Chinese fried rice made with fragrant jasmine rice, carrots, peas, and scrambled eggs.

This easy stir-fried dish turns plain white rice into flavorful grains lightly seasoned with soy sauce and tossed with colorful vegetables. I often use leftover rice for a quick and convenient meal.

Fried rice is a Chinese food restaurant staple that’s always on the take-out menu. It’s hard not to eat every light and fluffy morsel.

What makes the dish so tasty is the  stir-fry technique that’s easy to tackle at home. Using this vegetarian recipe as a base, you can incorporate any mix-in’s or proteins you’d like to switch up the taste.

Growing up in a big Chinese family not far from Oakland Chinatown, homemade fried rice at our house was a “clean-out-the-fridge” type dish, no recipe needed. My mom would use leftover rice from a previous meal and then add in some meat like diced ham, spam or char siu. Easy and delicious every time.

Fresh rice vs. leftover rice

Leftover cold rice is ideal to use because the grains are separate and cook easier in the wok.

That doesn’t mean that a fresh pot of rice can’t be used, especially when the craving hits. It only takes about an extra 20 minutes to prepare.

The key to fresh rice is allowing it to cool slightly before using it. The cooling process can quickly be done by spreading the rice on a sheet pan at room temperature, or chill in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes if you’re impatient like me. The rice should be cool to the touch before adding it to the pan.

Fried rice ingredients

  • White rice, jasmine or long-grain; fresh or leftover
  • Minced white onion
  • Diced carrots
  • Green peas, fresh or frozen (avoid canned; too mushy)
  • Toasted sesame oil
  • Eggs whisked
  • Soy sauce
  • Salt and white pepper (spicy flavor and adds no color to the dish)
  • Sliced green onions

How to make Chinese fried rice

  • Fry the rice by lightly browning in a pan or wok.
  • Stir-fry the onions, garlic, and carrots until tender.
  • Make a large well in the center of the pan with the rice.
  • Pour in the whisked eggs and scramble until small curds form.
  • Soy sauce is optional but adds a savory flavor to the rice.
  • Add green peas at the end to retain color and shape.

Make it an entree

I am guilty of eating the rice straight from the pan, often serving as dinner instead of just a side.

Other ingredients to add to this recipe are shrimp (fresh or dried), tofu, diced chicken,, or diced bacon. For those on a low carb diet, cauli flower rice or brocoli rice are tasty cruciferous substitutions.

A bowl filled to the brim with steaming rice, and bite-sized pieces of egg and vegetables bring maximum taste-bud satisfaction.

My chopsticks can never move fast enough as I devour my first serving, with the hope that there’ll be a little extra left to scoop out from the bottom of the pan.


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