How many calories in a Pepper Steak?

Pepper steak is a delicious Chinese-American dish that typically consists of strips of beef and bell peppers cooked in a sauce. It’s a flavorful and protein-packed meal, but many people wonder just how many calories are in a typical pepper steak dish.

In this article, we’ll break down the calorie count of pepper steak, looking at the different ingredients that go into making this meal. We’ll provide estimates for calories per serving, so you can get an idea of how pepper steak fits into your daily calorie goals. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or build muscle, understanding the calorie content can help you plan your nutrition strategy.

Calories In Beef

The main component of any pepper steak is the beef itself. Beef provides the bulk of the protein and nutrients in this dish. The calorie count of beef can vary significantly depending on the cut and fat content.

Here are some estimates for the calories in 3 ounces (85 grams) of various beef cuts:

Beef Cut Calories
Top sirloin 179
Strip steak 140
Tenderloin 158
Top round 148
Ground beef (90% lean) 122

As you can see, leaner cuts like sirloin or tenderloin provide 150-180 calories in a 3-ounce portion. Fattier cuts like ribeye can provide 200+ calories for the same serving size. Ground beef can range from 120-170+ calories depending on the fat percentage.

For pepper steak, cuts like flank steak, sirloin, or top round are often used because they are flavorful and relatively affordable. They also stay tender when sliced thinly against the grain. If using a lean cut like top sirloin, a 3-ounce serving (before cooking) would have around 150-180 calories.

Calories In Bell Peppers

In addition to beef, the other star ingredient in pepper steak is bell peppers. Sweet bell peppers add vibrant color, flavor, and texture to balance out the beef.

Compared to beef, bell peppers are very low in calories. One whole medium bell pepper (any color) has about:

Bell Pepper Calories
Red 37
Green 29
Yellow/Orange 27

So you can see a whole pepper generally provides only 25-40 calories, depending on type.

For a typical pepper steak recipe, you’ll use about 1-2 cups sliced bell peppers. This would provide around 15-35 calories total.

Calories In Onions

Onions are another vegetable commonly added to pepper steak recipes. They provide flavor and crunch.

One medium onion contains about 44 calories. A smaller 1/2 onion has around 22 calories. Recipes usually call for 1 whole onion diced or sliced. So the onions add a modest amount of calories to the overall dish.

Calories in Sauce Ingredients

No pepper steak is complete without a delicious sauce! The sauce helps to add lots of extra flavor. Common ingredients include:

  • Soy sauce
  • Beef broth
  • Cornstarch
  • Rice vinegar
  • Vegetable or peanut oil
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Chili flakes

Most of these sauce ingredients are very low in calories. For example:

Sauce Ingredient Calories
1 Tbsp soy sauce 10
1 Tbsp vegetable oil 120
1 Tbsp rice vinegar 5
1 Tbsp beef broth 5-10
1 clove garlic 4
1 tsp fresh ginger 2

A typical sauce may use a couple tablespoons each of soy sauce, oil, vinegar, broth, garlic, and ginger. Altogether this would add around 150-200 calories total.

The ingredients that can add more significant calories are oil and cornstarch. An extra tablespoon of oil adds 120 calories. Cornstarch contains about 4 calories per teaspoon. Recipes generally call for 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch, so this can add 50-100 calories.

Still, the sauce ingredients represent a relatively small portion of the total calories compared to the beef itself. Choosing lower calorie substitutions, like using broth instead of oil, can further reduce the calorie count.

Total Pepper Steak Calories

Putting this all together, a typical pepper steak recipe with 6 ounces of flank steak, 1 cup sliced bell peppers, half an onion, and 2-3 tablespoons of sauce ingredients would contain around:

350-550 calories total

This range depends on the exact ingredients and portion sizes. Some factors that increase calories:
– Using higher fat beef cuts like ribeye instead of lean sirloin
– Increasing the oil in the sauce
– Serving larger portions of beef or vegetables

To make a lower calorie pepper steak:

  • Use lean beef cuts like top sirloin or flank steak
  • Go easy on oil – use broth instead when possible
  • Increase lower calorie vegetables like peppers
  • Stick to a 3-6 ounce serving of beef
  • Use reduced sodium soy sauce

Making these simple substitutions can reduce the total calories per serving down to 300 or less.

Here is a summary for a lower calorie pepper steak recipe:

Ingredient Calories
4 ounces flank steak 200
1 cup bell peppers 30
1/2 onion 22
1 Tbsp lite soy sauce 10
1 Tbsp beef broth 10
1 tsp cornstarch 4
1 tsp vegetable oil 40
Garlic, ginger, vinegar 10

As you can see, by making some simple substitutions you can enjoy delicious pepper steak for around 300 calories per serving!

Nutrition Facts for Pepper Steak

In addition to calories, here are some of the main nutrients provided in a typical serving of pepper steak:

Nutrient Amount
Protein 21-30g
Fat 12-22g
Carbs 5-10g
Fiber 1-2g
Sodium 500-700mg

As you can see, pepper steak provides an excellent source of protein, mainly from the beef. You’ll get 20g or more protein per 3-4 ounce serving.

It’s also moderately high in fat, which comes primarily from the beef as well. Selecting leaner cuts helps reduce the amount of saturated fat.

Carbs and fiber are low since there are no grains or starchy veggies. The small amount of carbs comes from the bell peppers and onions.

Sodium can vary depending on ingredients like soy sauce. Sticking to reduced sodium soy sauce helps keep sodium under control. Overall though, pepper steak provides nutrients to support a well-rounded diet.

Pepper Steak Calories Compared to Other Meals

How does pepper steak compare calorie-wise to some other popular meals?

Here is a look at the calories for around a 3-4 ounce serving of meat with vegetables and sauce:

Meal Calories
Pepper steak 350-500
Steak fajitas 500-600
Chicken stir fry 300-400
Meatloaf 400-500
Steak & mashed potatoes 600-700
Burger & fries 700-900
Spaghetti Bolognese 600-800
Taco salad 400-600

Pepper steak clocks in on the lower end calorie-wise compared to dishes like burger and fries, spaghetti, or steak and potatoes. The lean beef and veggies make it a lighter meal.

Stir fries with chicken or shrimp are comparable to pepper steak for calories. And dishes like taco salad or meatloaf can also be in a similar range.

So pepper steak is one of the more waistline-friendly choices among common meat-based meals. Carefully tracking portion sizes of beef and oil is key to keep the calories reasonable.

How to Burn off the Calories

Now that you know how many calories are in pepper steak, how can you work them off?

Here’s how long it would take to burn 350 calories doing various exercises (for a 125 pound person):

Exercise Time to burn 350 calories
Walking (3mph) 60 minutes
Jogging (5mph) 35 minutes
Hiking 55 minutes
Biking (moderate effort) 45 minutes
Swimming 45 minutes
Aerobic dance class 45 minutes
Elliptical 30 minutes

As you can see, going for a 30-60 minute walk, jog, bike ride, or swim can help burn off those pepper steak calories. High intensity exercises like running or using the elliptical can burn 350 calories in as little as 30 minutes.

But keep in mind that the exact duration needed depends on your weight and fitness level. Heavier individuals require more time to burn the same number of calories.

Combining pepper steak with a healthy side salad and fresh fruit for dessert can help balance out the meal nutritionally. Then getting in 30-60 minutes of activity helps expend the energy.

Should You Eat Pepper Steak if Trying to Lose Weight?

Pepper steak can absolutely be part of a weight loss diet when eaten in appropriate portions. The high protein is beneficial for preserving lean muscle mass as you shed pounds.

Here are some tips for enjoying pepper steak on a weight loss plan:

– Stick to a 4-6 ounce serving of lean beef like sirloin or flank steak
– Use broth instead of oil when making the sauce
– Load up on non-starchy vegetables as your side dish
– Avoid high calorie add-ons like cheese, rice, noodles or heavy desserts
– Balance out the meal with lower calorie foods the rest of the day
– Get in 30-60 minutes of moderate exercise to burn some extra calories

With smart cooking techniques and portion control, pepper steak can be a tasty and waistline-friendly option. The lean protein helps keep you feeling full and satisfied too.

Just be mindful of your total calorie intake for the day, including beverages or snacks. Consuming high calorie foods in addition to the pepper steak could hinder weight loss.

Healthier Cooking Methods

To lighten up pepper steak, consider using the following healthy cooking techniques:

– Broil, grill or pan-sear the beef instead of deep frying. This reduces the amount of added oils.
– Cook the vegetables by stir-frying, roasting or grilling instead of deep frying.
– Choose whole grain rice noodles, quinoa, or cauliflower rice instead of white rice.
– Skip the sugary, high calorie sauces and opt for lower sodium soy sauce, vinegars, garlic, and ginger to flavor.
– Use cooking spray or broth instead of oil when stir-frying.
– Finish with chopped scallions, cilantro, basil or mint for freshness.
– Serve with a side salad or steamed vegetables instead of rice.

Implementing some of these simple, healthy cooking substitutions can lighten up pepper steak considerably. You still get tons of flavor without all the excess calories from frying in oil or serving with white rice.

Satisfying Low Carb Options

Going low carb? Pepper steak can definitely comply with a low carb eating plan as well.

Here are some tips for making low carb pepper steak:

– Skip the rice noodles or white rice, and replace with riced cauliflower.
– Add extra non-starchy vegetables like zucchini, broccoli, or green beans.
– Opt for a low carb sauce made with beef broth as the base.
– Use a natural sweetener like stevia instead of sugar in the sauce.
– Flavor with garlic, sesame oil, vinegar and spices instead of sugary sauces.
– Consider shirataki noodles made from konjac root as an alternative to rice noodles.
– Serve over a bed of leafy greens instead of grain-based options.

With these substitutions, you can easily limit carbs to under 20-30 grams for the entire meal. And you still get delicious beef and vegetables over a low carb base.

If following a keto diet, be mindful of the protein and veggie portions too. Consuming too much protein from the beef or carbs from the vegetables can interfere with ketosis. But overall, pepper steak can be tailored nicely to low carb and keto diets.


Pepper steak provides a hearty dose of protein, vitamins, and savory flavor. While calorie counts can range depending on the recipe, a typical serving provides 350-550 calories. Choosing lean beef cuts, boosting vegetables, and sticking to reasonable portion sizes are the keys to keeping calories under control. Use healthy cooking methods like broiling or grilling instead of frying. Then pair pepper steak with an activity you enjoy to burn some extra calories and you have a well-rounded, waistline-friendly meal.

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