Perfect for busy weeknights, this Plant Based Stir Fry is SO nutritious. Loaded with fresh veggies and wholesome seasonings, this easy, healthy vegan stir fry is quick to make and packs a huge volume for just a few calories. Easy to customize, you can serve this Asian-inspired dish in lettuce wraps, over riced cauliflower or broccoli, veggie noodles, or over regular rice or rice noodles.
This post was originally published on June 7th, 2020.
Stir-fry recipes are amazing and super easy family-friendly, healthy meals. The original recipe was created in China and is found as far back as 206 B.C. However, it didn’t gain popularity in the West until the 20th century when it was brought to America by Chinese immigrants. The method of stir-frying commonly used in the West is the Chao technique, where the vegetables are quickly sautéed in oil, and then the seasonings and starch to thicken are added towards the end. This way of preparing food is known for being a very healthy way to cook, as the vegetables are quickly sautéed in hot oil to retain as many nutrients as possible.
❤️ Why you will love this vegan stir-fry
- Healthy: Made entirely with veggies and healthy seasonings like coconut aminos and Chinese 5 spice powder. I skipped extra ingredients like MSG and brown sugar. They’re just not needed in this simple recipe.
- Quick: Stir fries are super fast to make. Ready in 20 minutes or less.
- Easy recipe: You literally just cut the veggies, toss them in a pan with all the other ingredients and cook for 10-15 minutes. Ta-da!
- Customizable: Vegan stir fry recipes are so easy to adapt. Just use what veggies you prefer or have on hand. This is a great way to clean out the fridge.
- Made in one pan: which means less cleaning (yay).
- Whole30, paleo & vegan: This includes a recipe for a savory sauce that is perfect for a whole30, paleo, or vegan diet. It’s so easy and out of this world delicious!
- Super tasty: Such an easy meal with so much flavor? Yes, please!
🗝️ Key ingredients for this paleo plant-based stir-fry recipe?
- Vegetables: I use carrots, zucchini, red bell pepper, golden beetroot, onion, garlic, & one chili pepper. Aim for plenty of colorful veggies for the best nutrition.
- Coconut aminos: Instead of soy sauce I used coconut aminos in this vegetable stir fry. It’s an amazing gluten-free alternative to soy sauce that still gives the authentic veggie stir fry flavor without the wheat. If you’re okay with wheat, feel free to use soy sauce and also add in a little maple syrup to sweeten it up.
- Lemon juice: It’s amazing what a splash of lemon can do to this dish. Its really brightens up all of the flavors and your taste buds will love it! Lime juice is a good option as well.
- Sesame oil: Sesame oil adds a ton of rich, nutty flavor. Olive oil or coconut oil can be used in a pinch but if you can add sesame oil it is so worth it!
- Garlic and ginger: These two ingredients are key to many Asian recipes. I prefer to use fresh ginger and fresh garlic when possible, however, you can also use 1-2tsp of powdered if needed.
- Chinese 5 spice: Chinese 5 spice is a blend of 5 spices, usually including Chinese cinnamon, star anise, cloves, fennel seed, and either Sichuan peppercorns, white pepper, or ginger. It’s amazing with veggies.
- Chili pepper: For a kick of heat I added a little chili pepper. Cayenne pepper or sriracha are great substitutes.
- Tapioca (optional): You can optionally thicken up the stir fry sauce with tapioca starch. Cornstarch is a great substitute as well.
🥣 How to make this vegan stir fry recipe
1. Chop up the veggies: I like to julienne them into sticks. As long as the veggies are sliced thinly, especially the carrots, they will soak up the flavor!
2. Start the stir-fry: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the sesame oil.
3. Sauté fragrant ingredients: Sauté the onion for two minutes followed by ginger, garlic, and chili pepper. Sauté for another 2 minutes.
4. Add the rest of the veggies: Add the carrots and beetroot to soften them up a little. Stir fry for 5 minutes and then add the zucchini and red bell pepper.
5. Add the homemade stir fry sauce ingredients: Coconut aminos, Chinese 5 spice & lemon juice.
6. Thicken it with tapioca if it’s too runny (optional): Tapioca starch is my go-to thickener for just about anything. It can easily be substituted for cornstarch if needed. Just add the tapioca starch to a small bowl with equal amounts of the stir fry sauce from the skillet. Mix them together well and then out it into the stir fry, stirring the delicious sauce constantly until thick.
7. Serve: Serve over riced cauliflower, vegetable noodles, or regular rice or noodles. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions if desired.
8. Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Reheat by stir-frying in a skillet on the stove until piping hot.
❓ Can I add protein to this veggie dish?
Yes! You can add 500g-1lb of your favorite protein to this recipe to make it more filling. This stir fry goes great with a meat substitute like Beyond Beef, crispy tofu, or even some soy curls if you’re okay with soy. You may need to adjust the seasoning and add some salt!
✔️ List of stir fry vegetables
Here is a list of my favorite vegetables to stir fry. The fresh produce usually changes each time I make it, depending on what was in our local veggie box or available at the market that week. You can use fresh or frozen vegetables, but seasonal & local veggies are the best! Veggies for stir fry dishes:
- Bamboo Shoots (low carb)
- Baby Corn (low carb)
- Beansprouts (low carb)
- Bell peppers – red, yellow, orange, green (green is low carb)
- Bok/Pak Choy (low carb)
- Broccoli – I use tender stem often (low carb)
- Cabbage – red, white, or sweetheart (low carb)
- Cauliflower (low carb)
- Celery (low carb)
- Chili peppers – jalapeño or Thai (low carb)
- Edamame (low carb)
- Green Beans (low carb)
- Kale (low carb)
- Mushrooms (low carb)
- Onion – red, white, green/spring
- Radish (low carb)
- Spinach (low carb)
- Spring onions (low carb)
- Swiss chard (low carb)
- Sweet Potato (spiralized is great!)
- Water Chestnuts (low carb)
- Yellow summer squash
- Zucchini/courgette (low carb)
🍽️ What do I serve with this easy healthy stir fry recipe?
There are a few options! The ones I’ll list are all gluten-free and vegan:
Whole30, Paleo & Low Carb Sides:
- Vegetable noodles – spiralized zucchini, carrots, and sweet potatoes are good options. My Chinese Zucchini has an amazing peanut sauce that goes so well with stir-fries.
- Riced Vegetables – cauliflower rice or broccoli rice
- konjac/shirataki noodles
- lettuce wraps
Other Gluten-Free Options:
- White rice
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
- rice noodles
- Soba noodles
- Ramen noodles
- Spaghetti noodles
🤔 What can you put in stir fry instead of meat?
There are so many great plant-based substitutes out there! Crispy tofu or extra firm tofu adds protein and they are so filling. If you are looking for more of a meaty texture, try mushrooms or aubergine (eggplant). Finally, you can pick up “chicken” pieces at your local grocery store. Quorn is a tasty brand and Beyond Meat has a mince that would work well in a stir fry.
✨ What can I add to stir-fry for flavor?
I really enjoy the taste of Chinese 5 Spice along with a drizzle of sriracha sauce. You can also use plum sauce or teriyaki sauce, just carefully check the ingredients are plant-based. Sometimes fish sauce is added which is not vegan.
😋 More vegan recipes you will love:
- Spicy Peanut Chinese Zucchini
- Sesame Broccoli
- Paleo Greek Stuffed Tomatoes (Gemista)
- Instant Pot Vegan Chili
- Slow Cooker Vegetable Stew
- Vegan Rice Paper Dumplings
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- 3 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 large onion
- 4 carrots
- 2 golden beetroot
- 200 g tender stem broccoli
- 2 red bell pepper
- 2 zucchini
- 3 inch piece of ginger, grated
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 - 2 chili peppers
Whole30 stir fry sauce:
- 1/2 cup coconut aminos
- 4 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
- 1/2 lemon, juiced (about 1.5 tbsp)
- 1 tbsp Tapioca starch or cornstarch, to thicken (see instructions)
- Cashews/peanuts and spring onions, to garnish
- Heat the sesame oil in a wok or frying pan.
- Add onion and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add ginger, garlic, and chili pepper. Sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add the other vegetables, starting with the carrots, and the beetroot to soften them up.
- After 5 minutes add the zucchini and then the red bell pepper.
- Add the whole30 stir fry sauce ingredients: coconut aminos, Chinese 5 spice powder, and lemon juice.
- Optional: If your veggies have produced a lot of liquid, remove 3 tbsp of the excess liquid and place it into a bowl. Add 1 tbsp of tapioca starch or cornstarch, and stir until well mixed (no lumps). Add back into stir fry and mix over medium heat until the sauce has thickened.
- Add Protein: Yes! You can add 500g-1lb of your favorite protein to this recipe to make it more filling. This stir fry goes great with a meat substitute like Beyond Beef, Quorn chicken, crispy tofu, or even some soy curls if you're okay with soy. You may need to adjust the seasoning and add some salt!
- Vegetables: Use any vegetables you have on hand, this recipe is great for clearing out produce from your fridge.
- Serve over rice noodles, vegetable noodles, lettuce wraps, cauliflower rice, white rice, or regular noodles.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in a skillet until piping hot.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 254Total Fat: 11.8gSaturated Fat: 1.5gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 240mgCarbohydrates: 36.3gNet Carbohydrates: 28.5gFiber: 7.8gSugar: 15.6gProtein: 5.5g