Chicken fried rice contains flavorful pieces of protein that make for a heartier side dish. Long grain white rice stir-fries until lightly brown, then toss with colorful vegetables and savory seasonings.
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You don’t have to order takeout from a Chinese restaurant to enjoy a big bowl of fried rice. It’s easy to make at home using a simple stir-frying technique. This recipe is one of my favorite ways to use up leftover ingredients in the fridge and turn them into a delicious meal. I’ll even show you how to quickly create a pot of steamed rice if leftover grains are not available.
I’ve taken my tasty classic fried recipe and added lean chicken breast to increase the dish’s protein level. Marinating the poultry infuses more flavor before it even hits the wok. Vibrant peas and carrots, plus fluffy pieces of scrambled egg add more nutrition and flavor to each serving.
When cooked, long grain rice is better at staying separate compared to clingy shorter grains. This makes it easier to maneuver in the pan when stir-frying. I prefer Jasmine rice as it has a lovely floral aroma, and it’s less sticky and drier in texture. You can use other types of rice like brown rice. However, if a medium grain like Calrose is added, it will clump more.
Making freshly steamed rice
It’s ideal for fried rice recipes to use leftover rice for stir-frying as the grains are stiffer and less sticky. Although when the craving hits, making steamed white rice is quick and easy. First, make sure to wash the rice with cold water. You’ll see the water become cloudy. That’s from the starches releasing into the water. If left in the pot, the grains will clump together. Wash the rice until the water is clear.
Bring the rice to a boil, then cover and simmer until all of the water is absorbs and the grains are fluffy. It’s essential to chill the hot rice until cold. This process makes it firmer and easier to cook. Factor in about 30 minutes of cook time to prepare the rice from scratch.
Marinate the chicken
I use boneless skinless chicken breasts in the recipe. Cut them down into ½-inch pieces for quicker marinating and cooking. To yield tender and juicy bites, let the meat marinate in soy sauce, sesame oil, and freshly chopped ginger. This combination layers more umami flavor onto the neutral-tasting poultry. 15 minutes is all you need.
Sear the meat
Place the marinated chicken in a single layer inside the hot wok. I let it sear for a few minutes, lightly browning the surface for more flavor. Resist the urge to stir, let it sit undisturbed, then saute until cooked through. Because there’s not much fat in this meat cut, it can dry out quickly. You’ll need to take it out of the pan while making the rest of the dish.
Stir-fry the rice
Lightly brown and toast the rice in the wok to add more texture and flavor to the dish. Let it sit in a thin layer for 30-second intervals, stirring, then repeating for a few minutes to give the grains more exposure to the heat. Add the soy sauce at the end of cooking to help deepen the color and umami taste, but it’s not the primary way that the rice changes in appearance.
Add vegetables and aromatics
Small green peas and diced carrots make the dish pop in color and provide a hint of sweetness, creating a more flavorful dish. The carrots saute with chopped white onions and ginger, adding intense earthy aromatics to the rice. Add the peas last because they are delicate and just need to be warmed.
Scramble in the egg
Soft and fluffy curds of scrambled eggs deliver additional protein. Whisk the eggs, then move the rice and form a well in the center of the pan. Let the liquid sit until you can stir it, and clumps start to form. You can make the pieces as small or big as you like, then stir them into the rice mixture.
Add the chicken
Add the chicken back to the pan along with the peas and stir fry until they’re both warm. You don’t want to overcook the chicken, or it will dry out. Make sure to taste the rice and season with more salt and white pepper, or soy sauce if desired. White pepper is a common ingredient in Chinese cuisine. It’s much spicier, so a little goes a long way.
Right before serving, garnish with thinly sliced pieces of green onions. It adds a nice freshness to the dish without the sharp pungent notes of raw onions.
What to serve this with
Rinse the rice for a less sticky texture
Dried white rice has a light film of starch on the grain’s surface. If not washed away, it will swell and become sticky, causing the pieces to clump together. We want to avoid the excess starches as much as possible for making fried rice since there will be a lot of movement and stirring. A quick solution is to rinse the rice with cold water, draining, and repeating the process until the water runs clear.
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Chicken Fried Rice
- 1 cup jasmine rice, or long grain white rice, uncooked
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper, or black pepper
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- ¼ cup minced white onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ½ cup diced carrots, ¼-inch dice
- 2 large eggs, whisked
- ½ cup peas, frozen, defrosted
- 2 tablespoons green onions, thinly sliced
- Add rice to a fine-meshed strainer. Rinse and wash under cool running water until it runs clear, scrubbing the rice in between your fingers several times, about 1 minute. Shake and press with hands to thoroughly drain. Alternatively, add the rice to the saucepan used for cooking the rice, cover with cool water and scrub with hands, drain and repeat 2 to 3 times until the water runs clear. Drain off excess water very well.
- In a 3-quart sized saucepan, add washed rice and water. Bring to a boil over high heat and then turn down the heat to a simmer over low, cover with a lid. Simmer until all of the water absorbs and the rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the rice to sit covered, off the heat, for 10 minutes.
- Fluff the rice with a fork, then evenly spread on a baking sheet. Transfer to the refrigerator until completely cooled, about 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the chicken.
- In a medium bowl, combine diced chicken, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, ginger, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper. Marinate for at least 15 minutes while the rice is cooling.
- Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Once hot, add the chicken in a single layer. Cook without stirring for 2 minutes, allowing the surface to lightly brown. Stir-fry until no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a clean plate. Carefully wipe the wok with a paper towel to remove excess moisture from the pan.
- Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Once hot, add the rice. Stir-fry until evenly coated with oil, then spread and lightly press around the pan. Allow to cook for 30-seconds, then stir. Repeat the spreading and stirring every 30-seconds for 5 minutes total to encourage some light browning on the rice.
- Push the rice to the wok's sides to make a large well, and add 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil. Add onion, garlic, and carrots. Stir-fry in the pan's center for 1 minute, then mix with rice to combine.
- Make another large well in the center, add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Pour in whisked eggs, allow to sit for about 30 seconds, then gradually stir to create small scrambled egg pieces, stir to combine with the rice.
- Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce, stir to combine. Add peas and chicken, stir to combine, and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt, white pepper, and more soy sauce as desired. Garnish with green onions and serve immediately.
- Recipe Yield: 6 cups
- Serving Size: 1 cup
- Using leftover rice: Substitute 3 cups of cold cooked rice for the 1 cup of uncooked long grain rice. If clumpy, break into pieces with your fingers before adding to the pot.
- For larger pieces of egg: Cook before the chicken in 1 tablespoon of oil, breaking into the desired size. Transfer to a plate and reserve, then add back at the end of cooking right before serving.
- MAKE IT GLUTEN-FREE: Use gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.
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