Stir-frying is a cooking method you can always rely on for a quick, healthy, and delicious meal.

Whether you’re trying to get dinner on the table in the shortest amount of time possible, or use up some veggies in the fridge, stir-fries are the way to go.

Stir-frying is a Chinese cooking technique that is done over high heat and with a small amount of oil. Since cooking is done at high temps, the ingredients will brown and develop flavor, but still maintain their crispness.

With a simple cooking formula made of 5 steps, you’ll be able to stir-fry any time without a recipe! Get started by seeing it in action:


How to Make a Stir-Fry

Stir-frying is a great way to bring together just about any vegetable and protein combination in a fast and tasty way.

1. Pick & Prep Ingredients

Guide to Stir-Frying via @cooksmarts - Pick and prep your #stirfry ingredients

Choose proteins (chicken, beef, pork, seafood, tofu, tempeh, seitan), aromatics (garlic, green onions, shallots, ginger), and veggies. There’s no wrong combo!

Make sure all ingredients are chopped and ready to go. Once everything is prepped, all you have to do is toss the ingredients into the wok, and you won’t have to worry about anything getting burned.

2. Make Stir-Fry Sauce

Guide to Stir-Frying via @cooksmarts - Make your #stirfry sauce

A stir-fry sauce is made with basic ingredients that you most likely have in your pantry – soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, and cornstarch. Make the sauce before you start cooking so that you can add it in at the right time without the veggies and proteins overcooking. To make the sauce, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl or shake it up in a jar.

3. Cook Proteins & Vegetables Separately

Guide to Stir-Frying via @cooksmarts - Cook #stirfry proteins and veggies separately

Proteins and veggies have different cooking times, so cook them separately. Start off with your wok on medium-high heat and cook the protein until golden. It doesn’t have to be cooked all the way, since you’ll be adding it back into the wok in the end for a final toss. Remove from the wok. Add aromatics next (if using) until fragrant. Then add veggies until tender but still crunchy.

4. Add Stir-Fry Sauce

Guide to Stir-Frying via @cooksmarts - Add #stirfry sauce to wok

Once the veggies are near done, add the protein back in, toss together, and make a donut by pushing all the ingredients to the sides of the wok, leaving a hole in the middle.

Give your stir-fry sauce a stir and pour it into the hole. The heat will activate the cornstarch, and the sauce will darken and bubble. Toss everything together to coat with the thickened sauce, and you’ve got your stir-fry!

5. Finish the Dish

Guide to Stir-Frying via @cooksmarts - Finish a #stirfry with citrus juice or garnishes

Finish a stir-fry with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to really bring out all the flavors.

Garnishes will help add a new flavor component. Try adding a bit of sharpness with freshly chopped green onions, some freshness with minced cilantro, or some crunch with toasted peanuts or cashews. Or if you like a little kick, top with your favorite hot sauce.

Get creative and experience the endless stir-fry possibilities.

What we love the most about stir-fries is that they allow for so much flexibility and creativity. The best part is that once you learn the basics of stir-frying, you can combine any random assortment of proteins and veggies for a variety of stir-fried dishes to enjoy at any time.

Try coming up with your own favorite combos, or give our stir-fry creations a taste test. Enter your email below to get our 2 most popular stir-fry resources in your inbox:

  1. A cheat sheet on how to make a stir-fry
  2. 26 of our favorite stir-fry combos

Want a professional print of the how to stir-fry infographic above? You can purchase one from RedBubble here. 50% of our merchandise profits get set aside to support food education, so you can get smart and feel good about your purchase.

get ready to...

Stir-Fry it Up!

Sign up for the Cook Smarts Newsletter


Privacy Policy: We hate SPAM & promise to keep your email address safe.