If you’re in the market for a healthy, hearty, and speedy family steak stir-fry dinner, you can stop your scrolling! My Steak Stir Fry with Zucchini boasts tender meat and veggies in a delicious garlic butter sauce. This complete meal comes together in just 30 minutes and uses basic, easy-to-find ingredients. Winner, winner, steak stir-fry dinner!
About this steak stir fry recipe
As summer marches on, I’m on the hunt for fast, nutritious meals I can make for the family after long days spent in the heat. I don’t know about you, but the kiddo, hubby, and I are usually famished after a day at the pool (and by famished, I clearly mean hangry). We need protein, fat, salt, and veggies STAT! There’s no time for dilly-dallying when deep hunger comes a-calling.
This ridiculously easy steak stir-fry recipe is my family’s current favorite; just one bite and I know you’ll love it the same!
Why you’ll love this recipe
A filling and delicious combination of sizzling steak, tender-crisp veggies and luscious garlic butter, this family-friendly steak and zucchini stir fry is sure to become a family favorite! Here’s why:
- Quick to prep & fast to cook. I can literally prep all the ingredients for this meal in a mere 10 minutes, and cooking takes just an extra 15. If I have my ducks in a row, it’s great for meal-prepping. When I more than often do not have my avian friends neatly lined up because my week is looking nutty, this is an easy recipe I turn to, time and again.
- Bursting with fresh flavor. Loaded with tender steak, al dente zucchini, sweet bell pepper, bright lemon, and LOTS of garlic, this is a complete meal all by itself.
- Easily customizable. The best thing about stir-fries is how easily adaptable they are to whatever you got from your Farmer’s Market haul. Swap in or add different veggies, like broccoli, or change out your protein with ease. Read on below for more inspiration!
- Crowd-pleasing. Gluten-free, soy-free, easily adaptable to be dairy-free, this tasty meal is acceptable for most diets, making it perfect for sharing.
Ingredients for steak stir fry
One of my favorite things about this simple steak stir-fry is that it is primarily made with things I always have on hand. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Steak: You can use any cut of steak you love in this recipe. I typically use ribeye or beef tenderloin; however, sirloin steak is the most economical option and it works great here! Alternatively, you can use flank steak; but you will need to slice it thinly against the grain instead of cubing.
- Fresh Thyme: I love using fresh herbs, especially in the summer when I have them growing in the garden. If you only have your spice drawer on hand, swap in 1 teaspoon dried thyme (dried is more potent than fresh by volume).
- Smoked Paprika: I love the touch of smoky flavor this spice cabinet staple brings to the party. You can easily swap in hot paprika for a spicier version, or use regular sweet paprika instead.
- Onion Powder: All the flavor of alliums without the tears. Feel free to use onion flakes if that’s all you have on hand.
- Cayenne Pepper: For just a smidge of heat – I promise it’s still mild. However, feel free to dial the spice level up or down according to your needs.
- Olive Oil: Good quality olive oil is my go-to cooking fat.
- Butter: Because unsalted (or salted) butter makes everything better!
- Garlic: You’re gonna want fresh garlic cloves here for serious garlic butter vibes. Pro Tip: Bust out your garlic press to cut down on prep time.
- Zucchini: You can use either green zucchini or yellow summer squash interchangeably here.
- Bell Pepper: Any color will do here! Remember that yellow, orange, and red varieties are sweet, while young green bell peppers are much more earthy. Also, remember to add some visual interest to your plate; if you’re using green zucchini, choose a different color for your bell pepper to get more pop!
- Lemon: Technically optional, but highly suggested. Fresh lemon juice adds a lovely hit of acidity that brightens up the whole dish.
- Protein: You can swap out the beef for chicken, pork, or even extra-firm tofu instead. Just be sure to adjust your cooking time accordingly!
- Seasonings: Feel free to omit the fresh thyme for fresh or dried oregano, marjoram, savoury, basil, or herbes de provence. Just keep in mind that you’ll use just about ⅓ as much dried herbs as you would fresh.
- Oil: Fresh out of good olive oil? You can use avocado or grapeseed oil if you prefer!
- Butter: Feel free to swap in your favorite plant-based butter if you are dairy-free.
Steak and zucchini stir fry variations
This quick and easy steak stir-fry recipe has been playing on repeat at my house as of late. It’s just so darn tasty! That said, I have a few fun variations for you to try:
- Fresh Basil & Lemon – Add some Mediterranean flair with a quick chiffonade of basil and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice when you serve this tasty steak and zucchini stir fry.
- Outside Stir-Fry. Want to beat the heat in your kitchen? Take your trusty cast-iron cookware outside and use your grill as the heat source.
- Asian-inspired. Skip the thyme in the seasoning blend. Use sesame oil in place of butter and add a teaspoon of fresh minced ginger with the garlic. At the end, add a squeeze of lime instead of lemon, a splash of soy sauce, and use Thai basil or mint as your fresh herb garnish. YUM!
How to make steak stir fry with zucchini
This easy recipe for stir-fry steak comes together in a flash. Here’s how it’s done:
- Mix seasoning: In a small bowl, combine thyme, paprika, onion, cayenne, kosher salt and black pepper. Mix well to combine. Reserve 1 teaspoon of seasoning. Set both aside.
- Season steak: Pat the steak bites dry and add them to a medium bowl. Sprinkle the seasoning mix (all but the reserved teaspoon), evenly over the steak and toss well to combine. Set aside.
- Cook veggies: Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the peppers and zucchini. Season with reserved teaspoon of seasoning. Cook, stirring frequently, until the veggies are just tender-crisp. Remove the vegetables from the skillet and transfer to a plate.
- Cook steak: Add more oil to the pan along with the cubes of steak, arranging them in a single layer. (Note: you may need to cook the beef in two batches, using more oil, if necessary.) Cook, undisturbed, for 3-4 minutes, or until the steak is brown on the bottom. Cook, stir-frying, for 1 minute. Remove steak from pan and transfer to the plate with the zucchini. (Note: If you prefer your steak well done, keep the steak bites in the pan and continue on to the next step.)
- Add the good stuff: Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter and garlic to the pan. Cook for 1 minute, or until butter is fully melted.
- Add steak + veggies: Add the steak and vegetables to the pan. Cook, tossing or stirring frequently, for about 1-2 minutes, or until the steak and vegetables are fully coated in the butter and warm throughout.
- Add lemon + herbs: Remove the pan from the heat. Squeeze the fresh lemon juice over the steak and dust with fresh basil, if using.
- Serve warm and enjoy!
Expert tips for the best stir fry with zucchini
- Mise en place FTW! Prep all your ingredients before you start stir-frying because once you start, it goes super fast.
- Cut steak while it’s cold! It’s easiest to cut COLD meat. I recommend adding your steaks to a freezer-safe storage bag and placing them in the freezer for about 30 minutes prior to cubing. (Note: You don’t want to freeze the meat completely! You just want to firm it up for easier slicing. This works beautifully for chicken, pork, and fish, too!)
- Steak bites cook quickly. Typically, it’s best to remove the chill from your meat prior to searing, as per the great J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. HOWEVER, steak bites are very quick cooking! Therefore, it’s best to cook the meat while it’s cold – this will help prevent overcooking your steaks.
- Consider a baking soda bath for tougher cuts of meat. If you’re looking to cut down on grocery costs, reaching for a less expensive cut of meat is an easy swap to make. However, many of these less expensive cuts are also tougher. The solution? A quick 15-minute soak in water spiked with baking soda.
FAQ: Frequently asked questions
What is the best steak for stir fry?
I tend to reach for more tender, marbled cuts like ribeye or tenderloin. That said, grocery prices have been very high lately. Sirloin is an excellent, economical cut. Flank or strip steak can also be used, but you’ll want to cut them into strips rather than cubes. Oh, and remember to cut against the grain!
How do you make stir-fry steak tender?
You have a few options here: first, you can use a meat mallet to bang it into submission. This is an excellent choice if you have some pent-up aggression.
Secondly, you can use a tenderizer made out of long, needle-like spikes. You can always pretend the steak is a doll shaped like whoever you’re beefing with (ha! See what I did there?).
Finally, the easiest/lowest-lift option is to create a solution of 1 teaspoon of baking soda in ½ cup of water for every 12 ounces of meat. Soak the meat for a minimum of 15 minutes, or up to an hour. Easy, peasy!
Do I need to marinate steak to stir-fry it?
Nope! That said, you’re totally welcome to if you like. In this easy stir-fry recipe, I use a dry rub on the steak as my seasoning, but you don’t need to let it “marinate” per se. Just add the seasoning and go!
Serving suggestions for zucchini stir fry
I’m perfectly happy eating this gorgeous steak stir-fry straight from a bowl, no bells or whistles added. That said, there are plenty of other things that go great with this steak and zucchini recipe:
- Over Cooked Grains: White rice is an obvious option; however, brown rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice are all excellent healthy choices. Noodles are also a great option.
- With Flatbread or Pita: Since this is kind of a Mediterranean-style stir-fry, I’ll often use some pita bread to sop up all the tasty sauce.
- Next to More Vegetables: If you are looking for a extra nutrients and fibers, try serving more veggies on the side! I love broccoli, snow peas, mushrooms and baby corn with this beef stir fry recipe.
- With A Side Salad: Some peppery arugula in a simple olive oil and lemon juice dressing is like Mary Poppins – practically perfect in every way.
Storing this recipe for stir fry steak
- Feel free to meal prep the steak and veggies on the weekend for an extra speedy weeknight dinner. It should all keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Once made, allow the zucchini steak stir-fry to cool completely to room temperature before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Leftovers will keep for up to 5 days. You can also freeze it for up to a month!
- To reheat, microwave or sauté defrosted stir-fry until heated through.
Stop mid-week “hanger” in it’s tracks with this quick & easy Veggie & Steak Stir-Fry recipe. It’ll be ready for eating in less time than it takes to fold a load of laundry. You’re welcome!
Until next time, cheers!
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More easy steak dinners!
How to make easy steak stir fry with vegetables👇
Steak Stir Fry Recipe
- 2 Mixing Bowls (1 small + 1 medium)
- 1 Large Cast Iron Skillet or Wok
- 1 ½ pounds Steaks – excess fat trimmed & cut into generous 1-inch pieces (SEE NOTES)
- 1 heaping TBS Fresh Thyme Leaves - chopped
- 1 tsp EACH: Smoked Paprika & Onion Powder
- ½ tsp Cayenne Pepper – or more to taste
- Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper – to taste
- 2 ½ TBS Good-Quality Olive Oil – DIVIDED, plus more as needed
- 4 TBS Butter – cut into pats
- 3-4 cloves Garlic – minced
- 1 medium Zucchini – medium dice or cut into ½-inch-thick rounds
- 1 large Red Bell Pepper – medium dice
- 1 Lemon – juice
- Optional for Garnish: Fresh Basil and Lemon Wedges
- Optional for Serving: Rice, Quinoa or Cauliflower Rice
- Mix seasoning: In a small bowl, combine thyme, paprika, onion and cayenne. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Mix well to combine. Reserve 1 teaspoon of seasoning. Set both aside.
- Season steak: Pat the steak bites dry and add to a medium bowl. Sprinkle the seasoning mix (all but the reserved teaspoon), evenly over the steak and toss well to combine. Set aside.
- Cook peppers + zucchini: Heat 1 ½ tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the peppers and zucchini. Season with reserved teaspoon of seasoning. Cook, stirring frequently, until the veggies are just tender-crisp, about 6-10 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the skillet and transfer to a plate. (Note: If you prefer softer vegetables, continue to cook, stirring for a few extra minutes!)
- Cook steak: Return the skillet to between medium-high and high heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the steak bites to the pan in a single layer (cook in two batches and add more oil if necessary). Cook, undisturbed, for 3-4 minutes, or until the steak is brown on the bottom. Cook stir-frying for 1 minute. Remove steak from pan and transfer to the plate with the zucchini. (Note: If you prefer your steak well done, keep the steak cubes in the pan and go to next step.)
- Add butter + garlic: Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter and the garlic to the pan. Cook for 1 minute, or until melted.
- Add steak + veggies: Add the steak bites and vegetables to the pan. Cook, tossing or stirring frequently to coat the steak and vegetables in butter sauce, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add lemon + herbs: Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Stir in fresh basil if using.
- Serve: Enjoy as is or with your favorite grains!
- Beef: You can use any cut of steak you love in this recipe. I typically use ribeye or beef tenderloin; however, sirloin is the most economical steak option and it works great here! Alternatively, you can use flank steak; but you will need to slice it thinly against the grain instead of cubing.
- Cutting Steaks: It’s easiest to cut COLD meat. I recommend adding your steaks to a freezer-safe storage bag and placing them in the freezer for at least 30 minutes prior to cubing! (Note: You don’t want to freeze the meat completely!)
- Stir Frying Steak Bites: Typically, it’s best to remove the chill from your meat, prior to searing. HOWEVER, steak bites are very quick cooking! Therefore, it’s best to cook the meat cold – this will help prevent overcooking steaks.
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Chris David says
Really delicious recipe. I love it yummy!!! It’s really awesome