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The Only Stir-Fry Recipe You Need

By Carolyn Malcoun, February 12, 2016 - 9:47am

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On my seemingly endless journey to get back to a healthier weight, I'm trying to focus on eating more vegetables. Loading up a meal with veggies lets me eat a bigger portion size without adding a lot of calories, so I can still feel satisfied.

Watch: How to Eat More and Still Lose Weight

Stir-fries are one of my favorite ways to make this mantra a reality. I turn to stir-fry recipes on busy weeknights for a quick and healthy dinner that the family will actually eat—even my 3-year-old. Stir-fries are super-adaptable. Plus, I'm a veg head and CSA junkie, so I can often whip up a stir-fry just by digging around in my fridge. But the best part is that they come together start-to-finish in 30 minutes and only require one pan, so I can still have dinner on the table fast without a ton of dishes to do.

To round it all out, I typically fire up my rice cooker the second I walk in the door or cook some brown-rice noodles or quinoa to soak up all the delicious sauce. All we need is the bottle of sriracha and we're ready to eat.

Here is a foolproof stir-fry recipe formula to help you get a delicious meal on the table in the time it takes my 3-year-old to set the table.


1. Make Your Sauce

Stir-frying is a technique that can cross ethnic divides. Pick a flavor profile and whisk up one of these stir-fry sauces before you prep your protein and veggies. Then park it next to your stove. Here are two delicious stir-fry sauce recipes to try:

Gochujang Stir-Fry Sauce gives you Korean street-food flavor in a flash.

Mojo Stir-Fry Sauce is a Caribbean-inspired herb and citrus blend.

2. Prep Your Ingredients

Stir-fries cook up in a flash, so have all the ingredients prepped and next to the stove before you turn on the heat. Pick a protein and some vegetables. You can vary the the ingredients according to what's in your fridge and freezer or what combinations your family prefers.

Protein: Cut 1 pound of your chosen protein source into 1- to 2-inch pieces.

• Boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs
• Boneless pork chops or pork tenderloin
• Flank or strip steak
• Scallops
• Shrimp
• Baked tofu

Longer-Cooking Veggies: These vegetables require a little more contact time with the wok than their quicker-cooking counterparts (see below). Pick at least one from this group, peel (if desired) and cut into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces. Aim for 3 to 4 cups total.

• Asparagus
• Broccoli
• Carrots
• Cauliflower
• Eggplant
• Parsnips
• Peppers
• Turnips

Quicker-Cooking Veggies: These veggies are softer and more tender so they only need a few minutes of cooking time to be the perfect texture. Pick at least one from this group and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces. Aim for 3 to 4 cups total.

• Mature or baby bok choy
• Green or red cabbage
• Corn (kernels or baby)
• Green beans
• Mushrooms
• Snow or snap peas
• Kale, spinach, chard or collards
• Tomatoes

3. Get Cooking

Heat a 14-inch flat-bottom carbon-steel wok over high heat. You'll know it's hot enough when a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Add 1 tablespoon oil and swirl to coat. Add the protein and stir-fry until just cooked, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a large plate.

Don't Miss: Everything You Need to Know About Woks

4. Add Veggies, Batch 1

Swirl in another 1 tablespoon oil, then add the Longer-Cooking Veggies. Stir-fry for 2 minutes.

5. Add Veggies, Batch 2

Swirl in 1 more tablespoon oil; add 3 cloves minced garlic and the Quicker-Cooking Veggies. Stir-fry until the vegetables are tender, 2 to 4 minutes more.

6. Mix & Serve

Return the cooked protein and the sauce you mixed up to the wok. Cook, gently stirring, until well-coated and hot, 1 to 2 minutes.

Want a little more guidance? We created 4 perfect combos into sizzling stir-fry recipes for you to try:

More Stir-Fry Recipes

Bell Pepper, Bok Choy & Pork Stir-Fry

Carrot, Snow Pea & Chicken Stir-Fry

Green Bean, Eggplant & Shrimp Stir-Fry

More Healthy Recipes to Try:
Perfect Fried Rice in 5 Steps
Essential Staples for Quick & Easy Chinese Meals
Watch: How to Make Pad Thai

TAGS: Carolyn Malcoun, Food Blog, Dinner

Carolyn Malcoun
A graduate of New England Culinary Institute and University of Wisconsin with a degree in journalism, Carolyn pairs her long-standing love for food with writing as EatingWell's senior food editor. Carolyn’s culinary interest is rooted in her childhood; she grew up making thousands of Christmas cookies every year with her mom and picking leaves off bunches of parsley to make tabbouleh with her dad. Away from the kitchen, Carolyn enjoys seeking out rare craft beers and exploring the outdoors with her husband, young daughter and dog.

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