What Type of Food Works Best in Stir-Fries?

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While it's true you can stir-fry just about anything, certain cuts of meat or poultry are better suited for stir-frying.

Here are tips on what types of meat, poultry, seafood and tofu work best in stir-fries, along with recipes.


When choosing meat for stir-frying, you want cuts that are both lean and tender like these beef cuts.

Flank Steak: This long thin cut of meat comes from the belly muscles of the cow. It is the most popular cut of meat for stir-frying. Because flank steak is quite tough it is cut across the grain—this relaxes the muscle fibers, making the meat more tender.

Sirloin Steak: This cut also can be used successfully in stir-fries.

Skirt SteakSome chefs also recommend skirt steak for stir-frying. It also is used to make Mexican fajitas.


Watch Now: Delicious Stir-Fry Beef with Three Vegetable Recipe


Use a lean cut of pork, such as pork tenderloin. Another option is pork butt–it is lean but with enough fat to add both moisture and flavor.


Chicken breasts work best in stir-fries. The white breast meat is lean, tender, and firm enough to hold up during stir-frying. Still, there are no hard-and-fast rules. Many successful stir-fries have been made with chicken thighs.


Watch Now: How to Make Classic Chicken Stir-Fry

Fish and Shellfish

Use firm-fleshed fish that will keep its shape and not fall apart during stir-frying, such as cod or halibut, sea bass or red snapper. Fish is usually cooked by some other method, such as poaching in oil or steaming, before being combined with the other stir-fry ingredients near the end of cooking.

For shellfish, prawns, scallops, and lobster can be stir-fried, but it’s important not to overcook them. One method of cooking prawns (shrimp) is to leave the shells on during stir-frying or deep-frying. This locks in flavor and helps keep the shrimp meat tender and not overcooked.


Use firm or extra-firm well-drained tofu that has been cubed in stir-fry recipes as a substitute for another protein or for an added protein punch with beef, chicken or seafood.