Fried rice has been a kitchen staple since as early as the Sui Dynasty (589–618 CE) in China. The primary reason for the continued popularity and ubiquity of this dish comes down to two things: its adaptability and the fact that people almost always cook too much rice to eat in one sitting.
Fried rice is a quick and delicious way to transform leftovers into something greater than the sum of its parts. Though we sometimes think of certain ingredients being typical (eggs, garlic) the only things you need to make fried rice are heat, rice, and oil. Anything else you add is up to you. Before you start cooking a batch though, read our tips below first!
Toasted sesame oil > any other oil.
Once you buy toasted sesame oil (yes, you do need another oil in your pantry), you’ll want to use it in everything. It’s got a rich, nutty flavor. But be careful: A little bit goes a long way.
Cold, Leftover rice is key.
The reason why so many fried rice recipes call for leftover rice: Dried-out, cold rice gets much crispier in the skillet than the freshly cooked stuff because it’s already dehydrated. If you’re craving fried rice and don’t want to wait for the rice to chill in the fridge, you can cheat it by spreading freshly cooked rice on a baking sheet, letting it cool a bit before freezing it for 10 to 15 minutes.
Do I need to scramble my eggs separately or can I do it all in one pan?
You can totally start your rice by cooking the vegetables and then push them to one side of the pan and crack in your eggs and get scrambling. But be careful, eggs can easily overcook this way! As soon as half the eggs are set, start to mix them into your fried rice to avoid browned eggs.
What other flavor goes into fried rice?
Aside from sesame oil, we stir in minced garlic, soy sauce, and ginger. If you want to add a little extra spice, there are no rules holding you back from more flavor!
Can I add other ingredients?
Absolutely! As we said, fried rice is endlessly adaptable. Fry up some bacon and toss in some kimchi and you’ve got an unreal Bacon Kimchi Fried Rice. Or, add some diced pineapple for a sweet twist on the classic.
What about protein?
What’s another fun hack?
One of our favorite ways to change up straightforward fried rice is to make golden fried rice. The easiest way to do this is to separate your egg yolks and whites. Mix the yolks in with rice and fry just the whites. Otherwise make this recipe the same as below, but reduce the soy sauce to 1 tablespoon. This will give your rice a gorgeous golden color and a little extra oomph of flavor.
Made this? Let us know how it went in the comment section below!
Editor’s Note: This introduction to this recipe was updated on January 7, 2022 to include more information about the dish.