Easy Vegetable Fried Rice

This vegetable fried rice recipe is a fast and easy dinner recipe to use up any vegetables you have on hand in your refrigerator and freezer!

Easy Vegetable Fried Rice

“How do I take a recipe and adapt it to fit what’s in my refrigerator?” Good question. Alex and I get asked this a lot. The hard part is, there is no simple answer. We could give you a list of “rules,” like pair this with that, or this could be a stand in for that. But rules don’t mean a lot out of context. Here’s the best way we’ve found to learn: just do it! Starting with: this easy vegetable fried rice. It’s a study in adapting what you have on hand! You can use any vegetables in your fridge or pantry. Let’s get started.

Vegetable fried rice

How to make vegetable fried rice (a tutorial)

With fried rice, almost anything goes! It’s a forgiving recipe concept that’s perfect for using up veggies you have on hand. Hey, that makes it great for reducing food waste, too! Even better, you can even make vegetable fried rice without the rice! Use a different whole grain like Quinoa Fried Rice or Farro Fried Rice. Or go grain free with cauliflower, like our Cauliflower Fried Rice!

Here are the basic steps for how to make vegetable fried rice with any vegetables!

Step 1: Start with day old rice (or dry out the rice).

The most basic adage for this recipe: use day old rice. Why do you need to use day old rice for fried rice? Freshly cooked rice retains a lot of moisture. So if you use fresh rice in fried rice, it clumps together and turns out soggy. Day old rice has dried out, so it forms the distinct grains that make that signature fried rice texture. So, it’s easiest to make this recipe if you have leftover rice or make it the night before. But if not…

What if you don’t have day old rice? Can you dry out rice for fried rice? Actually, yes! Here’s what to do to use freshly cooked rice in your fried rice: Make the rice. Then spread it onto a rimmed sheet pan and put it into the freezer. Freeze for about 15 to 20 minutes until the grains become cool to the touch. Some might even become frozen: that’s ok! They’ll heat right back up once they hit the pan.

What’s the best rice to use for fried rice? Medium or long grain rice works best, since short grain rice can become clumpy. You can use either brown or white rice. Basmati rice is a nice long-grain rice to use: here’s How to Cook Basmati Rice. Or you could use our Instant Pot Brown Rice or Instant Pot White Rice methods.

How to Cook Basmati Rice

Step 2: Saute the veggies.

Once you’ve figured out your rice situation, you’ll saute the veggies! Use a large skillet and drizzle in sesame oil. Then you’ll saute the veggies. Here’s the key to the saute: Start with the hardest veggies first because they take the longest to cook. Then add the thinner vegetables gradually. If you happen to have fresh ginger root, it brings in the signature “fried rice” flavor. Here’s what we did for this recipe:

  • Start with harder veggies like minced onion and carrot.
  • Add softer veggies like greens and cabbage.
  • Add flavorings like minced garlic and ginger.
Chopping vegetables

Step 3: Add the egg and scramble.

The signature part of vegetable fried rice: the egg! Once you’ve quickly sauteed the veggies, stir in the egg and let it scramble. Break it up into pieces using your spatula, so that it will evenly distribute throughout the rice.

Step 4: Add the rice and final flavorings.

Then, you’re ready for the rice! Add the dried out rice: we’ve also added frozen peas in this step, which bring a lovely green color. Since they’ve already been cooked before frozen, they just need to be heated through. At this point, we add soy sauce and a little more sesame oil for the final flavoring.

Vegetable fried rice

And that’s it! How to make easy vegetable fried rice.

There you have it! This vegetable fried is a tried and true clean out the refrigerator meal that we eat time and time again. Let us know if you try it out in the comments below, and what vegetables you use.

This vegetable fried rice recipe is…

This vegetable fried rice is vegetarian and gluten free.

Print

Easy Vegetable Fried Rice


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 4.33 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

This vegetable fried rice recipe is a fast and easy dinner recipe to use up any vegetables you have on hand in your refrigerator and freezer!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger (optional)
  • 3 carrots
  • 1/4 small cabbage
  • 4 baby bok choy heads or 4 cups baby spinach
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice, at least one day old (use How to Cook Rice or Instant Pot method)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Black pepper

Instructions

  1. Mince the onion. Mince the garlic. Mince the ginger, if using. Peel the carrots, then dice them. Shred the cabbage. Chop off the bottoms of the bok choy, then thinly slice the leaves (chiffonade).
  2. In a large skillet or wok, heat 2 tablespoons sesame oil. Saute the carrots and onion for 2 minutes. Add the bok choy, cabbage, garlic and ginger (if using) and saute for 2 minutes. Add the eggs and scramble them in for 1 to 2 minutes until cooked through. Add the peas, rice, soy sauce, kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Heat for a minute or two, stirring, until all rice is coated. Serve hot.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Asian Inspired

Keywords: Fried Rice, Vegetable Fried Rice, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Healthy, Dinner Recipe, Easy, Quick

Looking for more fast and easy dinner recipes?

In addition to this vegetable fried rice, here a few more of our favorite fast and easy dinner recipes:

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

10 Comments

  • Reply
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    March 3, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    Rice is perfect for adapting, but I love all the ingredients you added to this. Yum!

  • Reply
    Jess
    March 3, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    Fried rice (or sometimes quinoa) is a staple in our kitchen. It’s so true that it’s one of the best ways I’ve found for using up lots of vegetables just throwing a few things together at the last minute. I’ll be sad to miss the hangout this weekend (time difference being what it is), but sounds like a lot of fun!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      March 10, 2013 at 9:18 am

      Thanks, Jess! We missed you but will have to chat some other time! :)

  • Reply
    Courtney Jones
    March 4, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Funny! On the weekend I had a craving for fried rice. This looks great! Thank you for the great recipe. I have some veggies to use up in the fridge :)

  • Reply
    sandra
    March 4, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    I have a real hard time adapting recipes to fit what I have. I try it all the time but most of the time it doesn’t work out. I suppose I just need to give it more attention/practice and some day I will be able to whip anything up and have it taste great.

    • Reply
      Sonja
      March 10, 2013 at 9:20 am

      Yes, we have found that adapting recipes takes practice, practice, practice! And several failures no matter how experienced you are. But it gets easier the more you do it! Good luck giving it a try — and fried rice is a good place to start!

  • Reply
    Lindsey @ Pas de Deux
    March 5, 2013 at 11:00 am

    I have a meeting on Sunday afternoon, but otherwise I would TOTALLY join you for the eHang out. I was given a terrific book, Culinary Artistry, as a wedding gift by a family friend who had just completed culinary school. It has a whole section on good ingredient/flavor pairings–it’s a great reference tool!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      March 10, 2013 at 9:21 am

      Maybe next time on the hangout! Culinary Artistry sounds like a great resource! We’ll have to check that out.

  • Reply
    angela @ another bite please
    March 5, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    this looks so fresh…love all the vegetables.

  • Reply
    o
    January 19, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    Great recipe

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