Heavy-on-the-Veggies Beef and Vegetable Stir Fry

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The flavors of my mom’s Beef and Vegetable Stir Fry rival any takeout! Tender steak & an extra generous portion of colorful, crunchy veggies cook on high heat in a wok or skillet with a rich homemade stir fry sauce. Serve a plate of beef vegetable stir fry over rice for a quick & easy, well-balanced weeknight dinner with outrageous flavor. This beef and veggie stir fry is one of my favorite childhood dishes! As a bonus, stir fry is a naturally flexible dish – feel free to use your all-time favorite veggies or whatever you have on hand!
Finished beef vegetable stir fry fills a black Zwilling Madura Nonstick Skillet. The beef and vegetables are glossy with a coating of homemade stir fry sauce. The skillet sits atop a creamy white textured surface with a light gray linen napkin tucked underneath. A white Chinese soup spoon rests inside of the skillet for serving, while a small white plate filled with sliced green onion and small gray speckled ceramic bowl filled with rice rest alongside. The stir fry is garnished with toasted sesame seeds.

A Childhood Favorite: Beef Vegetable Stir Fry (straight from Mom’s kitchen!)

My mom is the QUEEN of quick & easy cooking. This beef vegetable stir fry is exactly the type of meal she’d whip up any given night when I was a kid. It’s well-balanced & simple to make, but it’s also seriously delicious – a weeknight dinner trifecta! I’ve been dying to get my hands on her recipe so we could share it with you here on PWWB!

The key element to Mom’s beef and vegetable stir fry is her homemade stir fry sauce. To this day, we lovingly call it “brown sauce” at my house. This glossy, saucy, & flavor-packed Chinese stir fry sauce is loaded with garlicky, beefy, sesame-y flavor. As a bonus, it’s really easy to make from a few simple staple ingredients. Homemade is always the best!

The brown stir fry sauce coats tender sliced beef & a variety of veggies picked for their combination of color & texture (broccoli! carrots! red onion! mushrooms! bell peppers! snow peas! napa cabbage!). This stir fry is seriously heavy on the veggies, which is one of the reasons I love it so much.

Good, sharp knives are one of the most important tools in any kitchen, but they’re an absolute must-have for prepping a chopping-intensive dish, like this beef and vegetable stir fry. Over the past year, I’ve used Zwilling Pro knives in my kitchen, & they continue to impress me. Their super-strong German-made blades are built to hold their edge, which keeps them sharp & helps efficiently cut an abundance of veggies into consistent sizes – the secret to a perfectly cooked homemade stir fry!

Heavy-on-the-Veggies Stir Fry Recipe Highlights

I have a feeling you’re going to love Mom’s beef and vegetable stir fry as much as I do because it’s…

  • VEGGIE FILLED. This beef and veggie stir fry uses 7 different vegetables like broccoli, mushrooms, & red bell peppers, to name a few. Feel free to sub in any of your favorite veg too – there are never too many veggies in a stir fry!
  • QUICK & EASY. Quickly sauté the beef & veggies then toss with homemade stir fry sauce for a super-fast weeknight meal made with simple ingredients. Dinner’s ready even sooner if you do some chopping & other meal prep in advance!
  • A TAKEOUT FAKEOUT. This stir fry delivers restaurant-worthy flavor without ever having to place a takeout order! It’s so convenient to make beef and vegetable stir fry at home & you’ll love how easily this amazingly flavorful meal comes together.

A childhood favorite that you’re going to love, too! ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make this Heavy-on-the-Veggies Beef and Vegetable Stir Fry recipe, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!

A close up macro shot of finished beef and vegetable stir fry. The beef and vegetables are glossy with a coating of homemade stir fry sauce.

Key Ingredients for this Beef and Veggie Stir Fry

There are 3 key components in this beef and vegetable stir fry recipe, each consisting of a few simple staple ingredients. You need…

  1. Beef – The best beef for stir fry is something tender & flavorful. I like to use top sirloin, it’s easy to acess & an affordable yet flavorful option. To marinate the steak, you will also need cornstarch, soy sauce, white pepper, & Shaoxing wine (a Chinese white wine that’s absolutely worth the purchase – see the Recipe Notes, below, for more info!).
  2. Veggies – I like to use a combination of broccoli florets, carrots, red onion, red bell pepper, cremini or white button mushrooms, napa cabbage, & a large handful of snow peas. But what vegetables go in stir fry is totally up to you! Thanks to its high smoke point, grapeseed oil is great for stir fry vegetables.
  3. Stir fry sauce – Mom’s brown sauce is a simple mixture of beef stock, cornstarch, dark brown sugar, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, & garlic. It’s a glossy & rich homemade stir fry sauce perfect for coating the beef & veggies!
Beef and Vegetable Stir Fry ingredients arranged on a creamy white surface atop a plastic pink cutting board and gathered in white ceramic dishes: carrot, mushrooms, red onion, broccoli, red bell pepper, napa cabbage, snow peas. A white Zwilling Pro Le Blanc Chef Knife rests on the cutting board.

Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

Ingredient Spotlight

What are the Best Stir Fry Veggies?

The beauty of a stir fry is how flexible it is, especially when it comes to veggies!

For a colorful combination of flavor & texture, I like to use broccoli, carrots, red onion, red bell pepper, mushrooms, cabbage, & snow peas as stir fry vegetables. The best stir fry veggies are really whatever veggies you love most, though, so feel free to freestyle! Eggplant, zucchini, snap peas, & bok choy would also be fantastic options for stir fry veggies. You can also sub in different types of bell pepper, cabbage, & mushrooms as well depending on your preference.

#1 Stir Fry Night Tip!

Regardless of the stir fry vegetables you choose, be sure to slice & chop everything into pieces that will cook at about the same rate. I also recommend having all the stir fry vegetables chopped & ready to go before you start cooking. Multi-tasking with chopping & cooking is a lot to manage, especially since the stir fry itself comes together very quickly once you begin cooking.

How to Make Beef Stir Fry with Veggies

Most of the active prep time for this beef and vegetable stir fry recipe comes from prepping each of the individual components, but the stir fry comes together super quick once you get cooking. Plan to spend 20-25 minutes prepping so once you begin cooking, you’ll have dinner ready in no time at all!

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

1

Marinate the beef. Marinate thinly sliced sirloin in a combination of cornstarch, soy sauce, white pepper, & Shaoxing wine. Why? ⇢ This marinating process is known as “velveting.” It’s a common technique in Chinese cooking that tenderizes & seals in the moisture of the meat. This allows the beef to cook in a super hot wok & still stay juicy & tender. Velveting the beef guarantees restaurant-quality flavors in your at-home beef and veggie stir fry every single time.

2

Make the homemade stir fry sauce. Mix beef stock, cornstarch, dark brown sugar, oyster sauce, soy sauce, & a little sesame oil together, whisking to combine well. Quickly sauté the garlic in a little more sesame oil, then add the beef stock mixture & simmer for about 5 minutes until it starts to thicken. That’s it – the easiest homemade stir fry sauce ever! Meal Prep Tip! ⇢ This sauce is easy to prep ahead of time & stores beautifully. Make it in advance & store it in your fridge for up to a week.

3

Stir fry the vegetables. Use grapeseed oil or another high smoke point vegetable oil for cooking the veggies & don’t forget to lightly season each batch with a pinch of salt. Reminder! Stir Fry Veggies Are All Unique! ⇢ Not all stir fry vegetables take the same amount of time to cook. Rather than putting everything in the pan at once, coordinate a few batches of veggies based on their cook time. For this beef and vegetable stir fry, sauté heartier vegetables like the carrots & broccoli florets first, giving them time to cook but still stay a little crunchy. Set them aside & then sauté the rest of the veggies (red onion, bell pepper, mushroom, cabbage, & snow peas). These vegetables have a higher moisture content & will soften a bit quicker. Varying the cook times gives the stir fry veggies their ideal texture & color. 

4

Sear the beef & finish the stir fry. It’s time to bring the stir fry together! Heat some oil in the pan & add the marinated beef, cooking until just browned. Pour in the homemade sauce & add the stir fry veggies back into the skillet, tossing & stirring frequently to coat the beef and vegetable stir fry in the sauce. This step should only take a few minutes, then serve immediately!

Other Stir Fry Night Tricks

Stir-frying is a very quick process by nature, so a bit of prep & mise en place makes dinnertime that much easier. Take a few extra minutes to get everything ready to go before you start cooking – it’s so worth it!

  • Prep the stir fry sauce up to a week ahead of time & keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to make beef and vegetable stir fry.
  • Chop the veggies in advance & store them in separate airtight containers based on the batches they will be cooked in. There are a lot of veggies in this recipe – one of the key reasons why I love this beef and veggie stir fry! – so doing even just this one step will save a ton of time.

A sharp knife is essential for all the chopping & slicing in this stir fry recipe. I like to run my Zwilling Pro knives through my V-Edge Sharpener before I get to work. You can use it on both European & Japanese-style blades, & I’m utterly obsessed with being able to give my knives a quick professional-level sharpening on-demand.

Grab the right stir fry pan. You can use a wok or a large nonstick skillet. As far as woks go, I love this cast iron wok. While I tend to prefer cooking with stainless steel or cast iron, I’ve also been testing Zwilling Madura Plus nonstick skillets since last fall & I love them. They’re super nonstick with deep sides that help hold all the veggies in this beef and vegetable stir fry recipe. Plus the all-black design is simply stunning!

Two servings of beef and vegetable stir fry fill gray speckled ceramic bowls atop beds of white rice. The beef and veggie stir fry servings have been garnished with toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onion. The bowls sits atop a creamy white textured. A small wooden pinch bowl filled with toasted sesame seeds and loosely sprinkled sliced green onion surround the bowls and a pair of wooden chop sticks rest atop a light gray linen napkin alongside the bowl at center.

What To Serve with Stir Fry Vegetables & Beef

Beef and vegetable stir fry is an all-in-one meal with filling protein & a ton of amazing veggies.

That being said, you can’t go wrong serving the stir fry alongside a bed of white or brown rice or any other favorite grain of choice. Rice & grains are easy to cook alongside as you prepare the beef vegetable stir fry.

Finish with some sliced green onions & toasted sesame seeds on top for an extra pretty touch (that’s exactly how Mom does it!).

A serving of beef and vegetable stir fry fills a gray speckled ceramic bowl atop a bed of white rice. The beef and veggie stir fry has been garnished with toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onion. The bowl sits atop a creamy white textured surface with a light gray linen napkin is tucked alongside the bowl. A small wooden pinch bowl filled with toasted sesame seeds and loosely sprinkled sliced green onion surround the bowl of stir fry and a pair of wooden chop sticks rest atop the bowl.

I can’t wait for you to try this Heavy-On-The-Veggies Beef and Vegetable Stir Fry! It’s one of my favorite childhood meals, & I know you’re going to love it just as much as we do. If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! ♡ Happy cooking!

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Finished beef vegetable stir fry fills a black Zwilling Madura Nonstick Skillet. The beef and vegetables are glossy with a coating of homemade stir fry sauce. The skillet sits atop a creamy white textured surface with a light gray linen napkin tucked underneath. A white Chinese soup spoon rests inside of the skillet for serving, while a small white plate filled with sliced green onion and small gray speckled ceramic bowl filled with rice rest alongside. The stir fry is garnished with toasted sesame seeds.

Heavy-on-the-Veggies Beef and Vegetable Stir Fry

  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: Main Dishes, Beef Recipes
  • Method: Stovetop, Skillet Recipes, Stir Fry
  • Cuisine: Chinese, Asian-Inspired

Description

This Beef and Vegetable Stir Fry is one of my favorite home-cooked dishes. Its quickness, ease, & overall satisfying flavor put it on my mom’s regular dinnertime rotation throughout my childhood.

This is Mom’s recipe, made with tender steak, an extra generous portion of colorful veggies, & a homemade stir fry sauce made from simple pantry staples. Best served over rice for a quick & easy, well-balanced dinner with outrageous flavor that rivals any takeout! 

Since stir fry is a naturally flexible dish, feel free to use your all-time favorite veggies or whatever you have on hand – check the Recipe Notes, below, for some suggested swaps. 


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 12 ounces top sirloin, trimmed of excess fat & thinly sliced against the grain (see Recipe Notes)
    • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
    • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
    • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (see Recipe Notes)
    • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • stir fry vegetables (see Recipe Notes)
    • 1/2 small head broccoli, cut into small bite-sized florets (~3.5 oz or ~1 cup florets)
    • 1 large carrot, peeled as desired & sliced into 1/8-inch thick strips (~3.5 oz or ~1 cup sliced)
    • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced (~3.5 oz or ~1.5 cups sliced)
    • 1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped into 1-inch pieces (~3.5 oz or ~1 cup sliced)
    • 34 mushrooms (white button or cremini/baby bella), trimmed & thinly sliced (~4 oz or ~2 cups sliced)
    • 1/2 small napa cabbage, chopped into 1-inch pieces (~4.5 oz or ~2 cups chopped)
    • large handful snow peas, ends trimmed as desired (~2.5 oz or ~3/4 cup)
  • 4 teaspoons grapeseed oil or high smoke point vegetable oil of choice
  • kosher salt & white pepper, to season
  • for serving, as desired: cooked white rice or grain of choice, thinly sliced green onions, toasted sesame seeds, etc.

for the stir fry sauce:

  • 3/4 cup beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar (can sub regular brown sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or gratedBeef and Vegetable Stir Fry ingredients arranged on a creamy white surface atop a plastic pink cutting board and gathered in white ceramic dishes: carrot, mushrooms, red onion, broccoli, red bell pepper, napa cabbage, snow peas, thinly sliced top sirloin steak, and stir fry sauce in a glass liquid measuring cup. A white Zwilling Pro Le Blanc Chef Knife rests on the cutting board.

Instructions

  1. Marinate the beef: Add thinly sliced top sirloin, cornstarch, soy sauce, & rice wine to a medium bowl. Season with white pepper. Stir to combine, coating the beef thoroughly & evenly. Set aside to rest at room temperature while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. This is a great time to prepare all of the stir fry vegetables, chopping & slicing everything as indicated in the Ingredients List, above.Thinly sliced top sirloin steak marinates in a gray speckled ceramic bowl filled with cornstarch, soy sauce, and rice wine for a beef and veggie stir fry. A white rubber spatula rests inside of the bowl for mixing and the bowl sits atop a creamy white textured surface.
  2. Prepare the stir fry sauce: Add the beef stock cornstarch, dark brown sugar, oyster sauce, soy sauce, & 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil to a small bowl or jar. Whisk or shake to combine well. Set aside. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil to a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the garlic & cook until fragrant & lightly browned, 30 seconds – 1 minute. Stir in the beef stock mixture & cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat & set aside. Stir fry sauce sits inside a small blue Staub cast iron pot. The pot sits atop a braided hot pad that sits atop a creamy white textured surface. A wooden spoon is lifted out of the pot to show a bit of the finished stir fry sauce for the beef vegetable stir fry.
  3. Stir fry the vegetables: Meanwhile, as the stir fry sauce thickens, begin the stir fry. Add 1 teaspoon of the grapeseed oil to a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot & shimmering, add the carrots & broccoli. Lightly season with a small pinch of salt & cook, stirring often, until vibrantly colored & softened slightly, 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a large plate or bowl & set aside. Add another 1 teaspoon of oil to  the wok or skillet & return to medium-high heat. Once hot & shimmering, add the sliced red onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, cabbage, & snow peas. Lightly season with a small pinch of salt & cook, stirring often, until softened slightly, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the same large plate or bowl as the broccoli & carrots & set aside.
  4. Sear the beef & finish the stir fry: Add the remaining 2 teaspoon of oil to the wok or skillet & reduce the heat to medium. Once hot & shimmering, add the marinated beef from Step 1. Shake the pan to separate the slices of beef for even browning. Cook, tossing & stirring occasionally, just until browned. While stirring, pour the prepared stir fry sauce from Step 2 into the skillet. Add the stir fried vegetables back into the skillet. Cook 1-2 minutes longer, tossing & stirring frequently to bring the beef and vegetable stir fry together. Remove from the heat.How to make beef and vegetable stir fry, step 4: Sear the beef & finish the stir fry. Finished beef vegetable stir fry fills a black Zwilling Madura Nonstick Skillet. The beef and vegetables are glossy with a coating of homemade stir fry sauce. The skillet sits atop a creamy white textured surface.
  5. Serve immediately, spooning the beef and vegetable stir fry over rice or grain of choice. Finish with thinly sliced green onions & toasted sesame seeds as desired. Enjoy!Two servings of beef and vegetable stir fry fill gray speckled ceramic bowls atop beds of white rice. The beef and veggie stir fry servings have been garnished with toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onion. The bowls sits atop a creamy white textured. A small wooden pinch bowl filled with toasted sesame seeds and a small white plate of sliced green onion surround the bowls and a pair of wooden chop sticks rest atop a light gray linen napkin alongside the bowl at center.


Notes

  • Ingredient notes: 
    • Beef: Feel free to use your tender steak of choice for this beef stir fry recipe. Top sirloin offers a great balance of tenderness, flavor, & affordability – that’s what I like to use. Cold beef is easiest to thinly slice for stir fry, so it’s helpful to pop the steak into the freezer to chill for 5-10 minutes prior to slicing. 
    • Shaoxing wine is Chinese rice wine with a rich & uniquely savory-sweet flavor. It’s readily available at Asian grocery stores or online & it’s absolutely worth the purchase if you love cooking Chinese dishes at home. Imperfect-yet-quick substitutes for the shaoxing wine in this recipe include mirin, dry sherry, or dry vermouth. 
    • Stir fry vegetables: The beauty of stir fries is their flexibility – feel free to stick to the combination of veggies in the Ingredients List, which we love for its color, flavor, & texture, or freestyle with whatever you love most. If you opt to freestyle, aim for ~1.5 pounds vegetables (25 oz) for a veggie-heavy stir fry (e.g. bok choy, eggplant, zucchini, snap peas, etc.). Be sure to slice & chop everything into pieces that will cook at a uniform rate. 
  • Storage: This beef and vegetable stir fry is best enjoyed fresh, immediately after cooking. Leftovers will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave, just until warmed through.
  • 20-Minute Meal Prep: As is the case with any stir fry, there’s a bit of measuring & chopping required with this beef and vegetable stir fry which is where all of this recipe’s active prep time comes from – the cooking process itself is very quick! If you’d like, you can do a little prep ahead of time to cut down on active work required at dinnertime. Pick & choose from the list below, or do it all & all you have to do at dinnertime is get cooking – easy!
    • Chop the veggies: Prepare all of the stir fry vegetables, chopping & slicing everything as indicated in the Ingredients List, above. Group in separate airtight containers based on batches indicated in Step 3 of Recipe Directions, above, & store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (15 minutes active time)
    • Prep the stir fry sauce: Mix the stir fry sauce according to Step 2 of Recipe Directions, above. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. (5 minutes active time)

Keywords: homemade stir fry, beef and vegetable stir fry recipe

Recipe & Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.

Follow along with Plays Well With Butter on Instagram, Facebook, & Pinterest for more easy, modern recipes & fun!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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Comments

  1. 11.1.22
    Swetha said:

    This was great way to use up a lot of veggies from my csa box (I made a lot of veg swaps) ! It took a little bit of time /prep to cut the veggies, but it comes together very easily – I was almost surprised that I put it together! And delicious! I’m not big on rice but it’s satisfying with all the veggies.

  2. 4.3.22
    Rachel said:

    I thought this was lovely! This is the first time I’ve really gotten veggies to be tender crisp and a glossy sauce in a stir fry. I am vegetarian and gluten free and this still came out quite nice. I usually have an issue with sauces being too salty and not enough sweet and umami, but this one was opposite-a little more tamari balanced it perfectly!

    • 4.4.22
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Rachel! Love hearing your gluten-free substitutions worked well & this is such an easy dish to make completely vegetarian! Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. 3.31.22
    laura richard said:

    This sauce has no flavor, try another recipe.

    • 3.31.22
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Laura – sorry to hear the recipe wasn’t what you were expecting. The homemade stir fry sauce used in this recipe – while made with just a few simple ingredients – is meant to enhance the stir fry beef & veggies by adding garlicky, umami, & sesame flavor that is quite common with a general Chinese stir fry sauce.

      When we tested the recipe, these flavors definitely came through for us. That being said, were you able to source all of the ingredients for the sauce itself or would you like a recommendation for a different type of sauce you could substitute if desired? This Homemade Teriyaki would work great thickened with a simple cornstarch slurry (see recipe notes within the recipe card in the link provided for guidance).

      All in all would be happy to help you troubleshoot or make another recommendation – if you’d ever like to try again!

  4. 3.30.22
    Tamara said:

    Omg!!!!! Made this tonight and it was spectacular! I used a little more beef (to feed my family of 5) so I doubled the sauce and it was perfect. Used mirin as a sub for the rice wine and I think it worked (haha — I wouldn’t really know!) and adjusted the variety of vegetables based on my kids’ preferences (chose carrots, broccoli, cremini mushrooms, cabbage, and red onion). Will absolutely be making again — and again! Thanks, Jess — and thanks to your mom!

    • 3.31.22

      So, so glad you loved your stir fry, Tamara! Mirin is a great sub for the wine, & yes – stir fry veggies are super adaptable based on your family’s preferences. So happy to know this was a hit with the whole family! xx

  5. 2.23.22
    Joanna said:

    This looks awesome. I had a question though: I try to avoid sugar as much as possible, so I’m wondering if the brown sugar is for flavor or if it’s “functional” and makes the sauce work. Is there a substitute you’d recommend? Thanks! Love your recipes!

    • 2.23.22
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Joanna! The recipe is written exactly like Jess’ Mom makes it – the sauce will still be able to coat the stir fry without the brown sugar included but it definitely adds a touch of caramelly sweetness that’s signature to the dish! Feel free to omit or reduce if you’d like just know it may not taste exactly as described in the post. Hope you give it a try soon!

    • 10.27.22
      Tina said:

      Joanna, I used sukrin gold and it was awesome!….sukrin gold is very very close to full on brown sugar

      • 10.31.22
        Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

        Thanks for sharing the suggestion Tina!