Try making easy fried rice at home! You’ll find that delicious fried rice doesn’t have to be loaded with oil like restaurant versions, and you can even make it with healthier brown rice.
Crisply browned rice, seasoned with ginger, garlic, and toasted sesame oil, combined with peas, diced carrots, and green onions, and of course, bits of scrambled egg — does this sound like comfort food to you? It sure does to me! I could easily eat fried rice for breakfast — it does have eggs, right? Maybe you prefer to stick with pancakes, but I love a savory breakfast.
All too often, I avoid ordering fried rice at my favorite Chinese restaurant because it tends to be kind of greasy. I’m sure that a generous amount of oil is used in the preparation. But when you make your own fried rice at home, you’re in control of the ingredients. Isn’t that a happy thing? I think so. You could even make air fryer egg rolls to go with your fried rice!
You’ll find only a minimal amount of oil is necessary to make this fried rice recipe, and it’s so good! And yes, it’s easy. You can have fried rice on the table in less than a half hour.
About this recipe
No special equipment is needed here, just a wok or a nice big skillet with curved sides. Make sure all your ingredients are ready to go because this recipe moves along pretty quickly.
Now, about the rice. Leftover rice is best for fried rice. Why? The grains firm up and dry out overnight in the fridge. Ever have leftover rice, maybe in a takeout container, and try to reheat it the next day? It’s pretty darn dry, isn’t it? Kind of flies all over the place when you’re trying to scoop it on your plate before microwaving it.
Well, that dry rice is just what you need for perfect fried rice. The separate grains of rice crisp up beautifully and don’t get mushy or clump up. Long grain rice is best, especially jasmine rice with its wonderfully floral aroma. Brown rice is great, too.
So! Here’s the plan. The next time you make rice, make a double batch, and you’ll be all set for fried rice tomorrow (or the next day). Keep reading for more make ahead ideas.
What you need
- Rice: Remember, leftover rice is best! Long grain white rice, jasmine, or brown rice are perfect.
- Oil: Use an oil with a high smoke point, like canola, avocado, or grapeseed. My favorite is grapeseed.
- Onion: any type of onion will do.
- Frozen Peas and Carrots: You’ll love how convenient it is to simply use a bag of frozen vegetables, prepped and ready for you right out of the freezer.
- Garlic: The beauty of homemade is that you can use as much or as little as you want
- Ginger: Use fresh ginger root, minced or grated.
- Soy Sauce: We like reduced sodium soy sauce but choose your favorite kind. Tamari is great, too.
- Toasted Sesame Oil: For rich nutty flavor, don’t substitute plain sesame oil because it won’t add the flavor you’re looking for in fried rice.
- Eggs: What’s fried rice without scrambled eggs?
- Green Onions: Add sliced green onions (scallions) right before serving.
How to make it
Let’s talk a minute about oil. You’ll only need one tablespoon of oil to actually fry the rice. The first step in this recipe is to heat up your skillet, add the oil and rice, and let the rice brown. Stir it a couple of times but not frequently. You want the rice to have a chance to brown and crisp up.
After that crucial first step, push the rice to the side of the pan, and add the veggies to the other side.
Cook those a few minutes, then add garlic and ginger, oh, that smells so good! Next, you’ll soy sauce and toasted sesame oil. A little bit of the sesame oil goes a long way, it’s very flavorful.
Okay, we’re almost there. In fact, if you want to go vegan, stop right here, no eggs for you! Fried rice is great for a vegetarian entree, though. Push the rice and vegetables to the side of the pan, and add a couple of whisked eggs.
Lightly scramble the eggs. This will go super fast because the pan is hot. Use your spatula to kind of chop them up. When the eggs are done, mix everything together, sprinkle with sliced green onions, and voila! Dinner is served.
How to make this recipe your own
- Substitute or add more veggies. This can really be a clean out your fridge sort of meal. Traditionally, fried rice has peas and carrots but who says that’s the only way to make it? You’re the cook, add the veggies you like. The only caveat is the veggies need to be diced quite small so they cook quickly. If you’re using up veggies that are already cooked, no problem.
- Add greens to the stir fry. I know, greens are veggies, but I like to point out that spinach, arugula, or baby kale can be added to almost any recipe. We all need to beef up our greens intake, right?
- Quickly sauté shrimp in another pan to stir into your fried rice. You could cook the shrimp in the same pan, too, if you have a large enough skillet or wok. Or add cubes of baked or fried tofu.
Like most anything, it all depends on how it’s prepared. Restaurant fried rice is usually made with a lot of unhealthy oil, sodium, few vegetables, and is almost never made with healthier brown rice. When you make your own fried rice, you control the amount of oil and salt added, making it a healthy choice. Feel free to use brown rice and add as many veggies as you like to increase the nutrition of your fried rice.
Fried rice gets loads of flavor from garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and toasted sesame oil. Some cooks also add oyster sauce or fish sauce.
For crispy fried rice, leftover rice that’s been refrigerated overnight is best. It allows the rice to dry out and dry = crispy. If you didn’t have a chance to make the rice a day ahead, go ahead and make a batch of rice. Spread the cooked rice on a large sheet pan, cover it lightly, and refrigerate it for a half hour or so.
The big make ahead part of this recipe is the rice. Make a double batch of rice ahead of time so you’ll be ready to make fried rice.
Did you know you can freeze rice? Cool the rice overnight in the fridge, put it into zip top bags, flatten it out, and store in the freezer. There’s no need to thaw it, it’s ready to use. I always have cooked grains in the freezer, especially quinoa. For more information on freezing rice, Food With Family has a few hints that are helpful.
Fried rice is really very good leftover. It can be stored in the refrigerator for five to seven days, or frozen for up to six months.
Reheat leftovers in a skillet over medium heat, or in the microwave, until just heated through.
Make a fried rice casserole for a quick super easy dinner. In a greased casserole dish, mix cooked shredded chicken with leftover fried rice, stir in a generous amount of shredded cheese, and put the casserole into a preheated oven (350°F) for 15-20 minutes until heated through.
Rice is satisfying, delicious, and economical, too. You’ll find it in so many cuisines around the world, in fact, it provides “more than one-fifth of the calories consumed worldwide.” (Wikipedia). Here’s a few recipes to try:
- Mexican Rice
- Hoppin’ John: Black Eyed Peas & Rice
- Instant Pot Chicken and Rice Soup
- One Dish Italian Chicken and Rice Bake
- Instant Pot Risotto Recipe
- One Pan Sausage and Rice with Sweet Peppers
- One Pan Cuban Chicken and Rice
- Zucchini Rice Casserole (Brown Rice!)
- Cilantro Lime Rice
- Cranberry Vanilla Rice Pudding
- The Best Rice Krispies Treats (okay, I know you wouldn’t really call that a rice recipe, but hey! Desserts are good)
- 3 cups cooked white rice, preferably a day old and cold (1 cup uncooked)
- 1 tablespoon canola, avocado, or grapeseed oil
- 1/2 cup diced onion (about 1 small onion)
- 1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
- 1 teaspoon minced or grated ginger
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.
- Add oil and rice and cook, stirring only once or twice, for 8-10 minutes until rice begins to turn golden brown.
- Push rice to one side of the pan and add onion, and peas and carrots to the other side of the pan. Cook vegetables 4 to 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.
- Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Mix vegetables and rice together and add soy sauce and sesame oil, stirring to combine.
- Push vegetables and rice to the side of pan.
- On the other side of the pan, add eggs, and cook, string with a spatula, until scrambled. Chop up slightly using spatula.
- Mix the vegetables and eggs together and top with green onions.
- Serve immediately.
- Use brown rice, if you prefer.
- Add or substitute other vegetables, including greens such as spinach, arugula, or baby kale.
- Add sauteed shrimp, cooked chicken, or tofu, if desired.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.