Ever ended up with more rice than you can eat in a day? Whip up this super quick fried rice using leftover rice. With just a few simple ingredients, and just 15 minutes, you'll be able to create a delicious weeknight dinner or lunch.
This post contains helpful tips and tricks! If you're in a rush, please use the "Jump to Recipe" below!
💭 Why you'll love this recipe
If you love ordering late night fried rice from your local Chinese restaurant, you'll love this quick fried rice recipe.
- One pan, ready in 15 minutes. If you have surplus of rice at home, this is a great recipe for a quick weeknight dinner or lunch. This can be a main dish or a side dish to a more hearty entree.
- 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 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 & Notes
You'll need leftover cooked rice, eggs, "clear your fridge out" vegetables, sesame oil, soy sauce and basic seasoning to make this fried rice. I used broccoli, peas, mushrooms, cabbage, and jalapeños. I have also used brown rice here but you can use any type of rice you have at home.
Notes and Variations
- Choice of vegetables: You can use fresh or frozen vegetables for this recipe. Frozen broccoli, peas, cauliflower, bok choy, corn all make great fried rice components. Cabbage, carrots, and mushrooms are excellent if used fresh.
- Use day-old rice instead of fresh rice. Day-old rice is actually better for making fried rice. When rice is stored in the fridge, it dries out and creates a crispier texture in fried rice. But if you just made fresh rice (e.g., Instant Pot basmati rice or Indian cumin rice), no worries. Get a large baking sheet and spread the fresh rice on it and let it cool and dry for about 30 minutes.
- Add protein to the dish. I love adding a can of chickpeas or roasted tofu to the dish for extra protein. You can also add seitan or other protein of choice.
- Substitute soy sauce. Soy sauce is a key ingredient, but you can also try using tamari (gluten-free alternative), or soy sauce, hoisin or even vegan oyster sauce for a unique twist.
- Play with seasonings. Be mindful of the saltiness of sauces, as it can quickly overpower the dish. I use turmeric, and while untraditional, it has immunity boosting properties, since it's cooked with black pepper! You can add rice wine vinegar, peanut oil, or hot sauce too.
Best types of rice for fried rice
When it comes to making fried rice, you can experiment with various types of rice to bring unique flavors and textures to your dish. I prefer using a rice cooker to pre-cook the rice (or just use leftover rice).
- Jasmine rice has a slightly sticky texture, and is a popular choice for fried rice. Cook it according to the package instructions, ensuring a slightly drier consistency. This will prevent the fried rice from becoming overly sticky!
- Basmati rice has longer rice grains and is more aromatic. Cook the basmati rice as per package instructions. The key is to ensure the grains are separate and not too moist to achieve the desired texture in your fried rice.
- Brown rice adds a nutty flavor and extra nutritional value to your fried rice, but takes longer to cook than white rice. Before using it in fried rice, cook the brown rice separately until it's just slightly undercooked or al dente. This ensures that it doesn't become mushy when stir-frying with other ingredients.
Jasmine and basmati rice generally have shorter cooking times, so be cautious not to overcook them during the stir-frying process. On the other hand, slightly undercooked brown rice will have more time to absorb flavors and soften while stir-frying!
📖 Make the best fried rice with leftover rice!
Heat oil in a large pot or skillet on medium heat. Add jalapeño peppers, cabbage, and mushrooms (+ fresh veggies, like bell peppers) to the hot oil. Sauté until veggies are cooked and mushrooms are golden brown (5 minutes).
Now add minced garlic and ginger paste and sauté for 30 seconds until fragrant but take care not to burn it.
Whisk eggs in a glass with a fork and pour into the middle of the pan. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until they barely start coming together. If you're using a vegan egg replacement like Just Egg, just pour that into the pan and do the same. Try to use room temperature eggs or egg replacement if possible.
Now, add the day-old rice to the pan and stir well so the egg sticks to the rice as it cooks (about 3 minutes)
Add soy sauce, sesame oil, a pinch of turmeric (for color), salt and black pepper and mix well to combine.
Add any frozen vegetables, and give it a quick stir to make sure it is mixed in well. After a minute, take off heat, add remaining soy sauce and combine well.
Garnish with green onions or sesame seeds, serve hot!
👩🏽🍳 Tips for the perfect fried rice
- Use a large wok, pot, frying pan, or skillet. A wok is ideal for this, as it provides maximum surface area and even distribution of heat (especially if you're using a gas appliance). If you don't have a wok, a large pot, skillet or frying pan works - make sure it's heated well before adding the ingredients.
- Use dry, cold rice. 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, it can sometimes get soggy and mushy!
- Prep ingredients in advance. Fried rice is a quick-cooking dish, so have all your ingredients chopped, sliced, and ready to go before you start cooking! This includes fresh vegetables, aromatics (like garlic and ginger), and any sauces or seasonings you'll be using.
- 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.
👩🏽🍳 Troubleshooting FAQs
While it's best to use cold, leftover rice for fried rice, you can use freshly cooked rice as well. The key is to let it cool and dry out for about 30 minutes before using to achieve a better texture.
Soggy fried rice is usually a result of using too much sauce or overcrowding the pan. Ensure your rice is cold and dry before cooking, use minimal sauce, and cook in small batches to allow proper heat distribution.
If your fried rice is too soggy, spread it out on a baking sheet and place it in a preheated oven at a low temperature (around 300°F) for about 10 minutes. This will help evaporate excess moisture and restore some of the desired texture. Just be careful not to overcook it, as it can dry out quickly!
🍲 Serve and store quick fried rice!
You can serve this fried rice with so many things! My favorite pairings include:
- Curries like this chickpea curry, potatoes and cauliflower masala, vegetable korma, dal tadka, cabbage curry, or even dry curries like Bombay potatoes.
- Flavorful veggies like Ethiopian collard greens, whole roasted cauliflower, stuffed acorn squash, or roasted kabocha squash or any stir fry.
- Standalone proteins, like falafels, baked tofu, seitan-based dishes (like this vegan turkey roast, vegan ham, or even vegan drumsticks)
Look, it only takes 15 minutes to make this fried rice with leftover rice, so I suggest making it fresh whenever possible. But if you're in a pinch, see below.
Store or freeze: Portion them, place in an airtight container (like these freezer safe ones) and store. This fried rice can last up to 5 days in the fridge or up to 2 months in the freezer.
Reheat: If frozen, transfer the desired portion of frozen fried rice from the freezer to the fridge, allowing it to thaw overnight. Thawing in the refrigerator helps maintain the texture and taste of the rice! Then, once thawed, reheat in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until heated through. You can also reheat it in the microwave, using short intervals and stirring in between to ensure even heating.
🍲 Other rice recipes you'll love!
If you enjoyed this quick fried rice recipe, try some these other rice recipes:
- Nigerian jollof rice (spicy tomato-pepper base)
- Indian cumin rice
- Cilantro lime rice
- Garlic butter rice
- Indian kitchari (rice-lentil porridge)
Quick Fried Rice with Leftover Rice
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste
- 4 large eggs, substitute with 1 cup of Just Egg
- 3 cups cooked rice, see post for tips on using fresh rice
- 1 cup crimini mushrooms, chopped
- ¼ head cabbage, chopped finely
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, chopped finely (optional)
- 1 cup frozen broccoli
- ½ cup frozen peas
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce, reduced sodium variety
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon turmeric, optional
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
- 2 tablespoons green onions, chopped, for garnish (optional)
- Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add jalapeño peppers, cabbage, and mushrooms (and any other fresh vegetables, like bell peppers) once hot. Sauté until vegetables are cooked and mushrooms are golden brown (about 5 minutes)
- Now add minced garlic and ginger paste and sauté for 30 seconds until fragrant (but take care not to burn the garlic).
- Whisk eggs in a glass with a fork and pour into the skillet. If using Just Egg, pour about 1 cup into the skillet. 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 (about 3 minutes).
- Finally, add frozen vegetables along with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, sesame oil, turmeric (optional), salt and pepper and mix well to combine.
- Take off heat, add remaining soy sauce, garnish with green onions, serve hot!
- Use a large skillet or pot and high-heat! You'll want the heat to spread as evenly across the rice and vegetables as possible (to "fry" it).
- If you are using fresh rice (vs. day-old rice) - spread it evenly on a baking sheet and allow it to cool and dry for about 30 minutes before making the fried rice. This will help you avoid mushy fried rice.
- Make sure to cook the fresh vegetables first for a minute or two (and make sure to wash them well before you chop them) - frozen vegetables need less time and can be added towards the end.
- White rice cooks faster than brown rice, so make sure to watch closely so it doesn't turn soggy.