Fresh Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lan) is stir-fried to perfection with toasted sesame oil, warm ginger and plenty of garlic, then topped with sesame seeds and an optional sprinkle of red chili flakes. It’s Chinese cooking at its finest and the perfect easy side for any weeknight dinner! Naturally vegan, gluten-free, low carb, paleo, keto and Whole30 compliant.
Easy Chinese Broccoli Stir-Fry Recipe
This healthy Chinese Broccoli is an amazing side dish for any lunch or dinner. It’s full of authentic Chinese seasonings and nutrient-rich gai lan – an extra flavorful type of broccoli with thick stems and flat leaves. Plus, it’s easy to make in 15 minutes or less in just one pan and simple to customize!
We love any dish that comes together in a single pot, and this classic veggie stir-fry falls under that umbrella. If you don’t have access to a wok, you can simply use a large skillet instead. Anybody can make this standout broccoli stir-fry, and everybody will enjoy it!
The best part is, this easy side dish is perfect for buys weeknights or any Chinese Lunar New Year feast! And this recipe is also vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, low carb, keto, paleo and Whole30 compliant for all your guests with any dietary needs.
What is the Difference Between Broccoli and Chinese Broccoli?
Regular broccoli is slightly less sweet, not as leafy and a bit more bitter than gai lan. It also has more of a pale green color compared to the blue-toned shade of Chinese broccoli. While you could sub in regular broccoli for this recipe, I highly recommend keeping things traditional by using authentic gai lan.
Normal broccoli is certainly a healthy veggie, but gai lan is considered one of the most nutritious foods in the world. It’s absolutely loaded with vitamins, calcium, iron and more! Because of its impressive nutritional profile, Chinese broccoli is known to bolster immune function, prevent infections and even reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Ingredients You’ll Need
Let’s take a moment to get familiar with the ingredient lineup for this recipe. Here’s everything you’ll have to gather up:
- Chinese Broccoli: Thoroughly wash your gai lan, then pat it dry and trim the ends. Cut each stalk at an angle into 2-inch pieces.
- Avocado Oil: Or any neutral-tasting oil you have on hand.
- Ginger: Freshly grated.
- Garlic Cloves: Minced.
- Coconut Aminos: You can substitute this with gluten-free tamari or low-sodium soy sauce if you’re not paleo or Whole30.
- Toasted Sesame Oil: This adds a delightful nuttiness.
- Sesame Seeds: To garnish the stir-fry.
- Red Chili Flakes (Optional): For an extra garnish that spices things up.
How to Make Stir-Fried Gai Lan
This easy broccoli stir-fry is a super quick side that’s great for busy weeknights when you want to serve something healthy. And because it’s made in one pot, you won’t have a bunch of dishes to clean!
- Heat Oil & Add Ginger: Heat the oil in a wok or a large skillet over medium-high heat until it’s just smoking. Add the ginger and sauté while stirring frequently for 10 seconds, until the ginger is fragrant and starts to turn golden.
- Sauté Garlic: Add the garlic and continue stirring for 4 seconds, until fragrant and just golden, being careful not to let the garlic burn.
- Add Gai Lan & Coconut Aminos: Quickly add the Chinese broccoli and the coconut aminos, using tongs or a wok spatula to swiftly toss until everything is evenly distributed and well coated.
- Add Water & Cover Wok: Pour in 1 1/2 tablespoons of water, then cover the wok with a lid. Let the stir-fry cook with the lid on for 1 full minute.
- Add Remaining Ingredients: Remove the lid from your wok and add in the toasted sesame oil. Season to taste with salt & pepper and use the tongs to toss the broccoli, cooking for 1 more minute, until the veggies are bright green and tender-crisp.
- Remove From Heat & Garnish: Once the Chinese broccoli is cooked to your desired level of doneness, remove your stir-fry from the heat and transfer it to a plate. Sprinkle it with sesame seeds and red chili flakes, if desired.
- Enjoy! Serve warm.
Tips for Success
We’ve got you covered with any extra advice you may be seeking for this recipe. Let’s make sure this stir-fry is as tasty as possible!
- Rinsing Fresh Vegetables is Key: It’s very important to thoroughly rinse off your Chinese broccoli. Fresh vegetables can contain surface bacteria that you want to remove before eating them. Be sure to dry your broccoli well after rinsing it off.
- Use Fresh Ingredients: Don’t try to substitute the garlic for garlic powder or the fresh ginger for ground ginger. You wouldn’t end up with the same authentic flavors, and you’d be missing out.
- Stir Constantly: Be sure to toss or stir your ingredients whenever the recipe instructs. If you don’t mix everything around frequently enough, your stir-fry will not cook evenly.
- Cook to Desired Doneness: If you prefer your broccoli on the softer side, you can keep cooking your stir-fry for a couple of extra minutes. If you like it crispy, remove it from the heat a bit sooner.
Stir-fried broccoli will go great with any main dish you serve alongside it. It also tastes amazing as a mix-in for rice, ramen and lo mein. For a gluten-free version, I recommend serving it over this fluffy Cauliflower Rice or your favorite gluten-free noodles. You could even drizzle in some oyster sauce, hoisin sauce or chili sauce to heat things up!
If you’d like, you can easily turn this side dish into a hearty lunch or dinner by loading it up with extra veggies and your go-to meat or tofu.
Storage and Reheating
Leftover gai lan should be refrigerated in an airtight storage bag with all of the air removed. It will stay good for up to a week! Reheat the stir-fry over medium-low heat, stirring constantly and adding in an extra splash of water if needed.
Is This Freezer-Friendly?
Yes, you also have the option of storing your broccoli stir-fry in the freezer. Just make sure the storage bag you keep it in is freezer-friendly. Enjoy frozen gai lan within a month or two, thawing it out in the fridge before reheating it.
More Nutritious Stir-Fries to Try
Home-cooked Chinese food always hits the spot. Especially when it comes to these flavor-packed stir-fries!
Fresh Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lan) is stir-fried to perfection with toasted sesame oil, warm ginger and plenty of garlic, then topped with sesame seeds and an optional sprinkle of red chili flakes. It's Chinese cooking at its finest and the perfect easy side for any weeknight dinner! Naturally vegan, gluten-free, low carb, paleo, keto and Whole30 compliant.
- 1 lb chinese broccoli washed thoroughly, ends trimmed and cut at an angle into 2-inch pieces
- 2 tbsp avocado oil or any neutral-tasting oil
- 2 tsp ginger freshly grated
- 4 cloves garlic freshly minced
- 1 tbsp coconut aminos may sub with gluten-free tamari or low-sodium soy sauce if not paleo/Whole30
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- sesame seeds for garnish
- red chili flakes optional, for garnish
Heat the oil in a wok or a large skillet over medium-high until it’s just smoking. Add the ginger and saute while stirring frequently for 10 seconds, or until fragrant and the ginger starts to turn golden.
Add the garlic and continue stirring for 4 seconds, or until fragrant and just golden, being careful not to let the garlic burn.
Quickly add the Chinese broccoli and coconut aminos, and use tongs or a wok spatula to swiftly toss until everything is evenly distributed and well coated.
Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of water, then cover with a lid and cook for 1 minute.
Remove the lid, add the sesame oil, season with salt and black pepper and use the tongs to toss the Chinese broccoli and cook for 1 more minute, or until bright green and tender-crisp.
Once the Chinese broccoli is cooked to your desired level of doneness, remove from heat and transfer to plate.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds and red chili flakes, if desired. Serve warm and enjoy.
- To Store & Reheat: Refrigerate leftover gai lan in an airtight storage bag with all the air removed. Enjoy within 1 week. Reheat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly and adding a splash of water if needed.
- To Freeze: Add leftovers to a freezer-friendly storage bag and freeze for 1-2 months. Thawing in the fridge before reheating.