Thai Basil Fried Rice

Thai basil fried rice is a delicious way to use this fragrant herb! Thai basil infuses a delicate anise flavor…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

Thai basil fried rice is a delicious way to use this fragrant herb! Thai basil infuses a delicate anise flavor into this satisfying dish.

Thai basil fried rice

Got Thai basil? Here’s a great way to use it: Thai Basil Fried Rice! We have an abundant Thai basil plant in our garden, along with our Italian sweet basil. It’s got purple stems and a delicate black licorice flavor that’s absolutely irresistible. Add it to fried rice, and it infuses an irresistible aroma that makes it impossible not to take another bite. It’s a great way to use this herb if you have it on hand! We could not stop sneaking bites of this one.

What is Thai basil?

Thai basil is a type of basil with an anise or black licorice flavor that’s native to Southeast Asia. It has a purple stem, purple flowers, and thin, dark green leaves. It’s used in Southeast Asian cuisine, including Thai, Cambodian, Lao, and Vietnamese recipes.

How to use Thai basil in recipes? Try it in this Thai Basil Noodle Bowl, a spin on a spring roll in bowl form, in Fresh Spring Rolls, or to garnish Coconut Shrimp Curry. But one of our favorite ways? In this Thai basil fried rice.

Thai Basil

Ingredients in Thai basil fried rice

Thai basil fried rice is a delicious way to use fresh Thai basil. The dish itself is a popular mix of cooked rice, egg and vegetables that you’ll find in many Asian cuisines: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Cambodian, Indonesian, and more. This recipe is a spin on our basic fried rice that adds fresh Thai basil (it’s not a traditional Thai-style fried rice). Here fish sauce adds big savory flavor and pairs well with the Thai basil. You can omit it if you prefer to keep it vegetarian, but it adds a distinct savory flavor. Here’s what you need for this fried rice:

  • Veggies: onion, garlic, ginger, carrots, peas
  • Sesame oil
  • Eggs
  • Jasmine rice
  • Soy sauce
  • Fish sauce
  • Thai basil
Thai basil fried rice

Start with day old rice

The most basic adage when you’re making fried rice? Use day old rice. What’s the purpose of this:

  • Freshly cooked rice has a lot of moisture. Try using fresh rice in fried rice, it clumps together and turns out soggy.
  • Day old rice is dried out. The grains stay separate and form that signature fried rice texture. Use leftover rice stored up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
  • What if you don’t have day old rice? Well, we usually forget to cook it in advance. Here’s a trick…

Shortcut: freeze the rice 10 minutes!

Often when we’re craving fried rice, we don’t have leftover rice on hand. Here’s a little shortcut if you want to make up a fresh pot for this Thai basil fried rice:

  • Make the rice. Here’s How to Make Jasmine Rice (or make it in an Instant Pot).
  • Spread on a tray and freeze 10 minutes: Spread the freshly cooked, steaming rice onto a rimmed sheet pan or tray. Place the tray in the freezer and freeze for about 10 minutes until the grains become cool to the touch. Some might even become frozen: that’s ok! They’ll heat right back up once they hit the pan.

Vegan variation

Want to make Thai basil fried rice but want it to be plant based? You can substitute a tofu scramble for the egg! Simply make this Easy Tofu Scramble before you make the rice, making the pieces of tofu very small. Then make the rice without the egg, and add the tofu crumbles in the very last step.

Thai basil fried rice

Make it a meal: how to serve Thai basil fried rice

Once you’ve made up this batch of Thai basil fried rice, how to make it into a meal? Here are a couple ways to round it out:

This Thai basil fried rice recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

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Thai basil fried rice

Thai Basil Fried Rice


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 1/2 yellow or white onion
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger (about 1 inch nub)
  • 2 large carrots
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 4 cups cooked jasmine rice, at least 1 day old or cooled using the shortcut below*
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • ⅓ cup Thai basil leaves
  • Optional: 1 pound medium small shrimp (size 51 to 60), shelled and deveined, frozen or fresh**

Instructions

  1. Mince the onion. Mince the garlic. Mince the ginger. Peel the carrots, then dice them.
  2. In a large skillet or wok, heat 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil medium high. Sauté the carrots and onion for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the rice, peas and salt for 1 minute.
  3. Push the rice to the side. Add 1 tablespoon more oil. Add the eggs and pinch of salt, and scramble them in for 1 to 2 minutes until cooked through.
  4. Add the soy sauce and fish sauce, if using. Taste and add additional soy sauce if necessary. Heat for a minute or two, stirring, until all rice is coated. Add the Thai basil and turn off the heat, stirring until it wilts. Serve hot.

Notes

*Trick: If you don’t have day old rice, here’s a shortcut. Make the rice. Then spread it onto a rimmed sheet pan and put it into the freezer. Freeze for about 10 minutes until the grains become cool to the touch. Some might even become frozen: that’s ok! They’ll heat right back up once they hit the pan.

**If serving with shrimp, sauté the shrimp before making the rice: Pat the shrimp dry. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil on medium high heat. Add the shrimp and cook about 1 minute per side until just opaque cooked through, turning them with tongs. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Remove to a bowl and set aside while you cook the rice, then add them to the rice when it’s done.

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Asian inspired

Keywords: Thai basil fried rice

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

Fried Rice (Takeout Style!)

Here’s how to make the very best fried rice: takeout style! Egg, veggies, garlic and ginger bring aromatic flavor to this homemade comfort food. What’s your favorite comfort food? Mac and cheese and pizza can do the trick, but here’s our ultimate: Fried Rice! There’s something about the chewy clumps of eggs and the savory ginger and soy-infused bites that feels positively life giving. Usually we make fried rice on the fly without a recipe. But after years of tinkering, we wanted to share our master method. Here’s how to make the very best fried rice: it tastes just like takeout from your favorite restaurant! Start with day old rice, if possible! The most basic adage for this classic recipe is: use day old rice. Why use day old rice for fried rice?  Freshly cooked rice has a lot of moisture. If you use fresh rice, it clumps together and turns out soggy. Day old rice dries out. When you cook it, the grains stay separate and form that signature texture. For the best fried rice, make it using leftovers (stored up to 5 days in the refrigerator) or boil a pot the night before. What if you don’t have day […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Here’s how to make the very best fried rice: takeout style! Egg, veggies, garlic and ginger bring aromatic flavor to this homemade comfort food.

Best Fried Rice

What’s your favorite comfort food? Mac and cheese and pizza can do the trick, but here’s our ultimate: Fried Rice! There’s something about the chewy clumps of eggs and the savory ginger and soy-infused bites that feels positively life giving. Usually we make fried rice on the fly without a recipe. But after years of tinkering, we wanted to share our master method. Here’s how to make the very best fried rice: it tastes just like takeout from your favorite restaurant!

Start with day old rice, if possible!

The most basic adage for this classic recipe is: use day old rice. Why use day old rice for fried rice? 

  • Freshly cooked rice has a lot of moisture. If you use fresh rice, it clumps together and turns out soggy.
  • Day old rice dries out. When you cook it, the grains stay separate and form that signature texture. For the best fried rice, make it using leftovers (stored up to 5 days in the refrigerator) or boil a pot the night before.
  • What if you don’t have day old rice? Keep reading for a shortcut…
How to make fried rice

No day old rice for fried rice? Here’s a trick!

Sometimes we don’t think ahead enough to have rice made up the night before. While that’s the primary path to fried rice, we’ve got a little shortcut. If you want to make fried rice the same day, here’s our shortcut.

  • Make the rice. Once it’s finished steaming, proceed to the next step.
  • Spread on a tray and freeze 15 minutes: Spread the freshly cooked rice onto a rimmed sheet pan or tray: you’ll notice lots of steam since it’s still hot. Place the tray in the freezer and freeze for about 15 to 20 minutes until the grains become cool to the touch. Some might even become frozen: that’s ok! They’ll heat right back up once they hit the pan.
Egg fried rice

Ingredients for the best fried rice

The very best fried rice, the kind that tastes like takeout, has very specific ingredients to get that signature flavor. Here are the ingredients for fried rice:

  • Rice: Medium or long grain rice is best, because short grain rice can become clumpy. Basmati rice is a nice option. You can use either white rice or brown rice.
  • Sesame oil: For cooking; use the standard variety, not toasted sesame oil.
  • Onion and garlic: These aromatic veggies form the base.
  • Fresh ginger: Very important for the very best flavor. Find fresh ginger root in the produce section in your grocery.
  • Carrots, peas, and green cabbage (optional): Carrots and peas are classic. Green cabbage is optional, but it adds a nice contrasting texture.
  • Eggs: Eggs are a must and add protein to make the recipe filling.
  • Soy sauce: Essential for the final flavoring.
  • Fish sauce (optional): It really amps the flavors to the next level, if you have it on hand. But it’s not necessary!

Fried rice variations

With a recipe as time-honored as this, there’s bound to be endless variations on the theme. Here are some of our favorite ways to change up fried rice, in order of preference:

  • Shrimp Fried Rice: Add sauteed shrimp to make an incredibly flavorful and filling main dish. Our family favorite!
  • Other Protein: Cook up some chicken, beef or pork to add to the mix.
  • Quinoa Fried Rice: Use quinoa instead of rice for a unique spin.
  • Three Onion Fried Rice: Use onions, shallots, and green onions to enhance the savory flavor.
  • Cauliflower Fried Rice: Go grain free! Use cauliflower rice in place of the standard whole grain.
Shrimp fried rice
Adding shrimp makes it a filling healthy dinner recipe

Make it a meal! What to serve with fried rice

Confession: in the past we’ve floundered when it comes to what to serve with egg fried rice. But take note: you’ve got to add some side dishes to make it a healthy meal. (Or make the shrimp version and it’s a full meal!) Here are some of our favorite sides to go with fried rice:

Homemade fried rice

Vegan fried rice variation!

Love eating plant based? The egg is integral to the texture: but we’ve got a substitute for you that makes vegan fried rice:

  • Make a tofu scramble! Go to Easy Tofu Scramble. Make sure to get the pieces fairly small so they’ll integrate into the texture like an egg would.
  • Make the fried rice without the egg, then stir in the tofu at the end.

This fried rice recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free. For vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free, see the notes in the recipe.

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Best Fried Rice

*Best* Fried Rice (Takeout Style!)


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Here’s how to make the very best fried rice: takeout style! Egg, veggies, garlic and ginger bring aromatic flavor to this homemade comfort food.


Ingredients

  • 1/2 yellow or white onion
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger (about 1 inch nub)
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 cups chopped green cabbage (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
  • 4 eggs*
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 4 cups cooked rice, at least 1 day old (use How to Cook Rice or Instant Pot Rice), or use shortcut**
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons soy sauce (or liquid aminos)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
  • Green onion, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mince the onion. Mince the garlic. Mince the ginger. Peel the carrots, then dice them. If using, chop the cabbage.
  2. In a large skillet or wok, heat 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil medium high. Saute the carrots and onion for 2 minutes. Add the cabbage, garlic and ginger and saute for 2 minutes. Stir in the rice, peas and salt for 1 minute.
  3. Push the rice to the side. Add 1 tablespoon more oil. Add the eggs and pinch of salt, and scramble them in for 1 to 2 minutes until cooked through.
  4. Add the soy sauce and fish sauce, if using. Taste and add additional soy sauce if necessary. Heat for a minute or two, stirring, until all rice is coated. Serve hot.

Notes

*For a vegan variation, make a Tofu Scramble first, keeping the pieces fairly small. Make the rice without the egg, then stir in the scrambled tofu in the last step. 

**Trick: If you don’t have day old rice, here’s a shortcut. Make the rice.  Then spread it onto a rimmed sheet pan and put it into the freezer. Freeze for about 15 to 20 minutes until the grains become cool to the touch. Some might even become frozen: that’s ok! They’ll heat right back up once they hit the pan.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stir Fried
  • Cuisine: Asian

Keywords: Fried Rice, Egg Fried Rice, How to Make Fried Rice

More rice recipes

There are so many tasty ways to eat rice! Here are some of our favorites:

  • Spanish Rice and Beans A pantry-staple sort of meal that works as a healthy vegan and vegetarian dinner or a hearty side.
  • Black Beans and Rice Long-grain rice is jumbled with black beans and green bell pepper, and seasoned with cumin, lime and cilantro.
  • Asparagus Risotto This flavor-packed risotto pairs creamy arborio rice with Parmesan and lemony roasted asparagus.
  • Easy Shrimp Paella A traditional Spanish dish that looks simply stunning.

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes