Send me into your kitchen to make dinner with what you have on hand, and 9 times out of 10, I’ll emerge with some version of Chicken Fried Rice.
A never-lets-me-down meal you can whip up with whatever in your produce drawer is threatening to expire first, chicken fried rice is one of my life’s great comfort foods.
My fried-rice affair began in high school, when I spent my hard-earned minimum wage dollars on Chinese chicken fried rice at the take-out section of our local grocery store (on weekdays) and shrimp fried rice at the “fancy” sit-down Chinese restaurant on weekends.
Homemade Fried Rice helped me survive my 20s, because it was nutritious, cheap, and absolutely scrumptious.
Today, fried rice is still one of the dinners I cook most.
It’s quick to make, dirties just one skillet, and satisfies me in the deep way that only foods connected to memories can.
Why Make Chicken Fried Rice
Even if you don’t have a long-running, hot-and-heavy relationship with fried rice like I do, this recipe has something to offer.
- It’s Healthy. Chicken fried rice is not bad for you, especially if you load up on the vegetables, use brown rice instead of white, and limit the amount of added sugar and oil, which is exactly what this recipe does.
- It’s Versatile. I make chicken fried rice with a bag of frozen peas and carrots, which we always keep on hand, then toss in whatever extra vegetables we have lurking around.
- It’s FAST. We are in 30-minute meal territory, my friends.
- The Leftovers Rock. Half the reason I cook fried rice is for the leftovers. They reheat like a dream. Also, if you are one of those people who likes to eat leftover Chinese food cold out of the fridge (I see you; I salute you), fried rice hits the spot.
- It’s EPICALLY DELICIOUS. Everyone loves fried rice. (And if someone tells you they don’t, it’s because they haven’t had chicken fried rice from scratch yet!)
How to Make Chicken Fried Rice from Scratch
This is an easy version of chicken fried rice made with ingredients I can readily find at any grocery store (versus a 100% authentic chicken fried rice, which I would love to master one day).
Chicken fried rice is not fried, in the sense that it is not submerged in oil.
Rather, it is cooked over very high heat with an oil that has a high smoke point. Think of it as pan-fried rice, versus deep fried rice.
Stir fry recipes move quickly. Be sure to have all of your ingredients prepped, measured, and near the stove before you begin.
- Rice. I use brown rice for the added fiber and nutrients it offers compared to white rice. I prefer long rice for fried rice; shorter grains stick together and can more easily become mushy.
- Chicken. A lean source of protein and vitamins, chicken makes an excellent healthy and filling addition to fried rice recipes like this one.
- Egg. I love adding egg to my chicken fried rice to pump up the protein even more.
- Vegetables. A blend of fresh and frozen vegetables is my go-to for bulking up the nutrition of homemade chicken fried rice. For fresh veggies, I love using a red pepper, broccoli, or mushrooms. For frozen, a bag of frozen peas and carrots is quick and convenient.
- Canola Oil. My go-to for high-temperature cooking.
- Soy Sauce. The umami king! Soy sauce is crucial for perfect chicken fried rice.
- Oyster Sauce. This is what gives chicken fried rice its flavor. Oyster sauce is intensely savory, thick (in a good way), and does not taste like oysters. It’s a critical part of establishing umami.
Most major grocery stores carry oyster sauce in the Asian/international food aisle. Picking up a bottle is also a great reason to seek out and support local Asian-owned grocery stores.
- Red Pepper Flakes or Hot Sauce. I’ve listed this ingredient as optional, but if you are looking for spicy chicken fried rice, add red pepper flakes or your hot sauce of choice (my go-to for recipes like this is sriracha).
- Stir the oyster sauce and part of the soy sauce together.
- Scramble the eggs with the butter, then remove to a bowl.
- Saute the chicken with soy sauce. Add it to the bowl with the eggs.
- Saute the fresh vegetables. Add the remaining butter and frozen vegetables. Stir in the garlic.
- Incorporate the cold rice and oyster sauce mixture. Add the eggs, chicken, and green onions and heat through. DIG IN!
- To Store. Refrigerate fried rice in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Freeze chicken fried rice in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
For an even faster dinner, stir in chicken that’s been cooked in advance, instead of the sautéed chicken directed in this recipe.
- Shredded Chicken Fried Rice. Prepare chicken breast using your cooking method of choice: Instant Pot Chicken, Crock Pot Shredded Chicken, or this easy stovetop method for How to Cook Shredded Chicken. Shred and stir into the fried rice as directed.
- Roast Chicken Fried Rice. Prepare Baked Chicken Breast, Baked Bone In Chicken Breast, or Air Fryer Chicken Breast. Dice, then stir into the recipe as directed.
- You also can use shredded rotisserie chicken picked up from your local grocery store.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Nonstick Skillet. Perfect for making chicken fried rice.
- Spatula. Easy to use and useful for so many recipes.
- Measuring Spoons. These are double-sided, which means fewer dishes to wash.
Is anyone else craving chicken fried rice right now?
Let’s head into your kitchen and make it!
Chicken Fried Rice
- 1/3 cup oyster sauce*
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce divided, plus additional to taste
- 2 tablespoons canola oil grapeseed oil, or peanut oil, divided
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 large eggs lightly beaten
- 3 cups chopped fresh vegetables of choice I use 1 red bell pepper plus a small head of broccoli or 8 ounces mushrooms
- 1 (12-ounce) bag of frozen peas and carrots thawed
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 1/2 cups COLD cooked brown rice break up large clumps with your fingers
- 2/3 cup chopped green onions about 4 medium
- Red pepper flakes Sriracha, or hot sauce of choice (optional)
- In a small bowl, stir together the oyster sauce and 2 tablespoons soy sauce. Set aside. Keep a large bowl or plate and a large, flexible rubber spatula near the stove.
- Heat 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot, about 2 minutes. Add ½ tablespoon butter and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the eggs. Cook without stirring until they barely begin to set, about 20 seconds. With your spatula, scramble and break the eggs into little, bite-sized pieces. Continue to cook, stirring constantly now, until eggs are just cooked through but not yet browned, about 1 additional minute. Transfer eggs to the bowl and set aside. With a paper towel, carefully wipe the skillet clean.
- Return the skillet to the heat, and increase the heat to high. Let the skillet warm until it is nice and hot, about 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon of the canola oil, and swirl to coat. Add the chicken and the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is fully cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove to the bowl with the eggs.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Add the fresh vegetables and cook until they are crisp-tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons butter and peas and carrots. Cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds.
- Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds (do not let the garlic burn!).
- Add the brown rice and the oyster sauce mixture. Continue cooking, stirring constantly and breaking up any remaining rice clumps, until the mixture is heated through, about 2 minutes. Add the reserved eggs/chicken and green onions. Cook and stir until the mixture is completely heated through, about 1 minute more. Enjoy immediately with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes or dash of hot sauce and additional soy sauce as desired.
Adapted from my Homemade Fried Rice.
- *Oyster sauce is readily available in the Asian or international food aisle of most major grocery stores. It has a unique flavor and texture, and if you substitute something else for it, your fried rice won’t taste the same. If you’d like to experiment with making the recipe without oyster sauce, you can simply omit it or swap in 1 tablespoon sesame oil to add flavor.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate fried rice in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze chicken fried rice in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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