how to cook fried rice in a skillet | Family Cuisine

Fried rice is a popular dish that can be made with many different ingredients. It's best to use cooked rice because it will cook faster and easier. The key to cooking fried rice is using plenty of oil in the skillet, which should

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How to cook fried rice in a skillet

This classic Fried Rice is ready in less than 20 minutes, and is a great way to use up leftover rice. Enjoy this recipe on its own or as a side!

Even though fried rice is often made as a side dish to Chinese main entrees like Orange Beef or Kung Pao Chicken, sometimes I’ll make a big bowl of fried rice and have it as a meal.

Reading: how to cook fried rice in a skillet

Fried Rice - In a Nonstick Skillet with Egg, Carrots, and Peas

You can make it as hearty as you want, adding different kinds of protein to the fried rice to make it good enough for dinner.

Fried rice is one of the most nostalgic dishes from my childhood, and one of the first recipes I learned how to make from my mom.

The exact rendition depended on what needed to be cleared out of the fridge, but today’s recipe is the version I always liked the most.

Why Fried Rice is Awesome:

  • So Quick – We’re talking just under 20 minutes to make.
  • Versatile – There are so many different ingredient combinations you can use, both with vegetables and proteins. I share variations below.
  • Delicious – Even with minimal ingredients, there is tons of flavor in every bite.
  • Leftovers Keep Beautifully – Can be stored in the fridge for several days, or frozen for later.

Fried Rice Recipe - Served In a Nonstick Skillet with Egg, Carrots, and Peas

Overview for How to Make Fried Rice:

Cook the Egg First

Cooking the egg separately is SO much better than cracking an egg straight into the rice and stirring it around, because otherwise it gets lost.

I cook it thick like an Omelette, then chop it into big pieces:

Chopped Pieces of Egg on Cutting Board

That way, you can really taste the egg. It makes a big difference!

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Now that the skillet is nice and hot, we can keep going.

Saute the Vegetables:

Take the same pan and saute some chopped carrots, peas, and scallions, until soft:

Peas and Carrots Cooking in a Skillet

Add Cold Leftover Rice:

I like to add cold, leftover rice straight to the pan, stirring it around to break it all up.

Cold, leftover rice is ideal because it’s more dry, and less likely to stick together in the pan.

Don’t have leftover rice? I’ve used hot, freshly cooked rice in a pinch, and it actually works well too. I try to put slightly less water in the rice cooker (affiliate) so it’s on the dry side.

Then add soy sauce, stirring everything around for a few minutes afterward to distribute the flavor:

Pouring Soy Sauce Over Rice with peas and Carrots

I recommend using a quality soy sauce. I like San-J.

Add Your Protein and the Eggs:

Stir in cooked baby shrimp and the pre-cooked egg:

Baby Shrimp and Cut Egg Pieces On Top of Rice in Skillet

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I love adding the tiny baby shrimp because it’s very economical, and an appropriate size for the fried rice. It blends in well, plus, it’s already cooked.

Add a little more soy sauce, and toss for another minute or two:

Homemade Fried Rice - In a Nonstick Skillet with Shrimp, Egg, Carrots, and Peas

That’s it! The rice is ready to enjoy.

Dishes that Pair Well with Fried Rice:

  • Honey Walnut Shrimp
  • Asian Dumplings
  • Kalbi Beef
  • Orange Chicken
  • Beef and Broccoli

FAQ and Tips:

For a lower carb version, try this Cauliflower Chicken Fried Rice. Or see my tutorial for How to Make Cauliflower Rice.

How to Freeze: Let the fried rice cool, then store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months. I recommend letting it thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating/serving again.

How to Reheat: There are two ways I recommend:

  1. Microwave is easiest, just make sure you have some sort of lid or plate on top of it to trap the moisture and steam the rice, otherwise you’ll get hard and dried out rice instead of fluffy rice.
  2. Reheat in a skillet, stir frying it to rewarm, about 5 minutes on medium high heat.

Can fried rice be healthy? Healthy means different things to different people, but I eat this during keto for my carb-ups. It’s gluten-free if you use tamari.

Ingredient Variations:


  • Ground pork or ground chicken – These flavors go well with the rice. Brown and break up the meat and cook completely after you cook the egg.
  • Bacon – Cook completely and crumble (see How to Cook Bacon in the Oven), then stir into the rice after the vegetables are cooked.
  • Ham – After I make a big spiral ham for holidays like Easter, I chop up the remaining ham and put it into the freezer. Then add the ham bits to the fried rice. You can even reheat it straight from frozen, cooking it with the vegetables.

Other Flavors:

  • Kimchi – Chop up into little bits and use in addition to OR instead of the carrots and peas.
  • Ham + Pineapple – If using the ham as specified above, add bits of pineapple to compliment the flavor.
  • Green Curry Fried Rice

Post updated in August 2020. Originally published March 2012.

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