Made with leftover white rice, this classic fried rice recipe with ham, carrots, peas, and scrambled egg is the best quick dinner idea your whole family will love.
It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Asian food and it’s definitely the cuisine that gets the most love in our household. Recipes like my Thai garlic and black pepper tofu with mushrooms, and this Asian glazed orange chicken are in regular rotation. But I realized I didn’t yet have a recipe on my blog for one of my favorite classic Asian dishes—fried rice.
Fried rice is one of those comfort food takeout dishes everyone should know how to make and something I’ve been making for years. It’s cheap and quick and simple to throw together, and the perfect thing to make when you find yourself with leftover rice in the fridge. In fact, chilled leftover rice is the secret to making the absolutely best fried rice ever.
What’s In the BEST Fried Rice
Whip up this fried rice for dinner in under 30 minutes and customize it depending on what you have on hand. Just make sure you have cooked rice that’s been chilled so it doesn’t get clumpy or goopy.
Here’s what’s in this fried rice:
- Canola oil
- Sesame oil
- Leftover/chilled white rice
- Green onion
- Diced ham
- Frozen peas and carrots
- Soy sauce
How to Make Simple Fried Rice
This fried rice recipe only has a few steps and is so easy to make. Here’s how:
First, sauté your garlic and veggies with the ham. You’ll want to do this first and then set them aside so your rice will have plenty of room to stick to the bottom of your pan and get all nice and crispy.
Forget about it (for a few minutes anyway). Crisp up your rice by spreading it out in your hot skillet and pressing down on it with a spatula. Let it cook without stirring for about 3-4 minutes at a time, then stir and repeat this process a couple more times.
Scramble your egg. I prefer to do this in a separate pan so the egg doesn’t get lost in the rest of the rice and maintains its texture better. Get your pan hot and don’t be shy with the butter—it lends a creamy texture to your eggs.
Mix it all together. Once your rice is evenly crisp and golden brown, toss in the soy sauce mixture with the veggies, ham, and scrambled eggs. Top with green onions, and Sriracha or toasted sesame seeds if you like.
What Kind of Rice Should You Use for Fried Rice
You could use brown rice but I prefer white rice here (just standard long-grain white rice, though you could certainly use jasmine).
Leftover rice is always best when making fried rice because fresh rice contains more moisture and can be sticky, making it harder for the rice to develop that crispy fried rice texture we all love. Leftover rice will be much drier and therefore will crisp up much better.
If you don’t have any leftover rice in your fridge, there’s a trick. Make your rice and then spread it out on a large sheet pan lined with parchment (or lightly sprayed with cooking spray) to cool. Let it hang out on the pan for an hour or two so it can dry out. Or, if you don’t have that much time, pop it in a 200°F oven for 10 or 15 minutes, or until most of the moisture has evaporated.
Is Chinese Fried Rice Really Fried
I wouldn’t classify fried rice as a “fried food.” That’s because it doesn’t need as much oil as if you were deep-frying things like french fries or chicken. Oil is definitely required for making fried rice (the oil, coupled with high heat, is what allows the rice to get crispy). That said, you don’t need a large amount of oil to make fried rice.
Mix-Ins or Substitutions for Fried Rice
Fried rice is super versatile and there are so many easy, yummy swaps or additions you can make depending on your personal palate. Here are some ideas:
- Instead of ham, try bacon, diced hot dog, chicken, or tofu
- Instead of scrambled egg mixed in the rice, top it with a runny egg
- You could add fish sauce or oyster sauce for even more umami
- Feel free to add extra veggies like onions, mushrooms, snow peas, or cabbage
- Fresh, minced ginger would also be a yummy addition
- You could sub broccoli for the carrots and peas
- Diced pineapple would also be delicious in this
- Mix in Sriracha or chili garlic sauce (such as Sambal Olek), or just drizzle it on top before serving
4 Tips for Making the BEST Fried Rice
Making fried rice is not complicated, and with these simple tips you can master it in no time.
- For the best fried rice, use leftover white rice that’s been chilled so the rice doesn’t clump and get sticky.
- Make sure your pan is hot. Medium-high heat is the sweet spot so your rice will get crispy and golden but won’t burn.
- Resist the urge to stir your rice too much. It’s really crucial to let it cook undisturbed for a few minutes at a time once you’re trying to crisp it. Then toss and repeat so every grain gets evenly toasted.
- Cook the veggies and protein separate from the rice, so your rice has more room in the pan to get crispy (the veggies and protein will add too much moisture and will also make it hard for the rice to touch the bottom of the pan if the pan is too full.
More Asian Dishes to Round Out Your Meal
- Asian Broccolini
- How to Cook the Best Crispy Tofu
- Sweet and Sour Asian Pickled Cucumbers
- How to Make an Asian-Inspired Cheese Board
More Rice Dishes You’ll Love
- The BEST Spanish Rice
- One-Pot Chicken and Rice Casserole
- Easy Lemon Rice
- Almond-Crusted Cod with Coconut Rice and Ginger Spinach
- Sesame Shrimp with Asian Greens Rice Bowl
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