Stir-Fry Recipe Basics

and our Recipe Blueprint for perfect stir-fries every time

This post is by blog team member, Kelly. To learn more about Kelly, check out our team page!

Looking to learn the basics of a stir-fry recipe? Our 10 Steps to a perfect stir-fry, Stir-Fry Recipe Blueprint, and recipe for a Spicy Peanut Sauce will get you started!

Whether you’re a vegetable lover or someone who’s still struggling to eat more veggies with every meal, today’s post is for you!

One of the easiest ways I’ve found to get my family eating their vegetables and use up whatever veggies I have on hand is to cook up a basic stir-fry. A stir-fry is a fast, one-dish meal that’s perfect for anytime of the year. When you stir-fry über-fresh veggies, they retain their beautiful color and crispness. Delicious! And there’s really no end to the combination of ingredients you can use in a stir-fry.

My cooking skills will always be a work in progress, but one of the ways I’ve found to improve them is by cooking without a recipe. When I’m not following someone else’s instructions, I’m more mindful of what I’m doing with the food I’m cooking, and I learn more about what works and what doesn’t. So in that vein, here’s my stir-fry “basics”! Give it a try and see what deliciousness you can create!

Stir-Fry Basics:

  1. Gather your ingredients—chop your veggies, cut up your meat, and prepare any stir-fry sauce.
  2. Add your cooking oil of choice to a hot pan—either a wok or a frying pan with high sides will work.
  3. Start with aromatics—fresh ginger, garlic, and green onions (sometimes called the “holy trinity”) are the most common.
  4. If using meat or poultry, add it next, and cook.
  5. Next add the thicker vegetables, such as carrots, that take longer to cook.
  6. Follow with your shorter-cooking vegetables. If you’re adding fresh greens like spinach or cabbage to your stir fry, add those at the very end.
  7. Season to taste or finish with a stir fry sauce of your choice. I’ve included a recipe for one of my favorites below.
  8. Serve your stir-fry on its own or over basic brown rice or another real whole grain of your choice.
  9. Top with nuts, seeds and/or fresh herbs.
  10. Enjoy!

Our Stir-Fry Recipe Blueprint:

Now if you’re looking for a little extra help with proportions, I’m also sharing our Stir-Fry Recipe Blueprint. And I’ve got a delicious Spicy Peanut Sauce recipe to serve with your stir-fry—that’s if you like to follow recipes. 😉

And if you scroll down to the bottom of this post, there’s a beautiful Stir-Fry Recipe Blueprint graphic that brings the whole idea to life. It’s perfect for sharing with friends or pinning on Pinterest!

Stir-Fry Recipe Blueprint
Recipe type: Dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons aromatics (garlic, ginger, green onions)
  • 6 cups vegetables
  • 2-3 cups meat, firm tofu, seafood, or add more veggies
  • season with salt and pepper to taste OR finish with a seasoned stir-fry sauce
Optional toppings:
  • nuts, seeds, or fresh herbs of your choice
  1. Chop your veggies and other ingredients into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Add oil to a hot wok or frying pan with high sides.
  3. Add your aromatics and stir fry for about 10-15 seconds then add your meat or tofu and cook for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Add your longer-cooking veggies. If you're using seafood, add it now.
  5. Add your shorter-cooking veggies.
  6. Finally season or finish with a stir-fry sauce.
  7. Serve on brown rice or another whole grain of your choice.
  8. Top with nuts, seeds, or fresh herbs of your choice.
We recommend organic ingredients if possible.

Avocado and peanut oil are two great higher-temperature cooking oil options for stir-fries.

While how finely you chop your vegetables will determine its cook time, here's a general guide of how long traditional, bite-sized pieces will take to cook. So it's best to add vegetables in order of first to last:

First: coarsely chopped onions, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots
Second: more thinly cut carrots or vegetables with thicker stems (asparagus, stems of bok choy)
Third: squash, peppers, and mushrooms
Fourth: celery, snow peas, leafy greens (spinach, bok choy leaves, cabbage), bean sprouts, or anything already cooked/canned (mushrooms, bamboo shoots, baby corn, artichokes)

Spicy Peanut Sauce
Recipe type: Dressings & Condiments
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: ⅔ cup
  • ¼ cup peanut butter (or nut butter of your choice)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally until thoroughly combined.
We recommend using organic ingredients if possible.

Kelly Harjes is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and founder of Appetite for Healthy Change™.  Her mission is to inspire others to look and feel their best, feed their families well, and help improve our food system.

Kitchen Tips and Resources from Bruce:

  • I have several different woks, but I usually use my stainless steel one for quick stir-fries.
  • Wooden spatulas and spoons work fine when stir-frying vegetables, but if you’ve ever tried a wok spatula, you’ll never want to go back—especially if you’re using a wok. I absolutely love mine!
  • Avocado oil tastes wonderful and is a perfect, high-heat oil for cooking up stir-fries.

Share our Stir-Fry Recipe Blueprint!

Looking to learn the basics of a stir-fry recipe? Our 10 Steps to a perfect stir-fry, Stir-Fry Recipe Blueprint, and recipe for a Spicy Peanut Sauce will get you started!

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