chicken and broccoli stir fry

There’s nothing easier and quicker for a weeknight dinner than making a stir fry.  Chicken and broccoli stir fry paired with steamed rice is one of our go-to meals for dinner during the week because broccoli is one of the few vegetables our pre-k child will eat!  She’s insanely picky with her vegetables.

The Secret to Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry Like a Chinese Restaurant

You might wonder why your chicken and broccoli stir fry never comes out quite like a Chinese restaurant, why the chicken is woody or dry.  Well, there’s a secret process and ingredient to making the chicken super tender with that silky texture just like Chinese take-out!

Marinating the Chicken

The secret to super tender chicken?  It’s CORNSTARCH!  Mixing the chicken with cornstarch is the key to having tender morsels of stir-fried chicken.  This method of marinating is not just limited to chicken, it can be used on all proteins you plan to stir fry.  Beef, shrimp, and pork are excellent when stir-fried using this method of velveting method.

chicken marinade chinese

Cooking Ingredients Separately

The second secret to making an excellent stir fry is cooking all ingredients separately.  Passing each ingredient through hot oil is the best way to bring out the flavors and “sear” that item.  I love the little brown edges that form from a good sear when I make a stir-fry.  

Also, different ingredients require different cooking times.  Broccoli is a hardy vegetable and can take a bit to stir fry.  If you put the chicken and broccoli into the pan at the same time, you could end up overcooking one or the other.  By par cooking the chicken and broccoli separately, you end up with a dish that is perfectly cooked!

chinese chicken and beef stir fry

What Cut of Chicken Should You Use for Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry

You can use any boneless cut of chicken you want for this dish.  I prefer either chicken tenders or dark meat chicken to stir fry because it’s super tender.  

How to Cook the Broccoli Perfectly

Broccoli is a super sturdy vegetable that takes a long time to saute or stir fry.  The key to cooking the broccoli perfectly in this recipe is steaming it in the wok.  By passing the broccoli through hot oil you give it a nice sear, but it won’t be fully cooked.  Adding water and clamping on a lid steams the broccoli so that’s it’s perfectly tender.  This method is similar to my method for steaming broccoli in 3 minutes.

Using a Wok Vs. a Saute Pan for Stir Fry

I recommend using a wok to make authentic Chinese stir fry recipes, the exact one I have here.  However, my mom has used a saute pan successfully for a number of years when her wok broke!  With a saute pan it’s harder to get the nice sear on your meat and veggies.  It’s also harder to stir fry because it’s completely flat on the bottom with a short rim, I tend to get food everywhere.  

If a saute pan is all you have there’s nothing wrong with using it, but I’d invest in a wok if you plan on making more Chinese food.  My mom recently bought a replacement wok and she is totally enamored with it.  She went all modern on me and got one that’s flat bottomed and non-stick, like the one here.  She loves the flat bottom because it doesn’t wobble when she’s not holding onto it.  It leaves her other hand free to add seasoning while still stir-frying with her spatula hand!

Speaking of spatulas, you’ll want to one specifically for stir-frying Chinese food like this one here.  Because of the round shape of the wok, the angle and length of this spatula works better than normal ones.  Of course, you can use whatever you have on hand as well!  I’ve actually stir-fried entire meals using chopsticks only!

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Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry

Authentic Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry like a Chinese Restaurant
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: dinner, lunch
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: chicken and broccoli, chinese food, stir fry
Servings: 2 people

Equipment

  • Wok or Saute Pan
  • Lid that fits over your Wok or Saute Pan

Ingredients

Chicken Marinade

  • 2 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp White Pepper
  • 3 tbsp Corn Starch
  • 4 Cloves Garlic

Stir Fry

  • 2-3 Crowns Small to Medium Broccoli
  • 1 lbs Boneless Chicken, Cubed
  • 1-2 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 1-2 tsp Salt
  • 3-4 tbsp Peanut Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Water

Instructions

  • Cut your chicken into bite-sized cubes.
  • Smash garlic
  • Combine chicken with all marinade ingredients except cornstarch in a bowl. Mix well and let stand.
  • Cut crowns of broccoli into bite-sized florets.
    broccoli stir fry
  • Add cornstarch to marinated chicken and mix well.
    chicken marinade chinese
  • Heat your wok on high heat until smoking. Once smoking, add about 3 tablespoons of oil to your wok and swirl to coat. Let heat for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Add chicken to your wok and quickly stir fry until about halfway cooked through. The outside of the chicken should be cooked but raw in the middle. Remove the chicken from the wok but do not turn off the heat.
  • Place wok back onto the stove, heat until smoking again. Add 1-2 tablespoons of oil, swirl to coat. Heat for about 30 seconds.
  • Add broccoli to wok and quickly stir fry for a minute, add salt and mix.
  • Add about 1/4 cut of water to the broccoli, mix then and clamp on the lid. Let cook for 1 - 2 minutes depending on how done you want the broccoli.
  • Remove the lid, to check for doneness. The broccoli should be slightly less cooked than the texture you would like.
  • Add the par-cooked chicken, soy sauce, and salt. Stir fry until the chicken is cooked through and the broccoli has reached the desired tenderness. Add more salt if needed.
    stir fry broccoli and chicken

Notes

You can use almost any neutral-tasting cooking oil for this recipe, but I prefer peanut oil for it's the high smoking point.
You can substitute the chicken for other proteins like shrimp or beef.
Steam the broccoli with the lid on for longer if you want it to be more cooked.

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