Spicy beef noodle soup (香辣牛肉面)

A bowl of noodles in well spiced broth topped with tender beef cubes, spicy beef noodle soup is hot, fragrant and very comforting indeed.

Cold winter days are approaching! Here in our Red House everyone is craving something hearty and comforting for dinner. I bought some nice cuts of beef the other day and cooked beef noodle soup in two ways. One with light, clear broth for the kids and another with lots of spices for the hot food lovers in our house. If you are also looking for a dish to warm you up, don’t miss today’s recipe: Spicy beef noodle soup (香辣牛肉面).

Choose marbled beef cuts

To make a bowl of delicious beef noodle soup, first you need to find the ideal cut of beef. Generally speaking, the cuts which have generous amounts of marbling are great for stew dishes (such as Chinese spiced beef and potato stew). They have a higher fat content thus take less time to cook  and deliver a beautiful beefy flavour. I came across an article explaining how to choose the best cuts for beef stew. Have a look if you are interested.

Make a well spiced broth

In my recipe of spicy beef noodle soup, the beef cubes are simmered in a well spiced liquid. Firstly, minced garlic and Sichuan chilli bean paste are briefly stir fried in oil to fully release their fragrance. Then you need to add water and leave to simmer for several minutes. When the soup is ready, pour it into the pot filled with blanched and drained beef cubes. Please note that it’s recommended to filter the soup through a sieve to get rid of the remaining lumps of garlic and chilli bean paste.

The last step is to add more spices and herb to the simmering soup. Bay leaf, star-anise, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan pepper and fennel seeds are used to flavour the broth. However you wouldn’t want them in the serving bowl. I have a tip for you: If available, place the spices in a closed tea strainer while simmering. Later you will be able to discard them easily.

Do not cook noodles in the broth

For preparing noodle soup, please allow me to repeat one important tip that I’ve mentioned in another post (Chicken meatball noodle soup): do not cook noodles in the broth. The starch coming off the noodles will change the flavour and the consistency of the broth. Instead, you should boil noodles in a clean pot filled with plenty of water.

To make spicy beef noodle soup healthier, you can blanch some leafy green vegetable while cooking the noodles. Spinach, pak choi (bok choy) or Chinese choy sum are great choices.

Spicy beef noodle soup (香辣牛肉面)
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121 ratings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Serving Size: 4 servings

Spicy beef noodle soup (香辣牛肉面)

A bowl of noodles in well spiced broth topped with tender beef cubes, spicy beef noodle soup is hot, fragrant and very comforting indeed.


    For stewing the beef
  • 600g / 21oz beef, cut in cubes
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons Sichuan chilli bean paste (see note 1)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
  • 1500ml / 6.5 cups hot water
  • 1 thumb-sized ginger
  • 2 stalks spring onion, cut in sections
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 star-anise
  • 1 small piece Chinese cinnamon (cassia cinnamon)
  • 10 Sichuan pepper
  • 1 pinch fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
    You also need:
  • 4 portions noodles (see note 2)
  • Spinach (or pak choi / bok choy)
  • Fresh coriander, chopped


  1. Blanch the beef: In a pot, blanch beef cubes in boiling water to remove any impurities. Drain, then put the beef back into the pot.
  2. Season the soup: Heat up oil in a wok (or a deep frying pan) over medium heat. Stir in garlic, Sichuan chilli bean paste and chilli powder (if using). Cook until fragrant (do not burn them). Pour in water. Cover and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Simmer the beef: Through a sieve, pour the soup into the beef pot. Add ginger, spring onion and all the other spices (see note 3). Bring the soup to a boil then simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours. When cooked, discard the ginger, spring onion and spices.
  4. Cook the noodles: Cook the noodles in a clean pot with plenty of water. At the end of the process, quickly blanch spinach (or pak choi) in the same pot. Drain and rinse under cold water for a few seconds.
  5. Assemble the bowl: Place the noodles and spinach in serving bowls. Pour in the broth then place the beef on top. Sprinkle coriander to garnish. Serve warm (see note 4).


1. Different brands of Sichuan chilli bean paste (aka spicy Doubanjiang, 辣豆瓣酱) may vary in saltiness, hotness and texture. Adjust the volume accordingly. Best to use Pixian Douban, a well-known variety, which needs to be coarsely chopped prior to cooking.

2. You may use fresh noodles or dried noodles. In terms of volume, I usually cook about 80-100g / 2.8-3.5 oz dried noodles for each person. Follow the instructions on the package. Please note that you are not supposed to boil the noodles in the beef broth since the starch coming off the noodles will change the flavour and the consistency of the broth.

3. If available, use a closed tea strainer to keep spices in while simmering. Later you will be able to discard them easily.

4. You may freeze the meat and soup in the freezer for up to 1 month. Defrost in the fridge then heat up again prior to serving.


Thank you very much for taking time to read my post. Hope you all are wrapped up warm on cold days and are enjoying comforting food with your loved ones.

Happy cooking!

An enthusiastic cook with a Chinese palate and a global mindset.

Spicy beef noodle soup: freshly cooked noodles in a spicy broth, topped with beef cubes, garnished with spinach and coriander.

Other scrumptious noodle dishes to try:

Zha Jiang Mian (炸酱面): Beijing’s signature noodles

Chicken meatball noodle soup (肉丸汤面)







8 thoughts

  1. My delightful husband 🙂 made this for dinner on Sunday night, although he didn’t track down the Sichuan chilli bean paste. It was still delicious, but I would imagine it has a richer flavor with this ingredient. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Thanks Heddi!! Looks like your delightful husband has become a fan of my blog! I’m planning to write a post on beef noodle soup with clear broth which doesn’t involve chilli bean paste. It’s more suitable for people who doesn’t like spicy food. Yet you can always add some chilli oil if you wish. Have a lovely day!

  2. I loved your recipe! My Boyfriend and I went to China last summer and we had beef noodle soup almost every day, until we really just couldn’t stand it anymore :D. But I was just craving it so much last week that I had to make it, and it came out tasting delicious! Your blog is awesome and I want to try all your recipes! 🙂 Thank you so much for posting them xxx

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