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
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (*Footnote 1)
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper (or black pepper)
- 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.
Questions and Reviews
This was delicious. I modified the veges, but loved it so much. Thanks for posting.
I’m so glad to hear you tried the recipe and liked it! Thanks for leaving a comment. Have a great day 🙂
It was so yummy! Kids and family devoured it! Thank you!
I’m so happy to hear the recipe worked for you, Erika! THanks so much for taking time to leave a review. Hope you have a great week ahead 🙂
Looks great but I have a question…..can you put soy sauce or one of the sauces ?THANK YOU for responding to my inquiry?♀️
Your recipes just Rock!!!
Love this. My husband said it’s better than from the restaurants, and I choose to believe that.
This comes in handy especially during this time when we crave some Chinese food but not up for eating out yet.
By the way, I tried your mian bao recipe with different filling, and milk bun recipe. They were both epic. My kids and husband loved them. I am going to try your char siu pork tomorrow. Thanks for all the great posts.
This rice was very good. i used fresh veggies and I had precooked chicken. Will make again
This is the second recipe I tried today from your website (first one is the basil pork belly) and I’m still sooo confused as to how you are able to get that dark brown colour. I’ve tried adding even more soy sauce into the pork belly and my rice but the colour is nowhere as close to yours. Any more soy sauce and both dishes will become too salty. Is it a filter you are using on your picture or a special brand of soy sauce? There is no way that the amount of sauce you require in your recipe could produce rice that brown.
Hi Jessica, you will need to use dark soy sauce if you want the dark color. Regular soy sauce won’t add that color no matter how much you use.
The dark soy sauce is much thicker and taste less salty. You can usually find it in Asian grocery store or you can get it online: https://amzn.to/2rZZeea
Omgosh! Jessica said she tried your “Basil Pork Belly” recipe which sent me searching your site for what sounds like a magical recipe! Basil? LOVE! Pork BELLY?!? 🤤🤤🤤
Sadly I did not find this unicorn of pork recipes! Please tell me it exists!
TIA…. Back to rice of the fried variety making! 😁
Jessica, my research has led me to believe that black strap molasses is a good substitute for dark soy sauce. I live in Japan where I have plenty of choices for ah, “standard” soy sauce and regional soy sauces, and soy sauces made with particular ingredients. But when it comes to adding dark or thick soy, molasses is the way to go. It’s generally available in the stores or online, depending on where you live, and adds flavor without the salt. Good luck with cooking from Maggie’s recipes. She’s my “go-to” source for Asian cooking.
I just love this recipe!
I am so thankful for this post!
Just keep going . I wish u the best !
Because of this awesome website I can enjoy this culinary awesome foods
Making this tonight!
Do you have a duck sauce recipe? I really like the type served at restaurants, not the jar from the grocery store.
Really good! I’m trying to find a recipe close to my favorite Chinese restaurant, this is almost it! Next time I would add a teaspoon of soy sauce to the chicken marinade. My boyfriend said it was his favorite chicken fried rice he’s ever had.
Good evening Maggie, I must first say I felt your fathers cooking n mother’s clean up after he cooks. Yes I have grease everywhere’s outside my pan ( platter was awful) and smoke was noticeable as well. 2) my second thought is- my rice is two day cooked from frig but still moist. My texture was the consistency of oatmeal. I was not able to brown my rice however; thank goodness for adding (1) teaspoon of dark soy sauce to generate the brown look to my rice. With all the rest of my ingredients being fresh- The dish was still fabulous and set well in my tummy.
Happy New Years to you and your Husband. And thank you for sharing your family recipes and tips with us all.
P.S. I have taken a picture but don’t have the knowledge to post it here.
Just made this recipe. It was awesome! I’ve tried several chicken fried recipes and this is the first time it came out and great and tasted like restaurant-quality. Thank you so much, especially for the excellent instructions/technique!
Wow, love this recipe. I usually make my fried rice by beating 1 egg to the cooked rice before frying. This gives the rice a different flavour and avoid rice sticking to one another.
My housemates loved it! I did the prep work before (cutting the green onions, making the marinade and the sauce, cutting the chicken, etc.) Let’s start with my mistakes. I decided to make this sort of last minute so I didn’t have older rice. I found an article that mentioned making fresh rice, cooling it in the fridge and placing it in the freezer for a few hours. I was in a rush so I just placed it in the freezer for 30-45 min. Some of the rice was a bit frozen and some was still pretty sticky but I had to work with what I had! I ended up accidentally adding the chicken to the sauce and cooked it that way (then made a second batch of the sauce for the rice). The rice was a bit sticker but the chicken was flavorful. Now for adjustments! I used ~1lb of chicken, I just know it was 1.33 lb total and I used 75-80% of the chicken (either 3 or 4 thighs with 1 left). I felt that was much better, I didn’t think 0.5 lb of chicken was enough. I also used an entire bag of veggies (about 2.5-3 cups). I also didn’t think 1 cup of veggies was enough. Lastly I used 4 eggs which was great. Overall the recipe was great, this was my first time making fried rice and my housemate that requested it said it was great and my other housemate that doesn’t usually like fried rice really liked it too! It fed 5 of us with very little left over. I paired it with bok choy stir fry and some salad! I ended up giving the recipe 4 stars because I’m not sure that I would have enjoyed it as much had it not been for the modifications.
I tried the fried rice on my grandkids in Kentucky where there is no Trader Joe’s. They loved it, as did I. Next, hot and sour soup…it looks delicious.
I am so glad to have found Maggie Zhu’s blog. I have pledged my allegiance to her over all other Chinese cooking blogs. In regard to her Chicken Fried Rice recipe, it’s the best I’ve ever eaten at home and the only one that delivers on authentic flavor and “mouth-feel” (for lack of a better word). I’ve learned so much about what makes Chinese food taste good. For example, I don’t think I will ever cook without Shaoxing Wine again. It really adds that authentic flavor to home-cooked Chinese foods. For this fried rice, I used cooked chicken but marinated it as called for in the recipe. My frozen veggies were a European mix from Picard, but it only added to the flavor. I added chopped garlic, onion, carrots and a fresh togarashi pepper — the only fresh pepper I can get in Japan.
Thank you Maggie, for teaching all of us how to cook Chinese foods the Chinese way. I can’t wait to make my own chili oil as well.
I really like this recipe. I just did it. I am a big fan of chicken fried rice and that’s my primary dish at Chinese restaurants. There is still something I a missing from the rice I normally get. Not sure if it’s the oil or what the Difference is. Maybe peanut oil or oil temperature
Fail proof recipe that I come back to over and over again. Thank you so much for sharing! Can’t wait to finally try some of your other recipes.
I loved this recipe! I followed it to the letter and it was perfect. Thank you very much and this recipe will be on repeat!
This is the third time I have made this. I live in rural PNW so my options for take out of chicken fried rice are limited; man do I miss the cuisine of the big city. Followed this recipe to a T the first time, and have made some additional sauce changes such as substituting the oyster sauce and sugar with hoisin sauce (similar taste profile for the sweetness as I had no oyster sauce), and each time have not been disappointed. Partner tops with a small swirly squeeze of sriracha on top for a little spice. Highly recommend. Thank you so much for presenting a great substitute for once-upon-a-time take out memories:)