How to Make a Great Stir-Fry at Home

by Bob | Last Updated:  October 11, 2020
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We all love takeout. But we don’t so much enjoy the added calories and the extra dollars. In this post, we show you how to quickly make a tasty stir-fry at home.

We will part with some of our culinary tricks and share how to make a delicious stir-fry in just a few minutes. 

You won’t often get “healthy eating” options when you order takeout. Cooking a stir-fry at home, however, you can get the same yummy taste experience. Once you have mastered this, you will be making a stir-fry at home every week. 

With just a few lean cuts of meat, a splash of stir-fry sauce and some veggies, you can create customized meals that are nutritious and can even use those leftovers you have from other meals.

Stir-frying is an Asian-derived quick cooking method. It involves cooking small, equal-sized bits of food in a splash of hot oil using a large skillet, pan or wok over a medium/high heat. This cooking style can help you retain the nutrients, crunch, and color of your vegetables.

Is a Wok Essential When Learning to Make a Stir-Fry?

It depends. You definitely need to buy a wok if you plan to make a stir-fry often. This particular pan has a conical base that is commonly used in Chinese cooking.

In the US, most of our cooktops are stoves instead of fires, so woks sold here tend to have a flat bottom. It is important to remember that there are woks available with a metal wok ring at the base so that you can set it on top of a gas burner.

If you don’t have a wok or don’t want to buy one just yet, a skillet will do the job. The reason why a wok would be preferable is the sloping sides of it.

This allows cooking to happen in stages. These sides work as an area where you can move ingredients to, moving then away from heat, so that nothing gets burned.

How to Make a Stir-Fry

Step #1 Choose Your Ingredients

There are ingredients that work better when stir-frying than others. In this step, we discuss the quantities of each ingredient you might need when cooking for 4 people.

Oil

Firstly, 1-2 tablespoons of oil are plenty. Secondly, you need to think about what oils you can use. Mostly any oil can be used. However, you will attain better results if you pick oils that have high smoking points. The key to crisp and flavorsome vegetables is to use high heat. Avocado oil is one such example of this type of oil. It reaches a much higher temperature than most oils before it starts to smoke. Avocado oil just happens to be one of the healthiest oils to cook with. Here is an article on some of the health benefits of Avocado oil. You might consider taking some time to read it.

Cooking Oil Dispenser

It is important to use some kind of cooking oil dispenser so that your oil is easy to dispense in your pan or wok. Here is a reasonably priced cooking oil dispenser that I use in my kitchen for my various oils. I like this dispenser because you can see if it needs filling.

Replacement caps are also available from Amazon and can be found here.

Garlic

This is known as an aromatic and is commonplace in stir-fry recipes. Use two cloves of minced garlic. Later, if you need more or less garlic in your next stir fry, then you can adjust to your own personal tastes.

Fresh Vegetables

You should use about 4 cups of chopped raw vegetables. Vegetables that work well for stir-frying include:

That said if you are in a hurry, a 16-ounce bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables will suffice.

Canned Asian Vegetables

Not everyone likes these. Fresh vegetables or frozen stir-fry vegetables are preferable but sometimes you are in a tight squeeze and need to use canned stir-fry vegetables. Here is what I would use if needed. This includes baby corn, sliced water chestnuts, and bamboo shoots. If you choose to add these, substitute some of the fresh vegetables from above. Don’t forget to drain them thoroughly beforehand.

Proteins

Use quick-cooking seafood or tender meat. These include:

We recommend using 12 ounces to 1 pound of protein. If you are vegetarian, you could use 10.5 ounces of extra-firm tofu. For those of you not wanting to use tofu or meat, just add more veggies.

Tofu Press

Sometimes you need a tofu press to firm-out the tofu you bought at the store. Here is a handy gadget that will work just fine if you like your tofu firm. Check it out at Amazon here.

Stir-Fry Sauce

Supermarkets stock a variety of ready-to-use stir-fry sauces. For 4 servings use ⅔ cup. If you prefer to use your own sauce, you can use this quick Orange-Soy Stir-Fry Sauce recipe.

Combine ½ cup orange juice and 1 tablespoon soy sauce in a small bowl. Then add ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper, ¼ teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon ground ginger.

Nuts

If you are not allergic to nuts, these can add extra texture and flavor. You can use whole peanuts, walnuts halves, slivered or sliced almonds or cashews. You will need  ¾ cup.

Step #2 Prepare Your Ingredients

The process of stir-frying is speedy, so prepare all your ingredients before you even turn on your stove. Get them all ready and place them near your stove in small bowls or on small plates. Now you can focus on your stir-fry without the pressure or stress of prepping your next ingredient.

Meat – slice into bite-sized chunks. You will find that cutting lamb, pork, beef, and chicken is easier if you freeze them for 20 minutes first.

Garlic – mince your garlic. If you want you can use sliced garlic but you need to make sure that the pieces are very thinly sliced.

Vegetables – chop into bite-sized chunks, trying to keep them pretty much uniform in size. The same size ensures that they are all cooked to the same degree.

Stir-Fry Sauce –  if you are making this from scratch, keep this near your cooking area. If you are using a shop-bought option, measure out the quantity you need beforehand.

Nuts and Others – measure out the quantities you need to use.

Rice – if you are serving rice with your stir-fry, cook it in a rice cooker so that it is ready when your stir-fry is done. The rice cooker below comes with very high ratings from Amazon. I would suggest that you read the Product Description offered by Amazon to see the many uses for this cooker.

Step #3 Cook, Cook, Cook

The Stir-Fry Vegetable Side Dish

Check out these wok tools at Amazon to complete your setup.

If you want this quick side dish as a snack, follow these instructions.

The Very Best Post Stir-Fry Sauce

My favorite sauce to use on fish deep fried in a wok or any kind of stir-fry is this Robert Rothschild Farm Roasted Pineapple & Habanero Sauce (40oz) – Glaze & Finishing Sauce. Trust me this the very best Sweet & Spicy Sauce for Chicken, Fish, Pork, Shrimp, and any kind of Stir-Fry. It is All Natural, Gluten-Free & Certified Kosher. Be nice to yourself and check it out here at Amazon. You will thank me later. Just writing about this sauce makes my mouth water! OMG is it good! It is the best balance between sweet and spicy.