How to Make Fried Rice From Leftovers

Updated on January 28, 2020
This delicious fried rice lunch cooks up in just a few minutes.
This delicious fried rice lunch cooks up in just a few minutes.

Fried Rice: The Perfect Use for Leftovers

Fried rice is a dish that's designed to use up leftover rice from the previous day. That's why it is traditionally a breakfast food in Indonesia, as well as being the national dish.

Indonesian fried rice varies from region to region and often uses many more ingredients than shown here. However, this recipe is a simple one that anyone can make. You can add whatever leftover meat, and fresh or leftover veggies, you wish so that you can customize it to your tastes. You can also increase or decrease the amount of ginger, garlic, and red pepper.

After you eat it, you will get that feeling of physical and mental well-being that comes from having eaten balanced, nutritious, tasty food. It makes the perfect lunch (or, OK, breakfast) for one or two people.

One cup of cooked rice
One cup of cooked rice
Fresh ginger in a squeeze bottle
Fresh ginger in a squeeze bottle


  • Half a small onion
  • Optional: small amounts of other vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, or cabbage
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger (You can use the prepared kind, as pictured, or grate your own with a fine-holed grater.)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (optional, not used in this recipe since I didn't have any on hand)
  • one cup of cooked white rice Don't use freshly cooked rice for this recipe. It will stick together too much. The rice should have been sitting for at least a few hours. It also works well if it was in the fridge overnight.
  • ground red pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of leftover cooked meat, chopped You can use chicken, pork, shrimp, fish, or beef.
  • 1–2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • about 1/8 cup cooking wine (optional)


  1. Chop the onions and any other veggies you are using, and fry in 2–3 t. of oil in a frying pan until tender or crisp-tender.
  2. Add the grated ginger and the minced garlic, if using. Stir and fry for no more than 30 seconds ... don't burn it!
  3. Add the rice in the following manner: take a handful at a time and crumble it into the pan, so that the grains and clumps separate. This will be easy to do if you are using old rice that has dried out on the counter or in the fridge. If you are using fresh rice, it will be difficult. (In the picture, a lot of the rice is sticking to my hand because I was using rice that had only been sitting out an hour or so and was still warm.) As you crumble the rice into the pan, with your other hand use a spatula to stir it around so that it mixes in with the oil, veggies, and seasonings.
  4. Now sprinkle ground red pepper, to taste, on the rice and fold in.
  5. Finally, add the meat. In this case, we are using a few strips of leftover steak. Stir it into the dish to heat through.
  6. Now, drizzle soy sauce onto the dish and mix through. (Indonesians would use sweet soy sauce, called kecap manis, at this point.) The sauce will give your dish a brown color and a nice umami flavor
  7. Optionally, at this point you can also add about 1/8 cup of cooking wine. Stir until the liquid has been mostly absorbed by the rice. (It should not clump back up again if you don't add too much liquid. The goal is fried rice texture, not a porridge texture.)

frying the onions
frying the onions
adding the ginger
adding the ginger
Crumble the rice into the pan with your hand.
Crumble the rice into the pan with your hand.
Stir the rice in to the oil and seasonings.
Stir the rice in to the oil and seasonings.
adding the chopped leftover cooked meat
adding the chopped leftover cooked meat
adding soy sauce
adding soy sauce

Enjoy Every Day!

You can make this dish as often as you have leftover rice in the fridge. You could eat it every day and make it different every day, depending on your meat and veggies. The recipe shown in these photos is mostly meat and starch, but you can jazz it up with as many vegetables as you like. Just be sure your fridge is always stocked with minced garlic, soy sauce, and ground ginger.

Selamat makan ("Have a good eat")!

the finished product
the finished product

© 2017 Jennifer Mugrage


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    • bhattuc profile image

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

      5 months ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

      Interesting idea to convert rice in a tasty dish. Nice.


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