This Chinese ground beef and cabbage stir fry is a fast and easy low-carb dinner that is both filling and budget-friendly! Ground beef seasoned with cumin, garlic, and ginger is stir-fried with crisp yet tender green cabbage in a light and savory umami-rich sauce.

Follow my tips for achieving optimum flavor, juicy ground beef, and the best texture when stir-frying cabbage. See my substitution ideas for using different meats and veggies so you can come back to this recipe again and again!

A close overhead shot shows ground beef stir fried to perfectly browned with cabbage and shiitake and served with rice in a red bowl.

Quick Overview

When I set out to create this beef and cabbage stir fry recipe, my goal was super simple: to use ingredients that are easy to find, won’t break the bank, are good for you, and taste absolutely amazing.

The challenge: Unlike its Asian counterparts, western green cabbage is tougher and less moist, making it a bit tricky for quick stir-fries.

The solutions:

  • Cutting the cabbage: The magic begins with how you slice the cabbage. Aim for thin slices, not shredded, and for those thicker stems, go even thinner.
  • Browning the beef: It gives flavor and texture to the ground beef. However, the trick is to avoid overdoing it. Keeping some moisture in the beef will not only keep things juicy but will also help the cabbage absorb all those delicious flavors.


My ground beef cabbage recipe differs from others in that it is Chinese-inspired. We use simple ingredients to infuse the meat and cabbage with great depth of flavor. The sauce is super simple but adds a punch of umami and ties this dish together well.

Photo shows ingredients for recipes using cabbage and ground beef.

For the beef and cabbage stir fry

  • Garlic cloves: A good amount of minced garlic adds great flavor to the ground beef.
  • Ginger: Grated for maximum flavor and aroma.
  • Ground beef: I used 90% lean, and 10% fat. The fat gives a rich flavor and nice texture to this minced beef with cabbage recipe.
  • Avocado oil: Or any neutral flavored oil.
  • Fresh shitake: Sliced into thin strips. The mushrooms add a nice earthy, Chinese flavor.
  • Green cabbage: A star of this dish! You can also use savoy cabbage. See below for details on how to thinly slice green cabbage for stir-frying.
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Cumin powder: A popular ingredient in Chinese cooking, cumin adds a great pop of flavor and differentiates this recipe from other cabbage and ground beef recipes.
  • Shiitake mushroom seasoning (Shiitake bouillon): Or chicken bullion. Optional to add depth of flavor and is a great substitute for the MSG commonly used in Chinese cooking.
  • Chinese Shaoxing wine: Or use Taiwanese Michu, gluten-free mirin, or chicken stock. Added toward the end of cooking to help moisten the dish.
  • Toasted sesame oil: Use a drizzle before serving for authentic Chinese flavor.
  • Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru): Optional for serving to add a spicy kick, a pop of flavor, and authentic Asian flavor to the dish.
  • Scallion/green onion: Diced and sprinkled on as a garnish.

For the stir fry sauce

  • Light soy sauce: An umami-rich and salty base for the sauce. Tamari or coconut aminos are good gluten-free alternatives. You can also opt for low sodium soy sauce.
  • Dark soy sauce: A bit less salty than regular soy. Adds color and sweetness to the dish.
  • Chinese black vinegar: Adds a tangy flavor to the sauce. Or use aged balsamic vinegar or rice vinegar for gluten-free. (Apple cider vinegar will be too strong, in my opinion!)

Substitutions and variations

How to make cabbage and ground beef stir fry

This easy Chinese ground beef recipe comes together fast! Follow my simple tips for achieving the best flavor and texture — using fresh aromatics, slicing the cabbage properly, and finishing with a sauce for moisture is key!

Person demos how to make cabbage and ground beef stir fry.
  1. Prep the veggies: Mince the garlic, grate the ginger, slice the mushrooms, and cut the cabbage into thin strips before you begin cooking.
  2. Season and cook the beef: Add the aromatics to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Immediately add the beef, breaking it into small bits while it browns. Add cumin and shitake.
  3. Add cabbage and sauce: Stir-fry the cabbage for 2 minutes then season with the remaining salt, cumin powder, and shiitake mushroom bouillon. Then pour in the sauce and deglaze the pan.
  4. Garnish and serve: Lightly sprinkle with cumin and gochugaru. Drizzle with toasted sesame oil and garnish with scallions. Serve cabbage minced beef hot with steamed rice.

Time-saving tip: Use a coleslaw mix packet to make this healthy beef and cabbage recipe even easier!

How to cut green or savoy cabbage for stir fry

Asian stir-fries are all about cooking quickly with high heat to keep everything tasty and crunchy. But, because green cabbage is a bit tougher and drier, it needs a special touch to get it stir-fry ready.

Person demos how to slice green cabbage for stir fry uses.
  1. Quarter Your Cabbage: Start by cutting your cabbage into four parts. This makes it easier to handle.
  2. Remove the Core: Take out the hard middle part (the core) from each quarter. This part is too tough for a quick stir-fry.
  3. Slice It Up: Now, cut each quarter into thin strips, aiming for less than ¼ inch wide. This thin size helps them cook fast and evenly.
  4. Thin Those Stems: If you hit a thick stem, slice it even thinner than the rest. This ensures every piece of your cabbage cooks perfectly.
  5. Separate the Layers: Lastly, use your fingers to gently pull apart the sliced cabbage. This helps in cooking it evenly and getting that ideal texture.

How to make green cabbage more delicious in stir fry

Choosing Your Cookware:

  • Large pan: Use a large pan, at least 12 inches wide. A wok or a high-walled pan works wonders for keeping everything inside while you stir.
  • Good for high heat: Make sure your pan is built for the heat. Stainless steel, woks, cast iron, and carbon steel are your best friends here.

Browning the Beef:

  • Warm Up: Preheat your pan over medium heat. You want it just right so the beef starts browning as soon as it touches the pan.
  • Brown, Don’t Burn: Aim to brown the ground beef but without cooking down all the juice, fat, and liquid from the meat. This is key for any recipes using cabbage and ground beef.

Working with Green Cabbage:

  • Green cabbage is tough and a bit dry, so it craves fat and moisture to taste delicious. When cooking any beef mince and cabbage recipes, save some of the meat’s juice and fat. This little trick is a game-changer for your cabbage with ground beef.

Adding Sauce/Seasoning:

  • Moisture Balance: Stir-frying can dry things out, so adding moisture back is key. Want your ground beef & cabbage saucy? Mix your seasonings with stock and a touch of starch. Prefer it crispy? A splash of soy sauce and a deglaze with cooking wine will do the trick.

Meal prep, storage, and reheat

Hamburger and cabbage stir-fry is a perfect meal prep dish! This quick and easy recipe makes 6 healthy servings that can be stored and eaten throughout the week. Here’s how:

  • Prep ahead: You can slice, rinse, and pat dry the cabbage ahead of cooking or use a coleslaw mix for an even shorter prep time.
  • Storage and reheat: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat in a microwave on high for 1 minute.
  • Meal prep: Divide into individual servings and pack with rice for meals on the go throughout the week.

What to serve with ground beef cabbage stir fry

Ground beef cabbage and rice is a healthy and delicious meal on its own! Try cauliflower rice to keep this dish keto and low-carb. You can pair this Asian beef and cabbage stir fry with soup and salad for a larger family meal. Here are some of my favorite pairings for this Chinese style ground beef dish.

Helpful tips

  • Choose the Right Pan: Opt for a large, high-walled pan or wok suitable for high-heat cooking, like stainless steel, cast iron, or carbon steel. This ensures enough space and the right cooking environment for your ingredients to shine in this beef and cabbage skillet meal.
  • Preheat Your Pan: Always start with a well-heated pan to ensure the beef browns quickly and evenly, locking in those delicious juices and flavors.
  • Browning the Beef: Aim to brown the beef just right—keep it juicy, not dry. The fat and juice from the beef add a rich flavor to the cabbage.
  • Slice the Cabbage Properly: Thinly slice the green or savoy cabbage for even cooking. For thicker stems, slice even thinner. This helps the cabbage cook through without losing its texture.
  • Manage the Cabbage’s Texture: Since green cabbage is denser and drier, leaving some fat and juice from the beef in the pan while cooking the cabbage helps to enrich its flavor and improve its texture.
  • Adjust the Sauce to Your Taste: The amount of moisture added back into the pan can vary. For a saucier dish, mix seasonings with stock and a teaspoon of starch. For a crisper dish, a few tablespoons of soy sauce with a splash of cooking wine will suffice.

More Asian recipes using ground beef

If you enjoyed this paleo Asian ground beef stir fry with cabbage, be sure to give some of my other Thai and Chinese ground beef recipes a try!

A side close shot shows cabbage and ground beef stir fry in a bowl, served with rice.
Recipe image shows Chinese ground beef and cabbage flavored with cumin and shiitake, served in a bowl with rice.
5 from 1 vote

Chinese ground beef and cabbage stir fry recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: ChihYu Smith
Chinese ground beef and cabbage stir fry with cumin flavored ground beef, tender cabbage, and shiitake. This dish is easy, healthy, and gluten-free.
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  • Prepare the garlic and ginger in one small plate. Slice the shiitake.
  • To dice the green cabbage, quarter it and remove the core then thinly slice each quarter into thin strips, about a little less than ¼ inch strips. For thick cabbage stems, slice them even thinner so they cook evenly. After slicing, use your hands to separate the layers between the cabbage.
  • In a large wok pan, preheat it over medium heat until it feels warm. Add the oil and garlic and ginger, saute for 5 seconds then immediately add the ground beef.
  • Turn heat up to medium-high, use a wooden spoon to break up the lumps into small bites. Keep sauteing and stirring until the majority of the liquid from the ground beef has evaporated but with some moisture left in the pan, about 5-6 minutes.
  • Season with ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp cumin powder then add the shiitake. Keep stir frying for 1 minute.
  • Add the cabbage. Keep stir frying for 2 minutes then season with the remaining salt, cumin powder, mushroom bouillon, and pour in the sauce. After that, keep sauteing for 2 more minutes then deglaze the pan with a splash of Chinese cooking wine. Stir fry for 30 seconds then turn off the heat.
  • To serve: Transfer to a large serving plate. Lightly sprinkle with a touch of cumin powder, gochugaru, and drizzle with toasted sesame oil. Garnish with scallions. Serve hot with steamed rice.


  • Browning the Beef: Aim to brown the beef just right—keep it juicy, not dry. The fat and juice from the beef add a rich flavor to the cabbage.
  • Slice the Cabbage Properly: Thinly slice the green or savoy cabbage for even cooking. For thicker stems, slice even thinner. This helps the cabbage cook through without losing its texture.
  • Manage the Cabbage’s Texture: Since green cabbage is denser and drier, leaving some fat and juice from the beef in the pan while cooking the cabbage helps to enrich its flavor and improve its texture.
  • If you prefer extra sauce, add 2-3 tbsp stock to the sauce, mixed with ½ tsp starch.


Serving: 1serving, Calories: 266kcal, Carbohydrates: 7g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 9g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 54mg, Sodium: 667mg, Potassium: 400mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 62IU, Vitamin C: 22mg, Calcium: 48mg, Iron: 2mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American Chinese
Keyword: cabbage and ground beef stir fry, Ground beef and cabbage stir fry
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