This veggie-packed vegan fried rice is ready in only 15 minutes using healthy and versatile ingredients! It's perfect for quick lunches or meal prep.
If you're like me, you're looking for easy and versatile meals that taste delicious.
This vegan fried rice meets all of those requirements and it's made in only 15 minutes. Win!
I love Trader Joe's frozen fried rice, but I wanted to make a vegan fried rice recipe at home that is lower in sodium. Making fried rice at home is also a great way to use up leftover veggies or leftover rice. It's a classic clean-out-the-fridge kind of meal that tastes better than takeout!
You can make this recipe in large batches to enjoy through the week or just keep the ingredients on hand and make individual servings whenever you want them.
All you need are pantry staples like sesame oil, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, and garlic chili sauce to make an ultra flavorful vegan fried rice. This is such a simple combination but it's SO good.
- White rice: Leftover white rice is the key to delicious fried rice. I use long grain white rice but you can use jasmine or basmati if that's what you have on hand.
- Peas: I use frozen peas and let them thaw in the microwave or at room temp before stir-frying.
- Carrots: I dice whole carrots but you can also use grated carrots or carrot coins.
- Edamame: I always have frozen edamame on hand for snacks because it's a good source of vegetarian protein.
- Green onions: Add these at the very end as a garnish. If you don't like fresh onions you can sauté sliced yellow or red onion with the other veggies.
- Toasted sesame oil: This adds a great flavor to the dish. If you don't have sesame oil on hand you can use peanut oil, canola oil or olive oil.
- Soy sauce adds the classic fried rice flavor. You can use reduced sodium soy sauce to cut back on sodium. Use tamari to make this recipe gluten-free.
- Nutritional yeast is my "secret ingredient". It is far from a traditional ingredient in fried rice but it contributes a lot of depth and umami flavor.
- Garlic chili sauce adds spice and garlicky flavor. An equal amount of sriracha or sambal oelek can be used as needed.
- Roasted seaweed (roasted nori sheets) is entirely optional but just a small amount adds so much flavor and nutrition. You can find this at Trader Joe's or most major grocery stores.
Making the rice
Always rinse white rice before cooking it. To do this, add the rice to a fine-mesh sieve and run water over it. While the water runs, use your hands to rub the rice so that every grain is rinsed.
This step removes excess starches and keeps the rice from becoming gluey.
Cook white rice on the stovetop at a 2:1 water to rice ratio. Bring a small to medium pot (depending on how much rice you are cooking) of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the rice and salt to taste.
Reduce heat to a low simmer and cover. Start checking the rice at the 15-minute mark. It may take up to 25 minutes for the water to fully absorb.
Cook white rice in the Instant Pot at a 1:1 water to rice ratio. I often just select the "rice" button on my Instant Pot. However, this guide for perfect Instant Pot white rice is helpful and results in delicious Instant Pot rice.
Cold leftover white rice makes for the best fried rice. This is because hot rice is starchy, which makes it more likely to stick to the pan and not get that classic stir fry texture.
When I make rice I often make twice as much as I need so that I have leftover rice to make vegan fried rice.
If you don't have leftover rice, you can just use hot rice. It's not going to ruin the fried rice but the final texture will be softer.
If you forgot to make rice in advance or don't have leftover rice, you can actually quickly chill hot rice. Here's how:
- Lightly oil a half sheet pan or a cutting board. It should be big enough to fit in the freezer.
- Spread out the warm or hot rice on the sheet pan in as thin a layer as possible. Make sure to drain off any excess liquid first.
- Freeze for just 10 minutes. This will chill the rice very quickly. I don't recommend freezing much longer than 20 minutes because the rice may freeze and stick to the sheet pan.
How to make fried rice
To avoid soggy fried rice, frozen vegetables should be thawed before adding to the skillet.
Add vegetables: thawed frozen peas and edamame, carrots, peppers, etc. Sauté until tender but still crisp.
Add cold white rice. Drizzle with soy sauce, nutritional yeast, and garlic chili sauce, turning to coat. Cook over high heat, turning only once the rice is brown and fried. Drizzle with additional sesame oil if the rice is sticking to the pan.
Just before serving, add sesame seeds and fry a minute more. Remove pan from heat and sprinkle with fresh green onions.
Serve vegan fried rice with an extra drizzle of soy sauce, nutritional yeast, sesame seeds, and crushed seaweed.
- Tofu: For extra protein, add honey garlic tofu, General Tso's tofu or pan-fried tofu. You can even add firm tofu directly to the pan and sauté it with the veggies.
- Vegan egg: For classically eggy fried rice, you can add Just Egg to the pan with the veggies to imitate scrambled egg. Or add tofu scramble.
- Veggies: Try adding shredded cabbage, peppers, eggplant, broccoli, green beans, etc. You can use thawed frozen veggies or raw vegetables.
- Brown rice: Use in place of white rice as desired.
- Quinoa can be used in place of or in addition to white rice. Or try this quinoa fried rice recipe.
- Add kimchi for depth, spice, and a huge kick of flavor.
- Make it spicy by doubling the garlic chili sauce or adding in 1-2 tablespoons of sriracha. Harissa is another great option.
- Pineapple: Add diced canned pineapple for a pop of sweetness.
For best quality, keep fried rice refrigerated in a closed container for 3-4 days.
Yes, I love keeping fried rice in the freezer for quick meals. It can be frozen for up to three months. Let it cool to room temperature before transferring to a freezer-safe container. Let thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
I prefer to reheat it on the stove so that it re-crisps. To do this, heat a large skillet over high heat. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the skillet. Add the cold rice and sauté until warmed through, careful not to stir too often. You can also just pop it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.
Short answer: no. Long answer: Because woks have tall sides that allow for good heat distribution, they are the ideal (and most traditional) vessel to cook fried rice in. The tall sides also make it easier to quickly stir fry without the fried rice flying everywhere.
That being said, you don't need a wok to cook fried rice. I usually use my 12-inch cast-iron skillet or a large non-stick skillet and I love how the dish turns out.
Looking for more easy vegan meals?
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Easy Vegan Fried Rice
- 2 cups cold white rice see note #1
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil more as needed
- 1 and ½ cups frozen edamame thawed
- 1 cup frozen peas thawed
- 1 cup grated or shredded carrots
- 1 medium red or green bell pepper diced
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce more as needed; see note #2
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast more as needed
- 1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce sriracha or sambal oelek work
- 1 tablespoons sesame seeds more for topping
- ½ cup sliced green onions
- 3-4 small sheets roasted seaweed optional
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- In a large cast iron skillet or regular skillet, heat sesame oil over high heat until hot.
- Add thawed vegetables: edamame, peas, carrots, peppers. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until tender but still crisp. Stir frequently.
- Add cold white rice. Drizzle with soy sauce, nutritional yeast, and garlic chili sauce. Stir to combine. Continue to cook over high heat, turning only until the rice is golden brown and fried. Drizzle with additional sesame oil if the rice is sticking to the pan.
- Just before serving, add sesame seeds and fry a minute more. Remove pan from heat and sprinkle with fresh green onions and roughly torn seaweed sheets.
- Taste for seasonings. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste and add an extra drizzle of soy sauce or nutritional yeast as desired. Enjoy!
- Rice: I use long-grain white rice. I recommend using cold leftover white rice because hot rice is starchier and more likely to become gluey and stick to the pan when stir-frying. See the post for tips on quick-chilling rice.
- Soy sauce: Use reduced-sodium soy sauce for a lower sodium option. Use tamari for a gluten-free option.
- Tofu: Amp your fried rice up to the next level with general Tso's tofu or honey harissa tofu. You can even add firm tofu directly to the pan and saute it with the veggies.
- Veggies: You can use whatever veggies you have on hand like broccoli, peppers, green beans, etc. Make sure to thaw any frozen veggies before sauteing them.
- Brown rice: Use in place of white rice as desired.
- Leftovers: Refrigerate fried rice for 3-4 days. Fried rice can be frozen for up to three months in freezer-safe containers. Let thaw overnight before using.
- Reheating: Reheat in the microwave until warm. You can also reheat in an oiled skillet over high heat to re-crisp the rice. To do this, add the cold rice and saute until warmed through.
Author's note: This recipe was originally shared April 2020on the blog and on my YouTube channel. The post was updated with new photos in January 2022. The video contains the same method with slightly different ingredient variations.