Vegetarian Beef and Broccoli

My favorite Chinese food take-out order of beef and broccoli gets a vegan makeover with a simple substitute of Butler’s soy curls. Yes, soy curls can mimic beef as well as chicken, and more! Tender, meaty, & absolutely filled with intense beefy flavor, your taste buds are sure to do a double take. And the really good news: This recipe makes a lot!


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Beef and broccoli stir-fry had always been one of my favorite Chinese restaurant take out orders. But I could never find a vegan version, until we went to Chicago for a business trip. 

There we found out about a fully vegan and vegetarian Chinese restaurant called Veggie House well known for their vegan recipes. Their mock meat beef and broccoli was perfect and exactly as I remembered from long ago.

But we only get to Chicago once a year, and I knew I couldn’t wait that long to have this amazing vegan beef and broccoli again. My inspiration piqued, I decided to try my luck making my own and, after many attempts, this vegan beef and broccoli recipe was born.

Plump soy curls play the star as the vegan beef. They’re spiced and stir fried with fresh broccoli florets and red bell peppers and onion for a marvelous mimic of the classic dish. 

While it may not be exactly like Veggie House’s, it’s still absolutely delicious and will definitely get me by until the next time we’re in Chicago!

Why We Love Soy Curl Beef and Broccoli

  • Vegan beef and broccoli is easy to make and comes together quickly.
  • It’s so delicious and a meal the whole family will love.
  • The recipe makes amazing leftovers.
Overhead photo of all the ingredients you need to make vegan soy curl beef and broccoli

Ingredients in This Savory Vegan Beef and Broccoli

You’ll need 7 ingredients for the main dish + 10 common ingredients for the vegan beef and broccoli sauce.

For the vegan beef strips and veggies, you’ll need:

  • Soy curlsSoy curls are a fantastic plant-based staple and the secret ingredient in many of our veganized recipes. We love them so much we wrote a whole soy curls guide explaining what exactly soy curls are, where to buy soy curls, and how to use soy curls to replace chicken and beef in your own family recipes. 
  • Cornstarch – This will coat the vegan beef strips to give them a bit of a crisp when fried.
  • Gravy Master – A brand of browning sauce I love to use to give great color and flavor notes to vegan beef dishes. We also use it in our mushroom stew and mini vegan shepherd’s pie recipes!
  • Broccoli florets – I recommend using fresh broccoli for this recipe.
  • Red bell pepper – I like to add sliced red bell peppers for a bit of color and because I love the flavor it adds. I’ve only ever seen red bell peppers added to restaurant beef and broccoli twice in my life, but I loved the addition.
  • Yellow or white onion – sliced
  • Oil – I like to use simple olive oil, which has a moderate smoke point. Any quality oil with a moderate to high smoke point is good. Some options for high heat oils would be avocado oil, sunflower or safflower oil, sesame oil, or refined coconut oil.

What is beef and broccoli sauce made of?

Traditionally, beef and broccoli sauce is made of regular and dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, chicken or beef stock, garlic and ginger, and a few spices.

For our vegan beef and broccoli sauce, you’ll need:

  • Soy sauce – The base of our stir fry sauce. Mixed with the water it will help take the place of the stock. Feel free to use low-sodium soy sauce if you wish.
  • Fresh ginger – minced
  • Fresh garlic – minced
  • Gravy Master – Adds extra color and flavor to the sauce and to the dish as a whole.
  • Cornstarch – This will help the sauce to thicken when it’s heated.
  • Brown sugar – This will add a little sweetness to balance the other flavors and assist in caramelization.
  • Rice wine vinegar – Adds a little acidity and “zing” to the dish
  • Vegan Worcestershire sauce – Annie’s, The Wizards, and O Organics all make a vegan Worcestershire sauce that can be found in many grocery stores. Check your local grocery store for fish-free, vegan Worcestershire.
  • Red pepper flakes – to add a little spice
  • White pepper – Also to add a little spice. I like to use white pepper because it infuses into the sauce in a more balanced manner than coarse ground pepper.
Head on photo of a pair of chopsticks reaching down to pick up a piece of vegan beef and broccoli

Substitution Options

If you need to substitute one of the ingredients in this recipe, here are our best tips. Remember though, changing out any of the ingredients may lead to a (not always pleasant) difference in the final product. Let us know in the comments if you try any substitutes and how they work out for you! 

To replace the cornstarch: Other fine starches like arrowroot or tapioca starch or white rice flour would also work for the same effect. 

For the soy sauce: Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or Tamari would also work.

To replace the ginger/garlic: The standard conversion for fresh ginger to powdered ginger is 1/4 teaspoon of dried ginger to one tablespoon of fresh. For fresh garlic to granulated the standard conversion is 1/4 teaspoon of dried garlic to one clove of fresh. If you are using minced, jarred garlic, use 1/2 teaspoon of jarred garlic for one clove of fresh.

For the brown sugar: Coconut sugar or date sugar can substitute for the brown sugar.

Vinegar Options: You could use white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar as a substitute for the rice wine vinegar.

To replace the vegan worcestershire: If you don’t have or can’t find vegan Worcestershire sauce, use a little extra soy sauce and a little browning sauce. You can also use vegan oyster sauce if you can find it.

For the red pepper flakes / white pepper: Feel free to omit or lessen amounts if you don’t like spicy food.

For the Gravy Master:

I wouldn’t skip on the browning sauce for this dish. But there are a variety of brands to choose from if you can’t find this specific one.

Kitchen Bouquet is another popular browning sauce in North America, and HP is quite possibly the most famous browning sauce in the UK. If you can’t find ANY of these, steak sauce that is vegan friendly would be an acceptable substitute.

Veggie Options:

Traditionally, beef and broccoli was made with Gai Lan, a member of the Brassicaceae family familiarly known as “Chinese broccoli”. Close relatives to Gai Lan are broccoli rabe, bok choy, collard greens, and of course, the standard broccoli we’re most familiar with in the west.

While removing the broccoli would make this something other than vegan beef and broccoli, feel free to play around with your vegetable additions. Sliced carrots or mushrooms would be a great addition. You could also use a variety of colorful peppers for a beef and pepper stir fry.

Soy Curl Substitutes:

Outside the US, you can find a plant-based protein product similar to soy curls labeled “soy chunks” or “TVP strips”. They’re slightly different in texture, but either will work for this recipe.

Tofu, oyster mushrooms, or seitan could also work as a substitute for the soy curls, but the recipe would have to be adjusted for these.

Close up overhead shot of a plate of vegan beef and broccoli sprinkled with sesame seeds

How to Make Vegan Soy Curl Beef and Broccoli

Now it’s time to walk you through the process of making vegetarian beef and broccoli from beginning to end. It takes a few steps, but once you get going, this dish comes together quite quickly!

Step 1: Rehydrate the soy curls. 

Add your soy curls to a large bowl. Add enough hot water to cover the soy curls. Remember, they’ll plump as they rehydrate. Cover the bowl and allow it to sit for about 15 minutes.  

Step 2: Make the vegan beef and broccoli sauce.

While the soy curls rehydrate, add all the sauce ingredients for the stir fry to a small bowl and whisk until totally combined.

Step 3: Finish prepping the soy curls.

Strain and squeeze excess water from the soy curls. Wipe the bowl dry and return the soy curls to the bowl. Sift the corn starch over the soy curls so they are coated well. Set aside.

Step 4: Blanch the veggies.

Heat a large saute pan or wok on high and add about a cup of water and the broccoli, peppers, and onions. Place a lid on the cooking vessel and cook for a few minutes to blanch the broccoli and soften the onion and peppers just a bit. Strain and set aside.

Step 5: Cook the soy curl beef.

Return the pan to high heat and add the oil. Add the starch-coated soy curls and the Gravy Master to the hot oil and stir to coat the vegan beef. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring only occasionally. You want to get a nice crisp to the soy curls.

Step 6: Bring it all together.

Add the veggies back to the pan, give the sauce mixture from Step 2 another good stir, and pour it over the contents of the wok evenly. Stir well, turn down to medium heat, and allow the sauce to thicken for a couple of minutes. Stir occasionally.

Overhead photo of a plate of vegan beef and broccoli with white rice sprinkled with sesame seeds

How to Serve Plant-Based Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

Serve this vegan beef and broccoli hot alongside:

  • Fluffy white rice, brown rice, or fried rice
  • Udon or rice noodles
  • Sesame noodles
  • Vegan egg rolls or spring rolls
  • Oven roasted baby bok choy
  • Topped with sliced green onions and/or sesame seeds

How to Store Leftovers

Plant-Based Beef and Broccoli makes awesome leftovers and is SO good the next day. Cook once and enjoy it for lunch the rest of the week!

In the fridge: The vegan beef and broccoli will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days when stored in an airtight container.

In the freezer: In the freezer, it will last 3 months when stored properly in a freezer-safe, airtight container.

Souper Cubes Tips: I actually love to use our Souper Cubes containers so I can freeze one or two-person servings and just take out only what I need when I need it. Just fill the proper amount in the one or two cup Souper Cubes, freeze, and transfer to a freezer-safe bag for long term storage.

How to Reheat: 

From the Fridge: In the microwave, reheat at 80% for 2 minutes. Stir and microwave again on high for 1-2 minutes.

From the Freezer: Defrost in the microwave at 50% power for about 4-5 minutes. Stir and reheat at full power for about 2 minutes until hot.

Overhead photo of a plate with vegan beef and broccoli on one side and white rice on the other side.

More Broccoli Recipes:

When you try this vegan version of beef and broccoli, we’d love to hear what you think!

Leave a review and star rating in the comments section below to help more people like yourself find our plant-based recipes. We also just love hearing about what you’re cooking!

Until next time!

Close up overhead photo of a plate of soy curl beef and broccoli with white rice

Vegan Beef and Broccoli (Soy Curls)

Terrence Roche
My favorite Chinese food take-out order of beef and broccoli gets a vegan makeover with a simple substitute of Butler’s soy curls. Yes, soy curls can mimic beef as well as chicken, and more! Tender, meaty, & absolutely filled with intense beefy flavor, your taste buds are sure to do a double take. And the really good news: This recipe makes a lot!
4.75 from 4 votes
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 8 servings
Calories 127 kcal

Ingredients
  

For the dish:

  • 1 8-oz. bag Butler soy curls
  • 2-3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1.5-2 Tbsp Gravy Master – for browning
  • 1 lb. broccoli florets
  • 1 medium red bell pepper sliced
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion sliced
  • 2 Tbsp oil

For the Sauce

Instructions
 

  • Rehydrate the soy curls. Add your soy curls to a large bowl. Add 3.5-4 cups boiling water to the soy curls. They’ll plump as they rehydrate, so make sure to cover them well. Cover the bowl and allow it to sit for about 15 minutes. 
  • Make the sauce: While the soy curls rehydrate, make the sauce by adding all the ingredients to a small mixing bowl and whisking until totally combined. Set aside until ready to use.
  • Finish prepping the soy curls: Strain and squeeze excess liquid from the soy curls. Wipe the bowl dry and return the soy curls to the bowl. Sift the corn starch over the soy curls and coat well.
  • Blanch the veggies: Heat a large saute pan or wok on high and add 1 cup water and the broccoli, peppers, and onions. Cover and cook for 5 minutes to blanch and soften the veg just a bit. Strain and set aside.
  • Cook the soy curl beef: Return the pan to high heat and add the oil. When hot, add the coated soy curls and the 1.5-2 Tbsp of Gravy Master and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want to get a nice crisp to the soy curls.Bring it all together: Add the veggies back to the pan, give the sauce another good stir, and pour it over the contents of the wok evenly. Stir well, turn the heat to medium, and cook for 2-3 minutes while the sauce thickens.
  • To serve / store: Serve hot with rice or noodles and topped with sesame seeds and/or sliced green onion. Store up to 5 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/8 the recipeCalories: 127kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 3gFat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gSodium: 851mgFiber: 3gSugar: 5g
Keyword soy curl beef and broccoli, vegan beef and broccoli, vegan beef and broccoli soy curls, vegan beef and broccoli stir fry recipe with soy curls, vegan soy curl beef and broccoli, vegetarian beef and broccoli
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4 Comments

  1. We are also oil-free. Could the soy curls be crisped in an air fryer and then added back to the sauce etc. Thank you!
    1. Hi, Marilyn! That's a great question. We ourselves have not tried it, but I have seen some other people do it. I'd recommend 350-370°F for maybe 15 minutes. If you do try it in the air fryer, I'd love to hear how it turns out!

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