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Stir Fry Basics – 3 Quick Stir Fry Recipes

Sep 14, 2021 | Recipes | 0 comments

Stir Fry Basics

Learning stir fry basics opens up a whole world of quick and easy weeknight dinners. Plus get 3 of my favorite healthy stir fry recipes!

I love stir fry for so many reasons.

First, it's incredibly fast to throw together. If you follow Prep Dish, you know that our word of the year is FAST! With our new Super Fast meal plans, we've really been focusing on creating delicious, healthy recipes and meal plans that take minimal time in the kitchen.

Stir fry is perfect for this because everything is chopped fairly small and so it cooks quickly. In addition, stir fry recipes are so flexible, you can easily sub in pre-chopped veggies if you don't have time to break out the cutting board.

The other reason I love stir fry is it's so easy to pack in a ton of nutrients. While recipes differ, the foundation is generally veggies and protein. I personally always feel great after eating a veggie-packed stir fry!

I'm sharing 3 quick stir fry recipes below but, even more than with most recipes, definitely make it your own. I love broccoli in stir fry but if that's not your thing, don't use it. Throw in some sliced bell peppers or chopped carrots instead. You get the idea!

Stir Fry Basics – How to Make a Healthy Stir Fry

Before we get to the recipes, I want to go over a few stir fry basics. If you keep these principles in mind, you'll soon be able to easily throw together your own quick stir fry, even without a recipe.

Cook in Layers

While stir fry is super simple, your results will be a lot tastier if you cook in layers. What do I mean by that? Add ingredients based on cook time.

If you simply toss everything in the pan, some of your veggies will be overcooked by the time others are done cooking.

I generally cook the protein first and then add in the veggies. Start with those that cook longer like carrots and add quick-cooking veggies like snow peas later.

Last, I add the sauce. Stir everything together for a couple of minutes to let the flavors meld and you're done!

Trust me, this method really doesn't add much time and your veggies will still have a bit of crunch.

Use a Homemade Sauce

Do you feel like your stir fries are boring or lack complexity of flavor?

If so, you likely need to elevate your sauce!

If you just use soy sauce or tamari or if you're using a store-bought sauce, you probably won't find the bright flavor you're looking for.

Fortunately, it really doesn't take much effort or many ingredients to make a totally delicious quick stir fry sauce! You'll find my favorite sauce in the recipes below, but you can also get even more details here!

Take Healthy Shortcuts

There may be times when you want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen but it's definitely not necessary for stir fry.

Don't be afraid to buy pre-chopped veggies like broccoli florets or sliced mushrooms. Things like snow peas or sugar snap peas that require no chopping are also great choices.

You can also strategically choose your protein to prioritize speed. Use frozen edamame for a quick veggie stir fry, buy beef that's already cubed or sliced, or go with shrimp, which don't need to be chopped and cook SO quickly!

Another way to speed up stir-fries, and really all recipes? Make sure you know the proper way to chop different veggies. I have a whole YouTube series on just that here!

3 Quick Stir Fry Recipes

And now, on to the recipes! Use these as a foundation and then experiment to find your ideal stir fry.

Quick Stir Fry Sauce

You'll use this sauce for each of the below quick stir fry recipes. Feel free to add a bit of sriracha or red pepper flakes if you like it spicy!

Quick Stir Fry Sauce

Ingredients

  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp coconut aminos (or tamari or soy sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp honey (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp grated ginger (optional)

Instructions

  • Whisk all ingredients together until combined.
  • Add sauce to stir fry ingredients once meat is cooked through and cook until heated and thickened.

Easy Shrimp Stir Fry

As I mentioned above, shrimp make an excellent protein for stir fry. They cook quickly plus you can buy frozen and always have them on-hand.

You can thaw in your fridge overnight or simply place the frozen shrimp in a colander under cold running water until thawed.

I definitely recommend getting peeled, deveined, tail-off shrimp for stir fry. Peeling shrimp takes a lot of time and the peeled, deveined ones are readily available most places.

You can totally serve this stir fry over rice, but I think the sesame almond quinoa pairs really well. Make a double batch of the quinoa and use as a base for healthy lunches all week!

Shrimp Stir Fry w/ Sesame Almond Quinoa

Ingredients

For the Stir Fry:

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 # shrimp (peeled, deveined & tails removed)
  • 1 batch quick stir fry sauce

For the Sesame Almond Quinoa:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1-2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

Instructions

For the Stir Fry:

  • Cut 1 head of broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Cut 1 bell pepper and 2 carrots into long, thin strips.
  • Add 1 tsp coconut oil to a large sauté pan over high heat. Add shrimp. Cook for 1 minute.
  • Add bell pepper & carrots, continuing to stir, cooking ~8-10 minutes.
  • Add broccoli & Stir Fry Sauce, stirring to coat all ingredients with sauce, cooking additional 3-4 minutes.

For the Sesame Almond Quinoa:

  • Add 2 cups water and 1 cup quinoa to a large pot. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low. Cook 20-25min.
  • Toss together cooked quinoa, 1-2 T toasted sesame oil and 1/2 cup sliced almonds.

Healthy Beef Stir Fry

This tasty and healthy beef stir fry is from our new weekly Super Fast meal plans! It's been a big hit with our subscribers and is the kind of dish you'll soon be able to throw together without the recipe.

Need ideas on how to use the other half bunch of green onions? My Slow Cooker Mexican Pork Salad, Teriyaki Salmon Bowls and Southwestern Steak Salad all call for them!

Beef, Broccoli & Snow Pea Stir Fry

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 12 oz broccoli florets
  • 1-2 cups snow peas
  • 1/2 bunch green onions
  • 1 # beef sirloin
  • 1 batch quick stir fry sauce
  • 1 cup rice

Instructions

  • Add 1 cup rice and 2 cups water to a medium pot. Bring to a boil. Cover pot w/ a lid and turn heat to low. Simmer ~25 mins until water is absorbed. Remove from heat.
  • Cut sirloin into 1-inch pieces.
  • Chop 1/2 bunch green onions (greens and whites).
  • Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a wok or large saute pan over med-high heat.
  • Add steak, 2 cups broccoli florets & 1-2 cups snow peas to pan and cook, stirring until broccoli is softening and beef is browned.
  • Add stir fry sauce and cook an additional 3 mins.
  • Serve stir fry over rice. Top w/ green onions.

Quick Veggie Stir Fry

If you're trying to incorporate more plant-based recipes into your meal plan, stir fry is a great option. You can add edamame, chickpeas, tofu, or simply top with nuts and seeds. I use peanuts here but cashews or slivered almonds also work well.

You could also sprinkle with hemp seeds, which are a great vegetarian source of both protein and iron.

Carrot & Snow Pea Stir Fry w/ Peanuts & Brown Rice

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 carrots
  • 2 cups snow peas
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice

Instructions

  • Cut 4 carrots into bite-size pieces.
  • Add ½ Tbsp olive oil to a sauté pan over medium-high heat, then add carrots and snow peas.
  • Sauté for 10 minutes.
  • Add Stir Fry Sauce and cook another 2-3 minutes. 
  • Top with ½ cup roasted peanuts. Serve over Brown Rice.
  • Add 3 cups water and 1 ½ cups brown rice to a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cover. Cook for ~1 hour.

Easy Stir Fry Variations

Want to mix it up? Once you understand the stir fry basics, it's easy to make it your own. Here are a few ways to vary the flavors and ingredients to suit your mood!

  • Add 1 tsp fish sauce to the stir fry sauce
  • Add sriracha or red pepper flakes to the sauce if you like it spicy
  • Sprinkle on 1/4 – 1/2 tsp Chinese 5 Spice when you add the veggies to the pan
  • Top stir fry with sesame seeds or everything bagel spice blend
  • Top with peanuts, almonds or cashews
  • Serve over rice noodles instead of rice or quinoa

Of course, you can mix up the veggies as well. In addition to the veggies used in the recipes above, mushrooms, baby bok choy, green beans, onions, jicama or water chestnuts, sugar snap peas, asparagus and zucchini all work well.

How to Meal Prep Stir Fry

There are a few things you can do to meal prep stir fry, making it a truly easy weeknight dinner. Here's what to do ahead:

  • Make the sauce! I don't know about you, but making any kind of sauce or dressing just feels like too much after a busy work day.
  • Chop the veggies. If you're opting for veggies that require chopping, make sure to do that ahead. I like to wash and chop all of my veggies at the same time at the beginning of the week so I'm ready to go.
  • Chop the meat. If you're using chicken, beef or pork, make sure to chop into strips or bite-sized cubes ahead of time.
  • Make the rice or quinoa. You can reheat the rice in either your microwave or in the oven.

If you do these four things, your stir fry will come together super quickly.

Meal Prep Stir Fry

Want more quick and easy meal prep recipes?

Here are some of my favorites to try!

Turkey Taco Soup

Maple Mustard Pork Tenderloin

Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken

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