Our best fried rice recipes will make good use of leftover rice in the fridge, making everything from classic restaurant-style Chinese special fried rice and funky Cambodian fried rice with shrimp paste to flavoursome fried rice dishes with spicy Southern-style fried chicken and tonkatsu fried rice made with breaded pork and onsen eggs.
If you have leftover steamed rice in the fridge from dinner last night, why not toss it in the wok and whip up a fried rice for lunch or a casual dinner? Or if you’re following our suggestions for What to Cook this Weekend and have leftover katsu or tonkatsu, that’s a good excuse to put rice in the cooker now to make some fried rice later tonight or tomorrow.
We love rice and cook a lot of rice, for recipes we’re testing for our Cambodian cookbook and Cambodian culinary history, for a cookbook of my Russian family recipes (yes, Russians eat rice, too), and for the rice cookbook we’re developing, which emerged from our stories Make Rice Not War, A Celebration of Rice Diversity to Inspire Curiosity and Connection and How to Cook Rice Around the World: 66 Rice Dishes by 65 Rice Lovers.
Of all the rice dishes we eat, fried rice is perhaps the one I’m most fond of as it’s just so versatile, it comes together quickly and easily, and it’s a dish that you can really get creative with, especially when it comes to using leftovers – which is what fried rice was actually invented for, after all.
We thought we’d compile our best fried rice recipes into a concise post for you to save you scrolling through our full collection of rice recipes, which covers the gamut of rice bowls, from rice porridges and rice soups to fried rice and rice-stuffed dishes. We’ll update this post as we add fried rice recipes to the site.
Before I tell you more about our best fried rice recipes, I have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is reader-funded. If you’ve used and liked our recipes, please consider supporting Grantourismo by supporting our original, epic, first-of-its-kind Cambodian culinary history and cookbook on Patreon for as little as the price of a mango smoothie or two a month. Or, you could buy us a coffee. Although we’ll use our coffee money to buy cooking ingredients for recipe testing instead.
You can also support our work by using links on the site to book accommodation, rent a car or hire a motorhome or campervan, purchase travel insurance, or book a tour on Klook or Get Your Guide; shopping our Grantourismo online store (we have fun gifts for foodies designed with Terence’s images); or buying something on Amazon, such as these award-winning cookbooks, cookbooks by Australian chefs, classic cookbooks for serious cooks, cookbooks for culinary travellers, travel books to inspire wanderlust, and gifts for Asian food lovers. Now let me tell you about our best fried rice recipes.
Best Fried Rice Recipes for Quick Casual Meals to Use Up Leftover
Before I share our best fried rice recipes, I have a few rice-making tips: if you cook rice regularly, do buy a rice cooker for steaming plain rice, as well as making aromatic spice-laden rice dishes. You’ll also need a carbon steel wok for making fried rice.
Make sure your pantry is always well-stocked with Asian spices, condiments, seasonings, and sauces, such as a variety of cooking oils (vegetable, peanut, sesame oil, etc), various soy sauces (light and dark), fish sauces, crunchy fried garlic and shallots, sesame seeds, and chilli flakes, as well as making batches of our homemade Sriracha, chilli oil, and furikake Japanese seasoning.
Terence and I frequently get asked about the fish sauces we like to use. Our response is always the same: Cambodian fish sauce with Cambodian food, Thai fish sauce with Thai food, a Vietnamese fish sauce with Vietnamese, etc. If you don’t have access to a range of fish sauces, we suggest sticking to Thailand’s Megachef for quality and consistency, although our American friends say it’s hard to find in the USA and recommend Red Boat Fish Sauce. Now let me tell you about our best fried rice recipes.
Best Fried Rice Recipes for Quick Casual Meals To Use Up Leftover Rice
Chinese Special Fried Rice Recipe
Fantastic and filling, our Chinese special fried rice recipe is one of our best fried rice recipes, making use of that leftover steamed jasmine rice and any char siu pork you have lying around. You don’t? Good excuse to make some.
This recipe is inspired by the classic Chinese special fried rice we’d eat in Chinese restaurants growing up in Australia, which were largely Cantonese in those days. It’s based on Yangzhou fried rice, which originated in China’s Yangzhou city in Jiangsu province, a hotbed of Huaiyang cuisine.
The traditional fried rice dish was comprised of cooked rice, char siu pork, shrimps, peas, carrots, scallions, and scrambled eggs, with crab or sea cucumber sometimes added.
We’d find this fried rice on every Chinese restaurant menu, from swanky banquet restaurants and suburban eateries to all-you-can-eat food court buffets. While it’s acceptable after sitting in a bain-marie for a while, it’s outstanding when freshly wok-fried and piping hot.
Chicken Fried Rice Recipe with Southern Fried Chicken Leftovers
Another of our best fried rice recipes, this chicken fried rice recipe combines our favourite Nashville-style Southern fried chicken by chef Morgan McGlone of Belles Hot Chicken with a classic fried rice. Like the tonkatsu rice, below, this chicken fried rice recipe is the result of experimentation, as the best rice recipes are.
This fried rice dish was inspired by our Tonkatsu fried rice with onsen eggs, after it turned out so well, and a Japanese curry fried rice recipe that Terence made with a little curry powder that was also fantastic.
Not all curry powders are created equal obviously. In this case, we use the Nguan Soon curry powder brand which is made in Thailand but you can use your favourite curry powder or make your own spice blend.
Tonkatsu Fried Rice Recipe with Onsen Eggs
This tonkatsu fried rice with onsen eggs recipe combines a few of the things we love – fried rice, eggs and tonkatsu, the succulent Japanese pork cutlet breaded in panko crumbs and deep-fried – and it’s another of our best fried rice recipes.
Like the original Chinese fried rice that was invented to use leftover rice, this tonkatsu fried rice with onsen eggs recipe is the result of putting leftovers to use. We had a couple of pieces of tonkatsu in the fridge leftover from testing tonkatsu burgers – and Terence was in the mood for a little experimentation, as he had been testing out onsen eggs.
If you enjoy this tonkatsu fried rice with onsen eggs then you’ll also like our tonkatsu burgers, so make extra. You’ll need this tonkatsu recipe to make the tonkatsu and tonkatsu sauce first before you make this fried rice dish.
Cambodian Fried Rice Recipe
As you’d expect of a Southeast Asian country with a long history of Chinese trade and migration, Cambodia has no shortage of fried rice recipes, but this Cambodian fried rice recipe makes a particularly delicious Cambodian bai cha (fried rice).
It’s a lighter style of fried rice and is essentially the Cambodian take on the classic Chinese fried rice, and it’s another of our best fried rice recipes. Bai cha is simply ‘fried rice’ – ‘bai’ is rice and ‘cha’ is to stir-fry – and it’s distinguished by two typical Cambodian breakfast ingredients, sausage and eggs.
The sausage in question is Siem Reap sausage, the local take on lap cheong, the smoked, sweetened, red Chinese sausage. Sometimes it’s served with a fried egg on top in addition to the scrambled egg through the rice.
Cambodian Shrimp Fried Rice with Shrimp Paste Recipe
Another of Cambodia’s popular fried rice dishes and another of our best fried rice recipes makes this shrimp fried rice with shrimp paste called bai char kapi. ‘Kapi’ is shrimp paste.
The classic fried rice dish combines sweet plump prawns and pungent shrimp paste to create a fried rice that is sweet, salty and funky. If you’re not a fan of shrimp paste, then you could leave it out and use fish sauce instead.
They’re different ingredients obviously, but they boast the same funkiness, however, fish sauce tends to be more approachable for those not used to cooking and eating with either. You’ll probably have a better chance finding a Thai shrimp paste than a Cambodian shrimp paste outside Cambodia.
Korean Kimchi Fried Rice Recipe for a Classic Kimchi Bokkeumbap
If you enjoyed our Korean spicy noodles recipe for stir-fried udon noodles with kimchi, bacon, pork and fried eggs, and you’re a lover of fried ricethen you’re going to love this easy Korean kimchi fried rice recipe with fried eggs. It’s equally delicious and just as easy to prepare.
This recipe makes a classic kimchi bokkeumbap stir-fried with Korea’s famously fiery fermented cabbage called kimchi, spicy chilli sauce gochujang, scallions, onion and carrot. It’s topped with a soft fried egg and sprinkled with roasted seaweed and sesame seeds. If it’s not spicy enough for you, you can also sprinkle on some Korean chilli flakes called gochugaru.
There’s no pork or bacon in this kimchi fried rice as there is in the spicy noodles, however, you could always add them if you like. It’s a very versatile rice dish. I ran out of kimchi the other day and add braised cabbage to the little kimchi I had left. This is actually a vegetarian kimchi fried rice and if you skipped the fried egg, it’s essentially a vegan fried rice. Peas, beans and broccoli also work in this kimchi fried rice.
Thai Pineapple Fried Rice Recipe for a Tasty Summery Tropical Fried Rice
This super-easy Thai pineapple fried rice recipe makes a tasty summery tropical fried rice. Tuck into a bowl at home and you can imagine that you’re back in Southeast Asia enjoying it at a beachside street food shack with your toes in the sand. Don’t let winter stop you: if you can’t source fresh pineapple, use canned pineapple for a year-round treat.
Our Thai pineapple fried rice recipe makes khao pad sapparot, a fragrant fried rice that’s sweet, savoury, gently spiced courtesy of curry powder, and packed with umami thanks to soy sauce, and/or if you prefer, fish sauce. It’s one of the most popular fried rice dishes with travellers to Thailand, as well as Southeast Asia more generally.
Because while I’m sharing the Thai take on the deliciously filling street food dish, this tasty fried rice is also popular in Cambodia and Vietnam. And not only with visitors, it’s just as loved by locals where it’s made at home, particularly on weekends in the countryside during pineapple season.
Japanese Fried Rice Recipe for Yakimeshi with Bacon, Egg and Cabbage
This Japanese fried rice recipe for yakimeshi with bacon and egg makes my take on the classic Japanese fried rice. I’ve added shredded cabbage, sesame seeds and roasted seaweed to give the fried rice greater texture, along with quintessential Japanese ingredients, such as Japanese soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin, sesame oil, and shichimi togarashi Japanese seven spice to intensify the flavour.
We had some leftover steamed Japanese rice in the fridge, which we had with Japanese fried chicken and the Japanese style cucumber and cabbage salad, for which we recently shared recipes. The best thing to do with leftover rice is make fried rice, so that’s what I did. I made Japanese fried rice.
Yakimeshi is one of two styles of Japanese fried rice, the basic version of which is made with Japanese rice, scrambled egg and bacon or ham. I began to make a classic yakimeshi and was planning on adding a few additional Japanese sauces and condiments, when I realised that we had a little leftover cabbage and cucumber salad in the fridge, so – you guessed it – I tossed it into the yakimeshi. This recipe makes a recreation of that experiment from scratch.
Classic Nasi Goreng Recipe for Indonesian Fried Rice with Fried Eggs and Stir Fried Prawns
This classic nasi goreng recipe makes Indonesia’s delicious fried rice with soft fried eggs and stir-fried prawns. Eaten anytime, it’s typically served with leftover satay or fried chicken, refreshing cucumber and tomato, and zingy mixed vegetable pickles.
Nasi goreng simply means ‘fried rice’, and specifically Indonesian fried rice. If you’ve been to Bali or Yogyakarta or travelled anywhere in Indonesia – or Malaysia or Singapore for that matter – you’ve undoubtedly tucked into a plate of nasi goreng at your hotel, a restaurant or a warung, a little shack, shop or kiosk serving local street food.
If you haven’t, and you’re a fried rice lover, you’re going to love this classic nasi goreng recipe with fried eggs and stir-fried prawns, served with tasty accompaniments and garnishes. We top our Indonesian fried rice with fried eggs with runny yolks and stir-fried prawns, and sprinkle on sliced scallions, roasted peanuts and crispy fried shallots.
Cabbage Roll Fried Rice Recipe for a Fragrant Fried Rice Inspired by my Grandmother’s Cabbage Rolls
My cabbage roll fried rice recipe makes an incredibly tasty, fragrant fried rice inspired by my Russian grandmother’s cabbage rolls. If you love cabbage rolls but you think they’re too complicated or time-consuming to make (they’re not) and you love fried rice, you must make my cabbage roll fried rice recipe next time you have leftover steamed rice.
To the fried onion, garlic, carrot, ground pork, and rice mixture normally ensconced within cabbage leaves, I add shredded cabbage, spices, a little tomato paste, and fresh aromatic dill to make a deliciously addictive fried rice that has become one of my favourite dishes.
One of my not-so secret ingredients is finely diced gherkins/dill pickles, homemade, of course. I serve it with more dishes of homemade dill pickles and pickled cabbage on the side, as well as fragrant fresh dill, sour cream, salt and pepper, rye bread, a Russian garden salad, and shots of vodka.
Please do let us know if you make our best fried rice recipes in the comments below, as we’d love to know how they turn out for you.