7 Genius Tips for Making Perfect Fried Rice—No Recipe Required

You'll never do takeout again after you learn these shortcuts to super-satisfying, fast, and easy fried rice.


Cara Cormack

There's something comforting about the combination of warm rice, cooked egg, a toasty soy-sesame seasoning, and little bits of vegetables (and maybe meat). Fried rice is an all-time favorite for Chinese take-out, but it's also incredibly easy to prepare at home. Here are seven tips to help you make the perfect fried rice, no recipe required.

Rinse Your Rice Before Cooking

Giving your rice a quick rinse before cooking allows it to shed some starch and leads to less clumpy cooked grains. All the good egg bits and other tasty seasonings will then mingle well with the rice, evenly distributing flavor throughout the dish. To rinse rice, simply place it in a mesh sieve or a colander with small-sized holes, then run cool tap water over the top for about a minute, stirring with your fingers or a spoon.

Rest Your Rice After Cooking

Spread your cooked rice on a baking sheet, then place the baking sheet on a cooling rack to allow air to circulate around the pan. Let the rice stand for one to two hours until it's cooled to room temperature. Resting and cooling your rice allows excess moisture to evaporate, which also helps keep grains from clumping. If you want to do this a day or two ahead, let the rice cool completely, then refrigerate it in an airtight container. (Any leftover plain rice you have in the fridge already will also work well in fried rice.)

Prep Ahead

After the rice cools, the rest of the dish will come together in a hot pan very quickly. Have all of your desired add-ins prepped ahead and arranged in small bowls stove-side, so you can cook up the dish in a flash.

Keep It Simple

You don't need 20 ingredients to cook the perfect fried rice. Blend cooked rice with some aromatics (garlic, ginger, scallions), eggs, some veggies (carrot, peas, baby spinach, chopped bok choy, or broccoli) and, if you like, some raw or cooked protein (tofu, shrimp, chicken, pork, salmon—heck, even leftover brisket works well!).

Use a Large Wok or a Very Large Skillet

For fried rice, you want to use a pan that seems large, perhaps even extra-large, for the amount of rice and other ingredients you are using. This allows the ingredients to heat up quickly and evenly without overcooking, and gives you room to toss everything together without ingredients leaping or falling out of the pan.

Go Hot or Go Home

Make sure your pan is nice and hot before you add your rice and other ingredients. You want everything to cook together quickly, so that the rice gets very hot but doesn't overcook.

Season With Soy Sauce, Rice Vinegar, and Sesame Oil

While not every recipe calls for this fried rice trifecta, many of our favorites do. Why? Soy sauce is the salt element, rice vinegar gives the dish a touch of brightness, and sesame oil lends an utterly delicious, toasty note.


Cara Cormack

How to Make Fried Rice

  1. Start by cooking your rice, then letting it rest and cool. One cup of dry/uncooked rice will serve four eaters.
  2. In a very hot skillet with 1 to 2 tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil, cook your protein, then remove it from the skillet. (If you're using leftover cooked protein, skip this step and add it later.)
  3. Add a little more oil to the skillet, make sure it's nice and hot, then add your ginger, garlic, and scallions. Cook for a minute or two, then add vegetables and cook them until crisp-tender.
  4. Add soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil (start with a ratio of 4 tbsp.: 2 tbsp.: 1 tbsp., but you can modify this to taste), then add the cooked rice and cooked protein.
  5. Heat everything through, then push the rice to the side of the skillet and stir in four beaten eggs. Work the eggs into the rice mixture as they cook. Serve immediately, topped with extra scallion greens and Sriracha or chili garlic sauce on the side, if desired.

Some of our favorite fried rice recipes include salmon, turkey, or simply vegetables. We even love a breakfast fried rice with sausage!

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