5 Secrets to Making Fabulous Fried Rice

fried rice 008
Leftovers come together beautifully in a delicious bowl of fried rice

Everyone loves fried rice!

I know, I know, it’s a bold statement to make. I don’t think it’s a stretch though. Just think about the infinite permutations worldwide. Examples include: Indonesian nasi goreng, Thai pineapple fried rice, Filipino garlic fried rice (siningag), and that’s only in Asia! (Don’t worry I’ll delve into these a little more in another post). Fried rice is also wildly popular at Asian restaurants, often served with lunch specials and always ordered by my friend, X, who shall go unnamed.

I have a confession to make. Fried rice is the last thing on the menu I’d order when dining out (unless it’s chicken and salted fish fried rice, yum!) for one reason—it’s so very simple to make at home. A quick dig in the fridge for cooked rice, last night’s leftovers and whatever treasures are lurking in the back, and everything comes together in the wok in less than 20 minutes!

Making fried rice is easy in theory, but getting it right does take a little know-how. I don’t know about you but I’ve dished up my fair share of burnt fried rice, clumpy fried rice, and simply not very good fried rice.

After years of experimenting and watching, however, I have to say my fried rice is pretty good.  So here are my 5 secrets anyone can pick up and you’ll soon be on your way to making fabulous fried rice.

Read more at SmithonianAPA.org/PicklesandTea.


74 thoughts on “5 Secrets to Making Fabulous Fried Rice

  1. Hi, have used this recipe before and it is great! Unfortunately sine the website has changed I know longer see the recipe. After the intro it just turns into ads and then the comments. I can’t remember the ingredients.

  2. I have several tricks I use to make the best rice for fried rice, aside from cooking it a day in advance

    1. I use exactly 2:1 ratio of water to rice e.g if I have 1 cup of rice, I use 2 cups of water in the pan.

    2. BEFORE adding the water to the pan to steam the rice, I first add 2 Tbsp cooking oil to the pan and then dump in the dry rice. I stir this around to coat every grain, and then I cook it in the oil for approximately 3 minutes, just until the dry rice begins to brown a bit. This helps to seal the rice grains and yet they absorb the water perfectly.

    3. After I have fried the rice in oil, I add the water all at once and let it come to a boil. I then boil it for 3 minutes. Since I have an electric range, instead of gas, I have another burner set to low. Once the 3 minutes are up, I cover the rice and move it to the burner that is on low. I then let it steam for 15 minutes. Once the 15 minutes have passed, I remove the pan from the heat, and let it sit, covered, for another 15 minutes.

    I then refrigerate the rice overnight and make my fried rice the next day

    End result? Perfectly fluffy and separated grains of rice, that is very dry at the end of the steaming and resting time.

    One other thing I do, and this is optional, is that for each cup of rice, I stir in 1 Tsp. of Knorr Granulated Chicken Bouillon. I like the flavor, and I believe it helps in setting up the rice.

    Hope this helps someone who may be having trouble making perfect rice. This works for me, and it should work for you too!

  3. Hi There!
    I’m glad I found your article! I’ve been cooking my own recipe for fried rice for several years now and everyone who’s eaten it just raves about it! I use a wok btw.

    Anyway, I used to get mixed undesirable results, but (and this might sound corny) I learned a couple tricks after watching a Taiwanese drama called “翻滾吧!蛋炒飯 – Rolling Love” starring Jiro Wang lol! It’s a romantic comedy/drama about a guy (Jiro) who runs a tiny little rice cafe and all the follies that ensue.

    To get back on topic, my technique (stolen from the show) is to crack and scramble eggs in a separate dish. And before you add rice to the wok, coat the rice with the whisked eggs first. I use tiny diced carrot, frozen peas direct from the freezer, chopped scallion (sometimes regular onion) and whatever meat I have on-hand. I prefer to use chicken or pork that I have velveted before hand. Minced garlic of course (I cheat and get the small jars of pre-minced garlic). Also a small spoonful of chicken paste (I use “Better-Than- Bouillion” brand) makes a world of difference for that nom-nom-nom flavor. 🙂

    I won’t give away EVERY spice or sauce I use (that’s my secret) but I do prefer organic tamari over regular soy sauce, ginger powder (pretty generous), just a “dash” of 5-spice powder (the kind from the Asian market, not McCormick’s or American brands), and yes I do use MSG (Accent). A teeny-tiny bit of rice wine. At the very end a few drops of sesame oil for flavor, not for cooking. And 2 additional “secret” ingredients.

    Btw, I a 40 year old Caucasian male! If I can make banging fried rice, anyone can! Anyway, happy frying!

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  5. This really is the best version ever. I made the rice and chicken another day, so making dinner tonight was super fast.

  6. I’ve been looking for the perfect Chinese fried rice and this sounds like the perfect recipe….. I think I would add some mushrooms to this dish….. Thanks

  7. My wife has been making fried rice for our family for 60 years; only once do I remember anything but delicious–that was during a diet excursion when unsalted brown rice was used. I think her secret is fry 3 pcs, smoked bacon and use the oil to scramble the eggs; sliver the carrots -not chopped-cooks faster. She throws in the frozen peas near the end because ” they stay pretty that way”.


  8. Hi there! I realize this is somewhat off-topic but I had to ask.
    Does running a well-established blog such as yours
    require a lot of work? I am completely new to blogging however
    I do write in my diary on a daily basis.
    I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my personal experience and thoughts online.
    Please let me know if you have any kind of recommendations or tips for brand new aspiring
    bloggers. Appreciate it!

  9. hi! I just made an awesome batch of fried rice. my things are that sweet chinese sausage, two or three of them cut small, the eggs – i mix about a tablespoon of chili garlic sauce and hoisin sauce into my eggs and fry them super hot in lots of oil and set aside until almost the end and lettuce a big double handful of shredded iceberg lettuce at the very end after the heat’s turned off. it gives a lovely soft crunch and lightens the whole thing up a bit. anyway thanks!

  10. Hi Dan S, thanks for the tips. Most household burners don’t get that hot anyway so high heat is probably good. Careful with that water, too much might turn your fried rice soggy!

  11. Hi Don, I”m going to look for that burner right now! My mom always had an outdoor kitchen and since we just moved into a new house, perhaps I should think about setting one up.

  12. Nice post and Great tips!
    I agree that high fire is better, but actually I would suggest using medium heat, overnight rice, and add a little bit of water for those not as experienced. Doesn’t taste as good, but increase the success rate quite a bit 🙂

  13. Love your recipe ideas. I bought a 100,000 BTU burner from Thai Imports that gets me that char flavor (I just have to use it outside). Like you I prefer Jasmine rice if I am frying or short grain Japanese if I just want steamed rice. One thing that helps me is I will turn the rice cooker off after my jasmine is done and let it sit an hour. Then when I take it out I break the rice up with my fingers before putting it in a container to refrigerate. That way the next day, I just dump the rice into a smoking hot wok and the grains are already separated.

  14. Pingback: Fried Rice | Kaled
  15. Aye to 1,2,3,4 and 5.

    i keep it simple with the sauces, kicap manis (sweet and dark), light soy sauce (salty) and white pepper. I hv never tried with oyster sauce… I hv always found it too heavy.

    1. Hi Su Chin, you must be Indonesian! My mum always uses kecap manis in her fried rice. I alternate between that and oyster/soy sauces depending on my mood. Thx for stopping by!

  16. This recipe was fabulous – thanks for sharing all of your helpful tips. We followed this recipe exactly, using poached chicken as the meat and peanut oil. It was great and will definitely stay in our rotation. Can’t wait to try out more of your recipes.

  17. Love the post. I wrote how miserably I’ve failed at making rice dishes including fried rice in the past. But I’m on the road to recovery in regards to making great rice dishes and your blog post should help.

    I found a great Vietnamese recipe that eats like fried rice but is in a bit of a different method. You heat the raw rice in oil then add broth (as if you were making a risotto) and then add the marinated and cooked chopped vegetables.

    Check it out here. http://www.francisfoodie.com/francisfoodie/2011/10/5/going-beyond-steamed-rice-chicken-and-vegetable-clay-pot-ric.html

    Again great post and beautiful blog.


    1. Thanks, Francis! Fried rice can be a little tricky but practice does make perfect. Sounds like a very interesting recipe. I’ll have to try it out too, and if it’s Andrea’s, it has to be good! Cheers,

  18. I’m with you on not ordering fried rice, but my in-laws love it. I went to a excellent Chinese restaurant recently, and looked on Yelp afterwards to see what people said. Most of the comments were about takeout fried rice and whether it was too greasy. Sometimes I wonder how far we’ve come!

    1. Hi Dianne, I hear ya. Fried rice seems to be a perennial favorite at Chinese restaurants. I always prefer to order one of the many other dishes on the menu but I guess it’s the one standard dish everyone knows and is comfortable with. Cheers, Pat

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