Chicken Fried Rice {Fast + Healthy Recipe}

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by Sil Pancho

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10.19.2021


Send me into your kitchen to make dinner with what you have on hand, and 9 times out of 10, I’ll emerge with some version of Chicken Fried Rice.

Easy chicken fried rice in a bowl

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A never-lets-me-down meal you can whip up with whatever in your produce drawer is threatening to expire first, chicken fried rice is one of my life’s great comfort foods.

My fried rice affair began in high school, when I spent my hard-earned minimum wage dollars on Chinese chicken fried rice at the take-out section of our local grocery store on weekdays and shrimp fried rice at the “fancy” sit-down Chinese restaurant on weekends.

Homemade Fried Rice helped me survive my 20s, because it was nutritious, cheap, and absolutely scrumptious.

Today, chicken fried rice is still one of the dinners I cook most.

Vegetable and chicken fried rice in a skillet

5 Star Review

“Excellent tasting and healthy recipe!! We loved every bit of it.”

— Susan —

Why Make Chicken Fried Rice

Even if you don’t have a long-running, hot-and-heavy relationship with fried rice like I do, this recipe has something to offer you.

  • It’s Healthy. Fried rice is not bad for you, especially if you load up on the vegetables, use brown rice instead of white, and limit the amount of added sugar and oil, which is exactly what this recipe does.
  • It’s Versatile. I make chicken fried rice at home with a bag of frozen peas and carrots, which we always keep on hand, then toss in whatever extra vegetables we have lurking around.
  • It’s FAST. We are in 30-minute meal territory, my friends.
  • ONE Skillet. If you haven’t noticed, I’m a big fan of One Pot Meals.
  • The Leftovers Rock. Half the reason I cook fried rice is for the leftovers. They reheat like a dream. Also, if you are one of those people who likes to eat leftover Chinese food cold out of the fridge (I see you and I salute you), fried rice hits the spot.
  • It’s EPICALLY DELICIOUS. Everyone loves fried rice. (And if someone tells you they don’t, it’s because they haven’t had chicken fried rice from scratch yet!)
A bowl of healthy chicken fried rice with brown rice and vegetables

How to Make Chicken Fried Rice at Home

This is an easy version of chicken fried rice made with ingredients I can readily find at any grocery store (versus 100% authentic fried rice, which I would love to master one day).

  • Chicken fried rice is not fried, in the sense that it is not submerged in oil.
  • Rather, it is cooked over very high heat with an oil that has a high smoke point.
  • Think of it as pan-fried rice, versus deep-fried rice.

Tip!

Stir fry recipes move quickly. Be sure to have all of your ingredients prepped, measured, and near the stove before you begin.

Chicken fried rice with vegetables

The Ingredients

  • Rice. I use brown rice for the added fiber and nutrients it offers compared to white rice. I prefer long rice for fried rice; shorter grains stick together and can more easily become mushy.

Secret to the Best Fried Rice

No matter what kind of rice you use, for the best, most authentic-tasting fried rice, YOU MUST USE COLD RICE.

In the refrigerator, the rice grains firm up. This causes them to separate more easily when you stir fry them, resulting in a noticeably superior texture. A day old is best, but even a few hours makes a difference.

  • Chicken. A lean source of protein and vitamins, chicken makes an excellent healthy and filling addition to fried rice recipes like this one.

Substitution Tip

This fried rice is an excellent base for any of your favorite proteins.

  • Egg. I love adding egg to my fried rice to pump up the protein even more.
  • Vegetables. A blend of fresh and frozen vegetables is my go-to for bulking up the nutrition of homemade chicken fried rice. For fresh veggies, I love using a red pepper, broccoli, or mushrooms. For frozen, a bag of frozen peas and carrots is quick and convenient.
  • Canola Oil. My go-to for high-temperature cooking.

The Best Oil for Fried Rice

While I usually cook with olive oil, for stir fries a neutrally flavored oil with a high smoke point is best (olive oil is neither).

  • Canola oil, vegetable oil, peanut oil, and grapeseed oil all work well.
  • I prefer canola oil as it is the most heart heathy.
  • Soy Sauce. The umami king! Soy sauce is crucial for perfect chicken fried rice.
  • Oyster Sauce. This is what gives fried rice its flavor. Oyster sauce is intensely savory, thick (in a good way), and does not taste like oysters. It’s a critical part of establishing umami.

Tip!

Most major grocery stores carry oyster sauce in the Asian/international food aisle. Picking up a bottle is also a great reason to seek out and support local Asian-owned grocery stores.

  • Red Pepper Flakes or Hot Sauce. I’ve listed this ingredient as optional, but if you are looking for spicy chicken fried rice, add red pepper flakes or your hot sauce of choice (my go-to hot sauce for recipes like this is sriracha).

The Directions

  1. Stir the oyster sauce and part of the soy sauce together.
Scrambled eggs in a skillet
  1. Scramble the eggs, then remove to a bowl.
Diced chicken in a skillet
  1. Sauté the chicken with soy sauce. Add it to the bowl with the eggs.
Sauteed vegetables in a skillet
  1. Sauté the fresh vegetables. Add the frozen vegetables and garlic.
Healthy chicken fried rice in a skillet
  1. Incorporate the cold rice and oyster sauce mixture. Add everything back to the skillet and heat through. DIG IN!

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate fried rice in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
  • To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
  • To Freeze. Freeze chicken fried rice in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Healthy homemade chicken fried rice in a skillet

Meal Prep Tip

For an even faster dinner, stir in chicken that’s been cooked in advance, instead of the sautéed chicken directed in this recipe.

What to Serve with Chicken Fried Rice

Delicious chicken fried rice

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

The Best Nonstick Skillet

A high-quality nonstick skillet makes cooking and cleanup a breeze. This larger size is ideal, and the lid helps control any splattering.

Easy chicken fried rice

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought!

Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

Is anyone else craving chicken fried rice right now?

Let’s head into your kitchen and make it!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Chicken Fried Rice Gluten Free?

It can be. If you want to make a gluten free chicken fried rice, make sure to double-check your ingredients when shopping. While most rice is naturally gluten free, cross contamination during manufacturing is possible. Additionally, Asian condiments, like soy sauce, are not gluten free (use tamari instead). You should also verify that your oyster sauce is gluten free too.

Is Chicken Fried Rice Healthy?

Not usually. Most fried rice recipes and those purchased from takeout restaurants are loaded with fat and sodium (a recipe for high blood pressure and heart disease). However, this recipe makes healthy swaps, like brown rice and using minimal cooking oil, to make healthy chicken fried rice possible.

Where is Chicken Fried Rice From?

Fried rice is a dish found throughout all parts of Asia in one form or another. However, the earliest version of this popular dish is typically credited to the Sui dynasty in China that ruled from 589 to 618 AD.

  • 1/3 cup oyster sauce*
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce divided, plus additional to taste
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil or grapeseed oil, or peanut oil, divided
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 3 cups chopped fresh vegetables of choice I use 1 red bell pepper plus a small head of broccoli or 8 ounces mushrooms
  • 1 (12-ounce) bag of frozen peas and carrots thawed
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 1/2 cups COLD cooked brown rice break up large clumps with your fingers
  • 2/3 cup chopped green onions about 4 medium
  • Red pepper flakes or Sriracha, or hot sauce of choice (optional)

  • In a small bowl, stir together the oyster sauce and 2 tablespoons soy sauce. Set aside. Keep a large bowl or plate and a large, flexible rubber spatula near the stove.

  • Heat 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 tablespoon butter and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the eggs. Cook without stirring until they barely begin to set, about 20 seconds. With your spatula, scramble and break the eggs into little, bite-sized pieces. Continue to cook, stirring constantly now, until eggs are just cooked through but not yet browned, about 1 additional minute. Transfer eggs to the bowl and set aside. With a paper towel, carefully wipe the skillet clean.

  • Return the skillet to the heat, and increase the heat to high. Let the skillet warm until it is nice and hot, about 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon of the canola oil, and swirl to coat. Add the chicken and the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is fully cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove to the bowl with the eggs.

  • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Add the fresh vegetables and cook until they are crisp-tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.

  • Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and peas and carrots. Cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds.

  • Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds (do not let the garlic burn!).

  • Add the brown rice and the oyster sauce mixture. Continue cooking, stirring constantly and breaking up any remaining rice clumps, until the mixture is heated through, about 2 minutes. Add the reserved eggs/chicken and green onions. Cook and stir until the mixture is completely heated through, about 1 minute more. Enjoy immediately with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes or dash of hot sauce and additional soy sauce as desired.

  • *Oyster sauce is readily available in the Asian or international food aisle of most major grocery stores. It has a unique flavor and texture, and if you substitute something else for it, your fried rice won’t taste the same. If you’d like to experiment with making the recipe without oyster sauce, you can simply omit it or swap in 1 tablespoon sesame oil to add flavor. 
  • TO STORE: Refrigerate fried rice in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
  • TO FREEZE: Freeze chicken fried rice in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

 

Serving: 1(of 6)Calories: 363kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 25gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 168mgPotassium: 681mgFiber: 5gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 8126IUVitamin C: 105mgCalcium: 66mgIron: 2mg

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More Easy Takeout-Inspired Recipes

Homemade takeout may be an oxymoron but, at least, it’s a delicious one! Here are some of my favorite Asian recipes:



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