Stir Fry Sauce Your Way

Bowl of beef and vegetable stir fry with chopsticks and a bowl of white rice

You could buy a prepared stir fry sauce, but there's no need to spend the money when making your own is simple and quick. Once you master the basic elements and stock your cupboard and fridge with the basic ingredients, you'll be able to easily tweak the sauce, making flavorful variations. With so many easy options, you may find yourself relying on stir fries more and more for busy weeknight meals.

This sauce combines the five basic tastes any successful stir fry sauce contains: saltiness, sweetness, sourness, bitterness and umami, or savoriness.


Leave out the cornstarch if you want to use the sauce first as a marinade for chicken, beef or fish. As long as you cook the sauce in the pan along with your meat and vegetables, it will be safe to use the marinade as sauce in the same recipe. Never use an uncooked marinade that has been exposed to raw meat, poultry or seafood without cooking it first.

Total Time: 10 minutes | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Serves: 4


  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup no-salt added chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey or sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch


Experiment with other ingredients to add to the basic sauce and that work in a variety of stir fries. A few tablespoons of pickled ginger, which lasts for three to four months in your refrigerator, goes well with chicken, fish or beef. The same rationale holds true for hot sauce, whether Asian or Mexican. If your family likes spicy stir fries, add a few teaspoons or tablespoons of hot sauce to the basic recipe.


  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the soy sauce, chicken stock, vinegar, honey or sugar and garlic. Stir the ingredients until they are completely mixed.
  2. Remove 1/4 cup of the sauce from the mixing bowl and combine it thoroughly in a separate small bowl with the cornstarch.
  3. Add the bulk of the sauce without the cornstarch to your stir fry after you have cooked the meat and vegetables, and heat everything completely.
  4. Add the sauce with the cornstarch to the pan, and continue cooking your ingredients for another 4 to 5 minutes to allow the cornstarch to thicken the sauce. 


To change the flavor profile of the basic sauce, substitute other liquids for the stock, such as lime juice and coconut milk for a Thai stir fry. Substitute coconut milk for the stock and add a few tablespoons of curry for a Thai or Chinese curry. Or substitute coconut milk for both the soy sauce and the stock, and add garam masala and curry powder, for an Indian-inspired stir fry.