A wok full of colourful vegetables and two wooden spoons stirring them.


I make this easy Vegetable Stir Fry in twenty minutes while my rice is cooking. It’s a clean-out-the-fridge recipe that’s a little bit different every time and I can have dinner on the table in thirty minutes.

What is Stir Fry

Stir frying is simply a Chinese cooking technique using high heat and a small amount of oil. The food is typically cut into small, uniform pieces that become crispy as you stir them.

I love firm stir fry vegetables but some people like them a little softer. If that sounds like you I added an instruction in the recipe notes of how to steam them for a few minutes.

Gluten Free Stir Fry Sauce Ingredients

There are endless sauce recipes for a simple stir fry but this is the one that has stood the test of time in my kitchen.

Cups and spoons with all the ingredients for a vegetable stir fry sauce.
Ingredients for Vegetable Stir Fry Sauce

When you’re new to gluten free you’ve got to upgrade your pantry to include the ingredients you need to make the dishes you want. Here are a few tips specific to the ingredients in this recipe.

  • GINGER ROOT: Keep a knob of fresh ginger root in the freezer. I buy and use fresh ginger but it dries up when left open to the air and goes slimy in an airtight container. By keeping a piece in the freezer I always have that ingredient on hand.
  • SAUCES: Gluten free oyster sauce and hoisin sauce are two ingredients commonly used in Asian cooking. For me hoisin is easy to find but oyster sauce takes effort. Lee Kum Kee Panda Brand Oyster Sauce with the GREEN label is the one that’s gluten-free. They also sell a gluten-filled version so look for the GREEN label.
  • CHINESE BLACK BEANS: This is a unique ingredient. The beans can be used right out of the container or rinsed and chopped to go into a sauce. It isn’t essential for this vegetable stir fry but I often have a jar of my homemade black bean sauce in the fridge.
  • SHERRY: I buy W&H Dry Sack Sherry at any liquor store and use it in recipes calling for Chinese cooking wine, cooking sherry or sherry.

For a detailed list of ingredients I use for many Asian dishes and every fusion combination you can think of, check out this post, Gluten Free Asian Pantry. It has recipe links for each individual ingredient.

Best Vegetables For Stir Fry

Fresh vegetables are loaded with vitamins and nutrients and are important for every diet. At the same time it’s a juggling act to keep them in the fridge and use them before they spoil.

A tray of chopped bok choy, mushrooms, red pepper, broccoli, onion, carrot and cherry tomatoes ready to stir fry.
Colourful vegetables ready to stir fry.

Keep some canned and frozen vegetables on hand so you can supplement when you don’t quite have enough fresh veggies. Here’s a list to choose from and you can probably think of a few more to add to it.

Firm VegetablesSoft VegetablesCanned, Frozen & Dried VegetablesFinishing
oniongreen onionscanned baby cornsalted peanuts
peppers cherry tomatoescanned water chestnutssesame seeds
carrotmushroomsfrozen edamame beanscilantro or Thai basil
celerysnow peasfrozen snow peas
cabbage / coleslaw mixbok choyrehydrated dried mushroomsPROTEIN: leftover cooked meat or tofu
cauliflowerzucchinifrozen mixed vegetables
broccolifresh spinach
I could make this recipe once a week and it would be different every time.

How Can I Make Dinner Faster

People always want to know what they can cook in less than thirty minutes. My first answer is stir fry!

I put rice on the stove, set the timer for twenty minutes then open the fridge and start chopping. As I chop I have that list above in my head. With over twenty vegetables to choose from I think of what I need to use up and how to get variety.

Quick cooking recipes are a good place to start but there’s more to cooking dinner fast. Here are my best tips.

  • Put some effort into organizing your kitchen. Notice what trips you up and focus on fixing it.
  • Life in the kitchen is always about juggling food; fresh, frozen and canned. A well stocked pantry is key.
  • Collect a handful of reliable recipes and keep the list handy. Eventually they’ll be in your head but start with a small list and add to it. When the list is long you’ll be glad you can refer to it.
  • Save recipes and learn to vary them. I have this basic stir fry recipe written on a recipe card taped to the inside of the cupboard door beside the stove. It’s called Anything Stir Fry. 
  • Make any recipe three times and notice how it suddenly seems a bit easier. I still refer to the recipe to cook but I can start cooking without looking at it.

PIN for later…

A wok filled with two wooden spatulas stirring colourful cooked vegetables.
Easy Vegetable Stir Fry (gluten free)

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Is It Better to Cook in a Wok

Yes, it’s better to cook in a wok! If you don’t have one these are my top reasons why you should buy one today.

  • A basic flat-bottom wok is inexpensive and can be used for stir fries, curries, non-Asian recipes and even as a deep-fryer.
  • The high sides of a wok increase the cooking surface which is perfect for a stir fry.
  • The shape makes it easy to stir food without flipping onto the stove or floor.
  • My wok is also my deep fryer. The large surface area at the top makes it easy to flip Chinese Chicken Balls or Cinnamon churros when they’re bobbing in oil. The smaller base means you use less oil than you would in a pot with straight sides.

Buy a wok and find a place to store it. Mine is in the cupboard above the fridge where it’s easy to grab and easy to put away.

Let me know in the comments below if you tried this stir fry or bought a wok.

Originally published 2015, revised February 2023.

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More Wok Recipes

Vegetable Stir Fry (Gluten Free)

Make this easy Vegetable Stir Fry and have a healthy dinner on the table in 30 minutes. It's a clean-out-the-fridge recipe that's fast, healthy and different every time.
Author: Cinde Little
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: gluten free vegetable stir fry
Servings: 4 people


  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp gluten free Chinese black bean sauce* (substitute hoisin or oyster sauce)

VEGETABLES: 8-10 cups total

  • firm vegetables: carrot, celery, onion, peppers, cauliflower or broccoli
  • soft vegetables: zucchini, mushrooms, bok choy, snow peas, spinach or tomato
  • canned vegetables: baby corn or water chestnuts
  • frozen vegetables: snow peas, edamame beans or mixed vegetables


  • ¼ cup Sherry
  • 2 Tbsp gluten free oyster sauce (or more black bean sauce or hoisin sauce)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp pepper


  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp water

GARNISH: any or all of the following

  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 Tbsp chopped peanuts


  • In a measuring cup combine Sherry, oyster sauce, sesame oil, sugar and pepper. Set aside.
  • Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
  • Place wok on medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the oil, garlic, ginger and black bean sauce. Stir-fry for 30 seconds.
  • Add the firm vegetables and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the softer vegetables and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.**
  • Pour sauce over vegetables, stir to coat and cook 2-3 minutes.
  • Pour cornstarch-water mixture into wok and immediately stir as the sauce thickens, 1-2 minutes.
  • Serve on rice or toss with softened rice noodles.
  • Sprinkle with garnishes of your choice. Serve.


*Chinese black bean sauce: Click to see my recipe for Chinese black bean sauce.
**If you prefer your vegetables softer add 1 Tbsp water and put the lid on to steam vegetables for a few minutes.
Black bean sauce, hoisin sauce and oyster sauce are all very different yet any combination will work in this recipe. Find you favourite!
Protein options: Of course you can add meat or tofu. Cook the protein of your choice in the wok after cooking the garlic and ginger or add leftover cooked meat just before adding the sauce.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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