fried rice

Fried Rice, A Leftover Recipe

For many Americans, it may be shocking to discover that the fried rice we spend good money on is, historically, a way to utilize leftover rice.   The real irony is that the “house special fried rice”, the most expensive version of fried rice,  on so many restaurants menus is actually similar to what I make for my family when I clean out the refrigerator.  My husband calls this “kitchen floor fried rice” because we put all the little odds and ends that are laying around into it.  He claims that I  sweep all the scraps up off the floor and toss them into the wok.  This reference to the floor has, on occasion, dissuaded my children’s friends from partaking of this simple and delicious dish, and that’s just fine.  It leaves more for us.

Fried Rice must be made from leftover rice, not fresh rice.  Leftover rice that has been stored in the refrigerator for a day or two is dryer.  If you use fresh rice, you run the risk of your fried rice turning out mushy or gooey or both.  Because this dish is such a great way to utilize leftovers, I always make sure I cook too much rice when I am making rice as a side dish for another meal, so I will have leftover rice to use in a few days to make fried rice.     When I mention leftover rice, I am not talking about rice-a-roni.  I am referring to plain white or brown rice that has been cooked with minimal seasonings.

As I write this, there is a quart container packed full of white rice in my refrigerator, as well as some bits and pieces of steak, chicken, and a few leftover veggies.   When selecting ingredients from my fridge,   I try to avoid strong flavored vegetables like broccoli or brightly colored vegetables like beets.    Broccoli might over power the flavor of the fried rice, and the beets with make everything turn magenta which, in my opinion, wouldn’t look very appealing.   Over the years, I have used corn, peas, carrots, green beans, and even lima beans and black eyed peas in my fried rice.   If there are not suitable vegetables leftover in the refrigerator, you can always thaw about 1/2 cup of frozen mixed vegetables or peas and carrots in some hot water to add to the recipe at the appropriate time.  Just drain them well before adding them to the fried rice.IMG_1675This recipe is very versatile.  If you don’t have ginger or powdered ginger, no problem.  Leave it out.   Don’t have meat, or don’t eat meat, no problem.  You can have your fried rice with eggs only, or you can stir in cashews or pistachios.  Personally, I love cashew fried rice.  Earlier this week, I made fried rice for a friend who is allergic to eggs, so I just left them out.  The recipe even works without the addition of sesame oil.

Here’s what you will need to prepare this recipe:

From the Pantry: 

  • Vegetable oil
  • Sesame oil

From the Refrigerator:

  • Leftover rice, vegetables, and meat
  • Soy Sauce
  • Eggs
  • Green onions
  • Ginger Root

Give it a try and leave a comment to  let us know how you like it by leaving a comment below.

Thank you for visiting Patty Cake’s Pantry.

Fried Rice, A Leftover Recipe
Recipe type: Asian Entree or Side Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
*This recipe is very versatile. If you don’t have ginger or powdered ginger, no problem. Leave it out. Don’t have meat, or don’t eat meat, no problem. You can have your fried rice with eggs only, or you can stir in cashews or pistachios. Personally, I love cashew fried rice. Earlier this week, I made fried rice for a friend who is allergic to eggs, so I just left them out. The recipe even works without the addition of sesame oil. Total Cost or recipe is $3.19 or about $0.64 per serving.
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of oil ($0.28)
  • ¼ to ½ cup chopped onion ($0.19)
  • 1 clove garlic minced ($0.07)
  • Small piece of ginger, minced (If you don’t have fresh ginger, mix ½ teaspoon dried, powdered ginger into the soy sauce until the ginger is dissolved and there are no clumps. Add this at the time you add the soy sauce) ($0.16)
  • 4 cups leftover cooked rice ($0.50)
  • 2 - 4 tablespoons soy sauce (You may find that you want more. You can always add more soy sauce when you serve it, but it’s really hard to fix it if you add too much and make the whole dish too salty.). ($0.14)
  • 1 – 2 dashes of sesame oil (optional) ($0.24)
  • ¼ to ½ cup leftover meat, cut into small pieces. (If you have no leftover meat, you can use cashews, or other nuts, or simply omit meat entirely.) ($1.00)
  • ½ to 1 cup leftover vegetables. (Try to avoid vegetables like broccoli or beets. If you don’t have leftover vegetables, you can use frozen, but they should be thawed before being added to the fried rice) ($0.20)
  • 2 eggs ($0.24)
  • 4 green onions, sliced in ¼ inch slices ($0.17))
  1. Heat oil in wok or deep skillet on high heat.
  2. Add chopped onion, garlic, and fresh ginger (if using).
  3. Stir and cook until onions are translucent. Stirring constantly to prevent garlic from burning. Burnt garlic is bitter. Bitter = Bad.
  4. After onions are ready, add the rice to the skillet and stir, constantly, breaking up clumps and ensuring that all of the rice has an opportunity to spend some time on the bottom of the pan.
  5. When all of the kernels appear to be separated, and they are beginning to “fry,” add soy sauce and sesame oil and mix rapidly to incorporate them into the rice.
  6. Add the pieces of meat, if using them, and vegetables and continue to stir and toss in wok until they are heated through.
  7. When everything is ready, push the rice to the side of the pan.
  8. Break the egg(s) into a bowl and scramble well.
  9. Pour a small amount of oil onto the exposed surface of your wok or skillet.
  10. Pour the eggs onto the oil and mix until they are cooked.
  11. Once eggs are finished, break them into small pieces with your spatula and mix them into the rice. Mix in sliced green onions and remove from heat.

This post was updated March 2018 to add pricing and Nutrition Label.

Fried Rice--the perfect way to use leftovers

Nutrition Information is for 1/6th of the recipe as prepared above using 1 cup chopped chicken thighs.

Nutrition Facts
Amount Per Serving
Calories 573
% Daily Value
Total Fat 9.4g
Saturated Fat 2.3g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 73mg
Sodium 651mg
Total Carbohydrates 103.7g
Dietary Fiber 2.9g
Sugars 1.6g
Protein 16.1g
Vitamin D 26%
Potassium  7%
Calcium 5%
Iron 35%

Disclaimer:  Nutritional information is calculated using online tools such as those available at or  We make every attempt to ensure that this information is calculated correctly, but this information should be considered estimates.   Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe.  In addition, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition-fact sources, databases and the algorithms used.   You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.  Under no circumstances will be responsible for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. 

12 thoughts on “Fried Rice, A Leftover Recipe

  1. Cashew Fried Rice – I’m going to try it. I love cashews. I have a brown rice recipe that I’m about to adapt. Maybe I’ll try the cashews with it, too. Sounds great!

  2. In the philippine household where I grew up, we made fried rice once a week. Our fried rice didn’t have all the bells and whistles of other asian recipes. We usually just focus on the garlic, rice and soy sauce.

    The garlic is sliced or minced (but not finely minced). But you do have to cook it first and until it turns golden. Then add the rice. Then add soy sauce. (just a note on the soy sauce, try to use a soy sauce that is not a result of wheat fermentation – like Kikkoman.

    We cook our rice to an almost crisp. I say almost because it is a wonderful combination of crisp in some places and still soft and moist in others.

  3. That sounds so good. I have friends from the Philippines who make simple fried rice like that but always with egg. On the opposite end of the spectrum are my indian friends who start with garlic, onion, toasted cumin seed and black mustard seed, in the beginning and keep adding more flavors as they go.. Their fried rice has many more diverse flavors. It’s interesting how different countries make similar dishes but with very diverse flavors. This talk about food is making me hungry now. I must go make fried rice….which recipe should I use?

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