Learn how to make fried rice! Made in less than 20 minutes, this easy recipe is the perfect way to use up leftover rice and vegetables. Feed the entire family with this super fast and easy meal. See all the ways to customize this recipe to your preferences. This is one of my favorite ways to use up whatever is leftover in the fridge!
If you love take-out, you gotta have a homemade fried rice recipe in your back pocket! Leftover vegetables or meats, like chicken, pork, steak, or seafood can easily be tossed in to take plain fried rice to the next level.
Best Fried Rice Recipe with Leftover Rice
Here’s why I love this recipe:
- No waste. Using up leftover rice saves you time and money at the grocery store. Plus, you can add in other leftover proteins and veggies.
- One pan. Whether you make it in a skillet, wok, or large pot, there are very few dishes used for fried rice. (more on the different methods below)
- Versatile. Don’t like eggs? Leave it out. Want to add different meats? Combine them. Prefer a different kind of rice? That will work, too. Whatever you have on hand can be combined for a delicious batch of fried rice.
- Great flavor. This recipe is packed with flavor from ginger, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, and other seasonings.
Best Rice for Fried Rice
While you can use any type of rice for fried rice, some work better than others. The shape and texture are important as the rice is reheated and stir-fried with other ingredients.
The best rice for fried rice is long grain, traditional white rice such as Jasmine or Basmati. This grain is slightly drier in texture and holds its shape better than other types of rice as it’s tossed around in the wok. It’s also not as sticky as short-grain rice and is fluffier after cooking.
Jasmine white rice is plumper and softer than Basmati, which has a firmer chew and is slightly drier. Jasmine is considered Thai, but the rice origins don’t matter for this recipe. It has a sweeter, slightly nutty flavor and is less sticky than regular long grain rice.
Sticky rice or sushi rice can also be used. It’s a much stickier texture that clumps together, which makes it the best choice for eating with chopsticks.
Brown rice can also be used in place of white rice. If you are erring on the healthier side, this short-grain rice is a good option for adding additional fiber.
Homemade Fried Rice Ingredients
- Leftover rice is the best option for a simple fried rice recipe. If leftover rice isn’t an option, there are tips in the section below for making fried rice with fresh rice.
- Vegetables: Onion, carrots, scallions, and peas are used in this recipe. If you want a shortcut, grab a bag of frozen mixed vegetables from the freezer section. Also, shredded carrots can be used to cut down on prep work. If you want to add more veggies, try peppers, soybeans, or whatever is leftover in the fridge.
- Seasonings: This recipe does not use oyster sauce or fish sauce. The rice is seasoned with minced garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and soy sauce. You could also use coconut aminos instead of soy.
- Toasted Sesame Oil: Using toasted sesame oil is key to that delicious nutty flavor. Drizzle this over the rice as the dish finishes cooking.
- Eggs: Adding eggs to this recipe adds extra protein, especially if you are making vegetable fried rice. This ingredient is optional.
- Protein: This recipe is a great way to use up leftover meats, too. Chop up leftover pork chop, steak, shrimp, seafood, chicken, and more. Also, brown ground beef, pork, chicken, or turkey for extra protein.
Why is leftover rice better for fried rice?
Using cold, leftover cooked rice is best for making fried rice. Because it’s stored in the refrigerator, moisture is removed from the rice and firms up the individual grains so you have that perfect, chewy texture for fried rice.
If leftover rice isn’t an option, spread freshly cooked rice out in a single layer on a baking sheet and allow it to air dry for at least an hour. This will help the grains dry out and lose moisture.
If you use hot, freshly cooked rice, adding additional moisture will turn the rice into a soggy, mushy mess. To make the rice ahead of time, simply follow the package’s instructions and store it in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Here’s a fast way to prepare white rice in the pressure cooker. Just prepare, store, and use the next day to make fried rice!
How to Make Fried Rice with Egg
Heat the oil or butter in a large wok or a large nonstick skillet over high heat until very hot. Sauté the onion and carrots until they begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Cooked meat can be added to the skillet at this time, too.
If you use ground, uncooked meat, add it to the skillet and cook until most of the pink is gone. Drain the grease if needed.
Then, reduce the heat as you add the rice to the same skillet. You may need to add additional oil. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes. Stir the rice occasionally, but allow it to brown slightly in spots.
Create a well in the middle of the rice by pushing the rice along the sides of the wok or pan. Add in the whisked eggs and scramble quickly in the center.
When the eggs are cooked, stir the rice and egg together. Alternatively, you can scramble the eggs in a separate pan and add them to the fried rice.
Then, finish the stir fry by adding the ginger, garlic, and frozen peas to the skillet. Since these ingredients are already cooked, they simply need to be warmed through.
After about 3 minutes, add in the soy sauce, sesame oil, and scallions. Continue cooking until all is combined and hot – another 3 minutes or so.
Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Garnish with additional scallions and serve hot with soy sauce on the side!
Best Methods for Cooking Fried Rice
Fried rice is the easiest to make in a wok. If you don’t have a wok, there are other alternatives.
Here are a few tried and true methods for cooking fried rice:
- Wok: A wok is a high-walled pan that allows the rice, veggies, proteins, and seasonings to be tossed and combined easily. This is a traditional way of preparing this dish and probably the most convenient.
- Standard Pan or Skillet: If you don’t have a wok, a large skillet will also work. Make sure the pan has plenty of space for all of the ingredients to be stir-fried and combined.
- Griddle: A Blackstone griddle or regular griddle is a fun way to get hibachi-style fried rice at home. With this method, you have plenty of cooking space for sautéing the ingredients on the large cooking surface.
- Instant Pot or Air Fryer: Using the sauté function on a multi-cooker is a convenient way to stir together ingredients. This method can be handy if the stove is occupied or you don’t have a skillet large enough.
- Large Stock Pot: Using a pot is definitely non-traditional, but it works if you’re in a pinch. Because of the high walls, all ingredients can be stirred together without escaping from the pot.
Easy Variations for Fried Rice
There are so many fried rice recipes. Plus, plenty of ways to adjust it to the needs of your family.
Whether you have specific dietary preferences or just need inspiration, here are some variations to try:
- Chicken Fried Rice: Add leftover chopped chicken breast or shredded rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.
- Shrimp Fried Rice: Add peeled, fresh shrimp to the wok before sautéing the onion and carrots, about 3 minutes. Then, remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside on a plate. Stir in the shrimp at the last minute of cooking to warm.
- Beef Fried Rice: Add chopped leftover steak or brown ground beef.
- Pineapple Fried Rice: Diced pineapple adds a different layer of flavor to plain fried rice.
- Hibachi Fried Rice: Make fried rice on the Blackstone griddle for restaurant-style fried rice.
- Pork Fried Rice: Add chopped pork chop or pulled pork to the skillet, or brown ground pork.
- Vegetarian Fried Rice: Skip the protein and add in additional vegetables.
- Other types of rice: Use cauliflower rice, brown rice, or even quinoa instead of white rice.
Tips for Easy Fried Rice
Let the rice brown when you add it to the wok. Allowing the rice to “rest” on the cooking surface for a minute or two between stirring will help the rice grains crisp up and boost the flavor.
Using high heat is the key to the best fried rice! The high heat allows the rice, proteins, and vegetables to develop color and additional flavor.
Add additional sauces for more flavor. I like to season our white rice with a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar for extra zing. You can also use other sauces like oyster sauce, fish sauce, hoisin sauce, etc.
Use up all of those leftover vegetables when you make fried rice. Leftover steamed or roasted veggies, like broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, red onion, etcetera are great additions to stretch this meal.
Use butter instead of oil for more flavor. Olive oil will work perfectly fine, but using butter will give the sautéed ingredients even more flavor.
FAQ: Vegetable Fried Rice
Is butter or oil better for fried rice?
Any type of cooking oil will work fine for this recipe. But if you cannot use oil or prefer butter, high-quality butter or ghee will add additional flavor to the dish.
Can I use 2-day-old rice for fried rice?
Yes, leftover rice is the best as the refrigerator removes moisture and helps the individual grains firm up.
Can you make Fried Rice with fresh rice?
To make fried rice with fresh rice, prepare the rice according to the instructions. Then, spread the cooked rice on a baking sheet and let it air dry for at least an hour.
What goes well with fried rice?
Serve fried rice with additional soy sauce, or as a side dish to egg rolls, noodles, or the main protein.
Can you make fried rice on a griddle?
Using a Blackstone griddle is a popular choice for making fried rice hibachi-style. It allows for plenty of room to sauté, stir, and combine ingredients.
How long is leftover rice good for in the fridge?
Leftover rice can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Can you freeze fried rice?
Store cooked fried rice in airtight containers in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. To freeze, transfer to the freezer in plastic storage bags for up to one month. To reheat, warm in the microwave for the best results.
How to Make Fried Rice
- 1 small onion (finely chopped)
- 1 cup peeled and chopped carrot
- 2 cups cooked leftover white rice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (butter, or ghee, divided)
- 2 large eggs (lightly whisked)
- 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
- 2 garlic cloves (minced)
- ½ cup frozen green peas
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 green onions (thinly sliced (save the green part for garnish!))
- Heat the oil or butter in a large wok or a large nonstick skillet over high heat until very hot. Sauté the onion and carrots until they begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add additional protein to the skillet at this time, too.
- Then, reduce the heat to medium-high. Add the rice to the same skillet and stir. Add additional oil if needed. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow the rice to brown slightly in spots.
- Create a well in the middle of the rice by pushing the rice along the sides of the wok or pan. Add in the whisked eggs and scramble quickly in the center. When the eggs are set, stir the rice and egg together.
- Then, stir in the ginger, garlic, and frozen peas to the skillet. After about 3 minutes, add in the soy sauce, sesame oil, and green onions. Continue cooking until all is combined and hot – another 3 minutes or so.
- Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Garnish with remaining green onion and serve hot with soy sauce on the side!
- If you use ground, uncooked meat, add it to the skillet and cook until most of the pink is gone. Drain the grease if needed.
- If you do not have a wok, a large skillet, pot, or air fryer/multi-cooker with a saute function will also work.
- Alternatively, you can scramble the eggs in a separate pan and add them to the fried rice.
- Chop up leftover meats and veggies to stretch the fried rice.
- Add pork chop, steak, shrimp, seafood, chicken, ground beef, turkey, etc. for extra protein.
- Use bagged, shredded carrots as a shortcut to chopped carrots.