There are so many things we love about stir-fry. For starters, it’s an exceedingly fast and efficient cure for ‘hanger.’ Not only that, but a steaming hot bowl of stir-fried, nutrient-rich veggies is a quick fix that actually does the body good. (Unlike, say, polishing off a box of Oreos.) Still, a stir-fry that doesn’t live up to its full potential can be a crushing blow to the peckish and impatient. Fortunately, there’s a solution that doesn’t involve chowing down on a bland dish—just add some sauce. Behold, a roundup of flavorful vegan stir-fry sauces to ensure your healthy meal actually makes you happy, too.
1. Thai Peanut Sauce
This basic peanut sauce is a delicious way to dress up any stir-fry, though you might be tempted to skip the stovetop cooking and drink the stuff on its own. Toasty and subtly sweet with a touch of heat, the flavorful sauce—which pair beautifully with noodles, tofu, or plain old veggies—will transform a lackluster meal into something bold and decadent.
2. Sweet Ginger Sauce
Ginger, garlic and maple syrup get along swimmingly in this sweet and piquant stir-fry sauce. Best of all, this one is incredibly versatile—try it out with the accompanying tofu and veggie stir-fry recipe, or simply throw it in the skillet along with any combination of ingredients you prefer.
3. 5-minute Vegan Teriyaki Sauce
It’s hard to go wrong with teriyaki sauce—the somewhat sweet, umami-driven dressing from Japan that’s irresistibly rich and yummy. That said, the addition of toasted sesame oil gives this particular teriyaki sauce a deep, slightly smoky flavor that’s truly divine. Bonus: It’s incredibly quick and easy to make, which is good news because you’re going to want to put it on pretty much everything.
4. General Tso’s Sauce
Nope, you don’t need to eat chicken to enjoy the gem that is General Tso’s sauce. Sweet, savory, spicy, sour: General Tso’s is basically a flavor bomb, so it should come as no surprise that it can work its magic on chickpeas, vegetables and just about anything else you want to fry up.
5. Mirin and Maple Glaze
This Japanese-inspired stir-fry sauce is so good you’ll want to spread it on toast (seriously). Mirin and maple syrup might sound like the kind of combination that could turn a savory stir-fry into something more fitting for a dessert menu but, fortunately, tamari and red pepper are in the mix as well. The end result? A sauce that boasts an impeccable balance of sweet, salty and spicy flavors.
6. Spicy Coconut Ginger Sauce
Creamy coconut milk gives this stir-fry dressing a silky and decidedly decadent mouthfeel, while also serving to mellow out the spiciness of the chili sauce and fresh ginger. The resulting sauce still packs a punch in the spice department though, (i.e., it’s more likely to wake you up than weigh you down.) Add some of this to the skillet and your stir-fry will definitely not be snoozy.
7. Miso Parsley Sauce
Fact: Miso is fermented soybean paste that makes everything taste better. Unsurprisingly, this popular Japanese seasoning can seriously elevate a stir-fry and this miso parsley sauce is a good case in point. Piquant, savory and full of fresh flavor: Your palate will give this sauce its stamp of approval—just be sure to add this gremolata-style sauce to the skillet towards the very end of the cooking process.
8. Chinese Garlic Sauce
Garlic lovers will swoon for this boldly-flavored stir-fry sauce. Copious amounts of garlic go into the making of this one, but surprisingly, the final product is not unpleasant or overpowering. Bottom line: This salty, savory dressing is so full of delicious, umami flavor, you’ll be using your tofu to sop up every last drop.
9. 5-ingredient Vegan Fish Sauce
Fish sauce is the super stinky secret ingredient that lends complexity and lots of umami to many dishes...but it’s made from fermented fish. Good news, friends: There’s a vegan-friendly version that can work miracles just like the fishy stuff and it smells much nicer to boot. Make a big batch of this tart and salty plant-based alternative and add a dash to any stir-fry for a satisfying flavor boost.
10. Gochujang Sauce
Gochujang is a traditional Korean condiment that hits all the right notes—salty, sweet and pleasantly spicy—and you can make a version of the stuff at home using only vegan ingredients. While this recipe doesn’t result in authentic gochujang, the resulting stir-fry sauce is a close imitation...and it will knock your socks off.
11. Vegan Singapore Noodle Sauce
What do you get when you whisk together garlic, tamari, coconut sugar and lime? A vegan-friendly stir-fry sauce that boasts the same tantalizing flavors found in Singapore noodles, but without the fish sauce and chicken broth. The basic sauce makes for a satisfying addition to any stir-fry but for the full comfort food effect, we strongly suggest you make the whole Singapore noodle dish.
12. Vegan Oyster Sauce
Oyster sauce is good for a lot of things...just not vegans. Fortunately, this mushroom-based alternative can be used to provide a similar, umami-forward flavor to dishes of all sorts. In fact, this ginger-spiked shiitake sauce is so tasty it should probably just be poured on everything.
13. Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Sweet potato and roasted red peppers combine to make a colorful sauce with a smoky and subtly-sweet flavor profile. The creamy consistency of this sauce makes it an ideal choice for noodle stir-fry in particular—so if you’re avoiding gluten, bust out your spiralizer and serve up a bowl of veggie noodles instead. (Note: If you prefer a sauce that bites back, you can customize this one by adding a dash of cayenne or red pepper flake for extra satisfaction.)
14. Szechuan Sauce
A staple of American Chinese cuisine, Szechuan sauce has a savory-and-sweet flavor with a peppery kick at the end. (Note: Basic black peppercorns will work in a pinch, but if you can score some Szechuan peppercorns, you’ll be rewarded with a more piquant sauce.) This classic stir-fry sauce performs well and you can pull it together in five minutes flat—so really there’s no reason not to make Szechuan sauce from scratch.
15. Kung Pao Sauce
Chili paste and salty vegan fish sauce mingle with the mild tang of rice wine vinegar and a splash of soy sauce in this well-rounded recipe. The takeaway? A crowd-pleasing stir-fry sauce with flavors so bold, it’s anything but boring.