30 speedy stir-fry recipes for dinner tonight

Learn how to make great stir-fried dishes with our selection of speedy stir-fry recipes and tips to making them healthier.
Published 16 September 2020 | Updated 20 June 2024
Chicken, vegetable and peanut stir-fry
  • Jump straight to the recipes

    Cooking techniques for stir-frying

    There is a lot to love about stir-fries. Not only are they quick, they also only use one frying pan or wok (which means less washing up!) and offer a world of delicious flavours – from Thai and Vietnamese to Chinese, Korean, Indonesian and more. However, restaurant stir-fries often come drenched in oil. You can recreate delicious, healthier versions at home with these easy techniques and recipes from nutritionist and food writer Robin Vitetta-Miller.

    1. Using the right equipment

    Choosing between a wok and a skillet depends on what you have available. Vitetta-Miller notes, "A skillet is just as good as a wok if it's 12 inches or larger." The key is ensuring your food makes constant contact with a very hot pan, so avoid overcrowding. For smaller pans, stir-fry in batches and then reheat the meal.

    2. Cooking the meat, poultry or tofu

    Always cook your meat or poultry first to impart their flavours into the pan. Tofu should be cooked first as well. While it doesn't add flavour, it sears and browns better alone than with raw vegetables.

    3. Choosing the vegetables

    Uniform slicing is essential for even cooking. Vitetta-Miller recommends carrots, zucchini, celery, string beans, broccoli, snap peas, and bok choy. Avoid softer veggies like tomatoes and eggplant as they can become mushy. For convenience, try frozen stir-fry vegetable mixes or pre-cut fresh options from the supermarket. You can try this idea in our spicy turkey and pineapple stir-fry or chicken, vegetable and peanut stir-fry.

    4 Using the correct heat

    Temperature regulation is crucial. Vitetta-Miller suggests testing the pan by drizzling a few drops of water. If the water sits, the pan is too cool; if it evaporates immediately, it's too hot. The right temperature makes the water "bounce and dance."

    5. Choosing the oil

    Flavourful oils such as toasted sesame, roasted peanut, and hot chilli oil work well in stir-fries.

    Tips for the perfect stir-fry technique

    • Once you've got everything sliced and diced, and your pan is hot, add a little oil.
    • Warm the oil and then add fresh minced garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for 30 seconds.
    • Quickly add your uncooked meat, poultry or tofu so that the garlic does not burn. Add a dash of soy sauce, season to taste and stir-fry, moving the food constantly, until it's cooked through.
    • Remove the meat or tofu from the pan with a slotted spoon so that the oil and juices remain in the pan to add flavour to your vegetables.
    • Add your veggies, again stir-frying with constant movement. You want them crisp-tender but not soft so cook them for about 3 to 5 minutes.
    • Add your meat, poultry or tofu back to the pan, mix in a few spoonfuls of the sauce, and warm through.

    How to make homemade sauce for stir-fries

    All sauces serve four people using 500g of meat, chicken or tofu and approximately 4 cups of chopped vegetables.

    1. Sweet and sour stir-fry sauce

    Mix ⅓ cup apricot preserves or orange marmalade, 1 tbs low sodium soy sauce and 1 tsp sesame oil together and season to taste.

    2. Creamy curry stir-fry sauce

    Mix ½ cup low-fat sour cream, 1 tsp curry powder and 1 tbs fresh chopped coriander together and season with salt and pepper to taste. Thin out with chicken broth, if you desire.

    3. Wild mushroom stir-fry sauce

    Soak 16g dried porcini or shitake mushrooms in water for 15 minutes. Drain, reserve the liquid and set aside. Dice the mushrooms, place them in a small bowl, add the reserved liquid back in and season with salt and pepper to taste. (Note: If you prefer a thicker sauce, dissolve 2 teaspoons of cornstarch in ¼ cup of cold water; add to the mushroom sauce and mix well.)