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We might not all agree on what we like in our fried rice recipes, but we can definitely all agree that fried rice is one of the most delicious dishes to ever make its way across the ocean. This Chinese staple is endlessly adaptable to your personal tastes and preferences, and it works just as well as a (mostly) healthy main entrée as it does a side—particularly if you pair it with an umami-rich protein.

If this is your first time exploring how to make Chinese fried rice, you’ll be glad to know that it’s one of the easiest dishes to master once you get the hang of it. You can even modify it to incorporate flavors from other Asian countries, such as Korean kimchi fried rice made with spicy fermented cabbage.

Ready to get started? Check out our easy fried rice recipe ideas below—plus our quick breakdown of what you need to know to cook fried rice that’s full of flavor.  

fried rice
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No matter your preferences, there’s a fried rice recipe for everyone. 

A Short History of Fried Rice

Fried rice has been around for more than a thousand years. The first mention of this famous Chinese dish dates back to the Sui dynasty, which ran from 589 to 618 AD—and more specifically, the eastern Jiangsu province and the city of Yangzhou.

The origin story of fried rice is a simple one, stemming from Chinese cultural norms around not wasting food. Instead of tossing uneaten cooked rice, it was added to heat again and repurposed into fried rice. Many years later, it remains the perfect solution for what to do with the leftover rice from last night’s stir fry or your Chinese takeout.

What is the Secret to Fried Rice?

Fried rice is an incredibly versatile dish, with the specific ingredients coming down to a mixture of chef’s choice and whatever you happen to have on hand. 

That said, there are a number of essentials behind any great fried rice recipe, and knowing what they are will help you cook fried rice better and improvise when the occasion calls for it.

  • Old cooked rice: It seems antithetical for a recipe to require an un-fresh ingredient, but starting with cooked leftover rice is one of the most important parts of how to cook Chinese fried rice. Fresh rice will yield soggy results, while old rice will help you get that nice firm texture that keeps you coming back for more bites.  
  • A hot wok: Sufficient heat is another key factor for getting your rice just right. A wok is the ideal cooking vessel for making fried rice since it holds onto and distributes hot temperatures well. If you don’t have one, a cast iron pan would be your next best bet.
  • Balance of flavors: Even an easy fried rice recipe is anything but one note. Regardless of whether you go with plain fried rice or something more involved, you want to make sure to achieve that ideal balance of sweet and salty, with some aromatics like garlic and ginger thrown in for good measure.

With these fundamentals in place, you’ll be able to test out the limits of your creativity and make takeout-worthy fried rice right at home. And to get you started, we’re sharing eight basic fried rice recipes that any home chef should be able to ace with a little bit of practice. So hope you’re hungry, because we’ve got some rice to fry.

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fried rice
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Even the plainest fried rice dishes are always bursting with flavor.

8 Easy Fried Rice Recipes

Vegetarian? Pescatarian? Omnivore? There’s a fried rice recipe for everyone (including vegans, if you omit the egg). Read through our top picks to find one that sounds like it will hit the spot.

(Psst: All of these recipes have salt to taste, but soy sauce is quite salty on its own, so start with just a little salt and add more from there if desired.)

1. Basic Chinese Fried Rice

A traditional Chinese fried rice usually features lap cheong (a sweet and salty Chinese sausage). If you don’t have an Asian market near you, you can substitute bacon, ham, salami, or chorizo.

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 4 scallions, white part and green part sliced
  • 1 lap cheong or meat substitution of choice
  • 4 cups leftover cooked rice
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • Salt to taste

Directions: Heat oil in wok over medium-high heat until shimmering. Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and then add to the wok and soft scramble, removing them from the wok and setting aside when done. Add a bit more oil to the wok, then stir fry garlic and ginger until fragrant. Add scallions and lap cheong and continue to stir fry, then add the rice. Once ingredients are well mixed, add in soy sauce, white pepper, and salt. Remove from heat and mix in the eggs.

2. Chicken Fried Rice

If chicken fried rice is your go-to Chinese food order, then it’s worth knowing how to make on your own. Marinate the chicken in a mix of soy sauce, oyster sauce, minced garlic, and Sriracha first for a couple of hours to impart even more flavor.

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil
  • Sesame oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pound boneless chicken breast, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen veggie blend
  • 4 cups leftover cooked rice
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • Salt to taste

Directions: Heat vegetable oil in wok over medium-high heat until shimmering. Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and then add them to the wok and soft scramble, removing them from the wok and setting aside when done. Add more vegetable oil and add chicken. Stir fry until cooked through (about five minutes) and remove. Add sesame oil to the wok, then stir fry garlic, ginger, and veggies. When ready, add rice, plus soy sauce, white pepper, and salt. Remove from heat and mix in chicken and eggs.

(For a variation, check out this course for another mouthwatering chicken fried rice recipe.)

3. Shrimp Fried Rice

Shrimp is the special ingredient in this fried rice classic. This recipe is spicy, but you can tone it down by swapping in a sweet red, orange, or yellow pepper for the jalapeño.

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil
  • Sesame oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pound raw medium shrimp  
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, deseeded and diced
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 4 cups leftover cooked rice
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • Salt to taste

Directions: Heat vegetable oil in wok over medium-high heat until shimmering. Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and then add them to the wok and soft scramble, removing them from the wok and setting aside when done. Add more vegetable oil and add shrimp. Stir fry until cooked through (about three minutes—you’ll know they’re done when they’re opaque) and remove. Add sesame oil to the wok, then stir fry garlic, ginger, jalapeño, and veggies. When ready, add leftover cooked rice, plus soy sauce, white pepper, and salt. Remove from heat and mix in shrimp and eggs.

4. Pork Fried Rice

Pork fried rice is one of the closer iterations to traditional Chinese fried rice, and particularly this version since it features some of the spices you might find in homemade lap cheong.

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • Small white or yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper (sub black pepper if desired)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cup mixed frozen vegetables
  • 4 cups leftover cooked rice
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • Salt to taste

Directions: Heat vegetable oil in wok over medium-high heat until shimmering. Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and then add them to the wok and soft scramble, removing them from the wok and setting aside when done. Add a bit more vegetable oil to the wok, then add onion, garlic, and ginger. Once fragrant, add ground pork, chili powder, Sichuan pepper, and nutmeg, and cook until pork starts to caramelize. Stir in frozen veggies to get tender, then add rice, plus soy sauce, white pepper, and salt. Remove from heat and mix in the eggs.

5. Vegetable Fried Rice

We love vegetable fried rice for its versatility. Our recipe is made super easy with a bag of pre-cut vegetables, but you can use any fresh or frozen veggies you’d like. The more the merrier, but add in an extra egg or two if you’re going to go heavy on the veg.

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil
  • Sesame oil
  • 2 eggs
  • Small white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • Bag of frozen mixed vegetables (or any fresh or frozen vegetables of your choosing; just make sure they’re chopped into bite-sized pieces)
  • 4 cups leftover cooked rice
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts sliced

Directions: Heat vegetable oil in wok over medium-high heat until shimmering. Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and then add them to the wok and soft scramble, removing them from the wok and setting aside when done. Add a bit of sesame oil to the wok, then onion, garlic, and ginger and stir fry until fragrant. To that, add fresh or frozen vegetables and stir fry until tender. Add rice, plus soy sauce, white pepper, and salt. Remove from heat and mix in scallions and eggs.

6. Pineapple Fried Rice

If you like a touch of extra sweetness, then you’ll love pineapple fried rice. This is a Thai twist on Chinese fried rice, but it’s equally delicious in our book. Note that fresh pineapple is ideal, but canned pineapple will work in a pinch.

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • Small white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cups leftover cooked rice
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup small pineapple chunks (if using canned, drain the juice first)
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts sliced

Directions: Heat oil in wok over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add ginger, garlic, and onion and cook until fragrant, then add rice, plus soy sauce, white pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and salt. Once rice starts to caramelize, add in pineapple chunks and cook for a couple of minutes until warmed through. Remove from heat and mix in scallions and eggs.

7. Beef Fried Rice

Next up is beef fried rice. This recipe uses flank steak, but another tender and quick-cooking cut like sirloin would work as well.

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 ounces flank steak, cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • Small white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen broccoli
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 4 cups leftover cooked rice
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • Salt to taste

Directions: Heat oil in wok over medium-high heat until shimmering. Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and then add them to the wok and soft scramble, removing them from the wok and setting aside when done. Add a bit more oil to the wok and turn heat to high, then add flank steak and cook until caramelized—about two to three minutes. Once cooked, remove steak and turn heat back down to medium-high. Add garlic, ginger, and onion and cook until fragrant, then add veggies. When they’re tender, add rice, plus soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper, and salt. Remove from heat and mix in the eggs and beef.

8. Plain Fried Rice

Plain fried rice is as simple as it gets, featuring just rice and egg. If you want, you can add in aromatics to amp up the flavor, such as garlic, scallions, or basil—though that’s completely up to you.

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups leftover cooked rice
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • Salt to taste

Directions: Heat oil in wok over medium-high heat until shimmering. Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and then add them to the wok and soft scramble, removing them from the wok and setting aside when done. Add a bit more oil to the wok, then add rice, plus soy sauce, white pepper, and salt. Remove from heat and mix in the eggs.

Want to add in other ingredients? Garlic, ginger, scallions, or veggies can be stir fried after the eggs have been removed from the wok and before you add in the rice. If you want to add herbs, toss those in fresh right before serving.  

How Can I Make Fried Rice Better?

There are a few things that you can do to level up your fried rice even further:

  • Make sure the rice is cold before adding it to the heat. Leave it on the bottom for long enough to go just past caramelization and acquire a bit of crispiness.
  • Soft scramble your eggs in butter instead of oil. Take it a step further by adding soy sauce or miso paste to the butter before adding your eggs.
  • If making a meat- or seafood-based fried rice, marinate your protein first for at least a couple of hours. This works great with tofu, too!
  • Add some umami by working miso paste, fish sauce, or shrimp paste (yes, shrimp paste) into your recipe.

We hope after all these recipes you’re feeling inspired to try your hand at making fried rice. Which recipe will you choose? 

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