Recipe Spotlight

Chili Crisp Steak Is Even Better Than It Sounds

Chili crisp is good on everything, but it's especially good on steak.

Published July 23, 2021.

For the uninitiated, chili crisp (aka “Godmother Sauce” or Lao Gan Ma, the iconic Chinese brand whose name has become synonymous with the stuff) is a much talked-about condiment that devotees claim can make anything better. And they’re not wrong. It’s a rich, spicy, salty, and—yes—crispy sauce that is often paired with things such as noodles, dumplings, rice, and stir-fried greens, but it has even crossed over into dessert territory. Chili crisp sundae, anyone? I’m ready with my ice cream scoop. 

But if you’re not quite as eager as I am to jump on the savory-sweet flavor train, there’s plenty more to explore with this sauce, such as incorporating it into your weeknight dinner repertoire. 

Chili crisp adds layers of flavor and texture, so you can whip up something simple, toss in some chili crisp, and you’ll feel like a true genius. (A bite of plain white rice with the crunchy spiciness of chili crisp on top? Heaven.) 

Hacking weeknight dinner this way can be a godsend on a busy night, and it was with this spirit that we developed recipes for our upcoming Five-Ingredient Dinners cookbook.

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My colleague Leah Colins developed a recipe for Chili Crisp Steak with Rice Noodles, which builds on the basic idea of chili crisp noodles, and it’s certainly become a staple in my house. 

It turns out that this condiment you’ve heard is great on anything is even more versatile than you thought. In this recipe, it’s used as a quick rub for skirt steak before searing, and then even more is tossed with noodles and sautéed green beans before adding the steak and its juices back to the noodles. 

The genius with this recipe is that the wide muscle fibers of the steak trap the rub, the chili crisp gets even crispier as it cooks, and the steak juices and flavorful fat mingle with the chili crisp to create an umami-bomb final sauce. 

And sure, you can make your own, but store-bought works great too. It’ll keep in your fridge for a long time, though I bet you’ll work your way through it faster than you can say “chili crisp sundae.”

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Chili-Crisp Steak with Rice Noodles

Serves 4
Total time: 30 minutes

12 ounces (⅜‐inch‐wide) rice noodles
¼ cup chili crisp
2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar or seasoned rice vinegar
1 pound skirt steak, trimmed and cut with grain into 4 pieces
1 pound green beans, trimmed and halved

You'll also need vegetable oil, table salt, and pepper for this recipe.

1. Pour 2 quarts boiling water over noodles in bowl and stir to separate. Let noodles soak until soft and pliable but not fully tender, stirring once halfway through soaking, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain noodles, then rinse with cold water until water runs clear. Shake to remove excess water and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, whisk chili crisp, vinegar, and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil together in bowl; set aside. Pat steaks dry with paper towels and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Rub steaks all over with half of reserved chili crisp sauce.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add steaks and cook until well browned and meat registers 120 to 125 degrees (for medium-rare), 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer steaks to cutting board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest while cooking green beans.

4. Heat fat remaining in skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Stir in green beans, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper and cook until spotty brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water; cover; and cook until beans are bright green and crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Uncover and cook until water evaporates, 1 to 2 minutes.

5. Off heat, add noodles and remaining reserved chili crisp sauce to beans in skillet and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Slice steaks thin against grain and serve with noodles.

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