What makes a vegan stir fry better than another vegan stir fry? When I cook or order a stir fry, I have become picky about how my vegetables are cooked. And more important than the way the vegetables are cooked, is the stir fry sauce.
My ability to cook has improved since becoming plant-based, and so has my taste for good food. For example, I now consider myself a vegan foodie.
When I first became vegan, the best meal I could expect at a restaurant was a lame pasta marinara with soggy vegetables. And my cooking wasn't much better.
Recently, my husband, Paul, said he couldn't believe my food could get any better, but it is! So, for those who think you "can't cook," you can, and I am an example of someone who thought I couldn't cook either.
As a result, I am a stir fry food snob, so let's make a foodie vegan stir fry!
WHAT VEGETABLES ARE IN A GREAT VEGAN STIR FRY?
- White onion
- Red bell pepper
- Bok Choy
Yes, I included every color of the rainbow, not just for color but for nutritional benefit.
Furthermore, I listed the vegetables in the order I plan to cook them in my stir fry. In my opinion, the worse stir fry recipes are soggy and swimming in the sauce rather than tasting like fresh vegetables.
So, it is important to cook in layers or stages. For this stir fry, I used my wok, and I cooked the vegetables in the following order:
STAGE ONE: GARLIC, ONIONS, FRESH GINGER, AND MUSHROOMS
The garlic, onions, and mushrooms, for instance, are all sauteed together first until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms are browned.
Although I did not have to use vegetable broth, because of the quality of the wok I used, you can use it a little if the vegetables begin to stick.
Then, the second group of vegetables I add to the wok are broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower, because they are of similar size and texture.
STAGE 2: BROCCOLI, CARROTS, AND CAULIFLOWER
Because the carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower take the longest to cook, cooking in layers allows every vegetable to cook perfectly so as not to get soggy or mushy.
Again, I did not need to add any vegetable broth because the vegetables give off their water. You do not, however, add any sauce yet!
I recommend moving the carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower to the bottom of the pan, tossing it around every few minutes for 10 minutes. Next, I add the third stage or layer of vegetables, the zucchini, red bell pepper, and bok choy.
STAGE 3: ZUCCHINI, RED BELL PEPPERS, AND BOK CHOY
Since red bell peppers, zucchini, and bok choy cook quickly, they get added last. And, you only cook these three vegetables for the last 5 minutes, so they don't get overcooked.
Now, for the most essential part of cooking a perfect stirfry, don't add the sauce until the end! Also, less sauce is more! Even though the stir fry sauce below makes 1 ¼ cups of sauce, I only use ¼-1/2 cups of sauce for the whole stir fry.
STAGE 4: ADD A SMALL AMOUNT OF STIR FRY SAUCE TO VEGAN STIR FRY LAST
MAKING A GREAT HOMEMADE STIR FRY SAUCE
The first goal, for instance, in making a homemade stir fry sauce, is to use fresh ingredients and avoid refined sugar.
No matter what kind of jarred sauce you buy at the store, it generally has way too many ingredients, which all translate to sugar.
So, like my Teriyaki Tofu recipe, I have chosen to use as many fresh ingredients as possible.
- ½ cup Tamari or soy sauce
- ¼ cup water
- ½ cup fresh pineapple
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
- 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
POSSIBLE SAUCE SUBSTITUTIONS IF YOU DON'T HAVE FRESH INGREDIENTS HANDY
In the event you do not have access to fresh ingredients, here are some substitutions for swapping out ingredients.
- Replace fresh pineapple with pineapple juice
- No pineapple or pineapple juice? How about using ¼ cup agave or maple syrup instead
- Cornstarch can be swapped for arrowroot powder.
- Use 1 teaspoon ginger spice instead of fresh ginger
- Use 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder instead of fresh garlic cloves
Even though I always try to use fresh, sometimes fresh isn't an option, so there is always a way to substitute ingredients.
BROWN RICE VS. QUINOA FOR VEGAN STIR FRY RECIPE
Recently, I posted two different posts on How to Cook Brown Rice and How to Cook Quinoa to make meal prep easier. When I meal prep, I always make brown rice and Quinoa to use in dishes throughout the week.
For example, I used brown rice for the vegan stir fry recipe. But, if you prefer Quinoa, it works just as well with the vegetables and sauce.
Since Paul and I are the only ones eating vegan stir fry, I chose to make my rice using the stovetop directions in my How to Cook Brown Rice post.
Whenever I make a small amount of rice, I always use the stovetop version because it takes less time.
What can you put in stir fry instead of meat?
Instead of meat, you can opt for healthy substitutes, including tofu, tempeh, edamame, and beans.
What spices go well with a vegan stir fry?
The spices that go well with a vegan stir fry are basil, cilantro, oregano, coriander, cumin, and cardamom. You can also use the citrus zest, ginger, lemongrass, and lower-sodium soy sauce.
Should I blanch vegetables before stir fry?
Yes. Blanching is an excellent way to jump-start the process, especially for denser vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli.
SERVING THE VEGAN STIR FRY RECIPE WITH BROWN RICE
If you are trying to lose weight, you want to add twice the amount of vegetables to your bowl compared to brown rice.
- Add a small amount of rice to the bottom of the plate or bowl
- Scoop large amounts of vegetable stir fry on top of the rice
- Sprinkle with black sesame seeds (optional)
- Top with Teriyaki Tofu (optional)
- Serve with extra sauce
And the leftovers make a great lunch that reheats well in just a few short minutes. Print Vegan Stir Fry Recipe and share this fantastic plant-based stir fry with your friends.
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN QUICK AND EASY RECIPES LIKE THIS YOU CAN MAKE EASILY?
- Vegan Thai Tahini Veggie Noodle Bowls
- Maple & Stone Ground Mustard Tofu Harvest Bowl
- Skinny Roasted Greek Bowl
- Lucky Dragon Bowl
- Skinny Lentil Gyro Bowl with Vegan Tzatziki
- Vegan Poke Bowl Recipe
- Skinny Thai Curry Noodle Bowl
- Vegan Hungarian Goulash
- Teriyaki Tofu
- Veggie Miso Ramen Stir Fry
Vegan Stir Fry
- 1 cup short-grain brown rice
- 1 ¼ cup water
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
Vegetables (Grouped in stages of cooking)
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 large white onion sliced thin
- 16 ounces sliced mushrooms
- 1 head broccoli cut into bite-sized florets
- ½ head cauliflower cut into bite-sized florets
- 1 red bell pepper sliced thin
- 2 heads boy choy
- 2 carrots cut into coins
- 1 zucchini cut into coins
- 1 inch fresh ginger grated
- Black sesame seeds optional garnish
- BROWN RICE
- Follow the directions provided on How to Cook Brown Rice.
- I used the stovetop method, but you can cook to order using your own chosen method.
- STIR FRY SAUCE
- Combine all the ingredients in a high-speed blender.
- Transfer contents of the blender to a small saucepan.
- Heat on low heat, stirring occasionally.
- The sauce will thicken as it heats through.
- Although this recipe makes 1 ½ cups of sauce, I only used ¼-1/2 cup for the whole stir fry and reserved the sauce for another recipe.
- Do not add the stir fry sauce until you are done cooking the vegetables.
- CUT/PREPARE VEGETABLES INTO GROUPS FOR DIFFERENT STAGES OF COOKING
- Saute garlic, mushrooms, and onions together over medium-high heat in a wok until the onions are translucent and mushrooms are browned.
- Then, add carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower and cook for 10 minutes, moving these vegetables to the wok's bottom, stirring occasionally.
- Next, add the red bell peppers, zucchini, and bok choy last, cooking for an additional 5 minutes, stirring in the last group of vegetables.
- Last, add a small amount of sauce, tossing it lightly into the cooked vegetables.
- Add a small amount of cooked brown rice (or quinoa) into the bowl or plate base.
- Then, add large scoops of vegetables on top of the brown rice.
- Sprinkle with black sesame seeds (optional)
Hi! My name is Kathy, I am a retired high school English teacher & vegan enthusiast and blogger. My entire blog is fully plant-based vegan. I truly believe what we eat & how we live determines our health & the preservation of our planet! 🙂