When it comes to takeout food (or any food for that matter), chicken fried rice is at the top of my list.
But why buy takeout when you can make this classic dish at home?
It’s much more affordable, and let’s face it – homemade is always better and almost always healthier.
Easy chicken fried rice is one of those classic recipes you’ll find yourself coming back to over and over. (Especially since you can get it on the table in 30 minutes or less.)
For us, it’s one of the few recipes the whole family can agree on. It’s satisfying, flavorful, and makes excellent leftovers.
Although that rarely happens around our house.
The Secret to Chicken Fried Rice
The secret to fried rice is to ensure it’s cold when you cook it. Making it the night before is best so that it can cool completely in the refrigerator.
If you’re in a hurry, stick it in the freezer until it’s cooled. But if possible, cook it the night before and refrigerate.
Another option, though, if you just don’t feel like cooking rice, is to use ready-made rice in a box. It works like a charm.
Sprinkle a little soy sauce on the chicken for extra flavor when cooking it. (You can also use teriyaki sauce or sesame sauce.)
You can even marinate the chicken before cooking.
Many people like to add some sesame oil to the rice at the end. Doing so gives it an Asian flavor that won’t disappoint.
You can also add a little red pepper or chili paste to give it some kick.
Finally, remember that you can swap the chicken with shrimp, ham, or pork. Or leave it out altogether if you’re looking for a vegetarian option.
Chicken Fried Rice Ingredients
You can make variations to this recipe, of course. But here are the basic things you’ll need:
- Butter. Use real butter to give the rice and veggies the best possible flavor.
- Cooked white rice. Remember, you want it cold!
- Veggies. I like to use a mix of carrots, white and green onions, and frozen sweet peas for my fried rice. You can also add water chestnuts, cabbage, or anything else you enjoy.
- Eggs. They add protein, texture, flavor, and more.
- Garlic powder. Feel free to substitute freshly minced garlic if you prefer.
- Soy sauce. I stick to traditional soy sauce, but yoou can use low-sodium sauce if you prefer.
- Boneless chicken breast. The chicken should be fully cooked and diced into small pieces. Do NOT start with raw chicken. It won’t have enough time to cook fully.
- Salt and pepper. Season the dish to suit your tastes.
How to Make Chicken Fried Rice
It takes less than 30 minutes to pull this dish together. Follow these steps to get it done:
1. Saute the veggies. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Then, add the veggies (except the green onions) and saute them until they’re tender.
2. Add the eggs. Push the sauteed veggies to one side of the skillet and pour the beaten eggs into the other side.
Scramble the eggs until they’re fully set. Then, combine the eggs and veggies.
3. Add the flavor add-ins. Pour in the soy sauce and the garlic powder. Mix well.
4. Add the rice and chicken. Next, add the fully cooked rice and chicken. Mix well and cook until the two are heated through.
5. Garnish. Finally, top the dish off with the green onions and season with salt and pepper. Then, remove from heat, serve, and enjoy!
Tips for Making Fried Rice
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Use cold rice. I’ve mentioned this already, but it bears repeating. Cook the rice ahead of time and let it cool fully before adding it.
- Add or remove veggies to suit your tastes. The veggies listed here are simply my favorites. You can add as few or as many as you like.
- Stick to real butter. It provides a better flavor than oils or margarine.
- Let the rice brown slightly on the bottom. Let it sit in the pan for a bit between stirs. The bottom of the rice will brown slightly, giving you a wonderfully crispy texture.
- Prep the ingredients beforehand. Have everything chopped and measured before you start cooking. Stir fry cooking goes fast and leaves very little time in between.
Easy Fried Rice Variations
Fried rice is a ridiculously versatile dish. You can make a dozen or more variations and still have a dozen more to go.
Here are some of the most common variations, though:
- Kimchi fried rice: Unless you’ve tried it, you can’t realize how much extra flavor kimchi adds to rice. It’s incredible.
- Vegetarian fried rice. Simply leave out the chicken.
- Pork/beef/shrimp/etc. fried rice. Swap out the meat for something you like better than chicken. The options are limitless.
- No-rice fried rice. Seems silly, right? But you actually can make a version that doesn’t include rice! Just use quinoa instead.
- Brown fried rice. Brown rice tastes just as great as white rice in a fried rice recipe.
- Sweet fried rice. Add some canned pineapples for a sweet-n-savory flavor.
What to Serve with Fried Rice
Fried rice, particularly chicken fried rice, is a complete meal on its own. However, if you want to leave out the chicken, it also makes an excellent side dish.
Here are a few of my favorite things to serve with it:
- 3-Ingredient Orange Chicken
- Baked Teriyaki Chicken Wings
- Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls
- Lobster Rangoon
- Air Fryer Crab Rangoon
Can You Freeze Chicken Fried Rice?
If you’re doing some meal planning, this recipe can easily be made ahead of time and frozen in Ziploc bags. It lasts up to 3 months in the freezer.
When you’re ready to make it, simply pull it out of the freezer, thaw, and throw into the skillet for 5-10 minutes!
It makes for a quick and easy dinner any day of the week.
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