Chinese Fried Rice (restaurant style) is an essential recipe for any home cook. Although it is very simple in theory, many folks have trouble getting the restaurant style rice they crave.
There are a few tricks to getting the perfect fried rice every time and I am going to share them with you. That is why you are here, right? To figure out who to get your favorite restaurant fried rice at home?
The first, and what I think is the most critical to getting perfect fried rice: COLD RICE!
Many say it needs to be day-old rice, but I find that making it the same day and chilling it works just the same. If you have leftover rice, you can use that.
A medium-grain rice tends to work best. I prefer to use Jasmine rice (sticky rice), but this batch was actually made with instant white rice and turned out just as delightful. I paired it with my Honey Ginger Short Ribs– so tasty!
So why cold rice? J. Kenji from The Food Lab sums it up best, “First, there’s evaporation: the rice gets dryer.
Second, we’ve got starch retrogradation: gelatinized starches that have swollen up and softened during cooking will recrystallize as they cool, turning the rice firm and less sticky.”
These rice grains will be their own, perfect little pellet and not turn to mush. The dehydration will allow some of the other flavors to absorb.
What's In This Article
Same Day Fried Rice
So what is my trick if I am making fried rice the same day? I cook the rice according to the package and then I spread it out in a thin layer on a large rimmed baking sheet.
I place this is the refrigerator, or even sometimes the freezer, to speed the process up. Give yourself at least an hour to get a good chill. It still requires some thinking ahead, but not nearly as much as a day!
Next is the soy sauce. Not all soy sauce is created equal. This became really apparent to me after a recent trip to Japan when none of the soy sauces were recognizable.
They were less salty and thick, nearly syrupy. But the flavor, oh my goodness. It’s hard to go back to the regular American brands.
While I still love traditional American soy sauces (reduced sodium, of course) for marinades and general uses, my new favorite is Mushroom Flavored Dark Soy Sauce.
Flavorful, it is perfect for adding acid to soups, sauces, salad dressing and of course, Easy Fried Rice!
Whichever soy sauce you use, make sure to taste it first and adjust the amount based on saltiness and flavor. Start small knowing you can always add more, but you can never take away.
Easy Fried Rice is not only a great recipe for using up leftover rice, but also to use up odds and ends of vegetables. One veggie I always use in my fried rice recipe is onion.
However, the type depends on what I have on hand and it commonly a mixture of several, adding even more sophisticated flavor. Red, leek, scallion, shallots, white, yellow, chives, they will all work!
Similarly, use whatever other vegetables you have on hand. Bell peppers, carrots, peas, green beans, broccoli, zucchini, corn, really just about anything! If you are using diced and raw, add it with the onions and sauté to soften.
I also use frozen vegetables, because I always have those in my freezer. A six ounce bag of mixed veggies does the trick for me!
Many claim you need a wok to distribute the heat evenly. Nope, you don’t. In fact, depending on what type of stove you have, using a wok could prevent the heat from distributing! I actually prefer my handy cast iron skillet.
And lastly, if you want to add a protein to make Easy Fried Rice into your entree, be my guest! Cook it ahead of time and add it at the very end.
Seafood, especially shrimp, beef, pork and chicken seem to be the most popular types of fried rice. If you want the restaurant style red pork, look for Chinese Sausage in the meat case.
Top it off with scallions (green onions) for the ultimate side dish.
Fried Rice Ingredients
- Rice – I like to use white rice, but you can certainly use brown rice if you prefer. Using cold rice works best for fried rice. To do it quick, lay it in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Vegetable oil – This helps to coat the hot pan and prevent the fried rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan or side of the pan.
- Onion – The type depends on what I have on hand and it commonly a mixture of several, adding even more sophisticated flavor. Red, leek, scallion, shallots, white, yellow, chives, they will all work!
- Vegetables – You can either use fresh veggies or frozen veggies. Use whatever other vegetables you have on hand. Bell peppers, carrots, peas, green beans, broccoli, zucchini, corn, really just about anything! If you are using diced and raw, add it with the onions and sauté to soften.
- Sesame oil – We make this homemade fried rice quite often, so I always have a bottle of this on hand. However, you can use vegetable oil instead if you don’t have it.
- Soy sauce – I love traditional American soy sauces (low sodium soy sauce, of course) for marinades and general uses, but my new favorite is Mushroom Flavored Dark Soy Sauce.
- White pepper – I like to use white pepper here because it has a milder flavor. However, you can use black pepper if you’d prefer to.
- Eggs – Cooked egg mixed into fresh rice is a great way to make the best fried rice recipe. It’s a simple ingredient that makes a big difference.
How to Make Good Fried Rice
- Combine seasonings. In a small bowl, whisk together sesame oil, soy sauce of choice and white pepper. Set aside.
- Sauté onions. In a large skillet, cast iron pan or large wok, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until opaque and soft.
- Add veggies. After onion has cooked, add frozen vegetables. Stir until defrosted.
- Add rice. Add cold rice, using a spatula to toss the rice with other ingredients. Do NOT stir, instead toss or flip to prevent the starch from making the rice too soggy.
- Add eggs. Add lightly beaten eggs, continuing to flip until eggs are nearly cooked.
- Pour sesame oil. Pour sesame oil mixture over top of rice, continuing to flip and toss until all grains are uniformly colored. If you do not use a dark soy sauce, yours might not be as dark as mine.
One of the best things about this fried rice recipe is that it’s totally customizable. Here are a few suggestions, but feel free to get creative and make it your own.
- Vegetables – I use a simple blend of frozen veggies, but you can really add any that you like. Bell peppers, zucchini, broccoli, green beans or anything that you desire would be a great addition.
- Flavor – A lot of fried rice recipes use oyster sauce, coconut aminos, hoisin sauce or fish sauce for additional flavor. Play around with what you prefer.
- Oil – I use both vegetable and sesame oil fir this recipe; you could theoretically use any oil such as peanut oil, olive oil or toasted sesame oil if those are what you have.
- Protein – This part is optional, but I like adding either cooked chicken, crispy bacon, shrimp or Chinese sausage to my easy fried rice recipe. It takes it from a side dish to a main dish with one ingredient. You can also throw in any leftover meat you have from other dinners.
Storage, Reheating and Freezing
Storage: You can store any leftover cooked rice in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Reheating: You can reheat it in a saucepan with a little extra water so it does dry out or in the microwave.
Freezing: I do not recommend freezing this fried rice. Rice can get a gummy and hard texture when thawed.
More Easy Asian Recipes
- Ginger Shrimp Lettuce Wraps
- BBQ Asian Sirloin
- Honey Ginger Short Ribs
- Shrimp Fried Rice
- Yakitori Chicken
- Kung Pao Chicken
- Buckwheat Noodles
Easy Fried Rice – Restaurant Style
- In a small bowl, whisk together sesame oil, soy sauce of choice and white pepper. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, cast iron pan or wok, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until opaque and soft. If you are adding raw vegetables or a cooked protien, add them at this step as well.
- After onion has cooked, add frozen vegetables. Stir until defrosted, approximately 3-4 minutes.
- Add cold rice, using a spatula to toss the rice with other ingredients. Do NOT stir, instead toss or flip to prevent the starch from making the rice too soggy.
- Add lightly beaten eggs, continuing to flip until eggs are nearly cooked.
- Pour sesame oil mixture over top of rice, continuing to flip and toss until all grains are uniformly colored. If you do not use a dark soy sauce, yours might not be as dark as mine.
- If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was!
- I prefer Mushroom flavored dark soy sauce