegetables: If you prefer your Chinese pepper steak to have vegetables with a bit more snap—also known as “tender crisp”—you can give them less time in the slow cooker. Add the vegetables during the last 30 minutes instead, giving them just enough time to get soft but still have that snap you desire.
  • Serve with buttered egg noodles, rice or mashed potatoes: You’ll want to serve your slow-cooker pepper steak with a side dish that will soak up all that delicious sauce. We recommend serving it on a bed of buttered egg noodles (or wheat noodles such as ramen), with a side of rice or even with mashed potatoes. Bonus points if you decide to serve it with our favorite easy fried rice!
  • Garnish with your favorite toppings: While this slow-cooker pepper steak recipe is delicious on its own, you can always get creative with your meal and sprinkle sesame seeds or fresh-cut scallions on top.

How long do slow-cooker pepper steak leftovers last?

If you find yourself with leftovers after dinner, you can store them in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for two to three days. This meal can also be stored well in the freezer for up to six months, either in a freezer container or a tightly sealed plastic bag.

Slow-Cooker Pepper Steak Tips

Can you prep and freeze the ingredients for this meal?

This Crockpot pepper steak recipe is an easy meal you can prepare and freeze to use later. To do so, prep the vegetables and brown the beef as usual. In a large bowl, mix together your browned beef with the ingredients you would use in the slow cooker to make the sauce, then transfer the prepped meat to a large zip-top sealed plastic bag. In a smaller zip-top bag, add in the sliced tomatoes and green bell peppers. (You don’t want to mix these in yet, given that these vegetables are added in at a separate time than the meat.) Place the smaller bag in the larger one, then seal it up and freeze. Here’s a deeper guide to how to prep and freeze slow-cooker meals.

How can you thicken the sauce in the slow cooker?

Sauces can become thicker with the use of a thickening agent, such as cornstarch or flour. Cornstarch is used in this recipe and is added to the slow cooker at the end to help thicken. To avoid any awkward clumping, this recipe has you making a “cornstarch slurry,” where you whisk together the cornstarch with cold water, making it easier to incorporate the thickening agent into your sauce. However, keep in mind that thickening agents do not freeze well, so if you plan on preparing your Crockpot freezer meal ahead of time, don’t bother tossing in the cornstarch. This step is something you can do at the end when you’re actually cooking.

What is the best way to reheat slow-cooker pepper steak?

Chinese pepper steak is best reheated either on the stovetop or in the microwave. Cook it slowly over low until everything is heated through. To reheat it from the freezer, transfer the slow-cooker pepper steak to the refrigerator to thaw overnight, then heat it in a covered saucepan, stirring occasionally. The sauce might become thinner after reheating, so feel free to add in another cornstarch slurry to thicken it up.

Slow-Cooker Pepper Steak

Prep Time 10 min
Yield 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 pounds beef top round steak
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges or 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 large green pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • Hot cooked noodles or rice

Directions

  1. Cut beef into 3x1-in. strips. In a large skillet, brown beef in oil. Transfer to a 3-qt. slow cooker. Combine the onion, soy sauce, garlic, sugar, salt, ginger and pepper; pour over beef. Cover and cook on low until meat is tender, for 5-6 hours. Add tomatoes and green pepper; cook on low until vegetables are tender, about 1 hour longer.
  2. Combine cornstarch and cold water until smooth; gradually stir into slow cooker. Cover and cook on high until thickened, 20-30 minutes. Serve with noodles or rice.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup beef mixture: 232 calories, 8g fat (2g saturated fat), 64mg cholesterol, 639mg sodium, 11g carbohydrate (5g sugars, 2g fiber), 28g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 4 lean meat, 1 vegetable, 1 fat.

After a long day working in our greenhouse raising bedding plants, I enjoy coming in to this hearty slow-cooker pepper steak for supper. It's one of my favorite meals. — Sue Gronholz, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
Recipe Creator
Community Cook