Making stir fry at home has never been easier with this 5-minute stir fry sauce recipe made from scratch. Whisk together the simple ingredients – or shake them up in a jar – and add it to your favorite stir fry ingredients. Your flavorful dinner will be ready in no time!
Friends!! This is so exciting because you are never going to have to wonder what’s for dinner when you are looking for an easy, simple recipe.
No, in fact, you can just shake up a jar of homemade stir fry sauce and toss it with…just about anything to make a deliciously healthy veggie-loaded dinner.
Seriously, there’s no end to the dinner options with this sauce. It marries up well with frozen veggies, shrimp, whatever other proteins you have/enjoy, tofu, and my favorite – the random vegetables you need to use up in your fridge. There are honestly endless possibilities.
You know I love delicious game-changing homemade sauce recipes. They take otherwise meh ingredients and bring the WOW, adding so much flavor and bringing excitement to mealtime. So without any more chatter, let’s see what this next-up, super simple sauce is all about.
Why Should You Make Your Own Sauce?
For starters, I did mention the crazy amount of flavor they add to just about any and every dish, right?
Making sauces at home, especially this stir fry sauce, allows you to control the ingredients and keeps the flavors fresh, which means it can also be healthier, depending on your needs, like if you are looking for a low sodium option or one without added oils.
In most cases, it’s also cheaper, making it super budget-friendly. The simple ingredients are ones that you likely have in your pantry or fridge, and use just a little bit of them at a time, so it’s quite economical.
Not that you need one more reason, after all of that, but just in case you do, I’ll remind you that making stir fry sauce from scratch takes less than five minutes and that my friends, is a no-brainer to me!
Ingredients for Stir Fry Sauce
If you’re wondering what’s in stir fry sauce, let’s take a look at the ingredients you’ll need. The beauty of making the sauce yourself is that you can adjust the flavors just how you like them – make the sauce a little sweeter, or a little more sour, depending on your tastes.
As written, the sauce recipe has a nice balance of sweet, salty, and sour. You can absolutely adjust to your preferences and taste-test the sauce before you begin cooking. Be sure to see the full recipe card below.
- Soy Sauce (low sodium recommended): this is the base of the stir fry sauce, adding the dark color to it (replace a tablespoon or so with dark soy sauce that we use in vegetable lo mein for an even deeper flavor!).
There is quite a bit of soy sauce in the base, so I recommend using low sodium soy sauce.
- Vegetable Stock: using stock instead of water adds more flavor to the sauce, but if you need to, you can also substitute with water (or chicken stock if you’re not vegetarian). Use no salt stock to make sure the sauce isn’t overly salty.
- Sesame Oil: it’s nutty, rich, and toasty. A little bit of this oil goes a long way!
- Rice Vinegar: it’s vinegar, so this is where our sourness can come from if we add too much, but rice vinegar is overall pretty mild and has a slightly sweet flavor to it, too. I start with 1/2 tablespoon but increase to 1 full tablespoon if you like vinegar-type flavors.
- Garlic and Ginger: just about every stir fry recipe you’ll find on this site is going to also include added garlic and ginger – they are huge flavor add-ins and I do think they need to be in the sauce, too. Definitely recommend using fresh!
- Sugar or Honey: a little sweetness to balance out the acidity and saltiness; use brown sugar for a deeper molasses flavor to the sauce, or honey for a more natural-sugar option.
- Cornstarch: ah, the sauce thickener. Without cornstarch, the sauce is really thin. Cooking it down with cornstarch thickens it making it luxuriously sticky so it coats all of the other ingredients.
- Red Pepper Flakes: making this an optional ingredient for you… adding just a pinch of red pepper flakes adds a little more depth to the sauce, without being spicy. You can always add more to make it spicy or use chili garlic paste. Or, you can leave it out.
How to Make Stir Fry Sauce from Scratch
This is truly one of my favorite sauces to make. It’s simply the best – full of flavor from all the ingredients (especially the fresh ginger and garlic – oh my!) and I can pair it with anything. Ok, have I told you yet how dang easy it is, too? Like I said, THE BEST.
You can either whisk together the ingredients in a bowl or add them all to a jar and shake, shake, shake. If you know me, then you know I’ve turned into the kind of adult who likes to reduce the number of dishes I have to do, and one-pan dinners have become my BFF (ok, is this all adulting?) so the jar method is used frequently around here.
Either way, add the aromatics along with the sugar or honey, pour in the vegetable stock, add the soy sauce, and then the corn starch. Whisk or shake them together until it’s completely combined. Then, you can use it immediately or store it in the fridge for later use (more on that in a minute).
Stir Fry Sauce Ideas
Ok, so there are basically endless dinner options when it comes to stir fry. Make an at-home Asian or Chinese-inspired dinner the whole family will love, mixing and matching your favorite ingredients. Here are a few of my (and my fam’s) favorite ideas. Note that not all are vegetarian ideas for those who do eat meat.
- Shrimp Stir-Fry
- Vegetable Stir-Fry – honestly, use whatever veggies you love or that need to be eaten before they go bad in that fridge drawer! Some great ones are snow peas, mushrooms, broccoli, bell peppers…you name it!
- Cabbage Stir Fry
- Bok Choy Stir Fry
- Noodle Stir-Fry – pair it with thick rice noodles, udon noodles, or thin ramen noodles for a noodley dinner.
- Tofu Stir-Fry
- Chicken Stir Fry
- Beef Stir Fry
- Toss it with roasted cauliflower or jackfruit to turn it into lettuce wraps!
How to Make a Simple Stir Fry
Here’s a very high-level overview of how to make a stir fry using the ingredients you have. If you are a comfortable at-home chef, I am sure you’ll be able to work with what you’ve got to make it happen. Otherwise, I highly recommend you take a look at one of my stir fry recipes for more specific instructions.
- If you are making a protein like shrimp or chicken, first saute them in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat in a little bit of oil. At this point, I like to cook the proteins halfway through (for shrimp) or just before it’s completely cooked (for chicken) so once it’s added back into the vegetables at the end, it doesn’t overcook. This is the same method I use for shrimp scampi.
- Remove the protein, then add in the hearty vegetables first. This would be things like onion, mushrooms, broccoli, etc. The veggies that will take longer to cook should go first.
- Add in some aromatics if you’d like more; I am always a fan of more garlic and ginger.
- Add in tender vegetables, like bok choy or bell peppers. Cook the veggies until they are tender-crisp. Add the protein (if using) back into the mixture.
- Add in the sauce and simmer for a few minutes until thickened.
- Serve over rice as desired, garnish, and enjoy!
This sauce recipe as written makes just over 1 cup of sauce (about 1 1/4 cups). If making enough stir fry for 4-6 people, I find it to be the perfect amount; it’s a little saucy but not swimmingly so.
If you prefer less sauce in your stir fry, I would recommend starting with about 3/4 cup of the sauce, and adding more as you see fit. And if you have leftover sauce, never fear…
Storage and Freezing
This sauce will keep in the fridge for up to one week, which means it is absolutely perfect for meal prep. I mean…if you must prep it. It’s also easy enough to make in the rush of weeknight dinner flurry.
Anyway, keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
You can also freeze the sauce, just place it in a freezer-safe airtight container like Souper Cubes or Stasher Bags and freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, place it in the fridge, at room temperature, or on the stove over low heat until warmed through.
Commonly Asked Questions
Use low-sodium soy sauce in place of regular soy sauce to make this sauce with less sodium. Also, use vegetable stock, not broth, as stock is made without added salt. Or, be sure your broth is ‘low sodium’ too. Or just use water instead of stock.
Yes, as long as you use gluten-free soy sauce like Tamari. While the remaining ingredients should be naturally gluten-free, be sure to check all the ingredient labels to be sure.
Yes! It is vegetarian, and vegan if you use sugar, not honey.
You can use coconut aminos in place of the soy sauce to make this sauce soy-free.
To make the sauce even thicker, add another 1/2 – 1 tablespoon of corn starch. If you are adding it after the sauce has already been mixed with other ingredients, quickly whisk it together with a little stock or soy sauce, then add it into the stir fry. This will ensure it is incorporated seamlessly.
5-Minute Stir Fry Sauce (so easy!)
- ½ cup soy sauce, low sodium recommended
- ½ cup low-sodium vegetable stock, or water
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- ½ Tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 – 2 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 Tablespoon sugar or honey*, up to 2 tablespoons for a more sweet than sour sauce
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
- In a bowl or mason jar with a lid, combine all of the ingredients and whisk or shake well until combined.
- Use immediately in a stir fry recipe, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. Recipe yields approximately 1 1/4 cup of sauce.
- Sour: to make it more sour, increase the rice vinegar to 1 tablespoon.
- Sweet: to make it sweeter, add up to one additional tablespoon of sugar or honey.
- Sugar: speaking of, brown sugar or granulated sugar work!
- Thicker: to make the sauce extra thick, add up to 1 tablespoon additional corn starch.
- Play around with the ratios if you have a preference for a certain taste – it’s super customizable!
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.
By the Way…
This recipe is part of our collection of savory homemade sauce recipes. Check it out!