Thai Fried Rice


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Want to make Thai Fried Rice at home that tastes just like the version at your favorite Thai restaurant? Look no further.

thai fried rice in a white bowl with a spoon and a fork, topped with a fried egg

When we lived in Bangkok, the first dish we taught all of our visitors to order was fried rice. And we always recommended ordering it “kai dao” – with a fried egg on top. In Bangkok, you could get a reliable plate of fried rice almost anywhere, so we always knew our guests would be well-prepared if they found themselves hungry and out for a day of exploring. But the best versions, made on piping hot outdoor woks at food stalls in Bangkok…well, those are some of the most crave-worthy meals I’ve ever had. Each grain of rice is perfectly tender, with crispy, golden spots where the rice seared along the bottom of the pan.

The great news is that you can absolutely achieve an incredible version of this dish at home using my recipe and tips below. It starts with fragrant sautéed onions, garlic, and chilis and can easily be adapted by adding your favorite vegetables or protein. Add chicken for Thai chicken fried rice and if you can track down Thai basil, it will give the dish truly authentic flavor.

So let’s dive in….

What is Thai fried rice?

Thai fried rice is a dish of stir-fried rice that is common in central Thailand. The Thai version of fried rice is unique because it is packed with aromatics, herbs, and spices to create layers of flavor. Thai rice is made with jasmine rice, rather than the white long-grain rice that Chinese fried rice is known for. If you are looking for additional flavor combinations, try my Pineapple Fried Rice.

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cooking onions, garlic and peppers in a wok

How to Make It

  1. Start with rice that is a day or two old and has been stored in the fridge.
  2. Prep the chilled rice by hand separating any pieces that may be sticking together, then set aside. 
  3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk the oyster sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, and toasted sesame oil. 
  4. Saute the onions for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and chilis to the wok and saute for 1 minute, or until fragrant.
  5. Pour the sauce over the onions and bring to a simmer. Add the rice and stir to combine. 
  6. Spread the rice in a single layer in the pan to help it cook evenly. Let the rice cook undisturbed until the edges become crisp and golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in the basil and cashews. Continue stirring until the basil is wilted.
  8. Serve warm with fried eggs on top.
mixing rice with peppers and onions in a wok


  • Cooked Jasmine Rice, chilled – Jasmine rice has a beautiful aromatic quality compared to other types of white rice, and it goes so well with the herbs and umami flavors in this recipe. If you don’t have rice ready-to-go, see below for my favorite tip on using frozen rice.
  • Oyster Sauce, Soy Sauce, Rice Vinegar, Fish Sauce, Sugar, Toasted Sesame Oil – This mix of sauces, oil, vinegar, and sugar creates the base flavors. It’s the perfect balance of tangy, sweet, toasty, and umami.
  • Cooking Oil – To keep the pan slick and prevent sticking.
  • Yellow Onion, Garlic – Sautéed aromatic garlic and yellow onions soften these flavors and go so well with the sauce mixture.
  • Thai Chilis – If you’re sensitive to spice, go ahead and skip these. They can be pretty powerful and pack a punch.
  • Thai Basil Leaves – If Thai basil leaves are not available, substitute Italian basil. These sweet herbs add more complexity.
  • Roasted Cashews – Crunchy, nutty cashews add a great crunch to the texture.
  • Fried eggs, for serving – Fried eggs are totally optional, but add a yummy richness.

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stirring fried rice in a wok

Recipe Shortcut

One of my favorite fried rice shortcuts is to keep bags of microwavable Jasmine Rice in the freezer. When you’re ready to cook, just microwave the frozen rice for one minute less than the package instructs. You can use this par-cooked rice immediately to make fried rice and it will finish cooking in the pan.

fresh thai basil on a grey countertop

Thai fried rice vs. Chinese fried rice

The biggest difference is the type of rice used. Chinese fried rice uses long-grain rice, while Thai uses jasmine rice. Chinese fried rice sometimes includes peas, carrots, and green onions, while the Thai version includes more bold aromatics like Thai chilis and garlic. While some Chinese fried rice is served with eggs scrambled and folded into the dish, this is rare in the Thai version (though it is often topped with a fried egg).


  • Use day old or leftover rice. Leftover rice is perfect for soaking up the sauces in this recipe. 
  • Tweak the sauce. Serve this dish with rice vinegar, honey, or even sriracha to allow everyone to find the balance of flavors they like. 
  • Make the perfect veggies. To keep your veggies fork tender, cook them separately, then fold into the rice.


  • Add chicken – Lean chicken is a natural addition to any fried rice dish. Use leftover chicken, or saute the chicken while the other ingredients are cooking.  
  • Mix up the veggies – Diced orange, yellow, or red bell peppers add a nice mild flavor to fried rice. Crunchy carrots, onions, even diced broccoli are great extras to include.
  • Try different proteins – Using shrimp, tofu, pork or beef creates more variety.
  • Add toppings – Aromatic scallions (green onions) and fresh cilantro add vibrant flavors. 
  • Use brown rice – Make this dish a little healthier by using hearty brown rice. 
overhead image of thai fried rice in a white bowl


Is Thai fried rice gluten-free?

Just substitute gluten-free Tamari for the soy sauce and be sure to get gluten-free oyster sauce. Oyster sauce often contains traces of soy sauce, but gluten-free brands are available – check the label. 

Is fried rice vegetarian?

The inclusion of fish and oyster sauce in this rice means that this isn’t a vegetarian or vegan dish. To make fried rice vegan and vegetarian-friendly, omit the fish sauce, and use a vegetarian oyster sauce.

Does Thai fried rice have egg?

In Thailand, it is rare for fried rice to be served with egg scrambled into the rice. However, diners often request that the dish to be served “kai dao”, which means that it is served with a fried egg on top.

More Favorite Thai Recipes

fried rice in a white bowl topped with a fried egg

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thai fried rice and a fried egg in a white bowl
4.09 from 12 votes

Thai Fried Rice Recipe

Make authentic Thai Fried Rice just like the versions you get at Thai restaurants. Packed with flavorful onions, garlic, chilis, and Thai basil, this dish comes together fast and is easy to customize.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 2 servings


  • Mixing Bowl
  • Wok or skillet


  • 3 cups cooked jasmine rice, chilled (see note)
  • 2 Tablespoons oyster sauce (use vegetarian oyster sauce if preferred)
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Thai chilis, thinly sliced (optional, only add these if you want the rice to be spicy)
  • 1 cup lightly packed Thai basil leaves (substitute Italian basil leaves)
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews (optional)
  • fried eggs, for serving (optional)


  • Use your hands to gently separate the cold grains of rice (this will make them easier to add to the pan). Set aside.
  • Whisk together oyster sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, and cooking oil and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a wok or a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until the onions are soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and chilis and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute more.
  • Pour the sauce over the onions. When the sauce is bubbling, add the rice and stir everything together until combined.
  • Spread the rice out in a single layer. Let the rice cook, without stirring, until it is crisp and golden where it meets the pan, 4 to 5 minutes. (Remove a portion of the rice to check for crispness on the bottom.)
  • When the rice is crisp, stir in the basil leaves and cashews. Keep stirring until everything is heated through and the basil is wilted.
  • Serve warm with fried eggs on top if you’d like.


Rice – One of my favorite fried rice hacks is to buy frozen White Jasmine Rice and microwave it one minute less than the package instructions. There is no need to let the rice cool before using it because it will finish cooking in the pan. If using regular (not frozen) rice that you made ahead, it’s best to let it chill in the refrigerator for at least a day before using it in fried rice. 
Protein – For a complete meal, stir in pre-cooked protein of choice when you add the basil and cashews. Chicken, pork, shrimp, or tofu all work well. 


Calories: 552kcal | Carbohydrates: 87g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Sodium: 1476mg | Potassium: 427mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 670IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 86mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $6.00
Calories: 552
Keyword: easy dinner, fried rice, weeknight-friendly
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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

4.09 from 12 votes (8 ratings without comment)

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  1. Oh em gee!!! I used this recipe tonight I told my daughter oh my gosh you need to try this it taste just like the Thai restaurant and she said no mom this is better than the Thai restaurant it taste like we’re literally in Thailand!

    I did things a little smidge bit differently with the sauce did 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and then I also added about a teaspoon of ginger paste.

    I used about three times as much garlic, added a bag of frozen peas and carrots, fresh snow peas, broccoli, 4 mini sweet bell peppers. Plus I cut up some chicken breast and marinated it in soy sauce, ginger, white pepper, garlic powder, salt and sesame oil. I scrambled my eggs as I prefer it that way. Cooked the chicken first and set it aside and threw back in at the end.

    1. Oh yay!!!! I’m so glad to hear this! And I think that’s one of the best things about fried rice – it’s so easy to adapt it to add whatever you like!! Thank you for this great note!

    1. Hi Momo – you could use another vinegar for sure! I’d probably try it with white wine vinegar, but even apple cider vinegar might give this a great (though not traditional) flavor.

  2. 5 stars
    Thank You! I had a whole pan of leftover brown rice and wondered how to use it for a late dinner since we went to Easter dinner at a restaurant at 2pm! I figured we would get hungry again around 7! Perfect idea for a late small meal– just have to add broccoli and egg– great and simple!

  3. Love this recipe, Jess, thank you. I like the relatively short ingredient list and it sounds more than do-able for a weeknight dinner. My hubby would love this…I gotta try it! : )

  4. 5 stars
    I’m always afraid to leave the egg not fry on top. I’ve thought about putting the lid on top, though, it might work to cook it evenly. The recipe is amazing, one of the best guides on how to cook thai guide i’ve seen.

    1. I do sometimes put the lid on Ethan – to make sure the top of the egg cooks a bit. The fried rice is good with an over easy egg or even a poached egg too!