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Side Dish | August 17, 2023

Our Favorite Fried Rice

My mom makes the best fried rice in the world! I have eaten a lot of fried rice over the years, and have never tasted fried rice that compares to my mother’s fried rice, which is Our Favorite Fried Rice.

It has just the right balance of ham and veggies and not too much soy sauce! My mom’s fried rice is so easy to make. The secrets to making this perfect fried rice are in this post and will help you to make the best rice ever!

Our Favorite Fried Rice
Our Favorite Fried Rice

For the longest time, whenever I went home to visit my mom in Washington, she had a bowl of fried rice waiting for me. Nothing hits the spot quite like my mom’s famous fried rice. Not only do I love it, my kids and Grant love it too. Every time she comes to visit, my kids ask her to make fried rice. The best fried rice in our family is always always always at Grandma’s house!

Japanese bowl with fried rice
bowl of fried rice at my mom’s

What makes my mom’s fried rice so special? My mom will tell you fried rice cannot be rushed. There are rules for making fried rice. And you have to respect the rules if you want to make the best fried rice! Sure, you can make a mediocre pan of fried rice, but once you taste my mom’s recipe, you will never, ever, go back.

Japanese sticky rice
short grain Japanese sticky rice

If you have been following along here for a while, you know my mother is Japanese. Fried rice is usually thought to be Chinese, but the Japanese love fried rice as well, and have their own spin on fried rice, including using Japanese (short grain rice) instead of long grain rice which is commonly used in China.

Japanese fried rice
Homemade fried rice

When visiting Asian restaurants, fried rice is usually loaded with oil, and often times made with long grain rice and a pile of various fillings such as vegetables, corn, meat and eggs. I prefer my mom’s rice, which is simple and straightforward, with just a few ingredients (including a bit of butter). Once in a while, on request, she will add a scrambled egg.

How to make the Best Fried Rice (according to my mom)

  1. Use the right rice. Excellent fried rice starts with the right rice. Yes, there is a right and a wrong type of rice. Japanese sticky rice (medium, short grain or pearl rice) is the best rice to use when making fried rice. It is sticky and a tiny bit sweeter than say, long grain rice. I usually buy Calrose rice grown in California which is technically a medium grain rice and can be found at most grocery stores and Costco as well. For more premium Japanese rice look for Nishiki or Kokuho rice.
  2. Cook the rice early enough in the day (or the day before) to allow the rice to cool completely after being cooked. Hot rice = mushy fried rice. Not a good combination.
  3. Cook the vegetables separately from the rice in the pan. Chop all veggies and sauté as directed, remove from pan and set aside. Same with any meat (ham, pork, shrimp, etc) cook, remove from pan and add back later.
  4. When combining the rice and other ingredients, do not stir, just toss or fold lightly. This avoids a gummy mess.
  5. Don’t drown the fried rice in soy sauce. Less is more. Add a tablespoon at a time, there should still be some rice that is white in the finished product. (see photos)
  6. Last, but not least (My tip!) make extra fried rice so you will have enough leftover to make fried rice omelets for breakfast the next day!

My mom’s Okinawa style tofu

We love to serve fried rice with okazu (stir fried cabbage and onions), teriyaki steak or chicken and Okinawa style tofu.

visits to my mom’s always include fried rice and a ferry ride!

This post originally shared in 2014, updated with new content and photos August 2024

5 from 5 votes

Mom’s Fried Rice

Absolutely the best fried rice IN THE WORLD. According to our family.

Course side
Cuisine Asian
Keyword fried rice, rice
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8


  • 1/2 cup yellow or white onion chopped
  • 2 cups cabbage thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups ham chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 7 cups cooked sticky Japanese pearl rice cooled
  • Soy sauce
  • 1/2 bunch green onions chopped (white and green parts)


  1. In a large nonstick pan, cook vegetables, one at a time, in a small amount of butter and oil. Use about 1 teaspoon of butter and oil for each vegetable. Salt and pepper vegetables while cooking. In the same pan, brown the ham. Transfer ham and vegetables to a bowl or plate.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons butter to the nonstick pan. Over medium heat, add the cooked and cooled rice, a little at a time, breaking apart clumps with two wooden spoons, until the rice is evenly distributed in the pan and the butter is mixed in well.
  3. Add the vegetables and ham to the rice. Toss lightly. Season again with freshly ground pepper. Add soy sauce, a little at a time. Salt and pepper to taste. When the fried rice is heated through, stir in green onions. Remove from heat and place in a serving dish.

Recipe Notes

  • My mother’s tips to the best fried rice:
  • Make sure the rice is cooked and cooled completely before making fried rice. It is best to cook the rice early in the day or the day before. Hot rice used in fried rice will result in a sticky, gummy mess.
  • Use Japanese (or pearl) rice, which is short and plump, not long grain rice.
  • Make sure to cook the vegetables separately.
  • When combining the rice with the other ingredients, do not stir. Toss the ingredients lightly, like you would a salad.
  • Don’t drown the rice in soy sauce. Use 3-4 tablespoons of soy sauce to 7 cups of cooked rice.
  • If you are lucky enough to have leftover fried rice, try making a fried rice omelet (Omurice in Japan). It’s one of my kids’ favorite breakfast meals!

15 thoughts on “Our Favorite Fried Rice

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Recipe Rating

  1. Hi Si, thanks for recommending cookware with Teflon® nonstick coatings while making your favorite fried rice recipe! I represent DuPont and it's always a pleasure to see people recommending our products in their recipes..

    For more great recipes and tips for your cookware with Teflon® nonstick coatings, visit: and! Also, feel free to check out our Facebook ( and Twitter ( pages.

    Thanks! Cheers, Nellie

  2. oh yum! I've never added cabbage to fried rice, so I'm going to try this for sure. I found a recipe last week that used fresh ginger, and that was a nice flavor enhancer too. Such beautiful photos- they should pay you big money to use them for a WA travel brochure:) makes me want to go explore there. Thanks Si!

  3. Wow! This recipe is our new favorite. We made this today and also had never used cabbage. I pulled out my Bosch and shredded the cabbage as well as carrots and sautéed them together as well as added shrimp and ham and a couple of eggs scrambled. It was a huge hit. I will be making this again and again. Thanks for sharing. ❤️

    1. This is one of our all time favorite recipes to make too. I love the additions you made! Thanks for sharing, Julie.

  4. Going to have to try this, we love fried rice! I also kept wanting to like all the pictures, like I was on IG 🙄 but the daffodil fields are beautiful. It’s crazy to think of them blooming in December

    1. I agree, Heather, it’s so crazy to me how they bloom so late in the year and they are so beautiful! Thanks for sharing and let us know how you like the recipe,

  5. 5 stars
    This has become a family favorite at our house. The trick of cooking the rice the day before was a game changer for me – no more sticky/ gummy stir fry rice. I love the versatility of this recipe and that it is so easy to make.

  6. 5 stars
    This is (so far) our absolute favorite recipe from the cookbook! It is so good and even amazing left over. I grew up on minute rice, but after this recipe, I don’t think I can go back haha. Would highly recommend this recipe to anyone!

  7. 5 stars
    I will cook a ham for the sole purpose of making this fried rice! It is delicious. I just do what Si says and cook everything individually and it turns out amazing every time. I love the cabbage in it. I seriously could eat this a couple of times a week. Thanks for this yumminess!!

  8. 5 stars
    I have always just made my friend rice with regular long grain white rice, but I saw your recipe and decided to try it with the sticky rice. I have also never put cabbage in my fried rice. My son in law is from Taiwan and he tried and said it was very good! We all liked it, but I especially appreciated his comments! I did add 2 eggs to it and scrambled them.