Learning how to make Homemade Fried Rice is easy and a valuable life skill. The ingredients are any vegetables you have, egg (plus any protein you like), rice (leftover is better), and the homemade sauce is just two ingredients! Today, I’m sharing my top tips to make healthy fried rice at home that tastes BETTER than what you can get at a restaurant. It’s true!
Cooking fried rice from scratch is a life improvement move.
Not only is fried rice inexpensive and an excellent way to clean out the fridge, but it’s also lightning-fast (we’re talking 15 minutes!), AND it’s good for you.
Unlike the disappointing, lackluster, is there anything in here BUT rice? versions of fried rice you’ve experienced in takeout containers of the past, this recipe is FULLY LOADED with the good stuff.
Once you learn how to make it, you’ll want to go ahead and double this recipe. It’s the trifecta of sweet, sticky, and savory, and it tastes even better reheated.
I consider myself a fried rice aficionado, an expertise I honed during high school.
At least twice a week, I opted for fried rice takeout for lunch. Then on Friday nights, my friends and I would head to the “fancy” Chinese restaurant (the one with the wooden instead of plastic tables), where we spent our hard-earned paychecks on (you guessed it) more fried rice.
You could say my dining choices lacked variety, but you know what? Fried rice is delicious. It was scrumptious then, and it certainly is now.
Today, I’m giving a long-loved childhood favorite a nutritious makeover using ingredients you can find at any grocery store. Don’t be surprised when you catch yourself snitching hot forkfuls straight from the skillet.
Ditch the takeout menu. You can make the best fried rice recipe in the world at home!
The Best Rice to Use for Homemade Fried Rice
If you take one thing away from this post, let it be this: the best rice to use when making fried rice is leftover, COLD rice.
- Cold rice works best for fried rice, because it is drier, which keeps the fried rice from becoming soggy.
As far as which type of cold rice to use, that’s up to you! You can choose brown or white rice.
- For white rice, both Jasmine and Basmati rice are popular.
- My personal preference is brown rice. I usually use long grain, because that’s what we have at home most often.
Homemade fried rice is not bad for you, since you can control the ingredients. I wanted to make a truly healthy version, so I used brown rice.
Brown rice is whole grain, meaning it’s higher in protein, fiber, and nutrients than white rice. The flavor of the brown rice is ultra-subtle. You won’t notice the swap.
You may be wondering, can you make fried rice with fresh rice?
- You can make fried rice with fresh rice, but let the rice chill completely in the refrigerator before starting the recipe. This is CRUCIAL.
- Day-old rice (or rice that’s been in the freezer and then thawed) is even better.
How to Make Fried Rice from Scratch
The magic of this recipe’s tastiness and ease lies in its fusion of fresh ingredients with pantry and freezer staples. The ingredients for fried rice are simple, but they come together to create something truly addictive.
- Leftover COLD Rice. I cannot stress the COLD part enough, so I’m stating it here again. You must cool rice to make the best fried rice. Cold rice is the secret to the sticky, not-too-soft, not-too-hard texture. You do cook rice before frying it, so go ahead and put the rice on the stove now. You’ll want it at the ready when it’s time to cook dinner!
- Vegetables. Unlike the takeout version, you’ll find a heap of colorful vegetables in every forkful of this fried rice recipe. For freshness and color, I used a red bell pepper. For speed and ease, I added a 10-ounce bag of frozen peas and carrots. GAME CHANGER. The carrots and peas tasted fantastic, and I spent exactly zero minutes chopping them. You can use any mix of fresh OR FROZEN vegetables that you prefer!
- Butter. Another of my best-ever fried rice secrets! Adding butter to fried rice is a pro tip that no restaurant will tell you but is oh-so-true. You can also use a butter with canola oil spread if you prefer.
- Oyster Sauce. Think of oyster sauce as an umami bomb of instant flavor. It’s thick, sticky, and its flavor is rich and complex. It coats every grain of rice with unmistakable flair. You can find oyster sauce in the Asian food aisle of any major grocery store.
- Soy Sauce. More umami. I recommend low-sodium soy sauce so that the rice doesn’t become too salty and you can better control its flavor.
- Edamame. A quick and easy way to add protein to vegetable fried rice. Look for shelled edamame in the freezer section of the grocery store.
- Green Onions + Garlic. For freshness, bite, and zing.
- Eggs. Fried rice with egg is classic, plus it adds more protein. Be sure to follow the cooking tips below for how to cook fried rice with egg.
- Mix the oyster sauce and soy sauce. That good umami flavor.
- Heat your skillet and add the butter, coating the bottom of the pan. Get ready for the good smells!
- Add the eggs. Do not stir the eggs until they’ve started to set. Use a rubber spatula to break the eggs into little, bite-sized pieces. Once they’re cooked through, move them to a separate bowl. Be careful not to overcook them.
- Turn the heat to high, and let your skillet get hot (this is VERY important). Add the oil, and toss in the bell pepper along with any other fresh vegetables you are using. Let cook until tender.
- Add the rest of the butter, carrots and peas, and edamame. Stir consistently for 30 seconds, then add the garlic.
- Toss in the brown rice and oyster sauce mixture. Stir constantly until all the rice is heated through and coated with saucy goodness. Add the eggs and green onions. Your kitchen will smell fantastic.
- Serve yourself a heaping bowl and ENJOY!
Tips to Make The World’s Best Fried Rice
- Don’t Overdo the Soy Sauce. If you’re anything like I was as a kid, you loaded on the soy sauce until it was swimming in a pool. While it may be tempting to keep adding more soy sauce while cooking, stick to the 1 tablespoon (I promise it will have plenty of flavor). You can always add a drizzle on your portion later.
- Use a Large Pan or Wok. Make sure your pan is big enough to cook all the ingredients evenly and stir easily without spills. Nothing worse than losing some of this precious dish off the side of the pan!
- Keep Your Pan HOT. A hot pan is critical for achieving that crispy, toasty deliciousness that comes from perfect fried rice. If your pan isn’t hot enough, you may end up steaming everything instead of frying it.
- Chop the Veggies Small. Whichever vegetables you choose, to make this recipe move quickly and ensure the vegetables cook evenly, chop the vegetables small.
- Load on the Veggies. Unlike the takeout version, this homemade fried rice can be hearty enough to stand on its own without a separate main dish. Toss in whatever veggies you and your family love, and this dish will become colorful, flavorful, and filling!
- USE COLD RICE. If it feels like I’m obsessing over this point, it’s because I am. This is how you can make fried rice better.
Fried Rice Variations
The recipe I’ve listed here is for a simple vegetable fried rice recipe. Don’t think that makes this a plain fried rice recipe. It’s anything but bland! You’ll be impressed with yourself after you make it, I promise.
If you’d like to vary the recipe further, here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Chicken Fried Rice. For a fried rice recipe chicken, try my delicious Chicken Fried Rice.
- Pork Fried Rice. Pork is another lean protein option you could add to vary it up from chicken. Pork tenderloin is my preferred lean cut in this Pork Fried Rice recipe.
- Shrimp Fried Rice. Before cooking your eggs, add 1/2 tablespoon Butter with Canola Oil and 8 ounces peeled, deveined raw shrimp to the pan. Let the shrimp cook on each side over high heat for about 30 seconds, until opaque and fully cooked through. Then, remove the shrimp from the pan and begin following recipe instructions. Add your shrimp to the homemade fried rice when adding your reserved eggs and green onions.
- Pineapple Fried Rice. When you add your chopped red bell pepper to the pan, also add about 2 cups chopped fresh or drained canned pineapple. YUM!
- Low Carb Fried Rice. You can also swap out the brown rice entirely! This Quinoa Fried Rice with Chicken and Vegetables and this Cauliflower Fried Rice are two delicious spins.
How to Store, Reheat, and Freeze
- I love this dish leftover just as much as I do when it’s fresh. The flavors marry, and it becomes extra irresistible. I’ve been known to eat it cold right out of the container (sometimes at breakfast).
- To Store. Let your cooked homemade fried rice cool to room temperature, then place it in the refrigerator in an airtight storage container for up to 5 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers in a large skillet over medium-low heat until hot. You can also place leftovers on a microwave-safe plate or in a bowl and microwave for 1 minute or until warmed through.
- To Freeze. Once your homemade fried rice has cooled, place it in an airtight freezer-safe storage container or zip-top bag, removing as much air as possible. Freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat as directed.
Dishes That Go Well With Fried Rice
Thanks to the heap of vegetables, edamame, egg, and whole grains, this recipe is substantial and well-rounded enough to be relatively good for you as a main dish too. We usually enjoy it first as a fast weeknight dinner, then I eat the leftovers for lunch later in the week.
If you’d like to serve this dish as a side, here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Chicken. Chicken is the perfect complement to a side of homemade fried rice! Try serving it with Crispy Asian Chicken Tenders or Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken.
- Salmon. Elevate your homemade fried rice by pairing it with Soy Ginger Salmon.
- Beef. Tasty Crockpot Beef and Broccoli would be a wonderful main dish to serve with your homemade fried rice.
- Tofu. For a delicious option, serve your fried rice recipe with Tofu Stir Fry, General Tso’s Tofu, or Crispy Tofu.
- Lettuce Wraps. For a light main dish, serve this homemade fried rice with Asian Lettuce Wraps or Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps. Or wrap the rice right inside of a bibb lettuce leave and use it as a filling.
More Takeout-Inspired Recipes
- Crockpot Orange Chicken
- Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry
- Crock Pot Cashew Chicken
- Instant Pot Teriyaki Chicken
- Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken
I often lovingly refer to this sort of Asian-inspired recipe as “takeout, fake out” but the nickname doesn’t feel appropriate this time.
Honestly, this homemade version is so delicious, actual takeout Chinese fried rice or hibachi fried rice will never do it for you again!
Homemade Fried Rice
- 1/4 cup oyster sauce*
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce plus additional to taste
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter divided, or butter with canola oil spread
- 3 large eggs lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 large red, yellow, or orange bell pepper cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 1/4 cups)
- 1 bag frozen peas and carrots thawed (12 ounces)
- 1 cup frozen shelled edamame thawed (optional, but great for extra protein)
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 1/2 cups COLD cooked brown rice break up large clumps with your fingers
- 1/2 cup chopped green onions about 3 medium
- Red pepper flakes Sriracha, or hot sauce of choice (optional)
- In a small bowl, stir together the oyster sauce and soy sauce. Set aside. Grab a small bowl and a large, flexible rubber spatula, and keep both handy.
- Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 tablespoon butter and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the eggs, and cook without stirring until they barely start to set, about 20 seconds. With your spatula, scramble and break the eggs into little, bite-sized pieces. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until eggs are just cooked through but not yet browned, about 1 additional minute. Transfer eggs to the small bowl and set aside.
- 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 the canola oil, and swirl to coat. Add the diced bell pepper, and cook until it is crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.
- Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, peas and carrots, and edamame. 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 3 minutes.
- Add reserved eggs 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.
- TO STORE: Let your cooked homemade fried rice come to room temperature and place it in the refrigerator in an airtight storage container for up to 5 days.
- TO REHEAT: Place your fried rice on a microwave-safe plate or in a bowl and microwave for 1 minute or until warmed through.
- TO FREEZE: Once your homemade fried rice has cooled, place it in a freezer-safe container or ziptop bag, removing as much air as possible. Freeze for up to 3 months.
- *INGREDIENT NOTE: 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 of sesame oil to add flavor.
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