A light lemon and garlic sauce really enhances this shrimp and vegetable stir fry, along with crisp asparagus, zucchini, and red bell pepper.

Cooked shrimp and vegetables in a skillet with a black and white linen nearby.

Tender pink shrimp, bright green asparagus and zucchini, crimson bell pepper, snowy white rice — doesn’t that just make your mouth water? With a hint of lemon and garlic, this lightly seasoned stir fry is perfect for warmer months.

Don’t you just love a good stir fry? Ready in just minutes, with crisp vegetables and a zesty sauce, it always hits the spot. We often make this Chicken Stir-Fry with ginger and basil, or this easy Beef and Vegetable Stir-Fry. Another favorite with my family is Sweet and Sour Chicken Stir Fry.

At less than five hundred calories per serving (including the rice!), you can really feel good about eating this entree. We all know that vegetables are good for you, and most of us don’t eat nearly enough of them every day. Shrimp is a good source of protein and contains zinc and antioxidants that your body needs. See this article by Healthline to learn more .

About this recipe

There are three parts to this recipe:

  1. Fluffy cooked rice
  2. Meat and veggies
  3. Sauce

You’ll want to get the rice on first because steamed rice needs twenty to twenty-five minutes to cook which is a lot less time than the stir fry needs.

As always, look for the complete printable recipe at the end of this post.

Shrimp stir fry in a white skillet, cooked rice in the background.

What you need

  • Shrimp: Frozen or fresh, you’ll need one pound of raw peeled and deveined shrimp, with tails off. Shrimp is a healthy protein that is low in calories.
  • Easy Sauce: With just chicken broth and lemon juice, the sauce is simple, letting the shrimp and vegetables shine. A bit of cornstarch is added to thicken the sauce.
  • Lots of Good-For-You Vegetables: Stir fries are a fantastic way to eat lots of veggies. This stir fry boasts asparagus, zucchini, red bell pepper, and onion. Feel free to exchange other vegetables that you may like better.
  • Flavor: Lemon zest and garlic, salt and pepper, and fresh parsley are light and bright, perfectly enhancing the shrimp.
Close up view of a shrimp stir fry with asparagus, zucchini, and red bell peppers.

How to make it

One of the most important things to do for a successful stir fry is … have everything ready before you get cooking. Once the pan is hot, things move really quickly and you won’t have time to stir up the sauce or chop veggies.

Hopefully you have the rice cooking already. Get out your wok or a nice big skillet. Chop the veggies, season the shrimp with salt and pepper, and stir up the sauce. Ready? Here we go:

Heat your pan and add a bit of oil. Throw the shrimp in and watch them sizzle. Are they turning pink and curling up? Flip them over, and when they’re done, take them out of the pan and put them on a plate. That should take less than five minutes.

We’re on a roll now. If your pan seems dry, add a little more oil. Is your pan still nice and hot? Good! Add the onion, bell pepper, asparagus, and zucchini, in that order. Give them a good stir, and throw in the garlic and lemon zest. Stir, stir, stir. Season with a little salt and pepper.

If you’re timing things, your veggies should achieve crisp tender status in about five to six minutes.

Give your sauce a quick little whisk in case the cornstarch settled, and pour it into the pan. Stir and watch the sauce begin to thicken and coat the veggies. Is your stir fry smelling really good? I hope so!

Stir the shrimp back into the pan, with a sprinkle of fresh parsley. Are you hungry? Because dinner is READY!

Stir fry with shrimp and asparagus in a white skillet with a silver spoon.

FAQ

Can you stir fry meat and vegetables together?

Usually, meat and vegetables are added to the pan separately. If you add everything all at once, the pan or wok cools off too quickly. Your stir fry steams instead of sizzles. Stir fry the meat, remove it from the pan, allowing the pan to reheat. Next, add veggies that take a bit longer to cook. Finish up with the veggies that cook quickly.

How do you make stir fry not mushy?

If your stir fry is mushy, two things could be happening. One: your pan isn’t hot enough so things are cooking too slowly. Two: you’re adding too much to the pan at once, causing the pan to lose too much heat. Slow heat steams and braises which is fine for simmering stews but not for your stir fry.

How do you make stir fry more flavorful?

While vegetables and meat have lots of flavor, the sauce is really what makes a stir fry shine. Some ingredients that are added to the sauce for flavor are: garlic, red pepper flakes, citrus juice and zest, fresh ginger, toasted sesame oil, fish sauce, oyster sauce, etc. There are so many choices that it would be impossible to list them all.

Do you have to boil vegetables before stir frying?

Definitely not! Vegetables that are stir fried retain their crispness, bright color, and flavor. Fast and hot, stirring constantly, is what constitutes a stir fry. Boiling would really defeat the purpose of a stir fry.

Do you put water in stir fry?

Once in a while, if I feel the veggies are just too crisp for my intended audience (i.e. my kids), I’ll add a couple of tablespoons of water to the pan and cover it briefly so the veggies steam and soften. Not really the way it’s “supposed” to be done but it’s your dinner, and guess what, no one is judging you.

How to make this stir fry your own

  • Replace the suggested vegetables with broccoli, pea pods, mushrooms, carrots, celery, green bell peppers, etc.
  • Only have frozen vegetables? Stir fries can successfully be made with frozen vegetables. Don’t thaw the vegetables and make sure your wok or skillet is very hot before adding them.
  • Add a pinch of red pepper flakes to add a little zing.
  • Try this stir fry with noodles, or zoodles (zucchini noodles), for a fun twist, instead of steamed rice.
Shrimp and vegetables in a white skillet.

Make Ahead Ideas

While cooking stir fries is fast, prepping the vegetables can take a bit of time. The good news is that you can wash, trim, and cut the veggies up to a day ahead. Store them in a zip top bag or tightly wrapped bowl.

In addition, if you remember to put the bag of frozen shrimp in the fridge the night before, they’ll pretty much be ready to use when it comes to dinner time. Give them a quick rinse, pat them dry, season with salt and pepper, and you’re good to go.

Storage & Reheating Suggestions

This dinner is best eaten immediately but leftovers aren’t bad either. Store them in the fridge for up to two days, and heat in a skillet briefly to rewarm. If you’re in a hurry, reheat in the microwave on medium power for 1-2 minutes or until warmed through.

More shrimp recipes

Shrimp is perfect for last minute meal preparation. Don’t have any meat thawed? Frozen shrimp is ready to use in just minutes. Try:

Overhead view of shrimp and vegetables in a white skillet.

Shrimp and Vegetable Stir Fry with Lemon and Garlic

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

A light lemon and garlic sauce really enhances this shrimp and vegetable stir fry, along with crisp asparagus, zucchini, and red bell pepper.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound raw shrimp, (20-30 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ¾ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced onion (about 1 small onion)
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 zucchini (8 oz.), cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Steamed rice and lemon wedges, for serving

Instructions

  1. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and season with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk broth, lemon juice, and cornstarch until smooth and set aside.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp, and cook for 1-2 minutes per side or until shrimp is pink and cooked through. Remove to a plate.
  4. If needed, add another 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Add onion, bell pepper, asparagus, zucchini, lemon zest, garlic, and season with remaining salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to soften, 5-6 minutes. 
  5. Whisk chicken broth mixture one more time, and add to vegetables. Cook, stirring, until the sauce has thickened slightly. Add shrimp and parsley, stir to combine, and remove from the heat. 
  6. Serve with steamed rice and lemon wedges.

Notes

    • If you like a little heat, add ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes to sauce, or to taste.
    • Nutrition information is based on 1 cup steamed rice per serving.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 421Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 143mgSodium: 1034mgCarbohydrates: 62gFiber: 5gSugar: 6gProtein: 25g

RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

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