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, Chinese barbecue pork, or diced bacon. For those on a low carb diet, cauliflower rice or broccoli 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.
More Chinese recipes
Use long grain rice for fried rice
Long grain rice holds its shape and stays separate when stir-fried. Jasmine is my top choice because it has a delicate and light floral aroma, not too sticky when cooked, and slightly dry in texture, making it easy to maneuver in the pan. Medium-grain like Calrose or brown rice can be used, but incorporate when chilled or day-old as it is stickier. Make sure to always wash the rice before cooking to remove excess starches on the surface, which can cause clumping.
- 1 cup (180 g) jasmine rice, uncooked
- 2 cups (480 ml) water
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, divided
- ¼ cup (30 g) minced white onion
- 1 tablespoon (10 g) minced garlic
- ½ cup (70 g) diced carrots, ¼-inch dice
- 1 teaspoon (15 ml) sesame oil
- 2 large eggs, whisked
- ½ cup (65 g) peas, frozen, defrosted
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) soy sauce
- kosher salt, as needed for seasoning
- white pepper, as needed for seasoning
- 2 tablespoon (6 g) green onions, thinly sliced
- In a 3-quart sized saucepan, rinse uncooked rice with cool water until it runs clear, then drain off excess water.
- Add 2 cups of water to the washed rice.
- Bring water to a boil and then turn down heat to a simmer and cover with a lid.
- Simmer rice for 10 to 12 minutes, or until all of the water is absorbed and rice is tender.
- Remove rice from the heat and allow to sit covered for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Fluff rice with a fork and allow it to cool to room temperature while preparing the other fried rice ingredients.
- Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat.
- Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, once hot add in the rice.
- Stir-fry the rice to 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.
- In the center of the wok, make a large well with the rice and add in 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil.
- Add onion, garlic, and carrots, stir-fry in the center of the pan for 1 minute, then mix with rice to combine.
- Make another large well in the center, add in 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 in soy sauce, stir to combine.
- Add peas, stir to combine and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes.
- Taste rice and season with salt and white pepper as desired.
- Garnish with green onions and serve immediately.
- For this recipe, 4 cups of cooked rice are used.
- To cool the rice quickly, spread on a sheet pan until it reaches room temperature, or chill in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Leftover cold rice can be used, simply skip the freshly steamed rice cooking steps 1 through 6.
- Substitute 4 cups cooked rice for the 1 cup of uncooked jasmine rice.
- If using cooked day-old rice, break it into individual pieces with your fingers before adding to the pot.
- If larger pieces of the egg are preferred, cook them first, breaking into the desired size, transfer to a plate and reserve, then and add back to the end of cooking right before serving.
- Other types of rice can be used like long-grain, medium-grain Calrose, or brown rice. Just make sure that it yields 4 cups of rice, as each variety cooks up to different volumes.
- MAKE IT GLUTEN-FREE: Use gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.