Spicy Firecracker Beef (2024)

By:Nagi

181 Comments

This is a thrifty yet excellent dinner for all those times you need to scratch your Spicy Asian Food itch, fast! Seared beef mince gets tossed through a fiery Firecracker Sauce, all served over rice or noodles, a bit like a spicy beef version of the much-loved Vietnamese Caramelised Pork Mince.

Spicy Firecracker Beef (1)

Firecracker Beef

“I need a spicy Asian food fix!” It’s a well-known wail regularly heard from me, especially during intensive periods of non-Asian food cooking work, like during the making of the cookbook. Lovers of Asian food will understand exactly what I mean. It’s a recurring taste craving that, when left unsatisfied for too long, rears its head like a waking beast.

The satisfaction the beast seeks is particular. It’s chilli-laced, big-flavoured Asian food. I’m talking the likes of Thai Drunken Noodles. Chilli Garlic Prawns. Dan Dan Noodles. Laksa. Anything bold-tasting with wallop of tongue-tickling spicy heat. Nothing else will do!

The latest and quite possibly the fastest-to-make addition to my spicy Asian repertoire that fits the bill is this Firecracker Beef, aptly named because it’s a literal flavour explosion! Think spicy, deeply savoury leaning a little sweet, all given some legs with a touch of vinegar.

It’s as tasty as they come and very, very fast to make!

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What you need for Firecracker Beef

Here’s what you need to make Firecracker sauce.

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  • Sriracha – A Thai chilli sauce sold everywhere these days (Asian aisle and/or sauce aisle of supermarkets). This is the main source of spiciness in this recipe. It also adds flavour as sriracha is made with more than just chilli, including garlic, vinegar, salt and sugar.

  • Chilli flakes (red pepper flakes) – The second source of spiciness in the dish, this adds a more earthy chilli taste in addition to the tangy, fresh chilli taste of the sriracha. To reduce the spiciness, dial the chilli flakes back first before reducing sriracha. Sriracha adds more flavour into the dish than chilli flakes, so it’s more essential.

  • Beef mince (ground beef) – Any fat percentage is fine: lean or standard. The fattier it is, the better the beef will caramelise.

    Other proteins – Ground chicken, pork or turkey all work well with Firecracker sauce!

  • Sugar – Firecracker sauce’s flavour profile is spicy and sweet, so this is the sweet. It also helps the beef caramelise which adds even more flavour to the overall dish.

  • Rice vinegar – This provides the sharpness in the dish to offset the sweet and savoury. I use rice vinegar in keeping with the Asian spirit of this dish but apple cider vinegar can be substituted in a pinch.

  • Light soy – The primary source of salt for this recipe. All-purpose soy sauce can also be used, but not dark soy sauce because the flavour and colour is too intense. More on different types of soy sauces and how to substitute here!

  • Garlic – Fresh garlic is an essential aromatic flavour base that appears in 99% of my savoury recipes. You’d be hard pressed to find a dinner recipe without garlic!

How to make Firecracker Beef

You’re 15 minutes away from happily hoovering this down! Ready, set, GO!

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  1. Firecracker sauce – Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.

  2. Cook beef – Using a large non-stick pan over high heat, cook the beef until you can no longer see raw meat. Then add the garlic and chilli flakes and cook for another 1 minute until the garlic bits are golden.

  3. Sauce it – Add the Firecracker sauce and cook for a good 5 to 7 minutes on high heat until the sauce reduces and the beef starts to caramelise. Caramelisation is the key to making a wickedly good Firecracker anything, so don’t shortcut this step!

  4. Moisten it up – After the beef is caramelised, you’ll notice that it looks a bit dried out. This is because all the sauce has reduced, caramelised and stuck to the beef (= flavour!) To rectify this, we just add a slosh of water to juice up the beef a bit and give it a more saucy finish. Give it a quick stir and it’s done!

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Spicy Firecracker Beef (8)

How to serve Firecracker Beef

My default is to serve over white rice with some raw vegetables (cucumber, carrot and radish pictured). I love the crunchy-textured, cooling and refreshing contrast they have against all that big flavour in the tender beef. For garnishes, sprinkle with green onion, sesame seeds and a squirt of extra sriracha if you’re feeling it’s an extra-spicy kinda evening.

To eat, just mix the beef through the rice and devour with a spoon. Because the beef is generously flavoured, I don’t even feel the need for dressing over the vegetables. If you wanted something quick though, try my Asian Sesame Dressing.

For something different….

It’s also great with soba noodles or vermicelli noodles (an excellent no-cook-just-soak option). Or make Asian-inspired Sloppy Joes or tacos:

  • Stuff warm buttered rolls or tortillas with this Firecracker Beef along with a simple slaw or salad leaves

  • Quesadillas – Firecracker beef, cheese and any other add-ins you fancy!

  • Top with lightly pickled vegetables like the carrot in Banh Mi, these pickled red onions from Fish Tacos or cucumber ribbons in Beetroot Cured Salmon

  • Finish with a squirt of sriracha and for extra indulgence, some kewpie mayonnaise.

I haven’t made any of these before but now I want to try them, immediately!! – Nagi x

Watch how to make it

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Spicy Firecracker Beef (9)

Firecracker Beef

Author: Nagi

Prep: 3 minutes mins

Cook: 10 minutes mins

Main

Asian

4.94 from 101 votes

Servings4

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Recipe video above. This is a thrifty yet excellent dinner for all those times you need to scratch your Spicy Asian Food itch, fast! Seared beef mince gets tossed through a fiery Firecracker Sauce, tastes a bit like a spicy beef version of the much-loved Vietnamese Caramelised Pork Mince.

Sweetness & spice level – Fairly spicy! See notes to reduce. Firecracker sauce is supposed to be a bit sweet to offset spice, also see notes.

Ingredients

  • tbsp oil (vegetable, canola, peanut)
  • 500g / 1 lb beef mince / ground beef (Note 1)
  • 2 garlic cloves , finely minced
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes / red pepper flakes (adjust to your taste)
  • 3 tbsp water

Firecracker sauce:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce , light or all-purpose (Note 2)
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar (Note 3)
  • 4 tbsp sriracha sauce (Note 4)
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar (tightly packed)

To serve (optional!):

  • Rice, soba or vermicelli noodles
  • 1 green onion , finely sliced
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • Diced cucumber, julienned carrot, finely sliced red radish
  • Extra sriracha sauce , if you dare!

Instructions

  • Sauce: Mix Firecracker sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

  • Cook beef: Heat oil in a large frypan over high heat. Add beef and cook, breaking it up as you go, until you can no longer see raw meat (2½ minutes). Add garlic and chilli flakes and cook for 1 minute.

  • Caramelise beef: Add Firecracker sauce ingredients, stir to coat the beef. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring only every minute or so initially, then more towards the end, until the sauce reduces and you can see the beef caramelising. Caramelise well for good flavour!

  • Water: Add the water and cook for 1 minute (the water makes the beef saucier!)

  • Serve over rice, sprinkled with sesame seeds, green onion and a squirt of extra sriracha if you're feeling brave! Add a pile of vegetables of choice on the side. Dive in!

Recipe Notes:

Spiciness –Fairly spicy but not blow-your-head-off levels. Reduce spiciness firstly by reducing or omitting the chilli flakes. Then reduce the sriracha, if need be. Try not to reduce sriracha because it’s a key flavouring.

Sweetness – I use minimum sugar to be able to get good beef caramelisation and balance the spiciness/tang of siracha. If you reduce the sugar the spice comes through a quite a bit more and is not the typical Firecracker sauce flavour, albeit still very tasty!

1. Other proteins – This recipe will work well with pork, chicken and turkey mince. Crumbled tofu – reduce sugar by 1 tbsp.

2. Soy sauce – Use light or all-purpose soy. Don’t use dark soy sauce, the flavour will be too intense. More on different types of soy sauce here.

3. Rice vinegar – Substitute with apple cider vinegar.

4. Sriracha – A Thai chilli sauce found everywhere these days. Adds more than just spiciness, it adds flavour too as it’s flavoured with garlic, vinegar, sugar and salt.

5. Storage – Leftover cooked beef will keep for 3 to 4 days in the fridge, or freezer for 3 months. When reheating, add a splash of water to juice it up!

6. Nutrition per serving, beef only (ie not rice or vegetables).

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 326cal (16%)Carbohydrates: 13g (4%)Protein: 26g (52%)Fat: 18g (28%)Saturated Fat: 6g (38%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 81mg (27%)Sodium: 934mg (41%)Potassium: 472mg (13%)Fiber: 0.3g (1%)Sugar: 12g (13%)Vitamin A: 51IU (1%)Vitamin C: 11mg (13%)Calcium: 38mg (4%)Iron: 3mg (17%)

Keywords: beef mince recipe, spicy beef

Did you make this recipe?I love hearing how you went with my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @recipe_tin.

Life of Dozer

Cheating on Dozer in Melbourne at a book signing on the weekend. A surprising number of people brought their dogs in!!!

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Then re-united 12 hours later. ❤️

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I spent so much time answering questions about him at the book signings it made me miss him like crazy!! But the logistics of taking him to Melbourne was just too hard. Next book we’ll make it happen! He was in high demand, that’s for sure. 😂

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181 Comments

  1. Spicy Firecracker Beef (15)BobB says

    Spicy Firecracker Beef (16)
    Well Nagi …you did it again. I doubled the recipe. 5 stars from my whole family. Served with rice and topped with chopped green onions and toasted sesame seeds. What a treat!

    Reply

  2. Spicy Firecracker Beef (17)Debbie says

    Hi! Recipe looks great but how long total is the beef cooking for? It seems very short cooking time and I am squeamish a bit thinking of eating raw beaf…Any advice? Thank you!

    Reply

  3. Spicy Firecracker Beef (18)FranW says

    Spicy Firecracker Beef (19)
    Oooh, I made this last night, without the chili flakes. It was right at my top level of heat-handling; my partner could’ve added a bit more. We both loved it and will add it to the regular roster. I served it with a big salad made with Nagi Asian dressing. Super delicious, fast, easy, and a good way to spread 500 g mince across four people.

    Reply

  4. Spicy Firecracker Beef (20)Kelda says

    This is so good that my kids insisted I make it again the night after we first had it 😆And since then it’s been in our weekly dinner menu.

    Reply

  5. Spicy Firecracker Beef (21)AMR says

    Do I drain the fat after cooking the burger? It doesn’t say too, but I can’t imagine leaving that fat in

    Reply

  6. Spicy Firecracker Beef (22)Ruth says

    PLEASE edit step one to say (except the water) because you add it later. I think mine would have perhaps caramelised easier if I had not had it in the sauce to start.

    Reply

    • Spicy Firecracker Beef (23)Elyse says

      Step 1 is just to mix the ingredients listed under Firecracker Sauce: soy sauce, rice vinegar, sriracha, brown sugar. There’s no water for that step.

      Reply

  7. Spicy Firecracker Beef (24)Jamie says

    Spicy Firecracker Beef (25)
    This was fantastic! I actually made it 2 nights in a row because we ate it all the first night! We did lettuce wraps the first night and I fried gluten free pita the next. My husband likes to eat it with tortilla chips too, lol. This will definitely be a regular meal around here:)

    Reply

  8. Spicy Firecracker Beef (26)Toni says

    Spicy Firecracker Beef (27)
    This recipe is so quick and easy yet packed with flavour. 500gms mince fed two of us. (3 servings). A great meal to whip up if you’re hungry lol

    Reply

  9. Spicy Firecracker Beef (28)Sally says

    Spicy Firecracker Beef (29)
    The recipe is amazing!! It can be difficult to find recipes that are economical, easy to make, and delicious, but this one ticks all the boxes. It goes great with so many kinds of fresh veggies too. It is now part of my regular rotation, thank you Nagi!

    Reply

  10. Spicy Firecracker Beef (30)Sandra says

    Spicy Firecracker Beef (31)
    Absolute favourite in my household. One fusser eater is always asking me to make this. It’s quick, easy & tasty. Thank you Nagi

    Reply

  11. Spicy Firecracker Beef (32)Leana says

    Loved this! The sauce is such a perfect balance. I found this recipe as I had some excess beef mince, leftover packet coleslaw salad mix and vermicelli noodles and felt like something spicy. I subbed white wine vinegar for the rice vinegar and no problems. I also added a fried egg on top for some extra protein.
    This is so yummy, thank you Nagi for yet another hit! Super quick to make and easy to change it up with different veggies or rice instead of noodles etc. I will definitely be adding this into my regular rotation

    Reply

  12. Spicy Firecracker Beef (35)Emily says

    Spicy Firecracker Beef (36)
    Nagi,

    By golly you’ve done it again! My husband and I have become obsessed with this recipe. Whenever we have an itch for take-out, we make it. We also make this whenever we have beef, even if we have other recipes planned for the beef because we can’t help ourselves. The only difference is that we’ve started making it with coconut aminos instead of soy to keep my wild hormones in check and it’s delicious both ways. Thank you for never disappointing. Every recipe we’ve tried has become a favorite!

    Reply

  13. Spicy Firecracker Beef (38)Rache; says

    Spicy Firecracker Beef (39)
    One of my household’s favorites. This meal is so incredibly quick and simple, but so so delicious. We’ve made with beef, turkey, chicken, and pork and honestly, all versions are excellent!

    Reply

  14. Spicy Firecracker Beef (41)Aline says

    Spicy Firecracker Beef (42)
    The perfect mid-week meal, super quick and delicious. Served it with qukes, julienne carrots and some rice.

    Reply

  15. Spicy Firecracker Beef (43)Liz says

    Spicy Firecracker Beef (44)
    Super easy and a brilliant way to serve mince. My partner was anxious about the amount of vinegar (he’s not a fan) but it turned out perfectly balanced with the sugar and spice. Delicious with rice vermicelli noodles, also works great with pork-beef mix mincemeat.

    Reply

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