For a super-fast and super-delicious dinner, my chicken fried rice is there for you, full-flavored and faster than any delivery!
Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with those pantry staples right now. You might go back and forth between your pantry and your freezer trying to figure out something different to make. Often, we tend to make the same things over and over. All that does is make us more wistful for something we can’t have.
I have to admit that one of my guilty pleasures is the frozen chicken fried rice from Trader Joe’s. With social distancing complicating our grocery runs though, I created this copycat version for you to make the dish in your own kitchen. I’ll show you how to get the rice to that crispy fried texture and how to get your chicken nice and juicy, with a savory, lightly sweet sauce.
Are you craving chicken fried rice right now? You might think you can’t have it while you’re staying safe at home.
But the truth is that you CAN have chicken fried rice if you have chicken, rice, eggs, and frozen veggies in your kitchen. With my simple steps below, you’ll be able to make it just like your favorite takeout place does, only better.
Why day-old rice
When it comes to fried rice, the older the rice, the better the result. By “day-old” rice, it means leftover rice that has been refrigerated or even frozen (and thawed) for at least a day or longer. When the rice stays in the fridge for days, the grains lose moisture and become drier. So they will separate easily and create a crispier result for fried rice.
Marinate the chicken
Spending 5 minutes to marinate the chicken goes a long way. It gives the chicken an extra rich flavor and keeps the meat tender. It takes no time to put the marinade together, and you can let the chicken marinate while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
What pan to use
You don’t need a wok to make amazing restaurant-quality chicken fried rice, either. I’ve dived into how to set up a stir-fry station in the past. Long story short, it’s totally possible (sometimes even better) to use a large skillet to make your chicken fried rice. The key is to keep your pan hot all the time and toast the rice long enough to crisp up. You can use a nonstick pan or cast iron or carbon steel pan. If you use a cast iron or carbon steel pan, you might need to use more oil to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan.
- Spread the chicken in the pan in a single layer
- Pan fry until golden brown
- Saute the green onion with a generous amount of oil
- Add the rice and toast it thoroughly
- Pour in the sauce and mix well
- Move the rice to one side of the pan so you can cook the veggies faster
- Mix everything together and move it to one side of the pan, so you can use the other side to scramble the eggs
- Stir together everything and serve!
How to serve
With my tips, you’ll turn some simple ingredients into a memorable and satisfying dish. Make this chicken fried rice your main dish or serve it as a side along with one of my other tasty Chinese recipes. It can make your time in self-isolation go by faster and it will certainly make things more delicious!
Make takeout-at-home with these recipes:
- Egg Drop Soup
- Sweet and Sour Pork
- Black Pepper Steak
- 4-Ingredient Baby Bok Choy Stir Fry
- Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce
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Chicken Fried Rice (鸡肉炒饭)
- 8 oz (225 g) chicken thighs , cut into 1/2” (1 cm) pieces (or chicken breast)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons Shaoxing Wine (or dry sherry)
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil (*Footnote 2)
- 4 green onions , chopped (or 1/2 small onion, diced)
- 4 cups day-old cold rice (*Footnote 3)
- 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
- 3 eggs , beaten
- Combine the chicken with the marinade in a small bowl. Mix until the chicken is evenly coated. Let marinate while preparing the other ingredients.
- Add the sauce ingredients and mix well.
- Use your fingers or a fork to separate any clumped grains of rice before cooking.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over high heat in a large skillet until hot. Spread the marinated chicken into a single layer in the pan. Cook without moving until the bottom turns golden, 2 minutes or so. Flip to cook the other side until golden, another 2 minutes. Stir a few times, then transfer the chicken to a plate.
- Add 2 tablespoons of oil and the green onions. Cook and stir to release the fragrance, 30 seconds or so. (*Footnote 4)
- Add the rice and turn to medium-high heat. Stir to separate the grains and coat the grains evenly with the oil. Let the rice toast, stirring occasionally, until the rice appears dried and crispy, 5 minutes or so. Turn to medium heat if the pan gets too hot.
- Pour in the sauce. Stir and cook until the rice is evenly coated.
- Move the rice to one side of the pan. Add 1/2 tablespoon of oil to the other side and then the frozen vegetables. Cook until the vegetables are fully thawed and the excess moisture is cooked off, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir everything together and move everything to one side of the pan again.
- Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil to the empty side of the pan and pour in the beaten eggs. Cook until the bottom is set. Stir a few times to scramble it, then stir it together with the rice.
- Add the cooked chicken back into the pan. Stir everything together.
- Serve hot as a main or side dish.
- You can add 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce to add color to the rice.
- If your chicken has excess fat you can trim it off and render the fat over very low heat. You can use this rendered fat to replace some, to all, of the cooking oil in this recipe (depending on how much you get) for some added chicken flavor and richness.
- Rice that has been stored in the fridge or in the freezer worked the best. It will be less sticky and the grains separate more easily, which creates better fried rice.
- If you use onion instead of green onion, cook until the onion soften and the edge is lightly charred, 3 to 4 minutes.
If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.
More delicious fried rice recipes
- Soy Sauce Fried Rice
- Leftover Ham Fried Rice with Pineapple
- Shrimp Fried Rice
- 15-Minute Pork Fried Rice
- Easy Beef Fried Rice
- 3-Ingredient Egg Fried Rice
Lilja Walter is a part of the Omnivore’s Cookbook team and worked closely with Maggie to develop and test this recipe.