The best way to use up leftover rice, this easy fried rice for one takes no time to make and doesn't require an egg! Customize with whatever vegetables and/or meat you have on hand so you can make this whenever you need a quick meal. Bulk it up with more mix-ins for a full meal, or use as a side dish.
One of the most challenging things about cooking for one is coming up with full meals. It's easy to make a quick pasta or throw a bunch of things in a bowl and call it dinner, but making a meal comprised of a protein, vegetable and starch? Sometimes, it just feels like....a lot.
This is where having a few go-to side dishes that are easy to make and customizable with ingredients you keep on hand comes in handy.
Enter this fried rice recipe for one (without egg…just to make it a little easier).
This is a really simple recipe, I promise. Just a few ingredients and about 10 minutes, and you’ve got a great side (or main!) dish for dinner tonight.
Making fried rice with fresh rice
You’ll hear me go on and on about the importance of using cold, leftover rice for fried rice (it truly is a great way to use up leftover rice!!), BUT technically you can still make this dish with fresh cooked rice. You’ll just need a little more time!
Make your rice (whatever kind - white, brown, jasmine, etc.) and as soon as it is done, spread it out on a baking sheet in as thin/single of a layer as you can so the rice grains will cool quickly AND not stick together. Place the baking sheet in the fridge (or freezer!) until it is completely cool. Depending on how much time you have, it’s okay if you just wait for it to come closer to room temperature rather than allowing it to get cold.
What you’ll need
Cooked sausage: I find chopping up some pre-cooked sausage makes for a really easy meat option for this fried rice.
- Substitute: Use any leftover meat you have on hand, or feel free to cook up some meat like chicken, ground beef or shrimp. Keep in mind, this will add a few extra minutes to your cooking time.
Onion OR Green onions: Since I like to garnish with the dark green part, I use the white/light green instead of regular onion here sometimes.
- Substitute: You can use regular white onion, red onion or even a shallot. Make sure to dice pretty finely so it cooks quickly.
Garlic: Obviously! Use pre-minced or frozen if easier.
Ginger: You can leave this out, but I think it adds so much great flavor to fried rice. Like the garlic, you can use the pre-minced or frozen if easier!
Frozen vegetables: I like to use a mix of frozen carrots and peas because it’s easy to just pour the mix straight from the bag.
- Substitute: Any vegetables you have around, including bell peppers, broccoli, green beans, etc. Just make sure to cut them small so they cook fast. Alternatively, this is a great way to use up leftover cooked veggies too.
Leftover rice: This works with white rice or brown rice. You can even use quinoa or cauliflower rice, if that’s what you prefer or have on hand. Just make sure you start with cold rice for best results.
Soy sauce: For the flavor and salt. If you have dark soy sauce, it’s delicious here. But regular soy sauce is just as good!
- Substitute: Coconut aminos or Tamari.
Oyster sauce: In my opinion, the oyster sauce makes this fried rice the BEST. I love the flavor it gives, and don’t think there really is a substitute for it. You should be able to find oyster sauce in your local grocery store near the soy sauce, and it’ll last forever so I highly recommend having it on hand.
Butter: I prefer butter (or ghee) to oil in my fried rice - just think the flavor is a little better!
- Substitute: Olive oil, or any other kind of oil (peanut oil, grapeseed oil, etc.), will totally work. I don’t recommend using sesame oil to cook the dish - reserve that for the end.
Sesame seeds: I love adding sesame seeds on top, mainly because I think it looks pretty! You can leave them off if you don’t have them.
Sesame oil: Just a tiny, tiny drizzle for great, sesame flavor.
To egg or not to egg?
I have absolutely nothing against eggs in fried rice, but I find that one egg is just too much for this amount of rice so I tend to leave it out. If you love egg though, you can definitely add to this dish. You have a couple of options:
After you cook your meat (if using!), pour in a beaten egg and quickly scramble. Remove as soon as it is cooked and keep with the meat while you finish making the rice. Add back in at the end.
Before adding the cold rice into the pan, stir with a beaten egg. This coats every rice grain with egg and makes the end dish super eggy and delicious. If you LOVE eggs, definitely give this a try!
Alternatively, you can fry up an egg and serve it on top of the fried rice. I do this all the time!
Here’s how you do it
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. If using meat, cook that up now and then remove from the pan. Here is chopped up half a cooked sausage link (about ¼ cup) in ½ teaspoon oil.
- Melt a little bit of butter in the skillet and add the white/light green parts of your green onions, garlic and ginger. Saute for 2-3 minutes, until softened. If the onions start to brown really quickly, reduce to medium heat.
- Add rice, vegetables, soy sauce and oyster sauce and mix to combine. Stir fry for about 5 minutes, until everything is warmed through and the rice is starting to get a little crispy. If using, add meat back in and stir to combine.
- Taste and add extra soy sauce if you think it needs it (you can add up to another teaspoon before I think it will get too salty).
- Turn off heat and drizzle with sesame oil. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.
What to serve with fried rice for one
I usually make this fried rice to serve as a side dish, alongside:
- Shrimp and basil stir fry for one (pictured above)
- Air fryer frozen chicken wings (the Fennel Pepper wings are especially delish with this!)
- Roasted maple sesame broccoli
- Slow baked salmon
- Broiled honey miso salmon
- Spicy asian cucumber salad for one
You can also bulk it up with a little extra rice and some more vegetables/meat and make this fried rice your main dish! I often do this, served with a fried egg and garlic chili oil on top. Yum!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Cook your rice like normal, and then immediately spread it out on a baking sheet to separate the rice grains as best you can. Let cool in the fridge or freezer until rice is at least close to room temperature, but preferably cold.
Yes, you’ll want cooked rice to make fried rice. The best kind is at least day-old rice, but as stated above you can still make delicious fried rice with fresh cooked rice.
Fried rice is a great way to use up cooked veggies or really any kind of leftovers! If you already have your meat and vegetables cooked, just saute up your onion, garlic and ginger in butter and then add your rice, soy sauce and oyster sauce. Let everything cook and stir fry for a few minutes, and then add in your leftover vegetables and/or meat to let everything cook together.
Absolutely! Use vegan butter or oil to cook, and leave out the meat (or try a meat substitute) for a delicious vegan fried rice.
The best way to use up leftover rice, this easy fried rice for one takes no time to make! Customize with whatever vegetables and/or meat you have on hand so you can make this whenever you need a quick meal. Bulk it up with more mix-ins for a full meal, or use as a side dish.
- ¼ cup diced sausage (½ - 1 link)
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 garlic clove, grated or minced (about 1 teaspoon)
- ¼-inch ginger, grated or minced (about ½ teaspoon)
- 2 tablespoons diced onion OR 2 green onions, thinly sliced (separate white/light green and dark green parts)
- ¼ cup frozen vegetables
- ¾ cup cooked rice
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
- Sesame oil
- Sesame seeds
- If using meat, cook ¼ cup sausage in small skillet in ½ teaspoon oil until crispy. Remove sausage and set aside.
- Melt 1 teaspoon butter over medium-high heat in skillet.
- Add 1 teaspoon minced or grated garlic, ½ teaspoon minced or grated ginger and the sliced white/light green part of green onion (or about 2 tablespoons diced onion). Saute for 2-3 minutes, until onions are softened and light brown.
- Add ¾ cup rice, ¼ cup frozen vegetables, 2 teaspoons soy sauce and 1 teaspoon oyster sauce. Mix to combine everything.
- Let cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes or until rice starts to get a little crispy.
- Turn off heat and drizzle with a tiny bit of sesame oil. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onion, if desired. Serve immediately!
- Instead of sausage, you can use chicken or beef. If starting from raw, cook first and remove from heat as stated. If you have leftover meat, just add it in at the end and let it warm through with everything as the rice finishes cooking.
- You can use any kind of rice for this fried rice, including white or brown. You can also try this with cauliflower rice or a grain like quinoa if you prefer!
- I like to use frozen vegetables because I always have them on hand, but leftover cooked veggies are a great add-in too. Or anything you happen to have in the fridge - just make sure whatever you use is diced small enough so it mixes in easily with the rice and cooks quickly.
- If using raw vegetables, add them in after you saute the onion, garlic and ginger and let cook for 2 minutes before adding the rice and everything else.