Vegetable stir fry is one of those essential recipes that everyone should know how to make. It’s a great way to add a side of vegetables to your meals or add a protein and make it a main course. Of course, to make this fail proof vegetable stir fry recipe requires just a few easy-to-follow tips.
I have included one of my favorite vegetable stir fry recipes below. However, I didn’t want to just give you the recipe without also providing some general stir fry guidelines.
Learning Kitchen Essentials
The idea of learning certain basics is something I remember reading over a decade ago in Nigella Lawson’s book, How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food and it is clearly a concept that has stuck with me all of these years.
Even though Nigella is not exactly known for being the healthiest eater on the block, she knows how to cook better than just about anyone I can think of. And most importantly, Nigella knows how to teach the home cook.
In the preface of How to Eat, Nigella states: “Cooking is not about just joining the dots, following one recipe slavishly and then moving on to the next. It’s about developing an understanding of food, a sense of assurance in the kitchen, about the simple desire to make yourself something to eat.”
So, hopefully my 10 tips below will help you do more than just connect the dots when it comes to making a vegetable stir fry! If you are in pursuit of additional culinary confidence (including how to roast the perfect chicken, cooking in advance, ideas for sophisticated “fast food”, feeding babies and small children, and even how to make aromatic “temple food” that nourishes your body and soul), I would definitely suggest picking up a copy of Nigella’s book.
But for now, let’s press on with how to make a stir fry…
How to Make Vegetable Stir Fry
The following 10 tips on how to make a vegetable stir fry should help you feel confident when standing behind your wok—even without a recipe. This is important because you might not always have the exact ingredients on hand to make my particular vegetable stir fry recipe below. However, if you know the stir fry basics then you can substitute other ingredients and still end up with a delicious vegetable stir fry dinner.
#1: Use the right oil (and don’t use too much!)
It is always healthier to get the majority of fat in your diet from “whole” foods as opposed to oil. But, I would never suggest going to extremes by trying to make an oil-free stir fry. Instead, you simply want to go easy on the oil and also add a little bit at a time. Adding a little at a time will allow you to use less oil.
It is also extremely important to use the right oil at the right temperature to avoid oxidation. Oxidation is bad because oxidized oil promotes free radical production within your body. This oxidation then accelerates the aging process and contributes to disease.
The healthiest “base” oil to use for high heat cooking and for stir fry is organic extra virgin coconut oil because it can withstand super high heat temperatures. And don’t worry, as long as you use a super high-quality, organic coconut oil such as Barlean’s it won’t make your food taste like coconuts! At the very end of the stir-fry you can drizzle in a tad bit of unrefined toasted sesame oil for a flavor punch. Take a look at the recipe below to see how I used these two oils.
#2: The more vegetables the better!
The biggest mistake most people make with both their clean eating efforts and their stir fry recipes is that they skimp on the vegetables. Your vegetable stir fry truly won’t even taste as good if you don’t use a lot of vegetables. Using a variety of vegetables adds the most flavor.
You can mix and match pretty much any vegetable. Consider using: bok choy, cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, green beans, snap peas, asparagus, etc. A good rule of thumb when making a vegetable stir fry recipe is to use 3 or 4 different vegetables and then add in some mushrooms for a nice hearty “meaty” kick. In the recipe below I used shitake mushrooms, but you can also try oyster mushrooms, chestnut mushrooms, morel, etc.
#3: Use a high-quality and non-toxic wok, such as Xtrema Cookware.
If you plan on making stir fry a regular part of your dinner menu then I can’t overstate the importance of investing in a high-quality and non-toxic wok. Not only will you notice a tremendous difference in the taste of your stir-fry, but you will also avoid exposure to toxins from non-stick cookware and the heavy metals that leach from other “green” cookware.
#4: Make the Sauce First
Take a look at the recipe below. I prepared the sauce before I started cooking the vegetables. Then, I add the sauce in at the very end. The great thing about a stir fry sauce is that it doesn’t need to be “exact”. You can experiment with all types of Far East condiments such as: rice wine vinegar, oyster sauce, fish sauce, chili paste, tahini, etc.
#5: Dice or slice each vegetable uniformly.
You will want to dice or slice each vegetable as uniformly as you can before you start cooking. This helps your vegetables to cook evenly in the wok.
#6: Arrange Your Vegetables Based on Cooking Time
Before you start to cook, be sure to arrange your vegetables in order of their cooking time. The longest cooking vegetables should be added first. We start off with onion, bell pepper. Then I added the carrots and mushrooms. Last but not least, the snow peas. This makes sure that the vegetables are cooked according to their need without resulting in a mushy stir fry.
#7: Use Animal Protein as a “Condiment”
The best traditional stir fry recipes are skimpy on the animal protein and heavy on the vegetables. Model your stir-fry creation after the best and you’re guaranteed to have a successful dinner stir fry dish.
#8: Cook the Animal Protein First
If you choose to add a protein to the vegetable stir fry recipe below, be sure to cook it first. Then, when thoroughly cooked, at it to a small bowl while you stir fry the rest of your vegetables. Then, when the vegetables are nearly complete, you will add the animal protein back in.
Some of our favorite additions are shrimp, chicken and beef. Check out our Cashew Chicken Stir Fry recipe.
#9: Swap Soy Sauce for Liquid Aminos
When we cook, we want to use high quality ingredients, just like we do when making sauces. Same thing goes for soy sauce. Most stir fry sauces will use soy sauce and if you don’t use a good soy sauce in your recipes you can mess up the whole dish.
If you buy the cheap soy sauce that is chemically made and sold by the gallon at Sam’s Club and put that stuff in your vegetable stir fry recipe then you are sure to ruin the whole thing.
The best-tasting (and healthiest!) soy sauce is coconut aminos. Bragg’s Liquid Coconut Aminos are gluten free, plant-based and the flavor is clean and delicious.
#10: Serve Stir Fry Over Whole Grains
The best way to enjoy your delicious vegetable stir fry is over a healthy whole grain. Consider using a short grain brown rice, black rice or gluten free soba noodles.
By far, the easiest way to cook rice, including black rice, as well as ALL whole grains is with a rice cooker, my favorite being the VitaClay Chef Gourmet Rice & Slow Cooker Pro.
And after all that, if you still need a recipe, here you go…Print
Vegetable Stir Fry Recipe
Who doesn’t love a great vegetable stir fry? Use the 10 tips above for how to make best vegetable stirfry recipe at home.
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 20
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
- 2 tablespoons Coconut Aminos
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 teaspoons raw honey
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 teaspoons organic extra virgin coconut oil (such as Barlean’s), divided
- 1 medium red onion, quartered and sliced thin
- 2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
- 3 cups shredded carrot
- 7 ounces shitake mushrooms, cut into bite-sized pieces (note: kitchen shears are good for cutting shitake mushrooms)
- 1/4 pound snow peas
- 2 tablespoons minced scallions, white parts only
- 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, minced
- 1 teaspoon unrefined toasted sesame oil
OPTIONAL: Adding an animal protein or black beans to this vegetable stir fry recipe is completely optional. Consider 8oz of shrimp or grilled chicken or black beans. Remember to cook it first when preparing your stir fry. Removing it from the wok while you cook your vegetables and then tossing it back in at the end.
- Prepare the sauce by mixing together the coconut aminos, lime juice, honey and red pepper flakes. Set sauce aside.
- Have all your ingredients prepped and within arms reach of the stove. Heat one teaspoon of the coconut oil in a non-toxic wok (such as Xtrema Cookware) or large skillet over medium high heat. (Optional: When wok is hot, add the animal protein and cook to your preferred doneness. Remove the animal protein from the wok and set aside.)
- Add 2 teaspoons of the coconut oil to the wok and heat over medium-high; as soon the oil is hot add the onions and bell pepper and stir-fry, keeping the food moving, for 1 minute. Add the remaining teaspoon of coconut oil and then add the carrots and shiitake mushrooms; stir-fry for a minute or two. Add in the snow peas and continue stir-frying until all of the vegetables are tender.
- Clear the center of the wok and add minced scallions, garlic and ginger; drizzle with 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil and mash the scallions, garlic and ginger onto the hot surface with the back of a spatula or fork. Allow to cook for 30-seconds. Remove the wok from the heat and stir scallions, garlic and ginger mixture in with the vegetables.
- Return wok to the heat and add in the cooked animal protein and reserved sauce; stir-fry for 1 minute, or until vegetables are hot. Serve over gluten free soba noodles or short grain brown rice.
Here’s a Few More Stir Fry Recipes
Beef Stir Fry Recipe
This Beef Stir Fry Recipe is one of my no fuss, “back pocket” one dish dinners that never lets me down. It’s loaded with flavor, incredibly easy to make and doesn’t leave me with a sink full of dishes.
Cashew Chicken Stir Fry Recipe
My favorite Cashew Chicken Stir Fry Recipe is a Chinese take-out cleanup. It’s so delicious and reminds me of take-out (which is not healthy at all) without jeopardizing my health.