Vegan Stir Fry – Sweet & Sour Veggies With Sticky Rice In The Instant Pot

This vegan stir fry wows with tangy sweet and sour sauce and delicious veggies. It’s a super easy & healthy week-night dish you can quickly cook up in the Instant Pot.

Stir fry is one of the weekly recurring recipes in our household, no matter what season it is.

I pretty much love any foods that involve a combination of vegetables, textures, and flavors. And, as a mom, I love seeing my kids enjoy eating their veggies, too. Our version of stir fry does the trick!

I say “our version” because, you know, I’m not exactly heating up my wok with hot oil and tossing around fresh veggies and sauces, like you would do to make a proper stir fry. I make mine in my Instant Pot!

Lately, I read The Engine 2 Diet, after tracking it down as the reason I keep spotting “no oil” recipes. I had no idea that “no oil” was a thing, so I was curious to read more about it. A few people mentioned this Engine 2 diet thing, so I checked it out from my local library.

In the book, Rip Esselstyn refers to his father Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s many years of researching the prevention and reversal of heart disease. Both the Esselstyns advocate a plant-based, oil free diet as the key to avoiding heart disease.

I was intrigued by this information. Heart diseases is the main killer in the United States, and sadly my family also has a history of heart attacks.

So after reading about this and deciding that I’d rather risk having slightly different tasting food than risk getting a heart attack in 20 years, I’ve been experimenting with making my recipes without oil.

So far, the results have been alright. If you’re sitting there scratching your head thinking, “Yeah but Shannon if you don’t use oil for sautéing and stuff, what do you use?”

Water, my friends. You use water. I know.

Obviously, sautéing in water is gonna yield slightly different results, but one of the surprising “pros” for skipping the oil for water is that you can actually taste the ingredients more when you don’t have everything coated in a little oil.

My first big “no oil” success is this stir fry that I made in my Instant Pot! I “sautéd” my veggies in water, added sauce, and then made the rice.

Vegan Stir Fry In The Instant Pot

The first thing you should know about making this vegan stir fry dinner is that it’s kind of a two step process.

First, we’ll be cooking up the veggies and sauce. We’ll transfer them to a serving dish, and then we’ll proceed to cook the rice in the Instant Pot.

No need to wash the pot in between cooking the sauce and the rice! Because, we have to wash the rice anyways, and when you wash the rice (in the pot) it washes out any remaining sauce bits.

It’s easy, it’s simple, it’s magical… okay, here are the detailed steps.

Stir Fry Vegetables

Practically any vegetables will work in a stir fry, although I would avoid using ones that break up when cooked such as potato, sweet, potato, or squash. Other than that, your stir fry veggies are your choice.

If you hate onions can’t stand broccoli, or are practically ALLERGIC to mushrooms, it’s okay. You can always just leave them out.

I always make my stir fry a little differently depending on which veggies I have lying around needing to be eaten up.

This time, the vegetables for stir fry that I used included: one medium sized white onion, one large carrot, a head of broccoli, and one particularly luscious-looking yellow bell pepper.

I also added some canned pineapple to this stir fry, since I made it with sweet and sour sauce. I use the juice from the pineapple can in the sauce, and then added the pineapples at the end.

I would have added the pineapples to the rest of the veggies when they were sautéing, but completely forgot about them until after I was finished cooking! So I just snuck them in at the end.

Other Ingredients For A Vegan Stir Fry

Traditionally, some type of meat, poultry, or even eggs would be a key point of a stir fry dish.

When making a vegan stir fry, you can get creative with your vegetables and meatless proteins to create something even healthier. Tofu, seitan chunks or sliced seitan, meatless “chicken” strips and the like are all great choices to add protein, texture, and more flavor to your meal.

Tofu For Stir Fry

Usually when I’m making some vegan stir fry, I’ll use something like extra firm tofu to add protein. The reason I like extra firm in stir fry is that it doesn’t break up as easily when stirred.

Even extra firm tofu will crumble apart if you aren’t careful, though. So remember to stir gently once you’ve added it.

The taste and texture of tofu go really well with stir fry because it absorbs some of the flavors of the sauce.

If using tofu in stir fry, you may want to let the water drain out of it a little bit first. There’s no requirement that tofu needs to be drained, but it will have more “tofu” taste if you don’t drain it, which is why many people prefer draining it first.

Draining tofu involves letting the water in the pack leak out, and then putting weight on the tofu so that the water starts to get pushed out.

Personally, I don’t mind the taste of unpressed tofu (actually I love it) so I don’t always take the time to press it first.

Vegan Chicken

In this stir fry I tried out something new, which is the vegan chicken from Aldi.

As far as “fake meats” go, I’d say this one is not bad. It doesn’t really taste like chicken, but that’s not a problem. It has a good texture and makes the whole stir fry more satisfying.

Chop Up The Veggies For Stir Fry

I cut the carrot into matchsticks, sliced the bell pepper, and roughly chopped up the onion. I love having huge pieces of broccoli in my food so I tried to break up the head of broccoli into larger chunks.

If you eat a lot of tofu, you can always get a special tofu press.

It’s a vegan stir fry, so feel free to go crazy with your vegetables! You could also add…. sliced water chestnuts, chopped cabbage (red or green), chopped celery, mushrooms, chopped zucchini, sliced green onions, diced potatoes, etc.

Stir Fry The Veggies In Water

I added some water to the Instant Pot along with my veggies. I suggest leaving the broccoli and carrots out until we add the sauce later, because they will cook very quickly.

I used the sauté button and set the timer to 5 minutes. The water will start to heat up and prevent the veggies from sticking. I also closed the lid on my Instant Pot to help the veggies cook up thoroughly.

Once the timer for 7 minutes beeps at you, it’s time to add your sauce and quick-cooking vegetables such as thinly-sliced carrots and broccoli.

(If you prefer a more well cooked broccoli, you can go ahead and add it in in the first sautéing).

Next, I set the timer for 5 minutes to sauté again. The sauce quickly started boiling up and thickening up. I was surprised that it didn’t seem to overcook or burn in the bottom of the Instant Pot.

Just to be safe, I recommend stirring gently while the sauce is cooking, which will also help the sauce distribute evenly on to all the veggies.

Once the timer beeps, you’ll carefully transfer the stir fry veggies and sauce to a large bowl or serving dish. I put mine in a bowl and covered it up with a plate. It will continue to cook a little bit from it’s own heat while the rice cooks.

Cooking Rice In The Instant Pot

I usually make sticky rice in my Instant Pot when I’m serving a stir fry. To make sticky rice, I start with some short-grain white rice such as Calrose Botan rice, which you can usually find sold in nice 15 pound bags at WalMart.

After measuring out the dry rice, I rinsed it out in my Instant Pot two times, then added the right amount of water.

When making sticky rice in the Instant Pot, I use a 1:1 ratio of rice to water.

Then I put the lid on the pot, set the valve to sealing, and press Pressure Cook (or Manual) and set the timer to 12 minutes on High Pressure. You can also press the rice button, but I think it comes out a bit stickier if you manually tell it exactly how to cook.

Once the rice is finished, your dinner is ready!

vegan stir fry instant pot

Vegan Stir Fry

This tangy sweet and sour stir fry is ready in about 45 minutes by using your Instant Pot to cook the vegetables and the rice back to back. This recipe is vegan and oil free!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Additional Time 5 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Servings 6 servings
Calories 146 kcal


For The Stir Fry

  • Vegan Meatless Chicken
  • or Extra Firm Tofu, etc
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped pineapple

For The Sweet & Sour Sauce

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water

Optional Stir Fry Toppings

  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds optional
  • 1/2 tsp dry chili flakes optional

For The Sticky White Rice

  • 2 1/2 cups short grain white rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water


  • Chop up the onion and bell pepper. Slice the carrot into matchsticks. Cut up the head of broccoli and slice the pineapple if needed.
  • Add 1/4 cup water to the Instant Pot, add the onion, bell pepper and vegan chicken. Press the sauté button and set it to 5 minutes. Keep the lid closed but NOT SEALING while it sautés.
  • Open the lid and pour in the sauce, broccoli, and carrots. Sauté for another 5 minutes (use the Instant Pot timer to time the 5 minutes) with the lid open, stirring the pot to make sure the sauce doesn't burn. It will boil and thicken.
  • Use a potholder to transfer the veggies and sauce to a serving dish.
  • Then measure dry rice into the pot, and wash the rice.
  • Add water to the rice. Secure the lid and set the valve to sealing, and press "Rice" or "Manual." Set the time to 12 minutes on high pressure if using manual. Do a quick release when done.
  • Serve with toasted sesame seeds and chili flakes, if desired.


I used a standard, US dry cup to measure the rice, not the rice cup that came with the Instant Pot.
Course: Vegan Dinner Recipes
Cuisine: American, Chinese


Serving: 1g | Calories: 146kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 27mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g
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