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Easy Fried Rice {cheap eats}

Don’t throw away that leftover rice! Use it to make this delicious, easy fried rice. So simple you don’t even need a recipe.

Easy Fried Rice {cheap eats}

Easy fried rice is one of the simplest – and cheapest – meals you can make. Fried rice can be vegetarian-friendly, or it can be a carnivore’s delight. It all depends on what ingredients you have on hand.

This particular recipe isn’t a “from-scratch” easy fried rice dish, it relies on having leftover rice from another meal. Making this without leftovers means cooking up three to four cups of rice first, but otherwise, you can follow the directions exactly. Before we dive into the recipe, here are some pro tips for enhancing this meal.

What Is The Secret To Good Fried Rice?

There are differences of opinion, but many sources say you should start cooking fried rice by refrigerating your leftover rice or newly cooked rice. The refrigeration process helps reduce moisture, ensuring your rice doesn’t get mushy. You can still eat mushy fried rice but the aesthetics aren’t great.

Another tip for preparing fried rice of any kind; preheat your skillet or wok. The hotter your cooking surface, the better. And on that note, using a bigger cooking surface helps this dish cook evenly. It’s best not to crowd the skillet when making fried rice.

If you are looking for a specific Asian-inspired flavor profile, you can add certain ingredients like a dash of Chinese five-spice powder, cilantro, or sesame oil. Some of these should be added right at the end of cooking or individually to each bowl for maximum effectiveness.

For example, if you add cilantro too early into the cooking process, it tends to darken and wilt. Sesame oil gets smoky when it gets too hot, but a dash of it right at the end of the cooking process adds a great touch. Ginger is sturdier, you can add it at any stage of the process.

Don't throw away that leftover rice! Easy Fried Rice is so much better for you than takeout and a lot tastier, too! | the wicked noodle | #dinner #asian #cheapeats

A Word About Soy Sauce

Soy sauce as an ingredient (instead of a condiment) can be tricky. The key to a good easy fried rice is to go easy on the soy sauce–you don’t want the rice to turn dark brown.

Soy sauce is famous for higher sodium levels, if you need to reduce the salt in this dish, get a reduced-sodium soy sauce like the “green cap” Kikkoman soy sauce you can find in the “international” section of many grocery chains.

Ingredients To Keep On Hand For Fried Rice Anytime

What do you need to keep on hand to make easy fried rice anytime? It may be as easy as mincing some carrot and red onion, adding peas and the protein of your choice, and freezing until you need them.

Be sure to keep some seasoning staples on hand; oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Some are tempted to freeze a block of pre-made fried rice, which may work fine for short-term meal planning. But for best results, make the rice the day you need it.

Vegetarian Fried Rice, Vegan Fried Rice

It’s easy to make this recipe vegetarian. Simply choose a vegetable-based protein and be sure to add a bit of sesame oil to replace some of the fat you miss from adding a meat protein. If you are concerned about cholesterol in eggs, you can experiment with an egg substitute such as Egg Beaters, but be sure to get the “neutral” flavor as opposed to other varieties like “southwestern” or tex-mex flavored. You can make this fried rice recipe vegan by replacing the eggs with a tofu scramble instead; that is essentially firm tofu scrambled with turmeric, salt, and pepper. If you need to replace the soy sauce, consider a gluten free variety like Tamari or a low-sodium equivalent. The oyster sauce replacement isn’t as tricky as it sounds–try thickening ordinary soy sauce with sugar or using mushroom broth.

And don’t worry about needing a wok. Although they come in handy and are super fun to cook with (I have this Carbon Steel Wok and love it – although I also covet this one in Cast Iron), a skillet will do just fine.

Don't throw away that leftover rice! Easy Fried Rice is so much better for you than takeout and a lot tastier, too! | the wicked noodle | #dinner #asian #cheapeats

Easy Fried Rice

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Keep just a few ingredients on hand to make this easy fried rice anytime!


  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped (I use red but any will do)
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup leftover meat, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 3-4 cups leftover rice (preferably medium or long-grain; can also cook your own rice, just refrigerate it for at least two hours)
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • Dash of fish sauce (optional)
  • coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat a wok or large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Place the rice in a bowl and break up any large clumps.
  3. Add the oil to wok and swirl it to coat the sides.
  4. Add the carrots, stir and cook for two minutes.
  5. Add the garlic and onion, cooking for another two minutes.
  6. Move all the ingredients to one side of the wok.
  7. Break the eggs into the wok and stir until they’re almost cooked completely.
  8. Add the chopped meat, peas and rice, stirring between each addition.
  9. Stir in the oyster and soy sauces.
  10. Stir constantly until rice is coated with sauce and all ingredients are heated thoroughly, about 3 minutes or so (add more oil if the rice begins to stick to the wok).

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 818Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 124mgSodium: 887mgCarbohydrates: 145gFiber: 5gSugar: 4gProtein: 29g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.

Kristy Bernardo
Latest posts by Kristy Bernardo (see all)

Viola Perry

Tuesday 11th of November 2014

Never ever use Canola Oil, which stands for Canada Oil and it is being made from rasp plants, which do not digest easily. It is all about the cheapest ingredients not necessarily good for people!

Kristy Bernardo

Tuesday 11th of November 2014

Thanks for the suggestion, Viola, I'll keep it in mind :)

George Davis

Monday 10th of November 2014

Your recipes for Fried Rice and Asian Drumstick sound and like enjoyable. Looking forward to trying them and finding others. Thanks for sharing.

Kristy Bernardo

Monday 10th of November 2014

Thanks so much, George! Those Asian Drumsticks are sooo good. I was just talking to a friend the other day, telling her that I need to make them again and come up with a new sauce. They're just so quick and easy. Thanks for stopping by, cheers!

Garlic Snap Peas Recipe

Tuesday 29th of July 2014

[…] they’re so fun to cook with and make easy work of one-dish meals. I’ll be posting my easy fried rice recipe later this week which I make all the time with leftover rice; it just wouldn’t be the […]


Thursday 22nd of May 2014

This rice dish looks fabulous!! Yum! :)

the wicked noodle

Friday 23rd of May 2014

Thank you, Jocelyn :)


Friday 16th of May 2014

easy fried rice | #recipe #foodporn #cheapeats via @thewickednoodle

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