We love this easy chicken broccoli stir fry recipe! It has tender and juicy chicken breasts, perfectly cooked broccoli, all cooked in the most delicious stir fry sauce made with lots of fresh garlic and ginger. I love serving this over rice or noodles.
Watch the Video
How to Make the Best Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry
The full stir fry recipe is below, but here’s a brief walk-though of the steps (with a few extra tips) to help you out.
Marinate the chicken in soy sauce, cornstarch, and a little bit of oil. We do this for two reasons. First, a quick marinade of soy sauce seasons our chicken, and second, since we add cornstarch to the marinade, the chicken stays unbelievably moist and tender even when it’s cooked.
Make our stir fry sauce. We use our garlic ginger stir fry sauce for this recipe and love it! Please look at our stir fry sauce recipe to see why we think it’s better than anything you can buy at the store. The recipe is also below.
Cook the chicken. You have two choices for cooking the chicken. You can stir fry it in a heavy-bottomed pan or wok until cooked, which is what we do in our video. Or you can velvet the chicken in water. We talk all about the velveting process below. Whichever option you choose, we recommend cooking the chicken separately from the broccoli. This way, you guarantee perfectly cooked chicken and crisp-tender broccoli. If you cook them together, the chicken will likely be overcooked and the broccoli undercooked.
Cook the broccoli. We want our broccoli to be bright green and crisp-tender. Our recipe method makes sure that you are not left with floppy, overcooked broccoli. (If you love veggies, we also have a veggie stir fry recipe).
Combine chicken, broccoli and the stir-fry sauce. We stir in the sauce when the broccoli and chicken have mostly been cooked. Then to make your stir fry rival the ones you get at your favorite Chinese restaurants, use a mixture of cornstarch and cold water to thicken the sauce until it’s a perfect consistency, saucy, and sticking to the broccoli and chicken.
What is Velveting
Velveting is a Chinese cooking technique that produces unbelievably soft and tender meat. If you have ever ordered from a Chinese restaurant and reveled over how soft, silky, and tender the meat is, they’ve likely used the technique of velveting. It’s genius. So much so that it’s unfortunate the method isn’t more known.
Velveting meat is a three-part process. Marinate, quickly blanch in hot oil or water, and finish cooking by quickly stir-frying. Most restaurants use oil to blanch the meat. It’s easy for them and not unusual to have a big pot of oil at the ready. We don’t typically have this at home, so we prefer water. Both water and oil generate similar results (Shao Z. from Serious Eats tested this if you are interested).
What we show in our video: We do not velvet the chicken in water in our video. However, you still achieve excellent results without this step. The chicken just isn’t quite as tender. If you are in the mood to experiment yourself, we highly recommend trying the water velveting method shared in our recipe below (in the section named alternate method). If your results match ours, you will notice that the velveted chicken is more tender and almost silky, while the chicken cooked right in the wok after marinating is still very tender, just not as much.
Cooking the Chicken
So as I mentioned above, you have two options for cooking the chicken for this chicken stir fry:
- Skip velveting the chicken in water and cook the marinated chicken right in the pan or wok (this is what we do in our video). The chicken is perfectly seasoned and tender.
- Velvet the chicken by quickly cooking it in boiling water (40 to 50 seconds), and then stir-fry it with the broccoli and sauce. This method creates the most tender, almost silky chicken.
Both methods make a delicious stir-fry, but whenever we velvet the chicken in water first, we are blown away by the silky, tender texture of the cooked chicken.
Cooking the Broccoli
One more thing to consider is that you have two options for cooking the broccoli! Again, I don’t want to overwhelm you with choices, but I love sharing how versatile this stir fry recipe can be. Here are the options for cooking the broccoli:
- Stir-fry the broccoli in oil in your heavy-bottomed pan or wok until bright green and crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. (This is what we do in our video).
- If you choose to velvet the chicken in water, before you do, you can quickly blanch the broccoli in the water until it is bright green and crisp-tender. Next, transfer the blanched broccoli to a colander to release as much water as possible, and then quickly stir-fry it with the velveted chicken and sauce.
Adding the sauce
It does not matter which methods you choose to cook the chicken and broccoli, the last step is the same for all of them. Toss the cooked chicken and crisp-tender broccoli into a heavy-bottomed skillet or wok and heat through. Then, pour in a generous amount of stir fry sauce (our recipe makes 1 ½ cups and we use all of it!)
When the sauce is bubbling away, stir in a mixture of cornstarch and cold water. This cornstarch mixture helps to thicken the sauce so that it turns into the perfect consistency and sticks to the chicken and broccoli. Then serve! We also use this sauce to make our vegetable stir fry!
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to use cornstarch in this stir fry recipe? We call for cornstarch twice in our recipe. First, we use it to marinate and velvet the chicken. Second, we use it as a thickener for the sauce at the end. We were stumped when we first noticed many Chinese cooks using cornstarch in their marinades, but after some investigation, we get it. Think of the cornstarch as a barrier for the chicken. It acts as a barrier in two ways. First, the flavor of our marinade (in our case that’s soy sauce) stays inside the chicken, and second, when we cook the chicken, the cornstarch prevents moisture from leaving the inside of the chicken. So the cornstarch protects both the flavor, tenderness, and juiciness of our chicken. It makes a big difference, promise.
If you do not eat cornstarch, you can leave it out. We still recommend that you marinate the chicken in the soy sauce and oil and remember that the sauce will be thinner than what is shown in our photos. You might consider using a different thickener for the sauce at the end of the recipe. All-purpose flour and arrowroot are both options. To thicken the sauce with flour, use two tablespoons of flour mixed with 1/4 cup of cold water. To thicken the sauce with arrowroot, use one tablespoon of arrowroot powder mixed with 3 tablespoons of cold water. (Note, arrowroot does not reheat that well, so it is best to serve the stir fry straight-away).
What type of pan should I use for a stir fry? A wok is wonderful for cooking stir-fries, but any heavy-bottomed skillet will work for this recipe. A large cast iron skillet would be perfect. When cooking stir fries, we want to use high heat so pans with nonstick surfaces aren’t the best. Cast iron, stainless steel, and carbon steel are all excellent options. Depending on how often your pan has been used, you might experience some sticking. If you do, keep the heat high and add a little more oil to help the chicken and broccoli move around in the pan.
Garlic Chicken Broccoli Stir Fry
We love this chicken and broccoli stir fry recipe! It features tender and juicy chicken, perfectly cooked broccoli, and the most delicious garlic ginger stir fry sauce. You have a few options for cooking the chicken and broccoli. Everything you need to know has been shared in the article above.
Marinating the chicken in the soy sauce, cornstarch, and oil guarantees flavorful and tender chicken. For the most tender, silky textured chicken (like the chicken at your favorite Chinese restaurants) consider option two (velveting the chicken in water).
We love this stir fry with plain rice or Coconut Rice.
Watch Us Make the Recipe
You Will NeedChicken and Broccoli
1 pound broccoli florets, cut into small pieces, 5 to 6 cups
1 ¼ pounds boneless and skinless chicken breast or thighs, sliced against the grain into thin strips
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
3 tablespoons neutral oil like vegetable or avocado oilStir Fry Sauce
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger (thumb-size piece of ginger)
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine, substitute dry sherry or mirin, see notes
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- Marinate Chicken
1For the most tender chicken, slice it against the grain into thin strips. Next, place it into a bowl with one tablespoon light soy sauce, one tablespoon oil, and one tablespoon cornstarch.
2Mix until well blended, and then set aside to marinate for at least thirty minutes. If you are doing this more than thirty minutes in advance, marinate the chicken in the refrigerator.
- Make Stir Fry Sauce
1Combine all of the stir fry sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat.
2Heat the sauce while stirring until the sugar dissolves. Use straight away or store in an airtight container, refrigerate, and use within two days. For questions about the ingredients and substitutions for this sauce, see our stir fry sauce recipe
- Make Stir Fry (Shown in Video)
1Stir one tablespoon of cornstarch with three tablespoons of cold water, and then set aside.
2Heat a large, heavy skillet or wok over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of high heat oil (like vegetable or avocado oil), and then add the marinated chicken in one layer. Cook without moving the chicken for one minute or until the underside starts to brown. Toss the chicken around the pan and cook until the chicken is almost cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes more. Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside.
3Add another 1 tablespoon of oil to the hot skillet/wok, and then stir in the broccoli florets. Cook while stirring the broccoli around the pan until it turns bright green and is crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
4Place the chicken back into the hot skillet/wok, and toss the broccoli and chicken around the pan for about one minute.
5Pour in the stir fry sauce. Give the cornstarch mixture one more stir, and then slowly pour it into the stir fry. Stir everything around until the sauce thickens and sticks to the chicken and broccoli. Serve immediately.
- Alternate Cooking Method: Velvet the Chicken in Water
1Fill a wok or large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli florets and cook until bright green and crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the broccoli to a colander. Immediately rinse with cold water or fill the bowl with cold water and some ice to stop the broccoli from cooking any further.
2Adjust the heat so that the pot of water is boiling again, then add one teaspoon of oil and the marinated chicken. Stir the chicken once or twice to prevent sticking to each other. Cook until opaque but still raw on the inside, 30 to 40 seconds.
3Use the slotted spoon to remove the chicken from the boiling water — be sure to shake the spoon as you do this to remove as much water from the chicken as possible. Set the chicken down into a colander or plate lined with paper towels so that it drains even more while you prepare the next step.
4Heat a large, heavy skillet or wok over high heat. If you used the wok to velvet the chicken, you need to drain the water and dry the wok well.
5Stir one tablespoon of cornstarch with three tablespoons of cold water, and then set aside.
6When the skillet or wok is hot, add two tablespoons of high heat oil (like vegetable or avocado oil). When the oil looks shimmery, toss in the broccoli and chicken. Stir them around the pan for about one minute, and then pour in the stir fry sauce.
7Give the cornstarch mixture one more stir, and then slowly pour it into the stir fry. Stir everything around until the sauce thickens and sticks to the chicken and broccoli. Serve immediately.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- Shaoxing wine is a Chinese rice wine often used in Chinese cuisine. It’s the most authentic choice in this recipe, so we highly recommend adding it to your pantry if you can find it. However, if you do not have access to it, we have two alternatives: dry sherry and mirin. Mirin is sweeter than Shaoxing wine so you will likely need to reduce the sugar by 1 tablespoon. One more option is to use rice wine vinegar. This will make the sauce taste a little different and you may need a little more sugar.
- Gluten-free tips: When shopping for the ingredients listed above (especially the soy sauce), look for gluten-free on the label. If you cannot find gluten-free soy sauce, look for gluten-free tamari, which, unlike soy sauce is traditionally made without or with very little wheat.
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.