Among other reasons—laziness, convenience, a seemingly uncontrollable desire to take every opportunity to blow through my meager disposable income—I turn to delivery when I have a craving for a dish that I don’t have the skill and/or time to make at home. Like soup dumplings. Or sushi. And pretty much all Indian food.
If you’re too tired to go to the grocery store and just want use up whatever random odds and ends of ingredients that have been accumulating in your fridge, like a culinary MacGyver, fried rice is the perfect solution. It’s actually even recommended that you use leftover, one- or two-day-old refrigerated rice as a base over a hot, freshly made batch. This is because when the grains are chilled, they separate more easily and therefore are less likely to clump together and lose the integrity of their texture (aka become a mushy blob).
While it’s generally quick and easy to assemble, with little room for egregious, no-turning-back-from-this errors, there are a couple pro tips to keep in mind. If you are making the rice yourself ahead of time (instead of, say, using the leftover boxes of white rice from when you ordered Chinese takeout a couple days ago, *no judgment*), make sure to cook with medium to long-grained rice instead of short, glutinous rice which is tends to be much stickier. In case you couldn’t tell, sticking is your biggest opponent when it comes to this dish. Aside from choice of rice, you can also reduce the likelihood of ingredients sticking together by working in a large pan (or wok or skillet or dutch oven, the key here is for it to be large) and not overcrowding the surface with too much stuff (read: don’t work in giant batches). Oh, and make sure to pre-heat your pan and oil on high.
Below we’ve compiled some favorite fried rice recipes to assist and inspire you in your takeout hackery.
Slow-Cooker Fried Rice
We resort to takeout because it’s easy. And convenient. Because it requires little to no effort and you’re too tired to cook tonight. But what if making your favorite takeout dish at home was easy, and convenient, and the only effort it took was throwing a bunch of ingredients in your slow cooker and basically forget about it for an hour and a half? That’s this recipe for crock pot fried rice. Get our Slow Cooker Fried Rice recipe.
Kimchi and Shrimp Fried Rice
Pulled Pork Fried Rice
You won’t find any of those dinky little pieces of pork synonymous with Chinese takeout fried rice in this recipe (you know, the ones with the curious hot pink-tinted fringe?). Instead, here, leftover pulled pork is cleverly repurposed to create a true meat lover’s fried rice. Get the recipe.
Extra Vegetable Fried Rice
Loaded with good-for-you ingredients (Snow peas! Asparagus! Carrots! Broccoli! Cabbage! Spinach! Bell Pepper!), this veggie-packed fried rice won’t have you feeling guilty about going back for seconds. Get the recipe.
Breakfast Fried Rice
Fried rice gets the breakfast for dinner treatment in this recipe, which mixes in bacon and subs out the more traditional scrambled eggs for a food-porny, runny-yolked fried egg on top. Get the recipe.
Crab Fried Rice
A traditional Thai variation on fried rice, this recipe keeps things simple and focused by making the pieces of sweet-sea savory lump crab the only star ingredient. Seasonings like garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and fish sauce are applied with a delicate touch, but if you’re a fan of spice, feel free to get a little liberal with the chili oil. Get the recipe.
Ginger Fried Rice
Adapted from a recipe by famed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, this minimalist-ingredient fried rice is a clever way to spruce up leftover white rice. Lightly crisped ginger and garlic add aromatics and a delicate crunch, and the fried egg on top just seals the deal. Get the recipe.
— Head photo: Cookie and Kate.