Whether or not you’ve ever had homemade fried rice, it’s almost guaranteed you’ve had homemade rice before.
It’s a staple food worldwide, along with corn, wheat, and potatoes, to name a few. It may not be the most versatile starch, but it’s neutral enough to be paired with plenty of dishes and modified with different flavors.
A fried rice recipe takes full advantage of that. As one of the only rice recipes that changes up the cooking method, you can enjoy a variety of textures and easily substitute ingredients without much trouble.
What Makes Fried Rice Special?
Although Chinese takeout may have popularized fried rice in modern America, it’s an easily tailored dish that countries and cultures across the world enjoy. It’s prevalent in Eastern, Southern, and Southeast Asia, but you’ll also find various Latin American and Caribbean derivatives, plus recipes from Nigeria and Portugal.
It all started in China, though, over 1400 years ago.
- Fried rice was an easy way to turn a bunch of disparate leftovers into a tasty meal.
- The dish consisted of previously made rice, veggies, and meat.
- And if some ingredients were a little past their prime? You could mask that once they were incorporated into the meal.
- Some fresh egg and soy sauce were added, and everything was stir-fried in a wok.
In the same spirit, fried rice recipes might be closer to guidelines or suggestions. You can throw in whatever extras you’d like or try to make it using what you have on hand.
3 Basic But Amazing Fried Rice Recipes You’ve Got to Try
1) Butter and Egg Fried Rice Recipe
Serves: approx. 4 – 8
Prep time: approx. 10 mins or less
Cooking time: approx. 15 mins
- 4 cups cooked rice, slightly chilled
- 2 eggs, whisked
- 3 tbsp butter (divided)
- 1 cup frozen peas and carrots
- 1 small white onion, diced
- 2 green onions, sliced thin
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp soy sauce, low sodium
- ½ tsp toasted sesame oil
- Add 1 tbsp butter to a large skillet, pan, or wok and heat to medium-high. Once hot and melted, add in peas, carrots, white onion, and garlic. (Salt and pepper may be added here for flavor.) Saute until warm, about 5 minutes or less.
- Push vegetables to one side and add ½ tbsp butter to the available side of the pan. Once melted, pour in the eggs and begin to scramble. When almost fully cooked, start to incorporate with the vegetables.
- Add remaining 1 ½ tbsp butter to pan and stir, raising heat to high. Once melted, add in rice, green onions, and soy sauce. Stir to combine and saute/toss for about 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add toasted sesame oil. Stir/toss until thoroughly combined. Serve immediately or refrigerate, sealed, up to 3 days.
Nutrition Facts (Approximate):
Protein: ~4g – 6g (10% DV)
Carbohydrates: ~20g – 40g (10% DV)
Fat: ~5g – 10g (10% DV)
Cholesterol: ~45g (15% DV)
Sodium: ~280mg – 380mg (14% DV)
Fiber: ~1g (5% DV)
2) Pineapple and Shrimp Fried Rice Recipe
Prep time: approx. 15 mins or less
Cooking time: approx. 10 mins
- ½ lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 5 cups cooked rice, room temperature
- 1 cup fresh or canned pineapple, in chunks
- ½ cup raw unsalted cashews, chopped
- 3 tbsp butter, divided
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
- 2 tsp curry powder
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- Cilantro, green onions for garnish
- Heat wok, pan, or skillet to medium-high, then add 1 tbsp butter. Add in your shrimp and stir fry until cooked, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until pinkish. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Melt 2 tbsp butter in the pan and then combine the curry powder, turmeric, onion, and garlic. Fry for about 30 seconds, no longer than 1 minute, until fragrant.
- Stir in the rice (in smaller batches if necessary) and mix well. Add the fish sauce, sugar, and soy sauce. Saute until heated, continuing to mix well. Then re-add the shrimp and add in the pineapple and cashews. If desired, add in 2 or 3 tsp of pineapple juice. Saute for about a minute.
- Remove from heat and garnish with shredded cilantro and/or sliced green onions. Serve immediately.
Nutrition Facts (Approximate):
Protein: ~18g (36% DV)
Carbohydrates: ~60g (21% DV)
Fat: ~5g (8% DV)
Cholesterol: ~165mg (55% DV)
Sodium: ~1375mg (57% DV)
Fiber: ~1g (5% DV)
3) Bacon and Eggs Breakfast Fried Rice Recipe
Prep time: approx. 5 mins
Cooking time: approx. 10 mins
- 3 cups cooked rice, room temperature
- 2 eggs
- 4 – 6 slices of bacon
- 3 green onions, sliced thin
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp butter, salted or unsalted
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- ¼ cup soy sauce, low sodium
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds or ½ tbsp toasted sesame seed oil
- In a skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until browned. Remove and let dry on paper towels. Once it’s cooled but still warm, chop into generous chunks.
- Add sesame oil to the skillet over medium heat. Let warm, then add 2 sliced green onions and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Stir in your rice, then add back in the bacon, plus the vinegar, soy sauce, toasted sesame, and pepper flakes. Stir together and cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes.
- In a separate skillet for the eggs, add butter over medium heat. Crack eggs into the skillet and cover with a lid. Cook for about five minutes until the egg white is cooked through, but the egg yolk has only just started to set.
- Add fried rice to bowls and top each bowl with a finished fried egg. Break the yolk over the rice. Garnish with the one remaining green onion. Serve immediately.
4 Tips to Make Fried Rice Taste Its Best
Honestly, there are as many “best methods” for cooking fried rice as there are recipes. A lot of it comes down to preference and experimentation. But generally, it should help to keep the following in mind.
1) While Meat is Optional, Don’t Skip the Veggies
Chicken fried rice, pork fried rice, and shrimp fried rice are all familiar varieties. But their common base isn’t just the fried rice — it’s rice with vegetables tying everything together.
- You need some light, “bright” flavors and a fresh, crispy texture. It balances out the heavy rice and oil and will help enhance almost every bite.
- Plus, colorful vegetables will improve the look of your fried rice, too, once plated.
2) You’ll Need a “Secret” Ingredient (Like Toasted Sesame Oil)
While regular sesame is fairly neutral cooking oil, toasted sesame is a stronger finishing oil for flavor. It, along with some soy sauce, can give your fried rice a more traditional Chinese takeout taste.
- But you can mix things up by using regular sesame oil for finishing (for a lighter flavor), fish or oyster sauce, or even Worcestershire.
- Plus, cooking with peanut oil or melted butter (which we cover below) can change the taste subtly but thoroughly.
3) But Don’t Over-Sauce
Good fried rice isn’t a vehicle to deliver sauce or sodium to your mouth. No one flavor or ingredient should be overpowering — everything should be working together to form a dish. A little can go a long way, especially if you’re stirring super well.
4) Work Out the Clumps
Fried rice that’s a little sticky is great (try stickier medium-grain rice instead of common long-grain). But don’t let your rice mush together due to too much liquid/moisture, and make sure you break up any dense rice nuggets.
Ready to try out some recipes or whip up a batch with your unique twist? We’ve got some final thoughts before you head out on your own.
- Don’t forget those leftovers. Use rinsed and dried day-old rice plus already cooked meat to turn a basic fried rice routine into an instant chicken fried rice recipe or pork fried rice recipe. Shred or chop it, then add it right before the rice, allowing it to get heated.
- As a health-conscious substitute for rice, you can use cauliflower florets, chopped then pulsed finely in a food processor. Simply add it into the stir-fry and cook the same way you would rice!
- For a vegetarian option on the more substantial rice dishes, try a hearty, filling veggie in place of meat. Think zucchini, mushrooms, or edamame beans.