Chicken stir fry is a fast and adaptable dish that allows for lots of variation. You can personalize it in endless ways by choosing fresh vegetables, proteins, sauces, and aromatics. This rainbow chicken stir fry packs a nutritious punch with various vibrant vegetables. The step-by-step instructions make it simple for even novice cooks to create this tasty meal bursting with colors reminiscent of the rainbow.
Gather the Vegetables for your Rainbow
A rainbow stir fry is named from the array of brightly colored vegetables. For this recipe, you’ll want to gather a mix of produce to represent the colors of the rainbow.
One large red bell pepper adds a pop of crimson to the mix. The sweet pepper balances spicier ingredients and gives the stir fry a juicy crunch.
- Look for a firm, glossy bell pepper without wrinkles or soft spots. Rinse and pat dry before prepping.
- Slice the bell pepper in half lengthwise. Remove the stem, seeds, and membranes.
- Cut the pepper halves into long, thin strips approximately 1/4 inch wide. This maximizes the surface area for quick and even cooking.
Two large carrots contribute vitamin A and beta carotene. The orange color brightens up the medley of ingredients.
- Scrub the carrots clean, but do not peel. The skin contains beneficial fiber and nutrients.
- Cut the carrots into oval-shaped pieces that are a 2-inch length and 1/4 inch width by slicing them diagonally. The bias cut maximizes the sweetness.
One medium zucchini lends its sunny hue to the rainbow mix. It has a mild flavor that pairs well with bolder ingredients.
- Rinse the zucchini and trim off both ends—no need to peel the thin skin.
- Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise first. This creates flat surfaces to stabilize it for safer slicing.
- Then, cut it into 1/4-inch half-moons. The thin crescent shapes cook up quickly.
One cup of green beans adds fiber and crunch with their signature green color.
- Choose slender and tender green beans without bulges or brown spots. Rinse and drain them.
- Line the beans up and snip off the stem ends using kitchen shears. This prevents bruising from cutting.
The purple cabbage provides an antioxidant boost. It also contributes great texture.
- Remove the outer leaves that are wilted and core the cabbage. Rinse the leaves.
- Stack several leaves and roll them up lengthwise into a tight bundle.
- Use a sharp knife to cut across the rolled leaves into very thin strips.
Half of a white onion gives a bite to the stir fry. Onions become sweet when cooked.
- Trim the onion’s ends after peeling it.
- Cut it in half lengthwise and place the flat side on the cutting board for stability.
- Thinly slice the onion into half-moons approximately 1/8 inch thick.
Prepare the Protein
Chicken breast provides lean protein that cooks up fast and tender. Look for fresh, boneless, skinless chicken breasts for easy stir-frying.
- Chicken should be rinsed and dried with paper towels.
- Trim any excess fat or sinew with a sharp knife or kitchen shears.
- Cut the chicken breasts across the grain into 1-inch cubes. This ensures even cooking.
- In a medium bowl, combine:
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce – enhances flavor
- 1 Teaspoon toasted sesame oil – adds a nutty aroma
- 1 Teaspoon cornstarch – helps brown the chicken
- Add the diced chicken. Toss and massage the marinade into the meat until it’s evenly coated.
- Let it marinate at room temperature for 10-15 minutes while you prep the veggies.
Prepare the Sauce Ingredients
Get your ingredients ready to whip up the flavorful stir-fry sauce.
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce – provides saltiness
- 1 Tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar – gives brightness
- 1 Teaspoon toasted sesame oil – nutty undertones
- 1 Teaspoon Sriracha or other hot sauce – adjust to preference
- 1 Teaspoon minced garlic – punches up flavor
- 1 Teaspoon freshly grated ginger – adds zing
- 2 Tablespoons honey – balances sweetness
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch – thickens the sauce
- 1/4 cup water – mixes the ingredients
Cook the Stir Fry
Now you can start cooking the rainbow chicken stir fry in your wok.
Heat the Wok
Use a large wok or non-stick skillet with sloped sides to allow constant stirring and flipping.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil should shimmer after being heated to a high temperature.
- Swirl to coat the bottom and lower sides of the wok completely.
Cook the Chicken
- Add the marinated chicken cubes in a single layer, in batches if needed.
- Let the chicken sear without stirring for 1 minute until the bottoms turn opaque.
- Then stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until lightly browned on the outside but not fully cooked through.
- The high heat will sear in juices while the starch creates a crispy exterior.
- Frequently stirring or tossing prevents burning.
- Add the chicken to a clean bowl to finish cooking, then set it aside.
Stir Fry the Vegetables
- If the wok looks dry, swirl in another teaspoon of oil.
- Add the bell peppers and snap peas first since they take longer to soften.
- After 1 minute, add carrots, zucchini, green beans, cabbage and onions.
- Continuously stir and toss using a wok spatula or wooden spoon for even cooking.
- The vegetables will soften after 2-3 minutes but retain some crispness.
- After a final toss, push the vegetables up on the sides of the wok to clear the center area.
Make the Sauce
With the center of the wok cleared you can easily blend the sauce ingredients.
- Add the prepared sauce ingredients: soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, Sriracha, garlic, ginger, and honey.
- Let the ingredients sizzle for 10-20 seconds while stirring constantly. This infuses them with aromatic flavor.
- Any browned parts from the wok’s bottom edges should be scraped into the sauce using the spatula. This boosts the taste.
- Push the vegetables back down into the center of the wok. Return the cooked chicken along with any juices in the bowl.
- Give everything a quick toss to combine.
- Make a slurry by whisking the cornstarch with the water in a small bowl until smooth.
- Pour the slurry into the wok. Continue stir-frying for 2-3 minutes until the sauce thickens and clings to the ingredients.
Finish and Plate Your Stir-fry
- Give the rainbow chicken stir fry a final taste test. Add a pinch of salt, splash of vinegar, or extra Sriracha if desired.
- Transfer the sizzling stir fry to a serving platter or individual bowls.
- Garnish with sliced green onions for a burst of color and fresh, aromatic flavor.
- Serve immediately while hot with steamed white or brown rice. Enjoy this quick, healthy, and satisfying one-pan meal.
Clean Your Wok Properly
Caring properly for your wok preserves its non-stick patina.
- After cooking, use a paper towel to wipe out excess oil or sauce residues while the wok is still warm. This prevents staining.
- Add hot water and use a soft sponge or cloth to remove any stuck-on bits gently. Avoid abrasive scouring pads.
- Never use soap on an unseasoned or newly seasoned wok! A small amount of oil helps season it naturally over time.
- Rinse thoroughly with hot water. With a dish towel, quickly and thoroughly dry it. Air drying can lead to rusting.
Tips for an Amazing Rainbow Chicken Stir Fry
You can create a restaurant-worthy rainbow chicken stir fry home with simple prep and the right technique. Follow these tips:
- Use a colorful variety of vegetables for maximum appeal and nutrition. Mix up the produce depending on what’s in season.
- Cut ingredients into evenly sized small pieces to enable fast, even cooking.
- Marinate chicken briefly to boost flavor and juiciness.
- Cook ingredients in batches from longest to shortest cook times.
- Make the sauce right in the hot wok to bloom garlic, ginger, and other aromatic flavors.
- Balance the sauce’s sweet, salty, spicy, and sour elements to your preferences.
- Serve over freshly steamed white or brown rice. Noodles like lo mein or pad thai are other great pairings.
- Swap chicken for thinly sliced beef, pork, or shrimp. Firm tofu also works well.
- Refrigerate leftovers to reheat for lunch the next day. Or freeze portions for future quick meals.
With its rainbow of colorful vegetables and lean protein, this chicken stir fry makes for a fast, healthy dinner for the whole family. The simple instructions and flexible ingredients mean you can easily make this flavorful dish your own.
Frequently Asked Questions
What vegetables should I use?
You can customize the vegetable mix based on your preferences, but typically, a rainbow stir fry includes the following:
– Red bell pepper
– Orange carrot
– Yellow zucchini or summer squash
– Green beans, bok choy, or broccoli
– Purple cabbage
– White onion
Attempt to include a range of hues, textures, and flavors. Popular additions include mushrooms, snap peas, water chestnuts, and corn.
Is chicken the best protein?
Chicken breast is a common choice because it’s lean, cooks quickly, and pairs well with veggies. But you can use other proteins, too. Thinly sliced beef and pork work great. Shelled shrimp or scallops add extra flavor. For vegetarian/vegan, try extra-firm tofu.
What sauce ingredients do I need?
A tasty stir-fry sauce comes together with the following:
– Soy sauce or tamari for saltiness
– Rice vinegar, lime juice, or orange juice for acidity
– Toasted sesame oil for nuttiness
– Garlic, ginger and chili paste for aromatics
– Cornstarch slurry to thicken and cling
Adjust for your preferred flavor and heat level.
What’s the best way to cut the ingredients?
Cut all ingredients into small, uniform pieces so everything cooks quickly and evenly:
– Chicken breast into 1-inch cubes
– Veggies into thin matchsticks or slices
– Aromatics like garlic and ginger minced finely
Should I use a wok or a skillet?
A wok is ideal since the sloped sides allow endless stirring and flipping. A large non-stick skillet also works well if you don’t have one. The key is keeping ingredients moving over high heat.