By Vanessa Greaves

Fried rice is one of those basic but useful recipes anyone can make. Endlessly customizable, it's a great go-to for quick, easy, thrifty comfort food you can pull together with whatever's in your fridge. And it can be a side dish or a main dish, depending on what you throw into the mix. Making it is very simple—there isn't only one way to do it—but here are a few tips that help you get the best results.

Pork Fried Rice | Photo by KGora

How to Make Fried Rice

Use Rice That's Cold and Day-Old
Freshly cooked rice is just too soft and sticky to stand up to all the tossing, so many recipes will tell you to use cold, day-old rice. Day-old rice has dried out enough to separate into individual grains that soak up all the flavorings you add. To help break up clumps of cold rice, put it in the pan (on top of the meats or vegetables), cover, and turn heat to low. Let the rice steam for a few minutes; check after two or three minutes to see if you can separate the grains. Note that long grain and brown rice won't clump as much as short grain white rice.

Go for the Big Pot
Fry rice in a large skillet or wok. You'll need all that room to toss and mix ingredients thoroughly.

Bite-Size Is Best
Rice isn't meant to be knife-and-fork food. For easy cooking and eating, cut up ingredients into thin pieces. If you're using raw meats and vegetables, cook them before adding rice to the pan.

Make It Sizzle
Be sure to turn up the heat at the end to let the rice get sizzling hot and get the flavors working together. After all, you want fried rice, not just warm rice. Right?

How to Make Egg Fried Rice

This video shows you how it all comes together. You'll see how to make a quick shrimp fried rice. "This is the real shrimp fried rice, restaurant style," says OKBAT. "This is how I used to cook fried rice when my father still owned a restaurant." See how it's done!

Once you master the basics, you can create and share your own signature fried rice.

Ingredient Ideas

Green onions
Green peas
Snow peas
Spinach, kale, or chard
Bamboo shoots
Bell pepper
Bean sprouts
Bok choy


Soy sauce or tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
Sesame oil
Coconut oil
Gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
Fish sauce

Photo by ALFANN02

Some of Our Favorite Fried Rice Recipes


Find dozens of fried rice recipes to try.

New to cooking rice? Learn how to cook rice, and get a cool trick for measuring water for short grain white rice.

Feeling adventurous? Check out 16 Ways the World Makes Rice.