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Simple Fried Rice
This quick and versatile recipe is a great, inexpensive way to use up leftover rice, as well as extra ingredients in your fridge. I used fish sauce as the main flavoring component here because it’s what I happened to have in the pantry, but feel free to experiment with different combinations — for example, you could try two parts kecap manis to one part sambal oelek for a sweet and spicy Indonesian-style fried rice, or just soy sauce and butter for a more traditional fried rice. For a healthier alternative, substitute some diced carrots and peas or blanched bean sprouts and tofu for the eggs.
Whatever you decide to do though, make sure to use day-old rice; freshly cooked rice has too much moisture and won’t fry well.
Total cost: $2.69
Click here to see Dinner for Two Under $10.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced ($.22)
- 1 tablespoon of ginger, peeled and minced ($.10)
- 2 eggs ($.62)
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
- ½ onion, finely diced ($.40)
- 2 cups day-old, cooked jasmine or Basmati rice ($.50)
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce ($.21)
- 5 scallions, light and dark green parts, sliced into thin discs ($.65)
- 2 tablespoons butter (optional)
In a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a minute, stirring occasionally to make sure the garlic doesn’t burn.
Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a bowl and season with salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste.
Add the onion to the pan and allow it to caramelize, approximately 5 minutes. Stir often.
Meanwhile, break up the rice with a wooden spatula. Once the onions have caramelized, increase the heat to medium-high and add the rice and fish sauce.
Cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring often. Break up any brown bits that form on the bottom and incorporate into the mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Fold in the eggs, and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Add the scallions, stir, and remove from heat. If desired, fold in some butter for a richer flavor.
Easy Fried Rice Recipe
Why It Works
- Starting with freshly cooked or well-chilled rice guarantees it won't clump up as you stir-fry it.
- Frying in batches compensates for the low heat output of Western stovetops.
- Keeping the seasoning very light allows the flavor of the rice and aromatics to come through.
We tested every variable to bust some common fried-rice myths and found that it's a much more forgiving dish than people tend to think. Fried rice is a great way to use up leftovers, but there's no reason you can't use a batch of freshly cooked white rice instead. This recipe produces vegetable-studded fried rice with individual grains, lightly seasoned to allow the flavor of the rice to shine.
- 1 cup dry jasmine rice
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 1 cup cauliflower florets
- 5 green onions, chopped
- 1 (10 ounce) package shredded carrots
- 3 cups shredded cabbage
- 1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, drained
- ¼ cup soy sauce, or to taste
- ¼ cup water as needed
- 1 tablespoon chili sauce
In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Stir in rice. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic and rice in oil for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning the garlic. Add broccoli and cauliflower florets and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes. Toss green onions, carrots, cabbage, and water chestnuts into the pan, and cook another 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add additional water as needed to keep vegetables moist. Drizzle with soy sauce, and toss to coat.
Aromatic Chicken Fried Rice With Basil & Lime Leaf
Cyrielle Beaubois / Getty Images
This Thai take on chicken fried rice is SO good and so easy. Very aromatic, this fried rice recipe features fresh basil and lime leaf for an exquisite Thai taste that is a big step above ordinary!
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 oz. (115 g) boneless and skinless chicken breast, cut into cubes
- 4 oz. (115 g) shrimp, peeled, shelled and deveined
- 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
- 12 oz. (340 g) leftover steamed white rice
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon oyster sauce
- 3 dashes ground white pepper
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- salt to taste
Heat up a wok or pan with the oil. Add the garlic and stir fry until aromatic, follow by the chicken, shrimp, and mixed vegetables. Stir fry until the chicken and shrimp are half cooked. Add in the rice and stir well with the ingredients. Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, white pepper and continue to stir the fried rice for a couple of minutes.
Using the spatula, push the rice to the side of the wok and make a "well" in the middle of the fried rice. Pour the beaten eggs in the "well." Wait for 30 seconds and then cover the eggs with the fried rice. Leave it for 30 seconds to 1 minute and continue to stir-fry so the eggs form into small pieces and mix well with the fried rice. Add salt to taste and do some quick stirs, dish out and serve hot.
Best type of rice for fried rice
Chinese fried rice is made with white long grain rice. But it can be made with any type of cooked, chilled rice – long grain, short grain, jasmine, basmati, even brown rice.
Every Asian country has their version of fried rice, and use different rices. For example, Jasmine rice is used to make Thai Fried Rice. The Japanese use short grain white rice for Japanese Fried Rice. And Basmati Rice is used in Indian rice dishes, such as Biryani.
Why does the rice have to be cold or day old?
The rice needs to be cold, day old rice because the rice dries out in the fridge so the Fried Rice will have the right texture. Freshly cooked rice is too wet so it makes the rice clump together. But it’s still tasty – so don’t not make fried rice just because you don’t have time to chill the rice!
Do I have to use a wok?
Nope. A skillet will work just fine – just make sure it’s a big one so you can toss the rice around without it flying everywhere (the shape of woks is designed especially for wild tossing!).
Fried Rice is so good, I’d happily scoff down an entire bowl of it as a meal. But let’s face it, it’s not the most well rounded meal.
So serve it as a side for any Chinese or Asian main dish, or make a larger banquet. Here are some ideas:
Use long grain rice for fried rice
Long grain rice holds its shape and stays separate when stir-fried. Jasmine is my top choice because it has a delicate and light floral aroma, not too sticky when cooked, and slightly dry in texture, making it easy to maneuver in the pan. Medium-grain like Calrose or brown rice can be used, but incorporate when chilled or day-old as it is stickier. Make sure to always wash the rice before cooking to remove excess starches on the surface, which can cause clumping.
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8 Fried Rice Recipes Even Better Than Delivery
Fried rice is easy to make at home, which is a good thing when you’re trying to minimize your takeout orders (whether for budgetary reasons or because coronavirus is still putting restaurants on shaky ground). These fried rice recipes can also be just the thing for using up the leftovers you have hanging around.
Start with Perfect Rice The Best Rice Cookers for 2020 Among other reasons—laziness, convenience, a seemingly uncontrollable desire to take every opportunity to blow through my meager disposable income—I turn to delivery when I have a craving for a dish that I don’t have the skill and/or time to make at home. Like soup dumplings. Or sushi. And pretty much all Indian food.
But there are a couple classic takeout dishes I feel confident enough to claim from the pros and tackle on my own. Take fried rice, for example.
If you’d like to avoid the grocery store and just want use up whatever random odds and ends of ingredients that have been accumulating in your fridge, like a culinary MacGyver, fried rice is the perfect solution. It’s actually even recommended that you use leftover, one- or two-day-old refrigerated rice as a base over a hot, freshly made batch. This is because when the grains are chilled, they separate more easily and therefore are less likely to clump together and lose the integrity of their texture (aka, become a mushy blob).
Fried Rice Tips
While it’s generally quick and easy to assemble, with little room for egregious, no-turning-back-from-this errors, there are a few pro tips to keep in mind:
- If you are making the rice yourself ahead of time (instead of, say, using the leftover boxes of white rice from when you ordered Chinese takeout a couple days ago, *no judgment*), make sure to cook with medium to long-grained rice instead of short, glutinous rice which is tends to be much stickier. In case you couldn’t tell, sticking is your biggest opponent when it comes to this dish. (See our ultimate guide to rice for more on different types of rice. Also, check out our picks for the best rice cookers in 2020.)
- Aside from choice of rice, you can also reduce the likelihood of ingredients sticking together by working in a large pan (or wok or skillet or Dutch oven the key here is for it to be large) and not overcrowding the surface with too much stuff (read: don’t work in giant batches).
- Oh, and make sure to pre-heat your pan and oil on high.
Blue Carbon Steel Wok, $99 from Made In
Fried Rice Recipes
Below we’ve compiled some favorite fried rice recipes to assist and inspire you in your takeout hackery.
Kimchi and Bacon Fried Rice
The bold-flavored Korean condiment adds a welcome dose of spice, crunch, and savory funk to this classic dish—and pairs beautifully with bacon (not to mention a fried egg on top). Get our executive editor Hana Asbrink’s favorite Kimchi and Bacon Fried Rice recipe (but if you’re a seafood fan, try our Kimchi and Shrimp Fried Rice recipe too).
Whatever You’ve Got Fried Rice
David Malosh for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews. Prop Stylist: Paige Hicks.
This is a no-recipe recipe, a recipe without an ingredients list or steps. It invites you to improvise in the kitchen.
Start with some cooked rice, white or brown, a cup or so per person, made fresh or pulled from the freezer where you keep some in a plastic bag against the promise of just such an exercise. (The chill helps separate the grains.) Also helpful, also in the freezer: bags of diced organic vegetables you can get at the market (the mixed corn, carrots and peas number, for instance). For the rest: meat if you eat meat, a couple eggs, lots of chopped garlic and ginger, some scallions. You can make a sauce from soy sauce and sesame oil (about a 3:1 ratio) and fire it up with a teaspoon or two of gochujang. You’ll need a little less than a quarter cup of sauce to feed four.
To the wok! Crank the heat, add a little neutral oil, then toss in your meat. I like chopped brisket from the barbecue joint, or pastrami from the deli, or ground pork, or bacon, or leftover roast chicken — whatever you decide on, you’ll need far less than you think. After the meat crisps, fish it from the pan and add about a tablespoon each of minced garlic and ginger, a handful of chopped scallions. Stir-fry for 30 seconds or so, then add those frozen vegetables. More stir-frying. Return the meat to the wok. Stir-fry. Clear a space in the center of the wok and add the eggs, cooking them quickly to softness. Throw in the sauce, then the rice, and mix it all together until it’s steaming hot. Finish with more chopped scallions.
Sam Sifton features a no-recipe recipe every Wednesday in his What to Cook newsletter. Sign up to receive it. You can find more no-recipe recipes here.
My family loves this dish. I do use broccoli instead of the peas but the flavors are the same. A quick and easy meal.
Have prepared this several times and or take away whatever you don't have on hand! Still very good. Used low-salt soy sauce in my dish!
I followed the advice of others and used half sesame oil/half canola. Made this way, this rice has an authentic Chinese restaurant taste. Easy to make and easy to modify with whatever you have on hand. Be sure to salt AFTER mixing in the soy and letting all the flavors blend. The cold rice trick is essential as well. Will definitely make again the next time we have unused rice hanging out in the fridge.
Finally. I learn to make good fried rice! Cold rice. then fry "until crispy" - so simple, yet so essential.
Made this fried rice in under 20 minutes in a ceramic wok. Added a little ginger, little garlic, bean sprouts and diced chicken breast. Used sesame oil and brown rice.. It was as good as any fried rice in a Chinese restaurant. Will cook again using different proteins.
I followed other cooks' advise and used cold rice. I added garlic and ginger at the beginning and a little sesame oil at the end, all per other's suggestions. It was very good.
Used coconut oil, opted for chopped red onion over scallions, doubled the eggs, replaced the soy sauce with Bragg's All Purpose. Oh, and about a teaspoon of pure maple syrup along with the water mix at the end. The bosses (children) were pleased. Great high protein, FAST meal.
Why the frozen vegetables? There's no real need to imitate your local Chinese restaurant at home, and I would think the moisture in the frozen veggies would make it hard to get a good sear on the rice. I like the recipe found here: http://www.nyfoodjournal.blogspot.com/2012/03/fried-rice.html
Very easy and really good. I appreciate the reviewer who said to use the Ready Rice. awesome idea! Just stuck it in the fridge for a while, and voila! I used peanut oil and 1 T. hot sesame oil, because I love spicy. I also let mine cook more than 5 minutes so the rice would get more crispy and I didn't thaw the veggies. Very good for a weeknight. Made with some ginger garlic marinated pork chops. Great side!
Excellent from beginning to the end. everyone cleaned their plates and asked for more. I didn't add any meat this time around but I plan on adding shrimp and chicken for the next batch. We don't have to order Chinese anymore - We can make our own!! 0) Delicious
Easy and delicious! We used olive oil in place of canola and it was perfect.
very simple recipe using things on hand . always a good thing. I'll definitely make this again.
Not as good as at a Hibachi Grill, but it will do when you have a craving at home.
Great. Made without any meat and it was the best fried rice I've ever made.
Great use of leftovers. I halved the recipe for 2 adults and it was a nice amount of food. I cut up one boneless, skinless chicken breast and sauteed it in 2 T sesame (not canola) oil first. Removed the chicken and added fresh mushrooms, ginger, and a shallot. When those were soft, I added the egg, then frozen corn, frozen peas, and leftover white rice. Finished up with the soy/water mixture with a dash of fish sauce.
Quick, easy, and versatile. I used rice aged 2-3 days in the cooler, and it came out perfectly. The sesame oil gave it some added zest, so I recommend it over canola oil. Diced ham for the meat was a winner. I also added some fresh ginger to my wok prior to adding any other ingredients, and it gave the dish a little zest and zing without overwhelming the other flavors. I'll do this one again, but will continue to experiment with various meats, vegetables, and spices. A good, healthy meal that was more than worth the reasonable time I spent preparing it.
This was great. Used 1/2 the amount of long grain brown rice cooked in low sodium chicken broth. Used smoked Whole Foods turkey for the meat. Used frozen peas and raw chopped carrots. Used about 50% more vegies.
Great recipe, esp for any odds and ends you have in your fridge. I've made it a couple of times. I didn't have green onions the second time so I used shallots instead. I saute any raw veggies I have first instead of throwing them in later in the process (where it calls for the frozen veggies). Have used leftover white rice but have also used Uncle Ben's brown rice semi-cooked packets for this, and I think the texture is just as good. Added garlic and a bit of sesame oil, and used peanut oil as my base oil.
Easy and delicious. Perfect recipe for left over rice from take out. I followed the recipe almost exactly, no scallions laying around, and thought it was great! My 14 month old loves this meal too.
For how quick and easy, this is really good. Definitely a keeper for whenever I"m in a hurry. Highly recommend.
I use this recipe often adding different things. Lately, I have been adding the asian 5 spice powder when I add the soy sauce. The last time I made it, I used pork tenderloin from a grilled chipotle stuffed pork tenderloin -- so it was spicy -- together with the 5 spice powder. Really turned out well -- spicy with an ever so slight sweetness. Unusual and smells exotic.
This is my tried and true method of using up leftovers. I experimented with leftover edamame, and it was 10 times better than the peas and carrots.
This was excellent and so quick. I used a left over pork chop as the meat. I added garlic and ginger to the green onions at the beginning then I added corn and shredded cabbage to the veggies later. To finish it, I added a bit of sesame oil. It was great! My 4 and 6 year olds ate seconds and everything was gone from their plates. this is a winner for using up leftovers. Will make regularly.
I made this for the first time in my "kid's cooking" class at our school. While we didn't really wait for all the rice to get brown, the kids loved it. I thought it was quite tasty too, for a kid-friendly recipe!