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I have made lots of stir fry recipes with meats like beef and chicken… but what if you want to mix it up with veggies? This easy vegetable stir fry recipe takes just 10 minutes to make, and similar to sauteed veggies, you can customize it depending on what low carb veggies you have on-hand or are your favorites. Read on for all the information you need to make a healthy vegetable stir fry at home: my tips for the best stir fry vegetables; a big old stir fry vegetables list; and some simple ways to turn these stir fried vegetables into a full meal.
This veggie stir fry recipe has been a long time coming, because stir frying was one of the first things I ever learned how to cook. Even when we were living on frozen pizza half the time back in college, a simple stir fry on the stove top filled in for the other half of the time.
If you love the simplicity of these meals as much as I do, check out my recipes for chicken broccoli stir fry, beef and broccoli, chicken cabbage stir fry, and cauliflower fried rice for more inspiration.
What Are Stir Fry Vegetables?
A stir fry vegetables recipe refers to either a main or side dish made up of – as the name implies – stir fried veggies. The hallmarks of this cooking method include high heat, a quick cook time, and frequent stirring, preferably in a wok that retains heat well.
Some stir fry vegetables also contain meat or seafood, but we’ll be focusing on just the veggies for this recipe. While stir frying can work for any cuisine, the most popular version is a Chinese vegetable stir fry like this one.
What Vegetables Go In Stir Fry?
There are so many good vegetables for stir fry! The possibilities are really endless, which is the great thing about it – you can use what you have on hand.
That being said, a good rule of thumb is to include a variety of aromatics, harder veggies, and soft veggies. Some people also like to add and wilt some leafy veggies at the very end, like spinach or bok choy.
The best stir fry vegetables list:
To give you some ideas, here are some of the best stir fry vegetables in each category:
Hard veggies take longer to cook, so add them to the pan first:
- Carrots – Carrots can be low carb in a stir fry in small amounts. I also use them to make two of my other favorite stir fry recipes, egg roll in a bowl and sesame kelp noodles.
- Mushrooms – Even though mushrooms are actually soft, they go into the pan together with the hard veggies, because it takes a while for their moisture to evaporate. They take on lots of flavor from the homemade vegetable stir fry sauce, too. If you have extras, make sauteed mushrooms, roasted mushrooms, or for a meal, Italian sausage stuffed mushrooms.
- Onions – Use red, yellow or white onions as an easy way to add aromatic flavor to your stir fry. If you really want to up the flavor, you can even caramelize onions by cooking them for longer at medium-low heat, before adding the other stir fry ingredients and turning up the heat.
- Other root vegetables – These include onion relatives, such as leeks, shallots, fennel, etc, as well as turnips, parsnips, radishes, beets, even potatoes in small pieces… pretty much anything that grows in the ground. If you are try to stick to a keto veggie stir fry, keep these to a minimum because they tend to be higher in carbs.
Soft veggies usually make up the majority of a vegetable stir fry recipe. Add these once the hard veggies have had the chance to soften, and they’ll all cook in about the same amount of time:
- Asparagus – Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces for stir fries and cook until tender crisp, but not mushy! It cooks quickly. I also use asparagus for parmesan baked asparagus, oven roasted asparagus, and bacon asparagus.
- Bell Peppers – Peppers add crunchy and slightly sweet flavor, and are one of the most popular stir fry ingredients. I like to stock up on large bags of peppers from wholesale clubs, so that I can re-purpose them in multiple ways. Try taco turkey stuffed peppers, roasted chicken and vegetables, or use them to scoop up warm ranch dip.
- Brussels Sprouts – Even though these are technically a harder veggie, we group them with the soft ones, because they are best in a stir fry when shredded. And when you shred them, they cook quickly just as cabbage would. If you like to get big bags like I do, use the rest for a brussels sprouts casserole, make an easy side with oven roasted brussels sprouts, or add fresh taste to kale and brussels sprout salad.
- Cabbage – Shredded cabbage is another great way to add a healthy cruciferous vegetable (and yes, cabbage is low carb). Since a head of cabbage usually has more than you need for a stir fry, use the rest to make cabbage rolls or simply stir fry it on its own for Southern fried cabbage.
- Cauliflower – The flavor of cauliflower is very neutral on its own, so it’s here to compliment the other veggies and soak up sauce. Low carb cauliflower recipes are super popular because it makes such a great starch replacement in dishes like keto mac and cheese, mashed cauliflower, and even cauliflower pizza crust. But in a veggie stir fry, it earns its keep as the delicious veggie that it is, without mascerading as a carb substitute.
- Broccoli – Broccoli is a great one in stir fries, as the florets capture all of the flavor of the sauce, while the stalks add a hearty crunch. You can also stir fry broccoli by itself, or throw it into broccoli cheese soup.
- Snow Peas – Snow peas are a staple in Asian stir fries, and definitely included in this vegetable stir fry recipe! They add nice bright green color and a sweet snap.
- Zucchini – Zucchini is awesome for keto, and it works well in stir fries. It cooks quickly, so add it a bit later than you would the other veggies in this stir fry vegetables list. There are also about a million more zucchini recipes to make with it, from stuffing it into a vegetable frittata to fun zucchini pizza bites, or even zucchini noodles.
Many veggie stir fry recipes add these first, and that does make sense for something like soup or recipes that don’t use super high heat.
But for a stir fry where the heat is up really high, I prefer to add aromatics close to the end (by making a well in the center of the pan before stirring in), to avoid burning them. They only need to cook for a minute or so. These are things like:
- Fresh herbs – These are delicate, so you don’t want them cooking for too long
Veggie Stir Fry Ingredients
Now that you have an overview of all your different options, here’s a quick summary of the stir fry vegetables I used in my recipe – just 6 of the most popular ones:
- Bell peppers
- Snow peas
How To Make Vegetable Stir Fry
It’s easy to make the best stir fry vegetables! Just 3 easy steps, and I’ll explain how to master each one…
1. How to cut vegetables for stir fry
The best vegetable stir fry recipes have something in common: the vegetables are cut properly! Here are some tips around this:
- Cut the aromatics for maximum surface area. This means thinly sliced or diced onions, and sliced mushrooms. More surface area helps them cook faster and ensures that the inside cooks through at the high temperature required for a stir fry.
- Cut the other vegetables uniformly. Making the pieces the same size means that they will take approximately the same amount of time to cook, so nothing is over- or under-cooked.
- The thickness of the veggies is what matters most. For example, long, thin strips of peppers will cook faster than squares.
- Cook time is determined by density and moisture. Denser veggies with high moisture content will take the longest.
- Cut veggies that take longer a bit smaller. For example, broccoli and cauliflower have less moisture than zucchini, so if you’re cooking them together, make sure your florets are small.
2. How to stir fry vegetables
Here’s how to make this vegetable stir fry recipe:
- Heat oil in large wok. To ensure your oil is hot enough, add a drop of water to the pan – if it sizzles, it’s ready!
- Add longer-cooking vegetables. Add mushrooms and onions, and stir fry until both are soft.
- Add remaining vegetables. Add the broccoli, snow peas, and bell peppers. Season with salt and pepper, and stir fry until veggies are crisp-tender.
TIP: Green veggies will turn bright green when they are crisp-tender.
- Add garlic. Push the vegetables to the sides of the wok and make a well in the center. Add the butter and let it melt, then add in minced garlic. Let it sizzle, without stirring, and stir into the vegetables.
3. How to make vegetable stir fry sauce
Vegetable stir fry sauce can be as simple or complex as you like. Personally, I think simple sauces are best because they highlight the veggies and let them shine. This sauce cooks together with the vegetables once they are almost done cooking.
To make stir fry sauce, simply add bone broth and coconut aminos (or other soy sauce substitute) to the vegetables at the end, and stir fry until the sauce is glossy. (The heat will reduce the extra moisture.) Finally, season with salt and pepper to taste.
How to stir fry frozen vegetables
Wondering how to cook frozen vegetables for stir fry? You aren’t alone! Generally, you’ll cook frozen vegetables the same way as you’ll cook fresh vegetables.
To stir fry frozen veggies, use the same method above – and stir fry straight from frozen. Do not thaw them – they should go right from freezer to wok.
Now, with that said, I think for a vegetable stir fry recipe like this one, where veggies are the star, fresh is best! But you can still use frozen. Make sure that you aren’t using super old (i.e., a year) frozen vegetables and don’t let the frozen vegetables thaw — they should go right from freezer to wok.
Healthy Vegetable Stir Fry FAQs
What vegetables do you stir fry first?
As explained above, start your stir fry by cooking the items that will take longest to cook, moving to those that take the least time. Vegetables that need to sweat and soften (like mushrooms and onions) are first, followed by harder veggies like carrots or broccoli, then softer ones like peppers or cabbage, and finally finish with leafy greens that just need a minute or two to wilt.
TIP: If you like to keep it simple like I do, just do the mushrooms and onions first, then everything else. To help with this, cut any harder veggies into smaller pieces to cook together with softer ones.
How healthy is vegetable stir fry? Is it keto friendly? Gluten-free?
Stir fry vegetables are incredibly healthy! This particular recipe is gluten-free and keto-friendly. Each serving has 6.9 grams net carbs, and is loaded with vitamins and nutrients.
With some veggie stir fry recipes, you have to watch out for added sugar or starch used as a thickener.
Can you make this a complete meal?
Yes, you can turn this healthy vegetable stir fry into a complete meal. Simply add your favorite cooked protein (chicken breast, sliced top sirloin, and shrimp are all great options) and then serve it over cauliflower rice (or your favorite rice substitute) or zucchini noodles.
How to prevent vegetable stir fry from being watery?
To avoid watery stir fry, follow these 3 simple tips:
- Dry all of your veggies very well before stir frying! Because vegetables contain a lot of water naturally, they will release moisture as they cook.
- Give them room to breathe. If you crowd the pan too much, or worse, if you cover it, the veggies will steam instead of sauteing, which will make them watery.
- Use high heat. This is the most critical part! High heat helps the moisture evaporate.
- Use a pan that retains heat well. A wok made from this material is the most popular option for it’s heat retention properties, but I prefer this one for easy cleanup – and still excellent heat retention.
- Cook long enough. The water will evaporate if you stir fry long enough at high heat… and it really won’t take long at all.
Can you make vegetable stir fry without sauce? Or different sauces?
You can definitely make healthy vegetable stir fry without a sauce. Season simply with salt and pepper. Or, use a different sauce like a peanut sauce (try the peanut sauce from these lettuce wraps), ginger sauce, teriyaki sauce, or something you make up on the fly.
Storage Instructions For Stir Fry Veggies
Can you stir fry vegetables ahead of time?
Yes, while homemade stir fry veggies are best right out of the skillet, they will store and reheat very well.
How long will they store in the fridge?
This healthy veggie stir fry will last about 3-5 days in the refrigerator.
Can you freeze stir fried vegetables?
You can freeze stir fried vegetables, but the texture will change, so they’ll be mush when you thaw and reheat them. Since they are so quick to make, it’s best to make them fresh.
TIP: If you do want to freeze vegetables for stir fry, it’s best to flash blanch them in boiling water for a couple of minutes (not long enough to fully cook), then plunge in ice water to stop cooking, dry and freeze. From there, you’ll be able to stir fry the frozen vegetables, like I explained above.
What To Serve With Vegetable Stir Fry
Want to turn this healthy vegetable stir fry into a full meal? Add a protein and a base!
- Chicken – If you have leftover baked chicken breast or shredded chicken, throw it into the vegetable stir fry sauce. Of course, you can also just make a chicken stir fry by starting out with raw chicken. Or, pair this with a main course of teriyaki chicken, sweet honey garlic chicken, or for a spicy kick tandoori chicken or black pepper chicken.
- Beef – You can use ground beef, or slice some steak into the stir fry. Flank steak or sirloin steak are great options.
- Shrimp – The method here would be similar to making zucchini noodle shrimp scampi.
- Rice – Definitely the most popular option for what to serve with stir fry! I serve mine with cauliflower rice.
- Asian – Serve these veggies alongside classic Asian dishes like Thai basil chicken or honey garlic chicken.
Tools To Make Easy Vegetable Stir Fry
Tap the links below to see the items used to make this recipe.
- Heavy Bottom Wok – This one is my personal favorite, because it retains heat exceptionally well but doesn’t come with the hassle of carbon steel or cast iron.
- Flat Wooden Spoon – The flat side of this wooden spoon makes it part-spatula, part-spoon and it’s perfect for making the best stir fry vegetables.
The Complete, Best Stir Fry Vegetables Recipe
Stir Fry Vegetables (Quick & Easy!)
The ultimate guide for stir fry vegetables! This easy, healthy vegetable stir fry recipe with simple sauce takes just 10 minutes.
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Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottom wok over medium-high heat, until very hot. To test this, add a drop of water - it’s ready when the water sizzles away immediately.
Add the mushrooms and onions. Stir fry for 4-6 minutes, until mushrooms and onions are soft.
Add the broccoli, snow peas, and bell peppers. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Stir fry for 5-7 minutes, until vegetables are crisp-tender.
Push the vegetables to the sides, making a well in the center. Add the butter to the well and let it melt. Add the minced garlic. Saute without moving for about a minute, until fragrant, then stir into the rest of the vegetables.
Add the bone broth and coconut aminos. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes, until sauce is glossy. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Serve over rice or cauliflower rice.
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Serving size: 2/3 cup stir fried vegetables
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