HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


tips for getting started with fried rice

  • s

Ok so after three goes at making some basmati rice, I finally have 2 bowls of perfectly cooked rice in the fridge. I've never made fried rice before but I am excited at giving it a go for the first time.

So is there a good basic recipe that I can start out with? Do you fry the rice first, or the egg? do you remove the egg and add it at the end? I dont have a wok, so will a large cladded frying pan work well? Super excited :-) I may need to make some sweet n sour chicken to go with it.

Anyway thanks for any advice ppl :-)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Do the egg first and set aside. Use as high heat as possible and toss rice into the near aflame bit of oil. Toss and stir like crazy, add your other finely chopped and prepped stuff; and finally the soy sauce. Toss/stir. Top with finely chopped green onions.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

      Ditto on everything Sam said, and yes a large frying pan will work just fine. I do all of mine including the egg in sesame oil. Imparts a really nice flavour. I find you have to be generous with the soy sauce to get that Chinese restaurant brown look.

      1. re: 16crab

        Resist the urge to use _too much_ soy sauce. Your rice will wind up like a brown salt lick...although you could do what many of the low end takeout places do and use 'extra black' soy sauce (it has a massive amount of carmel color added).

        If I'm not mistaken, traditional fried rice contains very little soy sauce (sometimes none at all) and as such is not dark in color at all. The Chinese restaurant I used to frequent (before the owners retired) made the best fried rice I've ever had...and it was almost as white as regular steamed rice.

        1. re: The Professor

          I think the dark fried rice thing is from the old school Chinese American days...what else could you do to make day old rice look appetizing.
          Rather than soy sauce I'll use some oyster sauce for color and flavor.

          1. re: The Professor

            Use fish sauce rather then soy sauce. It makes for much better fried rice.

            1. re: KTinNYC

              I agree with the fish sauce......stinks to high heaven going in but sure tastes good in the end.

              I also use the dark soy because we prefer the flavor over the regular stuff.

          2. re: 16crab

            learn to make fried rice without soy sauce. there are many good chinese versions of fried rice that use salt but no soy sauce. there's nothing wrong with using it, but you don't need to depend on it for flavor.

            i do everything in reverse of sam. i cook the other stuff first, then add rice and make sure it is heated through. then i make a well and cook the egg, then stir it into the rice.

            i use japanese short grain rice which is sticky. i don't think i would ever use basmati rice. you need to use enough oil to make sure the rice doesn't stay in clumps. it doesn't need to be day-old rice, but it must be cool. some families use butter instead of oil when adding the rice.

            i don't put anything sweet at all in fried rice (except maybe carrots). i wouldn't put sweet and sour chicken in it. ham (or bacon), carrots cut very small, and green onions is enough for a basic fried rice.

            1. re: cornflower55

              cornflower, I'm with you; I cook all the savory stuff to make the pan tasty, then add the old rice. sometimes I do baked eggs in the end where I just crack 3-4 eggs in the pan, leave them intact but maybe swirl the pan a bit, then turn to high heat to blast for maybe 15-seconds (get that guo-ba crust) and then low-heat for maybe 5-7 minutes to cook the eggs (sunny-side up style, still runny yolks).

        2. The way I've seen it done in Chinese restaurants and the way I do is the last step is just cracking a couple eggs and stirring them in. If the fried rice is hot enough the eggs are going to get fully cooked.

          1 Reply
          1. What Sam has said, eggs first, then high heat with oil. I think I get a nicer fried rice when my rice goes into the pan really cold.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jeanmarieok

              "Do the egg first and set aside."
              is what Sam said.

            2. Don't be afraid of oil. If you don't have enough, the rice will absorb the soy sauce (personal experience) and not taste good. There are a lot of variations on the egg. I like to add it near the end and stir so rice is coated w/ egg. You can also do a thin crepe at the end and top it on the rice (my mom did that as a special treat and then topped it w/ a dollop of ketchup--pretty and much better than you'd expect). I've never used basmati rice for fried rice. And, I wouldn't specially make sweet and sour chicken, either. I use fried rice as a way to get rid of what's already in the refrigerator. Although... my MIL makes the best fried rice I've ever had and she uses spam, and even though I normally can't eat spam, it's so good.

              4 Replies
              1. re: chowser

                Fried rice has no boundaries or rules.
                Think Spam fried rice is good, bacon fried rice is right up there too.
                Dice up bacon and fry then add the rice when the bacon is done, the bacon fat does wonders when frying the rice.

                1. re: monku

                  Hmmm, I always thought bacon was as necessary as rice in fried rice.;-) It always starts w/ bacon for me.

              2. I started using the method in this recipe several years ago and it works a treat.
                I use whatever meat/seafood I have on hand and usually add mushrooms, green onions, etc., and usually some oyster sauce along with the soy sauce. The key is to undercook the rice initially and then add stock during the frying process.

                1. I use oyster sauce rather than soy sauce -- better flavor, less salt, better coating (rather than soaking into the rice).

                  Also, add and mix-in thinly sliced green onions at the end, after removing from heat -- then you get nice aromatics without overcooking them.

                  P.S.: Bacon & egg fried rice is my favorite breakfast.

                  1. Here are some tips for making fried rice:

                    - best to use day-old / drier rice
                    - use very high heat
                    - cook ingredients separately first and lightly season them as you cook each
                    - heat wok / pan, add oil and once it shimmers or you see a wisp of oil, add beaten egg(s), cook quickly and remove from heat and break up all into small pieces as cooking or when out of pan
                    - do same for meat and veggies (except green onions)
                    - when all ingredients are cooked, wipe out or clean the wok / pan, heat, add oil, add rice (ensure there aren't any clumps), season and stir
                    - when rice is heated throughout, add the veggies and meat back and stir, then add eggs and turn off heat and add green onions and stir
                    - traditional fried rice should not be brown and is not primarily seasoned with soya sauce, but food is meant to be experimented with, so use what you like - salt, pepper (white or black), soya sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, srirachi sauce, etc. Personal I always like to spice mine up with srirachi sauce.
                    - Enjoy!

                    1. I actually do the egg in a small nonstick skillet while the wok heats up, then set it aside and add it at the end. The timing works for me and my stove; YMMV.

                      Unless you have a commercial burner, the hardest thing is going to be avoiding a steep drop in temperature when you add ingredients, which will result in soggy, oily fried rice. Make sure that everything is at least room temp; better yet, warm things up in the microwave.

                      As far as the variety of rice, basmati will work, but the grains are on the fragile side. I prefer jasmine rice, although Hawai'ian cooks do amazing things with medium-grain rices like Calrose. (I keep all three plus Tamanishiki sushi rice on hand. If you don't, just use what you have.)

                      Don't be bashful about experimenting. Some batches will be better than others; enjoy your successes and learn from your failures.

                      1. Perhaps it was frugal cooks who started the wives' tale that fried rice works better with day-old rice. Nope.

                        The key to the most delightful, greaseless fried rice is freshly cooked, moist rice at serving temperature, a fiery hot wok, and lots of arm muscles. A heavy frying pan can be used instead of a wok, in a pinch.

                        The wok's smoking -- literally. Add just a very little bit of oil; it'll smoke, too. Then the diced onions -- work 'em a little bit before adding the carrot, bok choy, bean sprouts, scrambled egg, and meat(s). This is all done really, really fast. Then the warm, moist rice is added, along with salt, pepper, MSG, and a tiny amount of light (blonde) soy sauce or, for a darker-colored rice, mushroom soy. The Japanese add a little dashi seasoning, a nice variation.

                        Moving the food rapidly and constantly, and keeping the wok temp high, are two rules for perfect, not-greasy fried rice.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: shaogo

                          "Perhaps it was frugal cooks who started the wives' tale that fried rice works better with day-old rice."

                          This certainly was not a wives tale at my house. My mother would never have thought of making rice just to fry it and in my experience as well as the experience of most of the people I trust day old rice is much better for fried rice then moist rice at serving temperature. Moist rice makes for moist fried rice which is not the idea. YMMV.

                          1. re: KTinNYC

                            I know there're lots of people who get great results with day-old rice. The *science* behind using fresh, hot rice is two-fold: hot rice won't change temperatures in the wok; going from cold to hot will cause the rice to absorb oil. The moisture in the rice leaves the grains as they're stir-fried, further causing the rice to resist getting oily.

                            I will admit that to most people, making a batch of rice just to fry it is too much work/a waste.

                          2. re: shaogo

                            I have made great fried rice quite often with freshly made rice (after years of believing the myth that you can't). I get the same results as I do with day old rice out of the fridge. If you do it right, the results are indistinguishable, and not at all greasy in either case...the last sentence sums up the real secret: get the wok really HOT, keep a high flame under it, and keep the food moving.

                          3. I tend to cook the meat, veggies, egg etc. first, in whatever order causes them to all get ready at about the same time. Small pieces, high heat (well, not as high as it should be in my case, because of the pan I use). While this happens, I crumble the rice with my fingers to make sure there are no large chunks of stuck-together grains. In goes the rice, with a bit of
                            - soy and/or fish sauce,
                            - vinegar or lime or lemon juice,
                            - sriracha,
                            - maybe a little sugar

                            Stir vigorously till everything heats through, and remove from heat. Goes well with papad from your local Indian grocery. I don't think of fried rice as the sort of food one should be a purist about, so play around with flavors and methods till you find something you like.

                            1. Large frying pan works fine. I cook everything I'm going to be putting into it first (egg, onion, etc.) then take it out. Then I put a fair amount of oil in the pan and use day-old (cold) rice. I find freshly made, hot rice gets too clumpy. The cold rice is easy to break up into individual grains that can be sauteed in the oil, when it gets hot I add the other precooked stuff. I add a little soy sauce and hot chili sauce after everthing is done, just before dishing it out.

                              1. I follow Sam's format, with some tweaking. For me, fried rice has to include carrots and peas. The carrots have to start out raw, and diced to be about the same size as the peas. Stir fry them before adding the rice - cooked that way they end up with a wonderful flavor. The peas, frozen of course, can be tossed in when the carrots are done and given a quick stir. Peas and carrots add an attractive color accent to the rice. Fried rice just doesn't seem right without peas and carrots.

                                If there's any light, flavorful dipping sauce around, such as you would use with shu mai, that makes a good addition and moistens up the rice.

                                1. secret ingredients:

                                  - no soy sauce, but some ketchup if you are going that way
                                  - crack some eggs at the end instead of the beginning if you want some runny poached kind of thing
                                  - add 1/2-inch cubes of swiss or other harder cheeses that will melt deliciously but still stay cohesive; the parts that come in contact with the pan will get nice and crusty and basically, it's the bomb.

                                  19 Replies
                                  1. re: bigjeff

                                    You lost me at the ketchup and completely befuddled me with the cheese. My mother's head would explode if she heard that people were putting cubed cheese in fried rice. I'm not saying it might not be good but it is very foreign sounding to me.

                                    1. re: KTinNYC

                                      not traditional by any means but it's really good. works especially if you like the "guo-ba" part of fried rice, which I love. i wouldn't add it to a proper saltfish-diced-chicken fried rice but it's good for a more hybrid one. but, I never tried the cheese ddukboki before which sounds even crazier; at least the cheese gets somewhat fried so there is some textural goodness; mushy ddukboki with mushy cheese sounds crazy but it's also real popular!

                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                        My mom made ketchup fried rice--it's surprisingly good. She claimed it was from Japanese influence but I have no idea what the validity of it is. But, yeah, the cubed cheese would make her shudder.

                                        I just found it online:


                                        Looks like my mom knew what she was talking about with the Japanese influence.

                                        1. re: chowser

                                          We often made "red rice" with leftover Japanese rice: small bit of oil in pan, rice and ketchup, chopped green onion, and maybe a bit of something else . This was not considered to be fried rice, but was good and contained a lot less oil.

                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                            My mom would use peas, but probably in an effort to get more green into us. Now that I think of it, regular "fried rice" was always said in Taiwanese by my mom and we Americanized kids called this version ketchup fried rice (words that my mom have never uttered).

                                          2. re: chowser

                                            Isn't amazing to find out how smart our mothers actually are? ;~)
                                            I checked your link and bookmarked that recipe! Sounds good!

                                            1. re: Awwshucks

                                              Actually, I've been on a long fruitless campaign here on CH. So many hounds think - or want to think - that they invented cooking and good food, while gleefully re-counting how their mothers and all that generation were kitchen-ignorant, even neglectful and likely dangerous. My Mom and Aunts were all great, international from scratch cooks and bakers.

                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                i'm with you sam; all my best habits, techniques, tastes and styles are informed by all of the cooking/shopping/growing that i was surrounded by when growing up, by both the men and the women in my family. just check my "Best meal I ever ate"!

                                                1. re: bigjeff

                                                  big and Awwshucks, spot on! Let's keep this campaign going.

                                                2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                  Sam, my grandma made the best fried rice. It was total comfort food. I make it today and it's comfort food for my kids. Her started with bacon, then weenies, cold cold leftover rice. Crack an egg or two on top and stir in. Salt and pepper. I've been eating it as long as I can remember. I often wonder if this recipe was borne out of their time in the camps when they cooked with what they had. I never asked her...and she's gone now. My grandmother made the best homestyle Japanese food. I try and try but will never be able to duplicate her specialties. She may not have been able to make risotto...but no one could touch her inari!

                                                  1. re: mrsmegawatt

                                                    Yes! Bacon and weenies plus egg! And making good inari has to be one key to being Japanese.

                                                    Did you also have eggy-gohan? Hot fresh rice with an egg and some shoyu stirred in?

                                              2. re: chowser

                                                There's a scene in the movie "Tampopo" were a hobo steals into a restaurant kitchen with the little boy and fixes him a rice omelet. IIRC, he puts ketchup into the rice while he's cooking.

                                                1. re: chowser

                                                  toss in some cheese next time; seriously! well, only if you can imagine what it will be like and after doing so, can imagine the deliciousness. it is amazing. just can't be gooey melty cheese or else it disappears; you want something that will hold its shape but still meld a bot and crust into the pan.

                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                    Yeah, we had "ketchup fried rice" at home as well.

                                                2. re: bigjeff

                                                  That cheese ingredient addition is genius.

                                                  1. re: jecho

                                                    I can grasp the concept, but cheese on rice is not for us Japanese.

                                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                      Ah, but you're such a citizen of the world. Broaden your horizons. Cheesy rice may be a delicacy on the order of gas station corn dogs.

                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                        I can broaden my horizens in areas not Japanese. Shikata ga nai, neh?

                                                3. Snax,
                                                  Thai style fried rice is far and away my favorite! As others said, using fish sauce to salt the dish gives your creation a Thai tune. Add it toward the end to prevent burning.
                                                  I start by heating oil & adding a clove of crushed garlic, a Thai chili (AKA Bird eye, available in asain grocer) and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper. Add the rice & "toss like crazy", when its hot add Green onion, cut into 1"inch lenghts, and then the fish sauce.
                                                  Toppings make a world of difference. Traditional ones include ground peanuts, fresh cilantro, Cucumber slices, bits of scrambled egg, and a wedge of Lime.
                                                  A more advanced and exotic version is Pineapple fried rice, using onion, carrot, shrimp and pineapple ( in that order) and top with crushed red pepper & fresh mint. see photo...

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Mobi_LeChef

                                                    I'll second the Thai flavorings approach--was in fact just scanning this thread to see if anyone had suggested it. I do not like soy sauce in my rice, because once there's enough to taste, it's too much for me. But fish sauce, garlic, chili paste and chicken stock to finish--YUM!

                                                  2. Short grain rice can be used as long as appropriately dried. I like to leave it uncovered in the fridge to allow it to dry faster. The other method of under cooking slightly or adding less water is another way to have "drier" rice.
                                                    Another method to decrease the starch is to coat the granules of rice with egg. This doesn't make the dish classicly fried rice but is called golden rice since it imparts to the rice a yellow color.
                                                    Pre frying the eggs or doing it while the rice is cooking is a matter of preference. I noticed in most of the hawker stalls that the eggs will be cracked into the dish and cooked so that yellow and white streaks are present. Gives the dish a little more variance in mouth feel and flavor since the albumin cooks and tastes differently than the yolk.
                                                    Salt and pepper has always been the major seasoning with the use of dark soy as mainly a colorant. I noticed that in Taiwan most of the fried rice dishes were flavored with light soy and salt. The Canto/American joints in the US use the darker soy to color the dishes. Classicly fried rice entails just the rice and egg and maybe scallions and getting the wok hay to flavor it also.
                                                    Variations on flavoring go from fish sauce, soy sauce, curry powder, chilis, scallions, leeks, dried fish, gravies, kimchee, etc. Whatever goes. Its like garbage pizza. Whatever's leftover in the fridge. But sometimes too much embellishment ruins this classic dish and less is more since really the rice is the star of this dish.

                                                    1. Eggs, depends on how you like your fried rice:

                                                      -If you fry the egg first, you can do an omelette type thing and then slice them in strips and toss it back in later.
                                                      -If you stir in cooled rice, mixing thoroughly, when you cook it, it will be fluffy fried rice and your rice can become a fluffy light yellow.
                                                      -If you stir in a beaten egg or crack an egg and beat it in while your rice is already in there, your fried rice usually results in a moist fried rice.

                                                      So it depends on how you like it. I like the first and second way depending on my mood. One of my sisters prefers the last way.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: S_K

                                                        i like the last version, esp. if you leave the yolk somewhat intact. a variation on the first version is what was taught to me; oil in the wok, aromatics, then crack a few eggs; cook and move very quickly while really scraping down and beating up the egg and then quickly adding the stale rice (and other ingredients) so you end up with dryish egg "shards". not my favorite prep but sometimes I prefer it over yolky version.

                                                      2. Great tips. I use BBQ pork char siu from local Chinese BBQ restaurant & ask for extra jus (dark brown thin sauce, probably from pork). Heat oil, add onions & other vegs (if fresh; later if frozen), then garlic, then rice, then jus, +/- soy sauce, +/- sriracha, then +/- salt/pepper to taste. The jus' a little sweet, so offset it with soy sauce as needed. Next time, will try a little fish sauce instead, as per above recs.

                                                        I've never known when's best time to add the cooked chopped char siu though. I used to add it early, just after onions, for more flavor, but some times gets hard. If add later, worried extracting less flavor. Suggestions?

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: pharmnerd

                                                          since its pre-cooked, I would add it way late; I like a crust to develop on my fried rice so all you need is that charsiu to warm through near the end; do your final tossing, add the c harsiu, throw a little more oil down the edges of the pan and cover for 3-4 minutes on high heat, then remove from heat completely, to get that combo steam-panfry at the end.

                                                          you don't need to extract too much flavor from the pork and if anything, you could reduce the drippings earlier on; add to the pan definitely before the rice and maybe even before the onions. you could also use it to burn-proof the garlic.

                                                          white pepper is nice in fried rice too.

                                                        2. All of this goes to prove that fried rice is one of those dishes that has infinite variations. The best fried rice I ever had was in Hong Kong - it was incredibly flavorful and pure white. I found an English speaking waiter who told me never to use soy sauce - only salt. Mt fried rice improved but I was never happy with it until I found this recipe and video. Dead easy and totally repeatable - for me a breakthrough!


                                                          The only change I made is to use crisp cubes of thick bacon or char siu if I happen to drive to San Jose. (I live in a Chinese restaurant challenged area). And I find that there's quite a difference between Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese and Korean fried rice. And it seems that the greatest problem of all is that we can't get the heat that's built into an Asian kitchen burner.

                                                          I'm just sayin'

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: vintage31

                                                            We Japanese don't really have a fried rice tradition.

                                                          2. In my house we've always done things a little bit differently than most of you, and I now can't eat fried rice any other way. We start with leftover rice (although I haven't really tried it with fresh rice, so I can't vouch for how much that matters). We specifically DON'T use a wok, because we use a large flat bottomed pan instead. This lets us get the pan (and some oil) really hot, and then spread the rice in a thin layer covering the entire bottom of the pan.

                                                            Then just let the rice sit there. For a while. Let the rice sit there until when you lift some of it up off the pan in has a nice golden brown crust on the bottom. Depending on how much rice is in the pan (how much wasn't in contact with the pan bottom) you can flip the rice over and repeat on the other side. Now you have a whole bunch of rice that has a really great crispy crunchy texture.

                                                            Now turn the heat down, and using a spatula break the rice up into smaller chunks, gather it in the center of the pan and form it into a ring. Then crack a couple eggs into the hole in the middle of the rice, let it cook a bit, and then mix it into the rice.

                                                            Now you can add whatever seasonings or precooked / mostly cooked meats and vegetables that you want. I recommend not overseasoning, especially with liquids like fish sauce or soy sauce. When I was little we didn't season it in the pan at all, and just added hefty doses of seasoned pepper at the table, and it was great! I now usually add a little Thai dark soy sauce, some sri racha, a lot of black pepper and a pinch of sugar. Delicious!

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: jacobe

                                                              We do our fried rice the same as others on here...stir fry the meat and veg first and then set aside. Then stir fry the cold rice adding a bit of soy sauce at a time (so there isn't too much, just enough to taste. Then add a huge dollop of sweet chilli sauce and make sure it coats all of the rice. Add the cooked meat and veg back in and mix with the rice, making sure it's hot all the way through.

                                                              The addition of sweet chilli sauce makes the fried rice have a nice spicy taste but not too overpowering! No egg though as one of us can't eat them :(

                                                            2. Since reading this thread I've been making fried rice straight for over a week and still can't get enough of it!!!!

                                                              Love the tips.

                                                              1. Made fried rice last night for the first time and the results were excellent. This is what I did:

                                                                1. Cooked a pot of sushi rice and put in in the fridge.

                                                                2. Made two scrambled eggs with a bit of salt and white pepper. Stirred the eggs fairly vigorously in the skillet to ensure that they formed small clumps of egg rather than large globs.

                                                                3. Superheated veg oil in a very large skillet.

                                                                4. Added diced pork and diced carrot. Cooked until pork was almost cooked through.

                                                                5. Added bamboo shoots and cooked for one minute.

                                                                6. Added chilled rice, eggs, a generous portion of sesame oil and an even more generous blast of soy sauce. Cooked until rice crisped up slightly.

                                                                7. Topped with scallions and proceded to devour.