Easy Stir-Fry Sauce

4.75 from 32 votes
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Preparing an excellent all-purpose Chinese stir-fry sauce takes less than 10 minutes! Combining savory Asian ingredients will boost the taste of any meat or vegetable stir-fry recipe.

A glass jar of stir-fry sauce with white sesame seeds floating on top.

Stir-fry is a great option when you’re in a pinch of time but looking for a fast, flavorful, and wholesome meal. It’s a one-pan wok dinner that can be filled with healthy proteins and vegetables. One way to speed up meal prep is to make a quick homemade stir-fry sauce with simple ingredients. Just stir and simmer!

This versatile sauce combines Asian-inspired flavors. Soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and a touch of honey. That’s it! It adds a delicious savory glaze to wok-fired ingredients.

Stir-fry sauce ingredients

Ingredients to make an easy stir fry sauce to use in Chinese cooking.

Soy sauce and oyster sauces add a rich, umami flavor. Shaoxing cooking wine adds depth. It’s made from fermented glutinous rice, wheat-based yeast, and water. Dry sherry or Japanese Mirin sweet cooking wine can be substituted. Honey adds a touch of sweetness for balance. Brown sugar or granulated sugar are good swaps.

Sesame oil adds a roasted flavor. The key to adding body and glossiness is using a little thickening agent, like cornstarch or arrowroot powder, which is whisked right into the mixture. Add red pepper flakes, chili oil, or Sriracha for a spicy taste. For zing, add fresh ginger or minced garlic. For tanginess, add rice vinegar. The sauce is very customizable.

Sauce yield and use

This easy stir-fry sauce recipe makes about 1 cup, plenty to add to about one pound of protein or four cups of vegetables. You can add as much sauce as you like or save half for another meal later in the week. Make sure to shake or whisk before cooking, as the cornstarch will settle to the bottom of the container over time. This sauce is also great for noodles like chow mein or lo mein.

A good rule of thumb: Use ½ cup of sauce for every pound of protein and four cups of vegetables.

Storing the sauce

Make a batch of the stir-fry sauce and store it in an airtight container like a mason jar in the refrigerator. The sauce can keep for up to a week. I often double the batch and portion it out for each day to make meal prep easy.

How to use a stir-fry sauce

Stir fry the vegetables and proteins first. Colorful and crisp bell peppers, carrots, bok choy, and green beans make great additions. Thin slices of chicken, pork, beef, or tofu make for a hearty meal.

The sauce should be added to the hot pan at the end of cooking. To thicken the stir-fry sauce, use medium-high heat and bring it to a boil. Make sure to stir constantly! The elevated temperatures allow the starches to swell and instantly thicken the liquid in under a minute.

Recipes to try

Side profile of a glass jar containing Chinese stir-fry sauce.

Recipe Science

Properly adding a thickening agent to sauces

When using cornstarch or arrowroot powder, the fine white powder needs to be whisked and fully dispersed in cool-to-room temperature liquid. This process creates a slurry mixture, which does not clump when added to a hot pan. If the dry powder is added directly to the hot liquid, it will swell too quickly and form lumps that are difficult to blend into a sauce. Use 2 ¼ teaspoons of arrowroot powder for 1 ½ teaspoons of cornstarch. 

Stir-Fry Sauce

Making an excellent all-purpose Chinese stir-fry sauce takes less than 10 minutes to prepare! A combination of savory Asian ingredients will boost the taste of any meat or vegetable stir-fry recipe.
4.75 from 32 votes
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time1 minute
Total Time6 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Course Condiment
Cuisine Asian

Ingredients 
 

  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup oyster sauce
  • ½ cup unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon shaoxing cooking wine, optional
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 ½ teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Instructions 

Make Ahead

  • Mix the Ingredients – In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together soy sauce, oyster sauce, chicken stock, cooking wine, and honey. Add cornstarch and whisk until most of the powder is dissolved and no lumps remain. Add sesame oil and whisk to combine.
  • Storing – Transfer to a glass jar or container and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Make sure to shake or whisk the sauce before cooking.

Use Immediately

  • Add to a Stir-Fry – Follow the instructions of your favorite stir-fry recipe to cook the protein and vegetables. Add the sauce to the center of the pan or wok over medium-high heat, stirring until thickened, 60 to 90 seconds. Stir to combine all ingredients.

Notes

  • Recipe Yield: 1 cup. Typically, ½ cup is used for 1 pound of protein and 4 cups of vegetables. However, this makes extra to serve on the side.
  • Make it Vegan: Substitute hoisin sauce for oyster sauce. Substitute vegetable broth/stock for chicken stock. Use brown sugar, granulated sugar, or maple sugar instead of honey.
  • Make it Gluten-free: Make sure the oyster or hoisin sauce is labeled gluten-free. Use gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos. Use Mirin or sherry instead of Shaoxing wine. 
  • Storing: Store uncooked sauce in an airtight container for 1 week in the refrigerator. The cooked sauce can be stored for up to 3 days and reheated before use. 

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 8 servings
Calories 28kcal (1%)Carbohydrates 5g (2%)Protein 1g (2%)Fat 1g (2%)Saturated Fat 0.1g (1%)Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat 0.2gSodium 628mg (26%)Potassium 1mgSugar 3g (3%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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14 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Valerie C. says

    I’ve used this to make a chicken stir fry and tonight, shrimp stir fry. It’s amazing with both. After stir frying the shrimp we added some minced ginger and garlic, sautéed them until fragrant then added the veggies back to the pan as well as some thin rice noodles. It’s an amazing meal. Thanks again Jessica!

  2. Ty says

    I’ve been making chicken breast in the instant pot or just one or two on the stove top. Would be able to pour this right on rice or chicken? Or just dip the chicken? Would I need to saute the sauce a little first? Or is that only if I want it thicker? I’d either pour it on top or saute it in the pan after chopping up the chicken. Thanks!

    • Ty says

      Could I use this in the instant pot also? It’s similar to a honey garlic sauce that I use in it. Thanks again!

      • Jessica Gavin says

        Yes, you can use the sauce in the instant pot. I’d suggest waiting to add the cornstarch mixed with double the amount of water at the end of cooking on the saute mode.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You have to cook the sauce to thicken it. I would at it at the end of cooking on saute mode until thickened.

  3. Maria T says

    I made this to use with a chicken fresh vegetable stir fry with pad tai noodles. My husband scarfed it down. The sauce had a flavor that was familiar to me and completed my dish making it seem more authentic. This recipe was easy to make. Not too many ingredients. I made it like salad dressing, in a jar. This is a keeper. My wok is getting some good use thanks to you.

  4. Nancy says

    Finally I have found the perfect stir fry sauce for my chicken & vegetable stir fry! Amen! I have tried bottled sauces and never liked them. This one is perfect and I will use this over and over in the future. Thanks so much!

  5. Amara Williams says

    What is oyster sauce? Do you have to use it? Is there a substitute? I used chicken broth powder but for this and another stir-fry recipe is read of yours, that doesn’t seem like it will work.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Great question! Oyster sauce a mixture of caramelized oyster juices, salt, sugar, sometimes soy sauce, thickened with cornstarch. It’s a very strong savory/umami flavor and sweet. There is no perfect substitute, but you could use hoisin for a similar texture but it’s not as sweet. Coconut aminos will provide sweetness and a savory flavor, but no body. Soy sauce will just be savory with no contribution to texture.