On any given day of the week, if you walk into my kitchen, there is a good chance that you’ll find me making this Healthy Chicken Stir Fry. Along with my Salmon Patties and Shrimp and Cauliflower Grits, this Healthy Chicken Stir Fry is a weeknight staple in our house—and has been for years! It’s packed full of flavor, and it’s bursting with the bright colors and powerhouse nutrition of a bevy of fresh veggies.
My favorite part of this stir fry is just how flexible it is. We offer a well-tested suggestion of veggies in the recipe below, but you can really experiment with what you include. Don’t like broccoli? Leave it out! Want to add in a can of baby corn? You do you! Want to use orange peppers instead of red? Rock it out! Have frozen veggies stashed the freezer? That works, too. The flavorful sauce and marinade brings it all together no matter what you add!
How do you make stir fry?
Stir frying is originally a Chinese cooking technique, and the method for making it is pretty much right there in the name of the dish! You fry foods over high heat while you stir them constantly to prevent sticking and burning. For this particular dish, we cook in two parts: first, we stir fry marinated chicken breast, and then we remove the cooked chicken and stir fry tons of fresh vegetables. In the end, the chicken gets mixed back in, along with a delicious stir fry sauce that thickens and flavors the entire dish. You can read more about what goes into making a proper stir fry here, but for this recipe, we’ve done all that thinking for you!
What is a stir fry sauce?
Think of stir fry sauce as the gravy of a stir-fry—it adds a silky, rich texture and tons of flavor. You can purchase bottled stir fry sauce in the international foods section of the grocery store, but to be honest, it’s incredibly affordable and easy to make at home. Plus, you can completely control all the ingredients. If you need to reduce your sodium intake, you can do that. Don’t like ginger? Leave it out. Want to bring the heat? Add more red pepper flakes! Once you land on your perfect stir fry sauce, you’ll always have it at the ready.
How do you thicken stir fry sauce?
A good stir fry sauce is thick and rich, and to get that texture, I recommend using either cornstarch or arrowroot powder (what I use) to help thicken the sauce.
Is chicken stir fry good for you?
This recipe is packed full of fresh vegetables, grains, and protein to make it a nourishing meal for just about anyone! Because we’re making our own stir fry sauce, you don’t have to worry about any artificial flavors, colors, or additives that might make you feel unwell. This stir fry is great for you!
If you don’t eat or have meat, we also have a veggie stir fry that is great for meal prep or quick dinners!
How do I make this gluten-free?
The only gluten-containing ingredient in this recipe is the soy sauce. You can use either tamari or coconut aminos in place of the soy sauce (and make sure to serve it over a gluten-free grain like rice or quinoa), and you’ll have a gluten-free meal!
What are my options if I don’t want to use soy sauce?
A lot of folks choose to avoid soy sauce for a variety of reasons—maybe you’re trying to watch your sodium intake, or you can’t eat gluten, or you avoid soy in your diet. No worries, we’ve got options for you!
- Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce—If you’re watching your sodium intake, grab a bottle of reduced sodium soy sauce. You’ll probably need to add back in a touch of salt to the finished dish, but this will help keep the sodium levels lower.
- Tamari (Gluten-Free)—Regular soy sauce contains gluten, but tamari is a fermented soy sauce that is gluten-free. It has a slightly different flavor, but it does the trick.
- Coconut Aminos (Soy-Free/Gluten-Free)—This is my substitute of choice! I don’t eat soy and my husband doesn’t eat gluten, so this is the winner in our house. I also happen to think it tastes EXACTLY like soy sauce!
In what order should I cook the vegetables in a stir fry?
Because you’re cooking quickly under high heat, the order you put the vegetables in to a stir fry matter! The first vegetables you want to cook are vegetables that take the longest to soften—think hard veggies, like carrots. You let those sauté for a bit, and then add in the next hardest veggies—like peppers or broccoli. And then you continue until you get to the softest of veggies in the last few minutes of cooking. When it comes to cooking a stir fry, you’re looking for crisp-cooked veggies. No one wants stir-fry mush! It’s better to err on the side of a little undercooked here.
What can I use instead of rice in a stir fry?
If you don’t want to use rice as a base for your stir fry, you have tons of options! You can try cauliflower rice, broccoli rice, rice noodles, spaghetti squash, shirataki noodles, zucchini noodles, quinoa, farro—the possibilities are endless.
Can I use frozen veggies instead of fresh in this stir fry?
Yes! Frozen veggies are an excellent way to save some time when making a stir fry. You can use almost any frozen veggie in a stir fry (go wild and experiment!), but you will also find special “stir fry blends” in the frozen veggie section that are perfect for this meal! If you go the frozen route, you’ll want to add 3-4 minutes of cooking time to make sure they get entirely warmed through.
I don’t have a wok! Can I use something else?
A wok is a really nice addition to a kitchen if you plan on cooking a lot of stir fry (I have both a cast iron wok and a stainless steel one, and they are both amazing), but you absolutely don’t need one to make this dish! Any high-sided, large skillet will do the trick.
My Pro Tips for a Really Good Stir Fry
- Experiment with the veggies you add to your stir fry. While we suggest the veggies below, the recipe is incredibly flexible! Use the veggies that you and your family enjoy the most for a custom stir fry that you’ll love.
- Make sure to let the chicken marinate for at least 15-20 minutes before cooking. Even better if you can let it marinate for an hour or more.
- Don’t skip the garnish! Fresh sliced green onions and toasted sesame seeds add a wonderful amount of flavor and texture to the final dish. Also make sure to put out extra soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos, in case folks want a little extra boost of flavor.
Want more quick and easy recipes like this one?
- Salmon Patties. Your whole family will love these salmon patties, and they’re ready in under 30 minutes!
- Tuna Casserole. This comfort food classic is creamy and delicious.
- Taco Pasta Skillet. You can’t go wrong with a one-skillet meal on a busy weeknight, and we love this bean, beef, and noodle version.
- Vegetable Beef Soup. Half an hour and a few pantry staples are all you need to get this soup on the table!
- Last Minute Dinner Ideas. Check out all our fast weeknight dinners in one place!
And check out these reader favorites:
- Shamrock Shake. Now you can enjoy this minty fast food copycat any time of year!
- Hot Sauce. Make your own hot sauce, completely customized to your heat tolerance and flavor preferences.
- Lemon Vinaigrette. Step up your salads with homemade salad dressings, starting with this citrus vinaigrette.
- Vegetable Chips. Eating your vegetables just got a whole lot crunchier.
- Chicago Popcorn. The sweet-and-salty combination is always a winner, including in this mix of cheesy and caramel popcorns.
I make this recipe at least once a month. It’s perfect and I don’t even use a wok. The only veggie I add on in addition is cabbage.
very tasty i will definatly be making it again
Thanks, Lesley! We’re glad you liked it, and we appreciate you taking the time to come back and tell us about it!
Excellent! We like our stir fry a little saucy so added 1/4 cup low salt chicken broth when we added the marinade at the end. Will definitely make this again (and again, and again)
Thanks, Karen! So happy to hear you loved it!