Veg fried rice is a delicious meal in itself, loaded with fresh vegetables, packed with flavors and comes together under 30 minutes. If you are looking for a go-to meal for busy weeknights then this Chinese fried rice can be a great staple. This tastes as good as any restaurant version plus it is much healthier. Customize it with your favorite add-ons & enjoy veg fried rice at the comfort of your home.
It needs no sides, but many of use love those saucy Chinese sides like Manchurian or a chilli gravy when we eat out. So if you plan for a special weekend meal, then try this out with my Veg Manchurian or chilli paneer.
Table of contents
About this recipe
Perfectly cooked grainy & non-sticky rice, the right amount of sauce & high heat is what makes any fried rice the best. In this post I share with you the easiest recipe to make the best flavorful and aromatic veg fried rice at home.
Chinese food is all about the amazing smoky aroma, saucy flavors and the beautiful colors. Well-made fried rice is stir fried in a carbon steel or cast iron wok on the highest heat to acquire the unique smoky aroma. The right amount of sauces coat the rice with a delicate flavor & transform to a mouth-watering dish.
Home cooked foods can never beat the flavors of foods served in authentic Chinese restaurants. Large woks, large stoves/burners & high heat imparts a natural smoky aroma which cannot be replicated exactly. But still it is not viable for many of us to eat out often.
My fried rice recipe does not use a lot of ingredients except for good quality aged rice, soya sauce, veggies, vinegar and oil. I do not use ajinomotto (MSG) to make any of our foods. You can still make a very good vegetable fried rice without it. Most restaurants use it as it enhances the taste & flavor.
So this is our favorite go to basic fried rice recipe. I also customize it in numerous way so my boys don’t get bored of it. Check out the possible variations below.
How to make fried rice (step-by-step photos)
If you have precooked grainy (non-mushy) rice, then skip this section completely. Most people prefer to use up 1 day old cooked rice or left over rice. We don’t eat leftover rice so I always make fried rice with fresh cooked rice. I have shown below the way we personally prefer & is guaranteed to give the best results.
Preparation – cook rice
1. Soak 1 cup rice for 10 to 20 mins. If you are a large family you can make make more rice (upto 3 cups) following the same method. Add rice to a large bowl. This is the kind of basmati rice I use. You can also use any long grain or medium grain like Jasmine rice or sona masuri.
2. Rinse the rice very well at least thrice to get rid of the starch. Any excess starch is going to make the rice sticky and gluey. If using aged basmati rice, I prefer to soak for at least 10 to 20 mins. This prevents the grains from turning hard and dry after stir frying in the wok.
3. Meanwhile pour 4 to 5 cups of water to a large pot and bring it to a rolling boil on a medium high flame. When the water begins to boil, drain the rice.
4. Add it to the boiling water. Also add 1 teaspoon oil to the water. Continue to cook on a medium high heat.
5. Keep checking so you don’t overcook. This only takes a few minutes. Cook the rice al dente and not mushy. Grains must be separated yet fully cooked. This is how they look when perfectly done.
6. Quickly drain the rice to a colander. Cool it until all of the steam vanishes. Fluff it up with a fork. If the rice is perfectly al dente, you can cover and set aside. This prevents the rice from drying & becoming hard.
Troubleshooting: If you feel your rice is on the softer side & slightly over cooked, sprinkle 1 tablespoon oil on the hot rice and spread it. Cool it without covering.
Prepare vegetables for fried rice
7. While the rice cooks, chop all the veggies you need for this fried rice recipe. Here is the list:
- 1 small carrot – ¼ to ½ cup fine chopped
- ½ small bell pepper (¼ to ½ cup fine chopped)
- 4 to 5 French beans (¼ cup fine chopped)
- ¼ to ½ cup fine chopped cabbage or 6 button mushrooms sliced (optional)
- ¼ cup green onions (scallions, 4 stalks, separate greens & whites)
- 1 green chilies slit (optional)
- 1 tablespoon fine chopped garlic
How to make veg fried rice
Cook on high flame and do not overcook the veggies as they lose the crunch.
8. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wok on the highest flame. If you don’t have a wok, use a wide pan. Add garlic and sauté just for 30 to 40 seconds, till you get an aroma. Some fine dining Chinese restaurants also add star anise (whole or powder). So I do add it sometimes. This is optional but gives an awesome flavor.
9. Set some of the green onions aside for garnish. Add all chopped vegetables and slit green chilli. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes. Do not overcook them as we want them crunchy. But also ensure the raw flavor has gone from French beans. If you stir fry too long, scallions will lose their crunch.
10. Optional – Next add half teaspoon sugar if you like. Using sugar keeps the color of the veggies intact & also helps to balance the flavors.
11. Ensure the flame is still high at this stage. Add 1 tablespoon soya sauce and 1 teaspoon vinegar (optional). You can add more or less to suit your taste. Any other hot sauces you prefer can also be added at this stage. Find some exciting ideas in the variations section below.
Do not cook the veggies further at this stage as they will sweat out & become mushy.
12. The sauce will bubble immediately & begin to smoke. Then add cooled rice, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ to ½ teaspoon black pepper.
13. Toss, mix, stir fry for 2 to 3 mins. Taste test. If needed add more sauce & salt now to suit your taste. Remember the entire cooking process should happen on the highest flame. Otherwise the moisture from the veggies can make the rice mushy.
Get rid of the excess starch
Rinsing rice: Always rinse the rice well at least thrice to get rid of the excess starch. This helps to cook the rice to grainy without becoming sticky.
Soaking rice: To soak or not is a personal choice. Whenever I use basmati rice, I prefer to soak it at least for 10 to 20 mins. This helps the rice to perfectly cook up to beautiful long grains and also prevents the rice from turning dry and hard after frying it.
Cook perfect non-mushy rice
There are 2 ways you can cook rice perfectly for this fried rice recipe. The first method is the absorption method which works well for lesser rice like 1 to 1 ½ cups. The second method is the draining method which is great if you have a large family or making a lot of fried rice. Most often I follow this second method as I cook 3 cups of rice for our meal.
So if you are cooking just 1 to 1 ½ cups rice, then you can easily cook following the absorption method. For this method, for 1 cup rice, you will need 2 cups water.
Al dente rice: Cook rice to al dente on a medium high flame, (NO low flame here). The grains should be firm and yet fully cooked. Do not overcook the rice, it takes only a few seconds for al dente cooked rice to get overcooked and become mushy. So be alert and drain the rice in time.
Prepare rice to fry
It is very important to cool the rice immediately after cooking. Fluff up the rice gently in the colander with a fork, let all of the steam reduce. Then add a tbsp. of oil and spread it gently and then cover it. This prevents the rice from drying up & becoming hard.
Prepare vegetables for fried rice
Avoid using frozen or very cold vegetables from the fridge as they let out moisture & become too soft while frying. Keep the veggies out for a while so they come down to room temperature before frying. Chop all of them to the same size.
Stir fry perfectly
Firstly fry no more than 2 to 3 servings of rice in one batch. Frying a lot of it at one time will not bring out the flavours. If possible use a large carbon steel or cast iron wok. As soon as you add the veggies to the wok, remember to regulate your stove flame to the highest.
Continue to fry the rice until done on a high flame.
Ingredients & substitutes
Rice: Use any long grain or medium grain thin rice. Any rice labelled as long grain, basmati or jasmine work well to make fried rice. Avoid using short fat grains as they have more starch content and likely to turn sticky after cooking. Sona masuri rice also works well.
Vegetables: I personally prefer to use carrots, French beans, bell peppers, green onions & green peas for this basic recipe. Yes peas add some protein to the dish so it is always there in my kids’ fried rice.
A lot of times I make this fried rice with a single veggie like mushrooms, cabbage, zucchini and sometimes broccoli. You may use the search bar on top to check some of these versions that I already posted on the blog.
Soya sauce is also known as soy sauce. Choose naturally brewed or organic soya sauce. Naturally brewed soya sauce is fermented for several months/ years so it is much more flavorful than the regular one which is treated chemically. For a gluten-free option substitute it with the same amount of Tamari.
Vinegar is one of the less used ingredient in a fried rice. You will not find vinegar in most Chinese fried rice recipes. But it really adds a slight tang to the rice and enhances the taste. Rice vinegar is used in Chinese cooking especially in stir fry, salad dressings etc.
You may skip this easily from the recipe or use apple cider. Avoid white vinegar as it is too acidic in taste. If using apple cider, use it in combination with ½ teaspoon sugar as it recreates the same sweet flavour & taste of rice vinegar.
Tips to buy soya sauce
While buying soya sauce choose one that is labelled as naturally brewed or traditionally brewed. Other ways of making soya sauce uses harsh chemicals which may cause side effects in the long run.
I use Organic soya sauce or atleast the one made from Non-GMO soya. If you are looking for substitutes to soya sauce, then you may use Tamari, coconut aminos or liquid aminos. I personally feel tamari to be more flavorful than soya sauce.
Fried rice recipe – variations
I have shown the basic version of making fried rice above, but you can try these variations:
To add paneer, use ¾ cup diced paneer cubes. After stir frying the veggies, add paneer to the wok and fry then on both the sides for a minute. Then pour the soya sauce, vinegar and then add rice.
For using tofu, drain out the excess water from extra firm tofu and wrap it in few kitchen tissues. Place a heavy weight such as a cast iron skillet for 10 mins. Remove and pat the tofu dry with kitchen tissues. Cube and fry them in the pan first with 1 tablespoon oil. Add them back to the pan before pouring the sauce.
To make egg fried rice, slide the stir fried veggies to a side in your wok and pour 2 beaten eggs. Scramble them and cook just until set & soft cooked. Then add the sauce, vinegar and then rice. Double the soya sauce and black pepper for this.
For spicy fried rice, add a tablespoon of schezwan sauce, chilli oil or sambal olek. If using schezwan sauce, skip soya sauce from the recipe. To use sambal olek, use it in combination with kecap manis.
Spices: Many years ago I once ate fried rice in Alleppey which was super flavorful with ground star anise in it. Since then on occasions I add star anise (whole or ground). If using star anise you can skip the soya sauce in the recipe.
Cooled al dente cooked rice, High heat & Chinese wok are the secrets to the best Chinese fried rice. Avoid overcooking rice to mushy texture instead cook it al dente so it remains grainy. Use the highest heat on a large stove. Stir fry in a very hot Chinese wok made of carbon steel or cast iron so it emits a smoky aroma.
Use any oil that has a high smoke point like peanut oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil or avocado oil.
Heat a carbon steel wok on a large stove at a high heat. Toss the ingredients in hot oil. As soon as they hit the hot wok, smoke begins to release from it. This imparts a smoky flavor to the fried rice.
To prevent your fried rice from becoming sticky always cook rice al dente, cool it completely and then fry no more than 3 servings at one time in the wok.
Any long grain rice or medium grain rice is suitable to make fried rice. Long & thin grains are less starchy while short and fat grains are starchier. So avoid short grains. Any regular long grain rice, basmati rice or medium grain rice like Jasmine rice are best.
Adding little rice wine & toasted sesame oil to the finished fried rice totally elevates the flavor.
What vegetables do you put in fried rice?
To make veg fried rice, you can use your favorite veggies like carrots, sweet corn, baby corn, French beans, baby beans, bell pepper, spring onions, peas, mushroom, zucchini and cabbage.
Veg fried rice recipe
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
- 1 cup Rice (uncooked or 3 cups cooked like basmati, jasmine)
- 1 tablespoon Garlic chopped
- 2 tablespoons oil (peanut, sunflower or avocado)
- 1 tablespoon Soya sauce (or tamari, adjust to taste)
- 1 teaspoon Vinegar (rice vinegar or apple cider)
- Salt as needed (I use ¼ teaspoon)
- ½ teaspoon Black pepper coarsely crushed
- ¼ to ½ cup Carrots chopped finely
- ¼ cup Bell peppers (capsicum) chopped finely
- ¼ cup French beans (4 to 5 green beans, chopped finely)
- ¼ cup Green onions (scallions/spring onions, 4 stalks, fine chopped)
- ¼ cup Cabbage (optional, or ¾ cup mushrooms sliced )
- 1 green chili slit (optional, for heat)
- Skip this section if you have precooked rice. Wash rice a few times till the water runs clear.
- Soak it for at least 10 mins. Meanwhile bring 4 to 5 cups water to a boil in a large pot.
- When the water begins to boil rapidly, drain the rice and add it to the water. Pour 1 tsp oil to prevent the rice from turning sticky.
- Cook rice till al dente. Rice must not be mushy but has to be grainy.
- Drain off the rice to a colander. Cool it completely & fluff it up with a fork.
- While the rice cools, chop the veggies and garlic. Keep aside 2 tablespoons of green onions for garnish.
How to make fried rice
- Heat a wok with oil on the highest flame and fry chopped garlic slightly just for 30 to 40 seconds.
- Next add all the chopped veggies and fry for 2 to 3 minutes just until half cooked. They should be crunchy and not soft.
- Add soya sauce. Then add the optional ingredients vinegar and half tsp sugar. Sugar helps to preserve the bright colors of veggies and helps to balance the flavors.
- Immediately add cooled rice, ¼ teaspoon salt and black pepper. Fry the vegetable fried rice for 2 mins.
- Garnish veg fried rice with fresh green onions. Tastes good on its own but you can also pair it with veg manchurian or chilli paneer.
- Rice – use any non-sticky aged rice like long grain or medium grain. Ex: basmati or jasmine are best for this recipe.
- Oil – Use oils that have a high smoke point like peanut oil, avocado oil, safflower oil or sunflower oil.
- Soya sauce – Choose organic or at least naturally brewed soy sauce. For gluten free option use the same amount of Tamari.
- Vegetables – you can also use veggies of your choice like mushrooms, peas, cabbage & broccoli. To use zucchini, chop to 1-by-1 inch pieces.
- Vinegar is optional. Do not use white vinegar as it tastes too acidic. If you do not have rice vinegar just skip it or substitute it with apple vinegar & ½ teaspoon sugar.
- Cook rice al dente and not too soft or mushy. Drain and cool it immediately and smear 1 tablespoon oil all over the rice. Fluff it up with a fork.
- Use a carbon steel or a cast iron wok. Stir fry everything on highest possible heat for a smoky aroma.
- Do not add hot rice to the wok for stir frying. Cool the rice completely.
- To use tofu – Drain the excess water from extra firm tofu and wrap it in few kitchen tissues. Place a heavy weight such as a cast iron skillet for 10 mins. Remove and pat the tofu dry with kitchen tissues. Cube and fry them in the pan first with 1 tablespoon oil. Add them back to the pan before pouring the sauce.
- Paneer – Add up to ¾ cup cubed paneer to the pan after frying the vegetables. Stir fry for just 1 minute and then pour the sauce.
- Make egg fried rice – slide the stir fried veggies to a side in the wok and pour 2 beaten eggs. Scramble them and cook just until set & soft cooked. Add soya sauce, vinegar and then rice.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
Video of fried rice recipe
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Fried rice recipe first published in January 2013, updated & republished in December 2020.