How to Make Chicken Fried Rice at Home
Sizzling, crispy, and slightly charred, this is the quick and easy dish you need in your repertoire
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Chicken Fried Rice. Recipe by Su-Jit Lin. Photos by Olga Ivanova.
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Growing up in my parents’ takeout Chinese restaurant, chicken fried rice was one of the first things I was taught to make. I use “taught” loosely, though, since one of my biggest takeaways from that cooking lesson was there’s no one way to make chicken fried rice. There are countless methods.
There was the yellow, seasoning-infused chicken fried rice my family served at the restaurant in traditional American Chinese takeout style. In home economics at school, I learned a simpler, even more Americanized version of chicken fried rice. Meanwhile, our family recipe for homemade chicken fried rice was sweet, oyster sauce-based, and loaded with onions. As I got older I got acquainted with other Asian cultures' chicken fried rice, like Thai-style that leans heavily on fish sauce instead of soy sauce, and Korean-style with a zesty pop of kimchi.
But of all the types of chicken fried rice, my favorite might be Japanese teppanyaki (aka hibachi) -style, the kind you'd enjoy at those restaurants with the communal tables with the flat-top grill and entertainer/chef at its center. To me, the crispy, smoky, and slightly charred style is easily among the best fried rice in Asian cooking.
My copycat restaurant chicken fried rice recipe reveals the secrets of how it comes together. Intrigued? Hungry? Good.
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Ingredients for chicken fried rice >>
How to make chicken fried rice >>
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Chicken fried rice Q&A
Making the best chicken fried rice at home is simple, once you understand the fundamentals.
What is chicken fried rice?
This homey stir-fry has many interpretations, but all chicken fried rice recipes share pre-cooked rice, a typically soy-based sauce, eggs, aromatics and vegetables, and of course, diced or sliced chicken.
How to cook chicken for chicken fried rice
One of the things that makes chicken fried rice so easy and economical is that you can use almost any form of cooked chicken, including leftover roasted or grilled chicken breast or chicken thigh, and store-bought rotisserie chicken, which contributes its own rich flavor.
How to season chicken fried rice
Seasonings vary, but usually, soy sauce adds saltiness and rice wine vinegar adds a little acid. For extra complexity, I like to serve chicken fried rice with toasted sesame oil and/or chili crisp.
What to serve with chicken fried rice
This one-bowl meal stands on its own, but feel free to add a vegetable stir-fry or light soup. Alternatively, serve the fried rice as a side dish with another protein or saucy entree.
How to store chicken fried rice
Let any leftovers cool, then you can refrigerate them for up to 2 days.
Ingredients for chicken fried rice
Chicken fried rice is such a versatile and thrifty dish. Here’s where to start for hibachi-style.
Cooked rice. You can use white rice (jasmine rice or Calrose) or brown rice, and preferably long-grain rice, but for optimal results, the best "variety" is cold, leftover rice. Chilling cooked rice lets the structure tighten back up so that when you throw it in the pan to cook, it crisps up instead of steaming, getting mushy, and sticking.
Chicken. Go with any cooked leftover boneless, skinless chicken or rotisserie chicken.
Eggs. Eggs add soft texture and extra flavor.
Vegetables. Hibachi-style fried rice can be salty. Mixing in diced vegetables (here, zucchini plus frozen peas, carrots, and corn, and caramelized onion) balances the flavor with natural sweetness. You could also go with small broccoli florets or chopped cabbage to add more texture and dimension.
Butter and oil. Chicken fried rice is generally made up of lean ingredients, so it relies on fat to crisp up the rice and add richness.
Soy sauce. This vital Asian ingredient is the flavor backbone of this style of chicken fried rice. I like regular soy sauce, but you could go with low-sodium soy sauce or gluten-free tamari.
Rice vinegar. A little splash of acid brightens up chicken fried rice.
How to make chicken fried rice
Chicken fried rice is one of the easiest Asian recipes to master, clocking in at 35 minutes total time. Since it comes together quickly, spending a few minutes prep time before you start cooking is the key to success.
1. Prepare the ingredients
Cold, day-old rice is best. Cut your cooked chicken, onion, and zucchini into small pieces. Measure out frozen vegetables and put all the ingredients in bowls so they’re ready to go.
2. Gather the right tools
A wok, 12- to 14-inch frying pan, or Dutch oven – preferably with a nonstick finish – is key. You want high walls and plenty of surface area for cooking. The wider the cooking surface, the better to achieve smoky, crisp rice. A regular frying pan simply isn’t big enough for this family-sized batch, and crowding it will cause it to steam.
You’ll also need a wok chuan spatula or other wide spatula to gather, flip, and toss portions of the fried rice mixture as you cook.
3. Cook the eggs
Warm your pan over medium heat, then add a swirl of vegetable oil such as canola oil. Crack in a couple of large eggs and stir rapidly to create small, puffy curds. Transfer them to a plate.
4. Cook the vegetables
Turn up the stove to medium-high heat, then add the onion, stirring until it begins to blister. Next add the zucchini, and finally the frozen veggies, stirring rapidly.
5. Heat the chicken and rice
Now add the chicken and rice, breaking up any clumps. Here’s where that curved scoop spatula comes in handy! With it, you can gather up portions of the fried rice mixture, flipping and tossing them. Once the rice softens, press it against all available surfaces of the cookware, leaving a small well in the center of the mixture. Pour in the scrambled eggs.
6. Season and stir
Add the butter, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and white pepper (or black pepper if that’s what you have and don’t mind a little extra bite). Stir vigorously and toss well.
7. Fry and crisp the rice
Finally, increase the heat to high and press the rice mixture to the hot floor of the pot. Without stirring, let it start to crisp, 1-2 minutes. Flip in sections and repeat until portions are lightly browned and crusty. Add a little rice vinegar and toss again. Continue to stir-fry and press until the fried rice reaches the char and crispness you prefer.
Get the Chicken Fried Rice recipe
My crispy, umami-packed, teppanyaki restaurant-style chicken fried rice has a short cook time and is an easy recipe to make at home on any weeknight. It’s a delicious one-pot meal the whole family will love.
Chicken Fried Rice
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