This classic fried rice recipe is loaded with fresh mixed veggies and aromatic spices for an incredibly hearty, flavorful vegan dish. Hands-down this is one of our favorite Chinese-inspired recipes. Not only is vegetable fried rice amazingly easy to make from scratch, it’s a naturally vegan dish that’s as good for you as it is delicious to eat. You can even tweak veg fried rice to be gluten-free simply by using GF-friendly soy sauce or tamari.
Table of Contents
About this recipe
And although Chinese fried rice is a healthy option, it is loaded with lots of exciting flavors. Salty, umami, and savory soy sauce is balanced with spiced star anise, and raw scallions add a great pop of freshness you’ll love.
Otherwise, I’ve kept the ingredients list rather basic to allow each element to shine – the veggies really are the star here!
Fried rice with mixed veggies can be enjoyed by itself for a satisfying lunch, but it does go great with rich, saucy main dishes.
This recipe rivals even the best take out options, and I’m sure you will enjoy making it often as part of your Indo-Chinese meals.
Stir-frying at high heat in a cast-iron skillet or wok imparts a bit of smoky flavor and aroma. Though a stovetop in your home kitchen, cannot compete with the heat and temperature of the stovetops in Chinese restaurants, you can still make a great homemade fried rice.
I do not add Ajinomoto, but you can include it if you are comfortable with it. The umami, smoky flavors in my fried rice recipe come from stir-frying at high heat and adding mushrooms, toasted sesame oil to the dish.
How to make Fried Rice
Prepping and Cooking Rice
1. A great vegetable fried rice recipe begins with well-cooked white rice. To do so, first, soak 1 cup of basmati rice (190 to 200 grams) in water for 30 mins. Then drain and set rice aside.
TIP: You can opt for a good quality aged long-grained rice if you do not have Basmati rice. Jasmine rice will also work in a pinch.
2. In a large pot add 4 to 4.5 cups of water, ½ teaspoon salt, and 2 to 3 drops of toasted sesame oil (or any cooking oil), and set over high heat on the stovetop.
3. Let the water reach a full boil.
4. Add the soaked and drained basmati rice.
5. Simmer the rice uncovered on medium to medium-high heat.
6. Cook rice until al dente, or just about cooked. It’s important that you do not overcook rice during this step in order to make the best Chinese fried rice dish.
7. Quickly strain ice in a colander, and let it cool completely. Refrigerating rice for 30 minutes also helps. Simply cover cooked rice and refrigerate.
8. You can also rinse the rice with water so that the rice stops cooking. Use your hands to gently stir the cooked rice grains around while rinsing to ensure that every grain is cooled. Then drain thoroughly.
9. Cover cooked rice and set aside to cool.
10. While rice is cooling, finely chop the veggies. Because french beans tend to be tougher than the other mixed vegetables, I recommend chopping them very finely. You also have the option to blanch them first before adding, or you can begin cooking them in this recipe before the rest of the vegetables are added.
For my favorite version of fried rice recipe you’ll need ¼ cup of each of the following ingredients, finely chopped:
- spring white onions (scallions) (not in the image below)
- french beans
- capsicum (bell peppers, your choice of color – green, red or yellow)
Plus about 1 cup of chopped button mushrooms for great earthy, umami flavor. I also like to include 1 tablespoon of finely chopped celery for the most authentic Chinese-inspired dish. Include ¼ to ½ cup of chopped cabbage if you have them.
11. Now it’s time to stir-fry the vegetables. Start by heating 3 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil (or preferred cooking oil) in a wok or a deep skillet. Add 1 whole star anise and fry for a few seconds, until the oil becomes fragrant.
TIP: Use a good, trusted, heavy pan, skillet, or wok for stir-frying so that the tender fresh veggies do not get stuck or burn when frying at high heat.
12. Then add 1 teaspoon of finely chopped garlic, and ½ teaspoon finely chopped ginger. Cook for only a moment as you don’t want to brown or burn the garlic.
13. Add the chopped spring onions, and sauté for a minute or two on medium-low to medium heat.
14. Then add the finely chopped french beans – or, add these before the onions if you want a softer bean texture.
15. Continue to stir-fry both the onions and french beans for 2 to 3 minutes over medium to medium-high heat.
16. Now add the remaining finely chopped veggies, including mushrooms and celery. Increase the heat to high to thoroughly cook all of the ingredients.
17. Continuously toss and stir while frying so that the veggies are uniformly cooked and do not get burnt – for about 4 to 6 minutes. You want the vegetables to be hot and fried but still retain some great crunch.
18. Once the veggies have cooked, add 3 tablespoons of soy sauce. Stir well.
TIP: You can add less soy sauce if you prefer that. I recommend going for naturally brewed soy sauce or tamari.
19. Taste the dish, and then add ½ a teaspoon of ground black pepper and as much salt as you like. The Chinese fried rice will already be slightly salty because of the soy sauce, so not much additional salt should be needed.
20. Mix well to combine the flavors.
Making fried rice
21. You are now ready to put everything together to make the veg fried rice. To the wok or skillet of veggies add the cooked and cooled rice – 1 cup or so at a time.
22. Reduce the heat to medium or medium-high. Use a spoon or spatula to gently fold cooked rice into the mixed vegetables.
23. With the heat still on medium to medium-high, continue to gently mix and fry the vegetables with rice for a couple of minutes.
24. You now have the option to stir in 1 tablespoon of rice wine or rice vinegar (or other mild vinegar), if you like. This adds a terrific note of sourness to the veg fried rice that isn’t necessary but is quite lovely.
25. Lastly, add more fresh chopped spring onions. You can either sprinkle on top as a garnish or mix into the fried rice to incorporate.
26. Serve vegetable fried rice hot by itself for a light yet hearty meal, or enjoy it as a side dish along with your other favorite Chinese recipes.
How long can fried rice stay in fridge?
It stays good for a couple of days. But I would recommend it to be eaten as soon as you can – many days old rice is not good for health.
How to reheat fried rice?
I usually steam them in my Instant-pot for 5 minutes. Sometimes I also stir-fry them in a skillet sprinkling a few splashes of water, so that the rice grains do not dry out.
What goes with Vegetable Fried Rice?
Though fried rice tastes great on its own, listed below are some sides that pair greatly with vegetable fried rice (these are also my favorites).
Street Food Recipes
- Cooking rice: Don’t overcook the rice. When first boiling the rice you want to cook the grains so that they’re al dente. Be sure to always drain and completely cool cooked rice before adding it to the stir fry. Wet and/or hot rice will not stir-fry properly, and will wind up soggy in your veg fried rice.
- Protein: For protein, include tofu, seitan, tempeh or for a vegetarian option, add paneer
- Veggies: Use your favorite veggies. I like the carrots, beans, and mushrooms used in this chinese fried rice recipe. However, you can add your preferred choice and quantity of vegetables to your version of veg fried rice.
- Mushrooms: Swap button mushrooms for cremini or shiitake mushrooms. If you do not have mushrooms, then simply do not add them.
- Flavors and seasonings: Add a bit of tomato ketchup for a slightly sweet flavor. To make spicy veg fried rice, add some red chili sauce or green chili sauce along with the soy sauce.
- Celery: I recommend not to skip celery! Finely diced celery adds great texture and taste to this Chinese-inspired recipe. While you certainly can skip adding if you don’t have it available, I highly recommend that you do include it if you are able to.
As the stir-frying is done at a high heat, it is best to avoid extra virgin olive oil as it has a low smoke point.
Oil with a high smoking temperatures are good to make fried rice. For a lovely nutty aroma, I suggest toasted sesame oil. Fats like sunflower, avocado, peanut oil and butter are some better options.
Long grained non-sticky rice is usually used in Chinese cooking. Basmati recipe fits the bill as it is long grained and non-sticky as well. Try to use aged basmati rice for best results.
Drain your rice thoroughly. There shouldn’t be any liquids or water in them. The cooked rice has to be cooled completely. Adding warm or hot rice while stir-frying will make it soggy and pasty. The cooked rice has to be cold or at room temperature when stir-frying.
Al dente cooked rice is perfect for non-mushy fried rice. If rice grains have softened or overdone, they will break when stir-frying and become mushy.
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Fried Rice Recipe
For cooking rice
- 1 cup basmati rice or long grained rice – 190 to 200 grams
- 4 to 4.5 cups water
- ½ teaspoon salt or add as required
- 2 to 3 drops toasted sesame oil or any neutral oil
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil or any neutral oil
- 1 star anise
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic or 3 to 4 small to medium garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon finely chopped ginger or ½ inch ginger – optional
- ¼ cup chopped spring onion whites (scallions)
- ¼ cup finely chopped french beans
- ¼ cup finely chopped carrots
- ¼ to ½ cup finely chopped cabbage – optional
- ¼ cup chopped bell pepper or capsicum – red, green or yellow
- 1 cup chopped button mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped celery – skip if you do not have
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce (naturally brewed) or tamari – can add as required
- 1 teaspoon rice wine or rice vinegar
- ½ teaspoon black pepper powder or add as required
- 2 tablespoons chopped spring onions greens
- salt as required
- Rinse rice very well till the water runs clear of starch. Soak rice in water for 30 mins. Drain and keep aside.
- In a pot, bring water to a gentle boil with salt and 2 to 3 drops of toasted sesame oil.
- Add the soaked and drained rice to the hot water.
- On a low to medium to medium-high heat simmer rice without the lid.
- When rice becomes al dente or just about cooked, remove the pot from the heat. Strain the rice in a colander or sieve.
- You can also gently rinse cooked rice in water so that they stop cooking and don't stick to each other. Cover the cooked rice and set aside until the rice cools completely. You can even refrigerate rice with a covered lid for 30 minutes.
- When the cooked rice is cooling, chop the veggies finely and keep aside.
- Remember to chop the french beans very finely. They take more time to cook than other veggies. You can also blanch them first and then cook. Another option is to add the beans first and then add the other vegetables.
Making fried rice
- Heat oil in a wok or a pan. First add the star anise and fry for a few seconds or until the oil becomes fragrant.
- Add the garlic, ginger and sauté for some seconds. No need to brown the garlic.
- Add the spring onions whites and sauté for about 2 minutes.
- Then add finely chopped french beans.
- Stir fry french beans for 2 to 3 minutes over medium to medium-high heat.
- Add the remaining finely chopped veggies, including mushrooms and celery. Increase the heat to a high to thoroughly cook all of the vegetables.
- You have to continuously toss and stir while frying so that the veggies are uniformly cooked and do not get burnt.
- The vegetables have to be stir-fried, until they are almost cooked and yet retain their crunchiness and crispiness. Stir-frying vegetables on high heat takes about 4 to 6 minutes.
- Add the soy sauce, salt and pepper. Stir quickly and add cooked and cooled rice. Stir fry for a few minutes until the sauce has coated the rice well. Keep a check when adding salt, as soy sauce already has salt in it.
- Serve the fried rice hot as it is or with with your favorite Chinese side.
- Though fried rice tastes great on its own, you can pair it with Veg Manchurian, Gobi Manchurian, Chilli Paneer, Spring Rolls or Chilli Mushroom. More side recipes for veg fried rice are linked and listed in the main post.
Storing fried rice
- Vegetable fried rice stays good for a couple of a days. But I would recommend it to be eaten as soon as you can since many days old rice is not good for health.
- Rice: Aged, long-grained, non-sticky white rice is the best to make fried rice. Here I have used basmati rice.
- Veggies: You can add your favorite vegetables or mushrooms in a total quantity of 1.5 to 2 cups finely chopped mixed vegetables excluding mushrooms. You can vary the amount of each veggie as you like.
- Protein: Include tofu, seitan, tempeh, or for a vegetarian option, add paneer.
- Mushrooms: Swap button mushrooms for cremini or shiitake mushrooms. Skip if you do not have them.
- Celery: Omit adding celery, if you do not have it.
- Soy sauce: Preferably use naturally brewed soy sauce. For gluten-free fried rice, use tamari or Braggs liquid aminos.
- Oils: Peanut, sunflower, avocado oil are good options as they have a high smoking point which suits stir-frying at high heat.
- Cooking rice: Do not overcook the rice. You only want the rice to be al dente. Always drain and completely cool rice before adding it to the stir-fried vegetables. Wet or hot rice will end up being soggy.
- Flavors and seasonings: Add a bit of tomato ketchup for a slightly sweet flavor. To make spicy fried rice, add some red chili sauce or green chili sauce along with the soy sauce.
- Soggy and mushy rice: Drain your rice thoroughly. There shouldn’t be any water in them. Cooked rice has to be cooled completely before you begin stir-frying. Soft or overdone rice breaks when stir-frying and becomes mushy.
- Reheating fried rice: I usually steam them in my Instant-pot for 5 minutes. Sometimes I also stir-fry them in a skillet sprinkling a few splashes of water, so that the rice grains do not dry out.
Nutrition Info Approximate values
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This fried rice recipe from the archives (August 2013) has been republished and updated on 26 December 2020 with newer photos, my expert tips and faqs.