If you've ever wondered what to do with half a pot of leftover rice, I'm here to show you how to make the best "leftovers" fried rice.
The post contains helpful tips and tricks to make sure you're successful in your first attempt. But if you're in a rush, please use the link above to jump to the recipe card at the end!
💭 Why you'll love this recipe
- Ready in 15 minutes. If you have a pot of rice sitting at home, this is one of the quickest and most delicious meals you can prepare for yourself.
- Super customizable. This is literally a "clear your fridge" meal - you can add or take out vegetables based on what's in your fridge and change the flavors up quite easily too
- Great with fresh or frozen veggies. I typically use a combination of fresh vegetables (e.g. mushrooms) and frozen vegetables (e.g. peas or broccoli) for this dish.
- Can be made vegan and gluten-free. To make this vegan, use an egg replacement (e.g. Just Egg) and to make this vegan, substitute soy sauce with gluten-free tamari.
📋 Ingredients & variations
You'll need rice, eggs, "what is is in your fridge" vegetables, sesame oil, soy sauce and basic seasoning to make this fried rice. Let's get into each of them and some variations. This time around, I used broccoli, frozen peas, mushrooms, cabbage, and jalapenos.
What vegetables should you use?
You can use fresh or frozen vegetables for this recipe. Frozen broccoli, peas, cauliflower, corn all make great fried rice components. Cabbage, carrots, and mushrooms are also excellent in fried rice, and better if used fresh. Just make sure you start by cooking fresh vegetables and then add the frozen vegetables towards the end.
Can you use fresh rice to make fried rice?
Day-old rice might actually be better for making quick fried rice. When you make rice ahead of time and put it in the fridge, it dries out the rice for a crispier texture. If you just made fresh rice, no worries there either. Get a baking sheet and spread the fresh rice on it as soon as it's done cooking. Let some of the water evaporate as soon as you make it. It'll just take slightly longer.
How can you make vegan fried rice?
You can easily swap the eggs for an egg substitute like Just Egg. This provides the same texture and "purpose" (i.e. binding the rice with the vegetables and spices) but it's also vegan. The rest are already vegan.
👩🏽🍳Top tips for the perfect fried rice
- Use cold rice! As I've mentioned above, I prefer to use day-old rice for making my fried rice. But the key is to dry and cool the rice down completely, regardless of whether it's fresh or leftovers. When rice is warm, and added to the pan, it can sometimes get soggy - no one wants that in a fried rice.
- Use soy sauce and sesame oil and a pinch of turmeric. I'm all about unconventional recipes, these days. Soy sauce and sesame oil are traditional, but I've found that turmeric adds a vibrant color and flavor to the dish that I love. For extra flavor, add a dash of soy sauce at the very end as you season and adjust.
- Cook on high heat. I typically do most of my cooking on medium heat, but this is one exception. Cranking the heat up really toasts the rice as well. It also helps "fry" the rice instead of "steaming" it and brings together eggs and vegetables in a great way.
- Use one pan (or pot). Not only is this ready in 15 minutes, but you also don't have to worry about dishes. I start by frying my veggies, then I add eggs, rice, seasoning (and any frozen veggies that need to be quickly cooked at the end). I finish with a hint of soy sauce. One pan, wonderful. Oh, and I use my cast iron or Dutch oven to make this.
🍲 Storage & Serving Suggestions
It only takes 15 minutes to make this fried rice, so I suggest making it fresh whenever possible. Need to store in the fridge or freeze? Just portion them, place into airtight containers and throw them in. In the fridge, it can last up to 5 days! When you're ready to eat, pop them in the microwave (try not to heat this fried rice more than once if possible).
You can serve this fried rice with so many things - but my favorite way to eat this is to serve it with a curry or soup (like my Thai butternut squash soup). Unconventional, but I love it. Check out some of these dishes that you can serve with this fried rice.
Two other rice recipes you might love:
- One pot, Nigerian jollof rice - made with a stewed base with tomatoes and red peppers!
- The perfect, fluffy Indian cumin rice (jeera rice)
Quick Fried Rice
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 4 large eggs
- 3 cups cooked rice , see post for tips on using fresh rice instead
- 1 cup crimini mushrooms, chopped - can substitute with other mushrooms
- ¼ head cabbage, chopped finely
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, chopped finely (omit based on spice tolerance)
- 1 cup frozen broccoli
- ½ cup frozen peas
- 3 tbsp soy sauce, reduced sodium variety
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp fresh black pepper
- 2 tbsp green onions, chopped, for garnish (optional)
- Heat oil in a medium pan and add jalapeno peppers, cabbage, and mushrooms once hot - saute until mushrooms are golden brown (about 5 minutes)
- Now add minced garlic and ginger paste and saute for 30 seconds until fragrant
- Whisk eggs in a glass with a fork (oh yes!) and then pour into the pan - cook for 1 to 2 minutes until they barely start coming together
- Now, add the day-old rice to the pan and stir well so the egg sticks to the rice as it cooks (delicious - thanks to Pinch of Yum for this trick) - about 3 minutes
- Finally, add frozen vegetables along with 2 tbsp of soy sauce, sesame oil, turmeric, salt and pepper and mix well to combine
- Take off heat, add remaining soy sauce, garnish with green onions, serve hot!
- This recipe is SUPER versatile - I've listed what I had in the house, but you can use almost any vegetable in this dish. Best. Weeknight. Meal. Ever.
- Make sure to cook the fresh vegetables for at least a minute or two (and make sure to wash them well before you chop them) - frozen vegetables need less time
- If you decide to use a different set of veggies or spices, go for it! The rough order is: oil --> fresh vegetables --> ginger, garlic --> eggs --> rice --> frozen vegetables plus seasoning. Go wild!
Note: this post was originally published on February 18, 2020 and updated on June 3, 2020 with additional tips and information on the recipe