If you’re looking for an easy-to-prepare meal, you can’t go wrong with stir fry. Stir fry is one of the most versatile meals out there, and it can be enjoyed by vegetarians or carnivores alike. You can make a stir fry with just veggies, or you can add in meat or tofu or any protein you like, then serve it all up over rice or your favorite noodles. Learning how to stir fry is simple, too. You’ll just need to gather your chosen ingredients along with a couple of basic tools, such as a wok or any thick-rimmed sauté pan, plus a spatula or tongs that can withstand high heat.
Here’s an easy guide for how to stir fry, so you can create delicious lunches and dinners worth keeping on your regular meal rotation.
Step 1: Prep Your Main Ingredients
Your favorite veggies and meats (or meat substitutes) will serve as the “base” for your stir fry. Grab your chosen ingredients—keep in mind that fresh, canned or frozen veggies all work well—and chop or slice everything into bite-size pieces. Try to make the pieces the same size so they’ll cook evenly. If you want to serve the stir fry over rice or noodles, make sure to cook those in advance.
Some great options for base ingredients include:
- Bell peppers
- Baby corn
- Chicken breast
Step 2: Chop Garlic, Ginger or Green Onions
You’ll want to give your stir fry some aromatic flavor so it really packs a punch. Garlic, ginger or green onions (or any combination of those) make perfect additions to your base ingredients. Chop them finely so you can add them to the hot oil in the next step.
Step 3: Heat Up the Oil
It’s best to choose an oil with a high smoke point (such as canola, peanut or coconut oil), but olive oil works well too. Heat one-tablespoon of your oil of choice over medium-to-high heat. When it’s hot and sizzling, add the onions, garlic and/or ginger.
Step 4: Stir Fry
With a stir fry, keep in mind that you’ll need to stir your ingredients pretty frequently. When the onions, garlic or ginger start to brown, add your protein if you’re using any—for instance, meat, seafood or a meat substitute like tofu—and sauté it until it browns. Then push it to the side of the pan. You can now add all your vegetables, and keep stir frying them over high-to-medium heat until they soften. If you want to include nuts (peanuts or cashews, for instance), you can throw them in whole and they’ll soften along with the vegetables, or you can chop them and add them as a crunchy topping later. When you’re done stir frying your ingredients, season with salt and pepper to taste.
Tip: If you have both meat-eaters and vegetarians in your household, you can sauté the meat (or seafood) in a separate pan.
Step 5: Add Sauce
You’ll want to add a flavorful homemade sauce to top off your stir fried meat or veggies. We like to make a quick peanut sauce for extra protein: stir peanut butter with lime juice, soy sauce, sriracha and a tablespoon of hot water. Another combination we like is soy sauce, orange juice, ginger and sriracha. You’ll need about ⅔ cup of sauce for a four-serving stir fry.
Make a space in the center of the pan and add your sauce of choice, then mix in your veggies and meat until everything is well-coated.
Step 6: Serve Over Rice or Noodles
Serve your stir fry creation over any kind of rice or noodles you like. Use brown rice if you want to up the nutrition factor, or rice noodles if you’re gluten-free. Or you can enjoy the stir fry plain if you’re avoiding carbs.
Optional: Top with sesame seeds, nuts, or chopped green onions for a finishing touch.
Once you’ve mastered the art of stir fry, you can experiment with different combinations of ingredients until you discover your family’s favorites—and meal-prep in advance to make dinner even easier. Here are a few great ingredient combos to try:
Tofu + broccoli + peanuts
Chicken + snow peas + cashews
Flank steak + mushrooms + green beans
Pork + bok choy + scallions
Shrimp + sugar snap peas + grape tomatoes