chicken green bean over rice

Easy chicken and green bean stir fry

31 August 2010

This is Chinese cooking for modern Americans – a light, simple and delicious stir fry that is quick to prep and cook. It’s devoured by adults and kids alike in my extended and extensive in-law family and provides everyone with a yummy balanced meal in a single bowl.

In real Chinese cooking, you don’t really combine a lot of vegetables with meat in a single dish like this. Even when she worked full time, my mom cooked everything in multiple courses (meat, veg, etc) – which I adore and admire. But I am all about making cooking as simple as possible. Many Chinese dishes require a significant amount of prep time chopping up vegetables and meat. In this recipe the chicken is diced but the green beans are cooked whole, so it’s a snap to prepare. In my mom’s cooking, she quickly deep fries the meat in small batches, which results in really succulent, tender chicken. But that method is too time-consuming and messy for me, and I also like to keep things light. I stir fry this dish in one big skillet, which makes clean up easy.

I’m on a roll with the string bean recipes this week, which is what happens when you shop at Costco. I hadn’t thought of dinner at all until shortly before my six year old’s soccer game Saturday afternoon, and I was happy to remember that I still had more than half the package of French green beans left. I scrambled to do 10 minutes of prep work before running out the door.

Defrosted some chicken breasts for a few minutes in a bowl of cold water.

Diced the chicken – still kind of frozen, but I was in a hurry.

Rinsed the green beans and left them to dry in a colander. Ready to marinate chicken.

Couple splashes soy sauce (Kikkoman is the best) and sherry; garlic clove through the press and in with the chicken.

Ready for the fridge.

I was then off for an hour or so to the soccer game. It’s perfectly fine if you only have 10 minutes to marinate. But if you have the luxury of thinking ahead, the chicken will be more flavorful if you let it sit for an hour or two.

When I got back, I washed rice and started it in the rice cooker. Then to my quick stir fry. Couple of tablespoons of oil in skillet (my mom always uses corn oil, so that’s what I use – feel free to use what you have).

Green beans (you may need to do this in two batches if your skillet isn’t supersized like this.

I won’t bore you with the green bean cooking since we just went through it in the green beans and feta recipe. Though this time you can undercook a bit, since the beans will go back in the skillet a second time. Remove beans from pan.

Make the stir fry sauce: brown sugar, apple cider vinegar (white or rice vinegar will do too), soy sauce, sherry and garlic. Feel free to add fresh ginger if you have it (you can grate some in or just add a few slices for a milder flavor).

You can also double the sauce if you like a saucier stir fry. American Chinese food is a lot saucier than traditional Chinese food, in which the sauce just serves to give a light coat to the meat.

Add cornstarch (this will thicken the sauce when heated).

Stir, pressing out any lumps.

Now to cook the chicken. Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in same pan. Add chicken.

When chicken is just about cooked (not pink anymore), add prepared sauce. It quickly turns from milky light brown to glossy dark brown as it cooks. I also threw in a couple of jalapeno slices, which my mother-in-law brought in at that minute.

Add cooked green beans and stir to incorporate. Add a dash of sesame oil if desired.

Remove to a serving bowl or platter (sorry picture is blurry…only took one as I was in a hurry to get food to in-laws).

Serve over steamed rice. Tender chicken, crunchy green beans, fluffy rice and a sweet, tangy, garlicky sauce. It’s not how Chinese grandmas with a capital “C” cook, but it’s darned tasty for the rest of us.

Chicken and green bean stir fry
A light, simple and delicious stir fry. Not authentic, but easy, healthy and extremely versatile.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 1/4 pounds green beans
  • Cooking oil

Marinade

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  • 1 clove garlic

Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (white vinegar or rice vinegar also fine)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce (Kikkoman is best)
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry
  • 1 clove garlic

Optional

  • Dash sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

Directions

  1. If starting with frozen chicken breasts, set in bowl of cold water to defrost.
  2. Take end off green beans and wash.
  3. Rinse rice in several changes of water until water is mostly clear. Add fresh water for cooking and set aside.
  4. Dice chicken into bite-sized pieces (approx 1/2-inch cubes). Place diced chicken in bowl.
  5. Add marinade ingredients to chicken – soy sauce, sherry, garlic (chopped or pressed through garlic press). Stir well to distribute marinade.
  6. Refrigerate chicken.
  7. Start rice to cook before starting stir fry.
  8. Prepare stir fry sauce (note: you can double the stir fry sauce if you prefer a saucier stir fry). Add brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, sherry and garlic (again chopped or pressed through garlic press) in small bowl. You can also add fresh ginger if you have it.
  9. Add cornstarch and stir well, pressing out any lumps until sauce has a consistent milky brown color.
  10. Heat two tablespoons of oil in an large skillet over medium-high heat.
  11. Add green beans. If green beans don’t fit in one batch, cook half at a time. Use long tongs to turn beans over while cooking so that they do not burn.
  12. If beans are particularly thick, add two tablespoons of water to pan and cover skillet for a couple of minutes to steam-cook beans to desired tenderness. Do not overcook, as beans will go back in the pan briefly later.
  13. Remove beans from pan.
  14. Add two more tablespoons of oil to pan. Add chicken and stir to separate pieces.
  15. When chicken is cooked (turns from pink to white), add prepared stir fry sauce and stir. Sauce will quickly turn from milky light brown to glossy dark brown as it cooks.
  16. Add string beans and stir to combine. Add dash of sesame oil if desired.
  17. Remove chicken and string beans to serving dish.
  18. Serve over rice.

Serves 6.

Notes

  • If you are making ahead, cook green beans and chicken separately. Just before you are ready to eat, add chicken back to skillet with sauce, then vegetables last. This will keep everything looking pretty.
  • If sauce is too runny for your liking, mix 2 teaspoons of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water and add. Cook until sauce thickens.
  • If sauce is too thick, add 2 tablespoons of water and stir well.
  • If sauce is too tart for your liking, add 1 tablespoon soy sauce.
  • Sherry is a fortified wine, originally from Spain. Some are sweet and others dry. For cooking, you will normally want dry sherry. Better to buy it in the wine section of the market – cooking sherry sold in the food section is not good. Unlike regular wine, sherry will last indefinitely, so you can use it over a long time.

Here’s the link to the print version of the recipe:

Chicken and green bean stir fry recipe for printing

This work, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

{ 78 comments… read them below or add one }

MKJ 31 August 2010 at 10:50 am

Loving these recipes…..only so much Adobo Chicken we can eat! (not true)

Reply

cg 31 August 2010 at 10:53 am

haha, that recipe’s coming this fall! thanks for reading. xoxo

Reply

Megyn Lansing 31 August 2010 at 7:33 pm

I am really psyched to try this!
Two of my favorite things prepared just right!

Reply

cg 31 August 2010 at 8:09 pm

let me know how it turns out!

Reply

Molly 2 September 2010 at 6:42 pm

oh problems, problems. i just bought fresh green beans to try the feta recipe. now i have to decide to use them in that dish or this…

Reply

Pauline 13 October 2010 at 3:57 pm

Yummy. I live in Vanuatu and LOVE chinese cooking. I will definitley try this out this week-end.

Reply

cg 13 October 2010 at 9:33 pm

hi pauline, so nice of you to visit. vanuatu – fantastic! technology is amazing. let me know how it goes this weekend!

Reply

Rachele 28 April 2011 at 5:07 pm

We loved the sauce on this recipe! It’s so versatile! Making stir fry again tonight with your recipe but with chicken, mushrooms, and broccoli instead of green beans. I can’t wait to try some of your other recipes.

Reply

cg 3 May 2011 at 8:44 pm

hi rachele – so glad you like the recipe! love your variation – i agree, the sauce works well with pretty much any stir fry you can come up with. thanks so much for taking the time to comment. you made my day!

Reply

Rena 27 July 2011 at 7:32 pm

We all love this recipe! It has quickly become a dinner staple and popular favorite, even for my picky eater preschooler.

Reply

cg 30 July 2011 at 12:07 am

thanks, rena! that makes me very happy. =)

Reply

olga 16 August 2011 at 10:00 am

sounds very delicious, chicken marinated, beans ready to be cooked, about to prepare the sauce and the rice!!! ummmm so hungry can’t wait to try it!!! I’m going to serve it with chinese egg soup as an aperatif

Reply

cg 16 August 2011 at 12:50 pm

yay olga, love hearing about your meal in process – hope you like it!

Reply

Alisha 5 December 2011 at 11:38 am

I intentionally cut the chicken up partially frozen. Makes for a prettier presentation, and makes the chicken far easier to cut too!

Reply

cg 6 December 2011 at 6:14 am

hi alisha – great idea, thanks for sharing!

Reply

Stephanie 19 January 2012 at 9:54 am

I’m need to expand my chicken dish possibilities and was just saying that I need to get into stir fries to incorporate more veggies as I’m helping my husband start Weight Watchers. I can’t wait to try this recipe and add some other variations like red peppers, broccoli, etc. I just discovered your blog and LOVE your kitchen—it is to die for and I’m taking notes! Keep sharing!

Reply

cg 19 January 2012 at 1:06 pm

thanks, stephanie! so glad you found me. hope you like the recipe – it is a great way to eat more veggies!

Reply

Ted 2 April 2012 at 12:21 am

I prepared this dish tonight and it came out excellent, even without the Sherry! What is your opinion of adding Chinese black bean to this recipe? I can see the black bean adding more flavor to the green bean, but this would change the marinade a little because of the saltiness, I think.

Reply

Ted 2 April 2012 at 12:23 am

Oh, I also used the dark meat instead (thigh), just a personal preference of mine, its more tasty. Thanks again for the recipe.

Reply

cg 7 April 2012 at 7:26 am

wonderful – thanks for sharing back!

Reply

cg 7 April 2012 at 7:23 am

hi ted, black bean would be a great add! i agree, you could definitely reduce the soy sauce since the black bean is also salty. let me know if you try it!

Reply

Gail 31 May 2012 at 5:25 am

Found this recipe when looking for something new to try with chicken and green beans (which I had in the fridge). Made it for dinner – it was FANTASTIC! I love your stir-fry sauce, and marinating the chicken beforehand made it juicy and delicious. I added some fresh pineapple because I didn’t have quite enough beans on hand, and I thought it would help entice the kids to the dish. It was a wonderful addition – made a very complete meal. (If anyone wants to try this, I shorted the brown sugar a bit in the stir-fry sauce, to compensate for the sweetness of the pineapple.)

Reply

cg 8 June 2012 at 8:35 am

hi gail – love your creativity, and thanks so much for sharing the idea back!

Reply

Karissa 6 June 2012 at 8:26 pm

I came home from work, googled “chicken and green beans”, found this recipe and made it dinner. Fantastic! Thanks so much for an awesome recipe.

Reply

cg 8 June 2012 at 8:34 am

hi karissa – isn’t it wonderful to have a dinnertime success! thanks so much for letting me know.

Reply

Sian 20 June 2012 at 5:12 am

This is so simple yet sooooooo nom nom nom nom nom nom : ))

Reply

cg 22 June 2012 at 6:10 am

hi sian – very happy you liked it! really easy to substitute other veg and protein too. =)

Reply

sian 2 July 2012 at 4:26 am

I made again! This time I only used asparagus and fresh shiitake mushrooms. The chili flakes gave nice oomph!

Reply

cg 3 July 2012 at 9:24 am

hi sian – mmm, asparagus and mushroom combo sounds awesome. thanks for sharing!

Reply

Sandy Nguyen 27 June 2012 at 10:56 pm

I love your blog and your recipes. I have done this today to go with brown rice. I think it is super healthy with lean meat, green and very little olive oil I used :)

Reply

cg 31 August 2012 at 1:04 am

hi sandy – so glad you liked it! i love brown rice too and always feel great when i eat this meal.

Reply

Melissa 3 August 2012 at 9:13 pm

Omg!!!! I love love love loved this recipe! It was so delicious!! My entire family raved about it. Thanks do much for sharing and making it easy n fast for me to prepare a meal that my family really enjoyed!! Please share more delicious Asian inspired recipes! :)

Reply

cg 31 August 2012 at 12:20 am

hi melissa – thanks so much! i will definitely share more asian recipes now that i’m back in california. my mom’s cooking is the greatest. =)

Reply

Mandy 21 August 2012 at 6:23 pm

This was wonderful. Will definitely make again. Thanks for sharing.

Reply

Ted Vermaas 4 September 2012 at 5:44 pm

Very tasty (nam-nam). Thanks for sharing

Reply

Donna 20 November 2012 at 11:10 pm

What a great recipe! It came out excellent. Even my husband asked for seconds and he hates anything sweet. They only thing I changed was cooking the green beans in a bit of butter and garlic before adding them to the sauced chicken. The sauce is so simple yet tasty. I will definitely be using the sauce for other things. This one is going in the recipe book. Thanks!

Reply

cg 26 November 2012 at 1:29 am

hi donna – so glad you and your husband liked it! thanks for the feedback, i love hearing everyone’s recipe tweaks. and i am delighted to be in your recipe book. =)

Reply

Jesse 11 December 2012 at 4:55 pm

I made this tonight and got rave reviews from the wife and even the 5 and 2 year olds loved it! Thanks!!

Reply

cg 11 December 2012 at 5:42 pm

hi jesse – you are awesome! thanks so much for trying out the recipe and letting me know it worked out for you. it’s always great when dinner is a hit. =)

Reply

Anne 2 January 2013 at 7:07 pm

So good! I doubled the sauce and it was so thick and sweet, and I added a little chili paste so there was a bit of a spicy kick! Thank you for this recipe, I will make it again and again!

Reply

cg 3 January 2013 at 9:26 pm

hi anne – great add! i like a little spice too. thanks for sharing back.

Reply

Dana 27 January 2013 at 3:28 pm

Great recipe! My husband said it was the best Chinese food he’s had since we moved to the Twin Cities six months ago! I used the fresh bagged green beans from the produce aisle and steamed them in the bag in the microwave. Cut down on the oil a tad. Definitely a keeper!

Reply

cg 29 January 2013 at 2:52 am

hi dana – i’m so glad it worked out for you. thanks for sharing back, and good luck in the twin cities!

Reply

Cari 12 February 2013 at 6:25 pm

LOVE this recipe! I make it all the time now. I add cashews at the end to my dish (as my family doesn’t like them). I enjoy the extra crunch. :)

Reply

cg 14 February 2013 at 12:52 am

hi cari – mmm, great add! you’re making me hungry… =P

Reply

Emily 22 February 2013 at 5:26 pm

This was delicious! I had no sherry so just used water in its place. I used coconut oil to cook the beans, which was yummy. And I subbed tofu cubes for the chicken. We loved it, and I’ll definitely make it again!

Reply

cg 25 February 2013 at 12:48 am

hi emily – love the substitutions, thanks for sharing! so great to let people know it’s not necessary to take recipes literally.

Reply

Jill 22 March 2013 at 6:21 am

Yum! My daughter has Celiac Disease and dinner can be a challenge. This was delicious and easy! My husband requested I put broccoli in it next time. I might even try asparagus.

Reply

cg 22 March 2013 at 10:25 am

hi jill – yes great, the recipe is really flexible! so glad it worked for your family.

Reply

Heidi 11 April 2013 at 5:36 am

Made this last night, it was delish! Easy and quick, a definate keeper.

Reply

cg 15 April 2013 at 1:16 am

hi heidi – so glad it worked out for you! thanks very much for taking the time to let me know.

Reply

~Simply Me 8 August 2013 at 9:02 am

Ok, y,all DON’T LAUGH :(
I already feel so Stupid …. :(
I’m not much of a Cook :(
But what is SHERRY ?
I know it’s Cooking Sherry but what is it Really ?
LOL, I’ve never seen a bottle that said Cooking Sherry ….
Help Please :)

Reply

cg 8 August 2013 at 9:46 am

hi ~simply me – i should be more specific! sherry is a fortified wine, originally from spain, some are sweet and others dry. for cooking, you will normally want dry sherry. i buy it at trader joe’s, but you will also see it at any supermarket. better to buy it in the wine section – the cooking sherry sold in the food section is not good. unlike regular wine, sherry will last indefinitely, so you can use it over a long time. hope that helps!

Reply

Tracy Roudebush 8 August 2013 at 11:50 am

Thank you for posting this recipe! My daughter just discovered a love of chicken with green beans (at a chinese restaurant)…right after we discovered she needed a gluten free diet. With GF soy sauce–she will be able to enjoy this dish again!

Reply

Just Me 10 August 2013 at 2:33 pm

I don’t have any sherry….is it alright to make without it?

Reply

cg 10 August 2013 at 2:47 pm

yes it’s fine! sherry is just a extra.

Reply

Carina 19 August 2013 at 11:38 am

This is such a great & simple recipe, thank you!! It’s so hard to find a good stir-fry sauce that is light and well balanced. I make this meal once a week :) It’s great for those days that you feel like you need some more veggies in your life!

Reply

cg 21 August 2013 at 10:33 am

hi carina – once a week, that is wonderful! it really works with all kinds of veggies. so glad you enjoy it, thanks so much for sharing back! =)

Reply

Dana 28 August 2013 at 3:17 pm

Oh my goodness, you saved my dinner tonight – and many dinners in the future! This recipe was AMAZING! Thank you so much for a wonderful recipe. We are gluten free and all I had to do was use GF soy sauce, and it was the first Chinese food we’ve had in over 2 years!
-Dana

Reply

cg 28 August 2013 at 5:35 pm

yay dana – that is cause for celebration! it is so hard to do without foods you used to enjoy – i am very glad to have helped restore a bit of chinese food back into your life. =) i’m much more sensitive to dietary issues since i tried eliminating a bunch of foods a few years back to help with my eczema. so i do try to note recipes that can be made gluten free, dairy free, egg free, etc. thanks so much for sharing back!

Reply

Krista 10 October 2013 at 9:41 am

Thank you sooo much for this and the beans + feta recipe, we totally love both these dishes, currently making (for 3rd or so time) this and just wanted to tell you big THANKS for sharing this recipe. Ohh, and not to forget your vinaigrette recipe, that has become my favorite vinaigrette above all others! Thanks from and international English-Latvian family living in Brussels :)

Reply

cg 10 October 2013 at 12:06 pm

hi krista – so nice to hear from you! i am always especially happy to hear from readers around the world – just imagining you in brussels is like a little mental getaway for me. =) very glad you are enjoying the green bean recipes and the vinaigrette, some of my favorites!

Reply

Eva 22 December 2013 at 9:40 pm

The BEST recipe EVER!!! AMAZING!! Thank you for sharing these recipes!!!

Reply

cg 7 January 2014 at 2:47 pm

hi eva – so happy it worked out for you, even without the wine! =)

Reply

Kez 8 January 2014 at 1:14 pm

Very good recipe! I used marsala wine because I was out of Sherry. Turned out so tasty. Also, I had to cook it ahead of time so, I transferred it to my slow cooker (rice on bottom) and left it on warm till dinner time. It stayed fresh and ready.

Reply

cg 9 January 2014 at 9:46 am

hi kez – thanks so much for sharing back…great that you enjoyed the dish, and nice trick on the slow cooker!

Reply

Martha 9 January 2014 at 6:49 pm

Made this tonight and it was delicious! Thank you for the recipe!

Reply

cg 10 January 2014 at 2:27 am

hi martha – happy you enjoyed it…thank you for sharing back!

Reply

lynn 25 January 2014 at 4:55 pm

Wow. Fantastic. Best stir fry I’ve ever made.

Reply

cg 27 January 2014 at 3:21 pm

hi lynn – love the thumbs up, thx!!

Reply

Catherine 15 February 2014 at 8:55 pm

Hello!
I love this recipe. I made it tonight, and I only had 30 minutes to marinate the chicken and that made such a big difference.
I also love how you talk about simplicity. I am of Aboriginal descent, and I know of simplicity when it comes to cooking. My grandmother makes these awesome, and very simple doughnuts. Everyone loves them. Thank you for posting! Defiantly going to make it again in the future.
Catherine

Reply

cg 21 February 2014 at 4:10 pm

hi catherine – so glad you liked the recipe! and thank you for sharing back – your grandmother’s doughnuts sound fantastic…i don’t usually think of doughnuts as simple, so that recipe sounds like a real treasure.

Reply

Hailey 25 May 2014 at 4:29 pm

Hi! I just wanted to let you know how much my beau LOVES this meal. I mean, he begs me for it. It’s the only one of my dozens of meals that he requests over and over again. The only things I do differently are: add about a tablespoon of fresh minced ginger to the sauce, use Bragg’s liquid aminos instead of soy sauce (he’s allergic to gluten), and I always double the sauce, as well. Many thanks for this simple, delicious recipe! :)

Reply

cg 30 May 2014 at 8:37 am

hi hailey – this makes me so happy! thanks for letting me know, and for sharing your gluten free adjustments.

Reply

Agnès 1 July 2014 at 4:33 pm

I had chicken breast and green beans and was seeking tastiness and simplicity. This was perfect! My husband and son loved it. Will be a new weeknight staple! I added the ginger (which I happened to have on hand), red pepper flakes and sesame oil. First time here – will be returning!

Reply

cg 2 July 2014 at 8:47 am

hi agnès – i am delighted it worked out for your family! a recipe you can count on is a real friend. hope you find more here! thanks so much for sharing back.

Reply

Mommyof3 27 September 2014 at 5:37 pm

Do you think this would work well in the crockpot? Adding the sauce and beans at the end, maybe? I work full time and having dinner basically ready when I get home is a huge life saver. I’m always looking for recipes that can be converted to the crock pot.

Reply

cg 28 September 2014 at 10:48 pm

alas no, this is won’t work in the crockpot. stir fry is all about quick and hot, not low and slow – your green beans would be overcooked and mushy. i definitely hear you on the convenience of make-ahead, though – chicken adobo would be a great option the crockpot. or for the stir fry, if you had the chicken marinating in the fridge, the sauce made and the veg ready to go, the cooking time when you get home would be very quick. good luck!

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: