Fried rice is one of the most popular Chinese takeout foods, but with this easy fried rice recipe, you can create homemade fried rice that will taste even better than what you get at your favorite Chinese restaurant. An easy stir-fry makes plain jasmine rice into a flavorful main dish that’s tossed with colorful veggies and seasoned with soy sauce.
In many households, fried rice can be a dish that uses up what you already have in the fridge. You can use leftover rice and whatever veggies you happen to have in your crisper drawer. To make this a main dish meal, feel free to add shrimp, diced chicken, ham, char siu, or beef.
The best rice for fried rice is a long grain rice that stays separate and holds its shape when it’s stir-fried. Also, long-grain rice isn’t as sticky as short-grain rice. One of our favorite rice options is jasmine rice. Jasmine rice isn’t very sticky when it’s cooked, it has a light floral aroma, and the texture is slightly dry. Jasmine rice is also easier to maneuver in the wok.
Leftover Rice vs. Fresh Rice
You can make fresh rice for this fried rice recipe if you get a craving and don’t have leftover rice. It takes just about 20 minutes to cook rice, and you can use a rice cooker or your Instant Pot. However, cold leftover rice is perfect for making fried rice because from sitting in the fridge, the starch in the day old rice grains have hardened.
Wash the Rice Grains
The way you keep rice from becoming sticky when you stir-fry it is to wash it under cool water before cooking it. The rinsing helps to wash away any residual starches on the grain’s surface, which is what causes the rice to stick.
How to Cook Fresh Rice
To cook fresh rice, you can use a stovetop method or cook freshly cooked rice in the Instant Pot. One cup of long-grain jasmine rice will give you about 3 cups of rice when cooked. Your rice is ready when the water has been absorbed. To finish the cooking process, keep the rice covered in the pot for about 10 minutes.
Before adding the rice to the pan, make sure it’s cool when you touch it.
Cool the Rice
Before you cook your fried rice, you need to allow the cooked rice to cool completely. This will prevent the rice from sticking in the wok or clumping up. You can spread the rice onto a cookie sheet and let it sit at room temperature. Another option is to put the pan of rice in the fridge and let it chill for up to 10 minutes.
Fry the Rice
To fry the rice, you need a large nonstick skillet or a cast iron wok. The round shape of the wok will heat the sides and bottom of the pan, which gives you quicker cooking and better browning. Healthy fried rice does get a lot of flavor from the sauce, but the flavoring process starts when you cook the rice in the oil before adding the veggies and other ingredients.
The best fried rice needs to brown lightly in a hot wok to get the full flavor onto the surface of the rice grain. The cooking process for the rice takes approximately 5 minutes, and you need to stir the rice every 30 seconds.
Stir-Frying the Vegetables
It’s so delightful to find little veggie pieces of sweet green peas and diced carrot in your easy fried rice. The carrots are stir-fried briefly with the diced onion and minced garlic. This process does a great job of infusing intense flavor into your fried rice. Don’t add the peas until near the end of your cooking time, because they’re very delicate. When you fry them last, it keeps their round shape intact and keeps them from becoming mushy. You can also add bell pepper or bean sprouts.
Scrambling the Egg
This egg fried rice recipe has a lot of protein because you’re using an egg. The beaten egg is stirred into the wok’s center with the sesame oil. Once it starts to cook, you break it into smaller pieces. Mixing a little bit of the liquid egg into the fried rice helps to coat the cooked rice grains and add an extra rich flavor.
For fluffy scrambled egg curds, cook the eggs completely in the pan, then transfer them to a bowl or plate. You can add them back in later so that they don’t become more broken down.
Use soy sauce to give this white rice meal a savory taste. You don’t need to use a lot, just enough to lightly season the rice. To make this into a gluten-free main dish meal, use coconut aminos or tamari. Be sure to taste the finished dish and add more salt if you need to.
In many Chinese recipes, white pepper is used in place of black pepper. Besides being visually appealing, white pepper has a ginger flavor. You just need a small amount of white pepper. When the fried rice dish is finished, sprinkle it with green onion and sesame seeds.
Make this Easy Fried Rice an Entrée
Wondering how to make fried rice a main dish? Who doesn’t love healthy recipes?
- Tofu for vegans and vegetarians.
- Shrimp for shrimp fried rice.
- BBQ pork fried rice for a savory sweet flavor.
- Chicken for chicken fried rice.
What to Serve with Fried Rice
You can serve your fried rice with any of these side dishes or main dishes.
What type of oil is used to make Chinese fried rice?
The best oil to use for this fried rice recipe is an oil with a high smoke point. Also, the vegetable oil or olive oil you use should be neutral in flavor. Some good options are peanut oil or vegetable oil. You add sesame seed oil near the end of the cooking time to add a delightful toasted flavor.
What is the fried rice sauce?
You can get a delicious umami flavor with soy sauce, but you need just to use a little bit of the soy sauce. You don’t want fried rice that’s too salty. Also, too much soy sauce will change the rice’s color to dark brown.
Can you make low-carb fried rice?
Yes! To create low-carb fried rice, you can use broccoli rice or cauliflower rice.
Easy Fried Rice
- 1-3 quart Saucepan
- 1 cup uncooked jasmine rice or long grain white rice
- 2 Tbsp. cooking oil
- 2 cups water
- 1 Tbsp. garlic minced
- 1/4 cup white onion minced
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 1/2 cup carrots diced into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup frozen peas defrosted
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp. thinly sliced green onions
- 1/8 tsp. white pepper
Cook the Rice
- Add the uncooked jasmine rice to a strainer with a fine mesh. Rinse the rice and wash it under cool running water until the water runs clear. Use your hands to scrub the rice several times. This process will take about 1 minute. Lightly press and shake the rice in the strainer to drain.
- Add 2 cups of water and the rice to a medium pot. Over medium-high heat, bring the rice and water to a boil, stirring occasionally. When it reaches a boil, cover the rice and reduce the temperature to low heat. Allow the rice to simmer. Cook until the rice has absorbed all of the water and has become tender. This will take approximately 10-15 minutes. You can also follow the instructions on the rice packet. Turn the heat off and keep the rice covered for about 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, fluff your rice with a fork. Transfer the rice to a sheet pan and spread it out into a thin layer. Allow the rice to cool until it reaches room temperature. You can also put the uncovered rice in the fridge if you need it to cook quickly. It will take approximately 5-10 minutes in the fridge. While your rice is cooling, prepare the rest of your ingredients.
- While the rice is cooling, beat your eggs and prepare your vegetables.
Prepare the Stir Fry
- Heat a large non-stick skillet or wok over high heat on the stovetop. Add 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil to the wok. When the oil is hot, stir in the rice that has cooled. Stir-fry the rice until it is evenly coated with the cooking oil. Spread the rice into an even layer while pressing it lightly around the wok. Cook the rice for about 30 seconds, then stir it. Repeat this process for 5 minutes, stirring and moving the rice every 30 seconds. This will allow the rice to brown on the surface.
- In the wok's center, create a large well. Add 2 teaspoons of cooking oil to the well. Add the garlic, onion, and carrots, stir-frying in the wok's center for 1 minute. After 1 minute, mix the rice with the veggies.
- Make another large well in the wok's center and add 1 teaspoon of cooking oil and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil.
- Pour the beaten eggs into the center of the wok. Allow the eggs to sit for approximately 30 seconds, then slowly stir the eggs to create small pieces of scrambled eggs. When the eggs are cooked, stir them into the rice and veggies.
- Add the soy sauce to the wok and stir. Add the thawed peas to the wok. Stir and allow them to cook until everything is warmed completely through. This will take approximately 2 minutes.
- Stir in the white pepper and kosher salt. Taste your completed stir fry and add more seasoning if needed. Sprinkle the sliced green onion over the main dish and serve.