How to Make a Low Sodium Stir Fry Without Sacrificing Any Flavor

how to make a low sodium stir fry

According to Chef Namara, “Use low-sodium soy sauce and limit Worcestershire and fish sauce to reduce sodium in stir fry sauces without sacrificing flavor.”

Creating tasty yet nutritious stir fries is easier than you think! But before diving in, it’s important to understand how to balance bold flavors with heart-healthy ingredients. 

Let’s explore some simple recipe tweaks to help cut back on sodium while keeping meals full of flavor. You’ll unlock a whole new world of quick, easy and delicious stir fry possibilities for the family.

How to Reduce Sodium in Stir Fry Sauces and Marinades

Cooking meals at home allows you to control what exactly goes into your food. By making small substitutions and tweaks to classic recipes, you can significantly cut back on sodium while keeping bold flavors. 

These simple changes show how easy it is to enjoy stir fries and other dishes without all the extra salt.

Substitute low-sodium soy sauce or tamari for regular soy sauce

Regular soy sauce is very high in sodium, containing around 1,000mg per tablespoon. By swapping it for low-sodium soy sauce or tamari, you can cut the sodium by over 50%. Both add the same deep, rich flavor but with much less salt.

Use Worcestershire or fish sauce sparingly as they are high in sodium

While Worcestershire and fish sauce add wonderful depth of flavor, just a few drops go a long way. They are very high in sodium, with around 1,000mg per tablespoon. 

Instead of using the recommended 1-2 teaspoons, scale it back to just 1/4-1/2 teaspoon to significantly reduce the sodium.

Make your own stir fry sauce with rice vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and small amount of honey or sugar

Homemade sauces allow you to control the exact amount of sodium. Mix together 2 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tbsp sesame oil, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 tbsp grated ginger, 1/2 tsp honey or sugar. The flavors truly sing without relying on salt. 

Shake or whisk together before pouring over chicken thighs or veggies as they cook.

YouTube video

Credit : Chef McNamara

Popular Low Sodium Stir Fry Protein Options

Stir fries are one of the healthier and tastier ways to enjoy your main proteins while controlling sodium. With a few swaps, you can cut back considerably without losing out on flavor in your chicken stir fry.

ProteinBenefitsSodium Tip
BeefLean cuts like sirloin are tender.Slice thinly and go light on soy sauce.
ChickenThighs stay juicy when stir fried.Season with fresh ginger instead of salt.
TofuProvides plant-based protein.Marinate before frying to reduce sodium.
TempehCrisps up nicely in the pan.Avoid pre-seasoned packages.

Lean cuts of low sodium beef like sirloin or round are excellent for stir fries. For best results, slice thinly against the grain before cooking to keep it tender. Go light on any added soy sauce or use a low-sodium variety instead.

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs hold up well to high-heat cooking and remain juicy. Poach or bake breasts ahead of time then slice or dice for easy meal prep. Consider seasoning with garlic, fresh ginger, green onions, and red pepper flakes rather than salting.

For a meatless stir fry recipe, extra-firm tofu or tempeh provide protein. Marinate cubes in tamari or liquid aminos before pan-frying to add flavor without a ton of sodium. Beware of pre-seasoned packaged varieties, which can pack over 1000mg of sodium in one serving.

With smart protein choices and swaps like using low-sodium condiments, your favorite Asian-inspired recipes can become a healthy weeknight staple. 

Feel free to mix and match ingredients for new stir fry combinations without busting your daily sodium limit. 

Vegetables for Maximum Flavor and Nutrition

Low sodium and packed with nutrients

Bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, bok choy, and mushrooms are excellent choices for tasty and nutritious weeknight meals. 

All of these vegetables are low in sodium and packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They promote heart health and help your body’s immune system. 

When I’m making chicken stir fry, I love using colorful bell peppers and baby broccoli for crunch. Broccoli florets are a great low-calorie snack that kids love too with a homemade sauce for dipping.

Add at last minute of cooking to retain nutrients and crunch

It’s important when making quick and easy stir fries to add vegetables towards the end of cooking. 

For my chicken stir fry recipe, I’ll cook the chicken thighs first then remove from the pan. I’ll stir fry garlic and ginger for 30 seconds before adding chopped bell peppers, bok choy, and baby broccoli florets. 

This allows them to still have some crunch and texture while absorbing flavors from the seasoning. Stir frying for just 2-3 minutes at the end means you’re getting maximum nutrients too!

how to make a low sodium stir fry

Sauce vegetables during last 2-3 minutes of stir fry to absorb flavors

To add extra flavor, I like making a simple low sodium soy sauce to coat my veggies. For my chicken stir fry, I’ll use 1⁄4 cup chicken broth, 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1⁄4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. 

I’ll stir fry everything for a couple minutes before adding this sauce. Not only does it become nicely coated, the sauce reduces slightly which helps bring out the flavors even more. The amount of sodium is low too compared to regular soy sauce.

Tips for prepping fresh veggies

I always like to have pre-cut fresh veggies on hand for making quick stir fries and other meals throughout the week. 

Washing and chopping veggies ahead of time then storing in airtight containers or auto-renew snack packs makes it simple to add nutrition to any last minute dinners. 

My kids also love grabbing handfuls of pre-cut bell peppers, broccoli and carrots for snacks too!

Cooking Techniques for Low Sodium Stir Fry

When making stir fry at home, it’s important to use cooking methods that limit sodium absorption. One tasty way is with a homemade stir fry sauce using just 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (1). 

To that, add 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon grated ginger, 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, 1 clove garlic minced, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water.

Whisk together and pour over your stir fry ingredients and hot brown rice.


For healthy chicken stir fry recipes, use only 1-2 teaspoons of oil in a large skillet or wok. Toasted sesame oil adds lots of flavor without much fat. Coconut oil is also a tasty option as it remains solid at room temperature.


Instead of crowding everything in at once, cook healthy chicken first until no longer pink. Remove with a slotted spoon before adding fresh veggies like broccoli, carrots, and bell peppers. This prevents the chicken from soaking up extra sodium through sauces.


Maintain high heat around 6-7 out of 10 while stir frying. Constantly stir and toss ingredients using a fry sauce containing just one tablespoon of cornstarch. This allows quick cooking so veggies stay crunchy and chicken doesn’t absorb extra sodium.


Take the stir fry off the burner as soon as it’s tender-crisp to limit sodium absorption. Avoid extra salt by not letting it sit in the pan.


Make it even more nutritious by serving the low-sodium stir fry over whole grains like brown rice which contain magnesium and fiber. Or try the protein packed grain quinoa which cooks faster than rice.

By following these cooking techniques and using just a tablespoon of cornstarch in homemade stir fry sauce, you can enjoy healthy chicken and vegetables in a tasty, low-sodium meal. Proper cooking methods are key to balancing flavor with nutrition.

Tips for Creating Unique Low Sodium Stir Fry Combinations

Are you looking for some fresh ideas for easy weeknight dinners that are low in sodium? Stir fries are one of the ultimate one-pan meals allowing you to use simple ingredients to make a tasty meal in just one pan. 

While a cup of soy sauce is commonly added to stir fries for flavoring, it comes with a hefty amount of sodium. Here are some tips for creating low sodium stir fry combinations using just a few flavors:

Experiment with Asian and non-Asian flavors

Spice up your stir fry with flavors beyond just soy sauce. Try adding a tablespoon of lemongrass, torn Thai basil leaves, or a cinnamon stick. 

These herbs and spices will add layers of flavor without the sodium. You can find lemongrass, Thai basil and cinnamon at most grocery stores these days.

Add fiber-rich edamame or cauliflower rice

If you want to boost the nutritional value of your stir fry, add in some edamame or cauliflower rice. Cauliflower can be riced in a food processor and adds volume without many calories (2). Edamame provides fiber, protein and iron with a nice snap to the texture.

Top with fresh herbs, crushed peanuts or toasted sesame seeds

Once your low sodium stir fry is cooked, top it off with some fresh cilantro, mint or basil. Crushed dry roasted peanuts or toasted sesame seeds add crunch and flavor without much sodium. Keep peanuts or sesame seeds in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Make a Homemade Low-Sodium Stir Fry Sauce

For a tasty addition without soy sauce, make a simple sauce using 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp corn starch, and 1/2 cup water in a small bowl. Whisk together and add to the pan during the last few minutes of cooking. The sweet and savory sauce will coat your stir fry vegetables perfectly.

Serve with spicy sambal or chili crisp

No need to use regular soy sauce for a splash of heat. Make your own chili crisp by mixing 1 tbsp oil, 1 tsp red pepper flakes, 1/4 cup rice vinegar and 2 cloves minced garlic in a small bowl. 

Or use sambal oelek, an Indonesian chili sauce made from just chilies and vinegar or citrus juice. The heat from sambal or chili crisp will complement any low sodium stir fry.


How can I make a low sodium version?

Use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce and less than 1/2 cup broth to make a low sodium version of this healthy homemade stir fry sauce recipe.

What can I use as a soy sauce substitute?

Coconut aminos work well as a gluten free substitute for soy sauce in this stir fry sauce recipe.

Can I add chicken or other proteins besides beef?

Yes, this versatile sauce also goes well with chicken breasts, rice noodles, tofu or shrimp added to the beef stir fry.

What vegetables can I add?

Try adding bell peppers, snow peas, broccoli, or green beans cut into sized pieces to the stir fry.

Can I use rice noodles instead of white rice?

Rice noodles make a great substitute for white rice. Just soak in cold water until tender crisp.

How much sauce should I make?

The recipe makes 3/4-1 cup sauce, sufficient for the recipe amounts. Double the sauce ingredients for extra or leftovers.

Can I make this ahead of time?

Yes, prepare components like beef and vegetables in advance. Refrigerate sauce ingredients separately for up to 3 days.


In this guide, I’ve shared many tips for creating flavorful yet low-sodium stir fries that are healthy for the whole family. The key is using versatile sauces and herbs that bring out natural tastes instead of relying on salt. 

Remember to prep your ingredients beforehand so stir frying is a breeze. Vary your protein and veggie combos for new meals each week. I also encourage experimenting with global flavors beyond just soy sauce. 

Most importantly, don’t forget to savor each meal you spent time preparing – the flavors will transport your taste buds without busting your daily sodium limit! With practice, stir frying can become one of the quickest and tastiest dinner solutions. 

Don’t be afraid to get creative in the kitchen. Wishing you many delicious discoveries!

If you try any of the recipes or tips shared, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!



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