Creamy Coconut Vegetable Stir Fry is an easy weeknight dinner that comes together in 20 minutes. With a fresh herb and coconut sauce, it’s ultra-creamy, with bright flavors, and a hearty vegetable mix.
I’m willing to bet you’ve never had a recipe quite like this one.
It’s not quite a curry because it’s missing the spices, but has all the herbs, and it’s not quite a true stir fry, because it’s a little soupier than that.
It’s a beautiful mix of a creamy, herb-loaded sauce that gets soaked up with the rice, and is packed with fresh veggies that are completely customizable – mix and match what you have on hand!
It’s going to revolutionize your dinner routine and break you out of the grinding rut of ‘what’s for dinner tonight’. It’s a delicious vegetarian dinner recipe that comes together in under 30 minutes, in one pan (eeek, not including the rice, but you have options there) and is here to really mix things up.
Let’s get to cooking then, shall we?!
The Ingredients You’ll Need
One more thing to love about this recipe: the simple, wholesome ingredients in it. They’re fresh, colorful, and bright.
Here are a few notes about them to help make your process run smoothly:
- Coconut Milk – use the full fat, 100% coconut milk from the can, not the coconut milk beverage you might use in lattes or with cereal. If there’s a hard layer on top, that’s totally ok and normal! That’s the coconut cream that can solidify. Just scoop it out with a spoon – keep it and use it – and the rest of the liquid will be below.
- Vegetables – I use a mix of broccoli, carrots, red bell pepper, and onion. The beauty is that you can absolutely swap out what you have. Add in cauliflower, any color sweet bell pepper, omit the onion (I have!) or stir in some kale.
- Ginger – another ingredient I’ve omitted in this recipe before, and it’s still delicious. The ginger adds another layer of flavor to it when you use it. Grate fresh ginger using a Microplane or use some minced ginger from a jar.
- Basil and Cilantro – these herbs are pureed in the coconut milk sauce and bring a super bright, spring freshness to the entire dish. And helloooo flavor!
How to Make this Easy Creamy Coconut Vegetables
Creamy Coconut Milk Sauce
The first step to making this coconut stir fry recipe is preparing the creamy coconut sauce. I like to use my mini food processor, but a large one or a blender will work, too.
We are going to be using the ENTIRE HERB. No taking the leaves off the cilantro stems, they’re all going in! The stems hold a TON of flavor, and since they will be finely chopped, there’s no need to leave them out.
I highly recommend roughly chopping the herbs before putting them into your food processor to blend. If you don’t chop them, the stems like to get wrapped around the blade, which defeats the whole purpose we’re going for.
Once they’re roughly chopped by you, run your food processor with just the herbs until they are finely chopped. The goal is to have them fully incorporated into the sauce.
Then, in goes the coconut milk. Puree in your food processor until the herbs are finely incorporated throughout and a creamy mixture forms. It may thicken just by the nature of the coconut cream, which is a-okay!
Making The Stir Fry
Set aside the sauce while we sautee our veggies. Add a little coconut oil to the pan, then start sauteing the onions so they have the chance to cook the entire time through, becoming soft, caramelized, and delicious.
Next goes the broccoli and carrots because they need a little extra time to cook. Then the red bell pepper, garlic, and ginger.
Finally, the coconut milk sauce is added and simmers to thicken up and absorb all the other flavors.
Don’t forget to taste test and salt and pepper throughout! The creamy coconut and herb sauce definitely needs plenty of salt to bring out the flavors!
Once it’s cooked, garnish with a squeeze of lime, chopped cashews for a little texture and crunch, and green onions as desired. Serve with cilantro lime rice for a wonderful pairing. It soaks up the sauce and is OH SO YUMMY. Of course, fluffy white rice will work, too. Done, and done!
Other Adaptations and FAQs
You can add in some vegetable stock towards the end of the cooking process if you’d like an even soupier final dish. Be sure to adjust your salt levels if adding more liquid.
Rice noodles are a delicious addition and make for another unique take on this recipe. I recommend adding in some extra vegetable stock if using noodles, so they have more liquid to cook in. Fresh noodles have been my favorite, but you could use dried and cook according to package directions, then add them into the dish.
You sure can! Go ahead and pan fry up some crispy tofu, stir in shredded chicken, or top with sautéed shrimp. Of course, depending on what you add this recipe may no longer be vegetarian or vegan.
Creamy Coconut Vegetable Stir Fry
- 1 Tablespoon coconut oil, or oil of choice
- ½ cup yellow onion, sliced
- 1 cup carrot, diced
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or minced
- 1 tsp fresh ginger
- ½ cup tightly packed basil – stems and all, .75 oz. clamshell
- 1 cup cilantro -stems and all, tightly packed
- 14 oz. can coconut milk
- Optional: ¼ – ½ cup vegetable stock, to thin as desired
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Rice, for serving
- Lime wedges
- Cashews, chopped
- Scallions, chopped
- Additional chopped cilantro
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add broccoli and carrots, for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, and adding pinches of salt along the way.
- Meanwhile, roughly chop the herbs (stems and all!), then add them to in a mini food processor or blender, and puree until finely chopped. Add the coconut milk to the food processor and pulse until the herbs and milk are fully incorporated (30 seconds to 1 minute). Set aside.
- To the skillet, add the red bell pepper, garlic, and ginger to the vegetable mix, cooking for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
- Stir the coconut milk mixture in with the vegetables in the skillet and bring to a low simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add vegetable stock as desired. Remember to add salt along the way, and taste test at the end, adjusting for salt levels (you will need enough salt to bring out the flavors in the sauce). Finish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
- Serve with rice. Garnish with chopped cashews, scallions, and cilantro, as desired.
- A note about serving size: on its own (without any additional sides or protein mains) this serves two in my household with a tiny bit extra (that always gets eaten anyway). It can stretch to 4 servings with additional items served alongside or for smaller portions.
- The nutrition guideline is based on 4 servings without rice.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.