It's so easy to make delicious fried rice at home. You only need eight ingredients, which you can find in any grocery store, and it's a great way to use up leftovers.
My 8-year-old daughter knows good food. When her favorite Italian Wedding Soup was discontinued a few years ago, I was inspired to create my own version, which has become a staple in our house (and the most popular recipe on this blog to date).
Recently she's adopted a new favorite: fried rice. The first time she tried it a local restaurant, she was immediately hooked. She's had it at many different restaurants since then, but the fried rice near our house has remained #1.
So, just like with the wedding soup, I decided to take a stab at making her favorite fried rice at home. It's the perfect simple dinner to add to my repertoire because:
- It's inexpensive
- It's quick
- It's a "one skillet" meal
- We all like it
- AND it's customizable. You can swap in/out any protein or veggies you like, making it a fantastic way to use up leftovers.
Another thing I discovered when I made my own fried rice is that it's a lot healthier than I realized. The word "fried" always led me to believe that the rice was drowned in oil, I only needed to use two tablespoons of canola oil for several cups of rice.
After I made this fried rice the other night, my daughter declared my version her new #1. If you knew how particular she is about her fried rice, you'd know that's a huge and hard-won compliment!
Do you need a wok to cook fried rice?
The first time I made it, I used a regular stainless steel skillet because we didn't own a wok. The end result came out tasting great, but I did have a hard time preventing the rice from sticking, and clean-up was a bit of a pain.
Once I realized that fried rice was going to be our new weeknight staple, I did decide to buy an inexpensive nonstick wok, and it made the cooking process MUCH easier the next time around.
So the short answer to the question is: sort of. I wouldn't go out and buy a wok just to make this dish... a large non-stick skillet should work fine. But if you DO plan on cooking fried rice, stir-fry, or Asian noodle dishes with any regularity, then a wok will make your life a whole lot easier!
What type of rice is best for fried rice?
Fried rice can be made with regular long-grain white rice, but the rice needs to be COLD before you cook it. So if you're planning to make fried rice, either cook the rice a day or two ahead, or cook it in the morning and put it in the fridge until dinnertime.
You can also use leftover rice from a restaurant or take-out order if you have some on hand.
Shortcuts and Substitutions:
- There are lots of substitutions you can make in this recipe. You can swap white rice with brown, you can use any sort of protein you like (chicken, shrimp, pork, steak, tofu, or a combination), and you can add in a wide variety of veggies.
- I prefer to buy the frozen pea/carrot mixture because that's what was in my daughter's favorite restaurant version, but you could also use corn, green beans, edamame, broccoli, snap peas or anything else you have in your freezer or fridge.
- You can also choose to omit the sesame oil if you prefer your fried rice without sesame oil.
If you like spicy fried rice:
If you like a little heat, drizzle some sriracha over your finished fried rice before serving. It's a delicious way to add flavor and spice.
Other recipes to try:
Easy Fried Rice
- 4.5 cups cooked cold white rice 1.5 c uncooked
- ⅓ cup soy sauce divided
- 1 green onion chopped
- 3 eggs beaten
- 1 cup frozen pea & carrot mixture
- 3 tablespoons canola oil divided
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1.5 cups cooked chicken, pork or shrimp optional
- Heat a skillet or wok to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil. When oil is warm, add the eggs and cook, scrambling. Remove to a platter and set aside.
- Cook frozen pea and carrot mixture according to package directions until just barely cooked.*
- In skillet or wok, heat to medium-high. Add 2 tablespoons canola oil.
- When oil is hot, add cold rice and ¼ cup of soy sauce. Stir constantly with wooden spoon until rice is evenly coated in soy sauce and hot, adding more oil if necessary to prevent sticking.
- Add meat/seafood (if using), cooked egg, chopped scallions, peas and carrots and sesame oil. Stir until everything is combined and hot.
- Add more soy sauce to taste as needed. Serve immediately.