Brown Rice Lentil Stir Fry with Peanut Butter Sauce
4.67 from 12 votes

This quick, easy vegan brown rice lentil stir fry will become your go-to weeknight dinner! Lentils and rice meet shredded cabbage, carrots, and broccoli in a nutritious plant-based meal. Make the stir fry complete with a versatile and delicious peanut butter sauce.

A dish of cabbage, broccoli, whole grains, and legumes has been plated in a ceramic bowl that's resting on a light gray colored cloth. There's a small bowl of peanut sauce near the bowl.

Back when I was doing the SNAP challenge earlier this semester, one of my readers expressed surprise that a jar of peanut butter hadn’t made it onto my list of allotted purchases for the week. I simply hadn’t thought about it–you do a lot of picking and choosing on the challenge–because I’d been too focused on incorporating other foods into the budget. When my reader mentioned that one of her favorite, inexpensive dinners was a rice and lentil stir fry with peanut butter sauce, though, I made a mental note. It sounded tasty, healthy and fast in addition to being budget-friendly.

Nearly a month and a half later, I’ve made my own version of a quick, easy brown rice lentil stir fry with peanut butter sauce. I can already tell that this dish is going to make it onto the shortlist of recipes–which at the moment includes savory oats, curried chickpeas, and various bowl meals–of super fast recipes that I rely on during busy times.

Sautéed broccoli, rice, and lentils have been served in a white ceramic bowl.

In truth, the stir-fry is a humble one–just veggies, legumes, a grain, and a splash of tamari, vinegar, and ginger for flavor–but the salty, sweet peanut butter sauce is what makes it shine. You can stir the sauce into the dish as it warms in the skillet, or you can serve it alongside the stir fry and spoon it on top of the veggies and rice to your heart’s content.

Now that I’ve made the sauce, there’s a good chance I’ll be serving it in and on just about everything, from chopped salads to simple grain bowls. If I had the time or inclination to make spring rolls right now–which I don’t, but let’s pretend–the sauce would be ideal for dipping. You can fold it into any stir fry dish or use it as a marinade for tofu or tempeh. And I’m also imagining that it would be a killer dipping sauce for baked sweet potato wedges. Yum!

But to start with, try using it as a flavor base for this easy vegan supper.

A dish of cabbage, broccoli, whole grains, and legumes has been plated in a ceramic bowl that's resting on a light gray colored cloth. There's a small bowl of peanut sauce near the bowl.
4.67 from 12 votes

Brown Rice Lentil Stir Fry with Peanut Butter Sauce

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yields: 4 servings


For the sauce:

  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter (65g)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tamari or nama shoyu
  • 2 teaspoons maple or agave syrup
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons hot water

For the stir fry:

  • 1 cup short or medium-grain brown rice* (180g)
  • 1/2 cup lentils* (90g; you can use brown, green, French, beluga, or Pardina/Spanish lentils)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons avocado oil
  • 4 green onions, white and green parts, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 cup broccoli florets and/or peeled stalks, cut into bite-sized pieces (100g)
  • 2 cups thinly sliced cabbage (100g)
  • 1 cup shredded carrot (100g)
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or nama shoyu
  • 1 splash unseasoned rice vinegar


If cooking rice and lentils from scratch:

  • Place the rice and lentils in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cold running water for about 15 seconds. Transfer the rinsed rice and lentils to a medium pot and add the water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the rice and lentils are tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Gently pour out any excess water from the mixture.

Prepare the sauce:

  • Whisk together the sauce ingredients. If the sauce is too thick for your liking, add 1 extra tablespoon warm water.

Prepare the stir fry:

  • To prepare the stir fry, heat the oils in a large skillet or wok. Add the green onions. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, or until the onions are softened. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, continuing to stir, for about 30 seconds. Add the broccoli, cabbage, and carrot. Cook the vegetables, stirring frequently, for 5-8 minutes, or until they’re softened but still a little crispy. Stir in the tamari and the splash of vinegar.
  • Add the cooked rice and lentils to the skillet. Mix everything well and heat for a minute or two, or until the rice and lentils are both hot. Give the mixture a quick taste and add a little vinegar or tamari as desired, keeping in mind that you’ll be adding more flavor to the dish with the peanut sauce.
  • To serve, you can stir in the peanut sauce while the stir fry is still in the skillet, heating through, or you can divide the stir fry onto plates and top each serving with a few spoonfuls of the sauce. Garnish with additional chopped green onion tops, if desired.


*To streamline the recipe, use pre-cooked brown rice and lentils. You’ll need 3 cups/375g of cooked brown rice and 1 1/2 cups/225g cooked lentils, or 1 15-ounce/425g can. 
A vegan rice and lentil stir fry has been plated in a white bowl. It rests on a gray cloth, with a small pinch bowl of sauce nearby.

This is one of those dishes that’s more than the sum of its parts. Taken individually, all of the components are so simple, but somehow when they come together the result is really great. Even Steven, who has expressed a strong dislike of stir fry in the past, admitted that if it always tasted like this dish, he’d never mind eating it.

So, it’s worth a try. Especially if you find yourself struggling to get something on the table quickly these days. I hope you’ll find it as easy and satisfying as we did.

I had every intention of getting a menu plan Monday post up yesterday, but it just wasn’t in the cards. I’m hoping to settle back into a clearer plan next week, but for the rest of this week, I’m just winging it (and looking forward to celebrating Passover with friends and family this coming weekend). In the meantime, I have another super simple recipe planned for Thursday–another bowl!–and I hope to see you then 🙂


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Categories: Recipes, Main Dishes
Method: One Skillet, Stovetop
Ingredients: Broccoli, Lentils, Rice
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Vegan
Recipe Features: 30 Minute or Less, Meal Prep, Quick & Easy

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Recipe Rating

  1. 5 stars
    This looks intriguing and I’m looking forward to trying it!

    A couple of questions –
    1. If I don’t have fresh ginger, how much dried/ground ginger might I use instead?
    2. Does the recipe assume regular/sweetened peanut butter or natural/unsweetened? If the latter, would you lessen/omit the maple syrup to compensate if all you have is sweetened pb?

    Thank you! 🙂

    • I’m glad that the recipe speaks to you!

      1. I’d try 1/2 teaspoon dried/ground ginger.
      2. I use regular/smooth PB that has a small amount of sweetener, and I still like the maple syrup. But, I really like sweet/savory combos, so that could be calibrated to my sweet tooth. I’d taste the sauce and then decide whether you want to add the maple syrup!

      Enjoy 🙂

  2. The recipe was great tasting until I added the peanut butter, it turned into a gooey mess after unfortunatley and was ruined.

    • So sorry to hear that! The sauce is definitely meant to enhance the dish as a topping, not make it a mess. If you have leftovers, you can try thinning the sauce with a few tablespoons of water to dilute it.

  3. 5 stars
    Just made this, and it was delicious! Didn’t have cabbage but a lot of extra spinach, so I chopped that and used it instead. Still great!

  4. Ooh this might make a good lunch too, especially as leftovers. The sauce sounds like a perfect staple – I like the idea of making lettuce rolls to dip into it. And dipping sweet potato fries in the sauce sounds amazing!
    And budget friendly to boot!

  5. I made this recipe for dinner tonight, and it was absolutely delicious. I substituted white beans and quinoa for the lentils and brown rice. That peanut butter sauce is out of this world! Thanks so much for this recipe. I will be making it again very soon!

  6. 5 stars
    Made this tonight for supper – it was so good! Loved the addition of the lentils – almost like a stir-fry/mujadrah combo. I served it with a few slices of avocado on top, a sprinkle of gomasio and sriracha to pass at the table. Happily eaten by all from 86 to 8 – that’s impressive!

  7. I love reader-inspired recipes! And this stir fry sounds incredible. I would have never thought to include lentils and now I’m wondering how I will ever make it again without them – such a smart idea <3. And nut-butter sauce is the best sauce, always. Hope you're having a lovely week Gena! YAY for the weekend 🙂

  8. Such beautiful colors–this is my kind of meal–and I know my son and daughter-in-law would love the peanut sauce! Thanks, Gena! xo

  9. This sounds delicious! I am also going through a period where I have zero time for cooking, coupled with a very limited budget, so I really love that you are posting these types of meals! I have frozen broccoli that I’ll have to use and some beluga lentils and short-grain brown rice, looking forward to trying it out! PS- I ALWAYS have PB

  10. The colors in this are fabulous, and I’m always down for quick + easy. I have every ingredient on hand, so this might be tonight’s dinner. Love that wrinkled linen, too! 🙂

  11. Oh I just love everything about this recipe, Gena! Peanut Butter Sauce is our favorite go-to during the week – it’s perfect for brightening up pretty much any dish!