My 10-year-old asked for seconds, then, after dinner, she went and scraped every last bit from the pan, that's how much she loved this chicken fried rice. I can see why: this recipe builds upon our favorite and already fantastic hibachi-style fried rice recipe and takes it to a whole new level, utilizing a suggestion from a reader to add ginger and water chestnuts for that crispy texture.
Another tweak that made this fried rice recipe better was to cook eggs separately, till barely done, and folding them in at the last minute, also a suggestion from my reader. I loved the soft and creamy texture of the egg in this dish. When added sooner, before rice, the egg would dry out and become rubbery.
I also made butter in this recipe a mandatory ingredient. It was listed as optional in the hibachi-style rice recipe, but the more I made it, the more I realized how essential it was for achieving the best flavor.
The ingredient list in this recipe is not long, nor does it include fancy or hard to find ingredients. Chicken, rice, carrot, onion, ginger, water chestnuts, green onions, butter, cooking and sesame oils are all the ingredients. However, it's important to have all ingredients cut and measured before cooking. The French call it 'mise en place'. The cooking in this recipe is short and quick, so have all the ingredients handy.
I recommend using jasmine rice in this recipe, just as I do in my Japanese fried rice recipe. Unlike basmati rice which becomes dry and fluffy after cooking, jasmine rice become moist and sticky. Jasmine rice is commonly used to make fried rice dishes, while basmati is a better choice for pilaf type dishes. That sticky, moist jasmine rice makes fried rice so irresistibly tasty.
A day's old rice works best, though I rarely have it, or have the discipline to prepare it a day ahead, so I cook my rice right before. It's never been a problem for me.
What kind of chicken is best for this dish?
Chicken thighs, skinless or skin-on, are my top choice. They are always juicy and pack a lot of flavor, making fried rice that much better. You can try the recipe below, it's very simple and very good, or you can try my other chicken thigh recipes, such as family favorite boneless chicken thighs, broiled boneless chicken thighs, or air fryer chicken thighs.
Chicken breasts are a close second. Sous vide chicken breast is a great choice, it's tender and flavorful, and works very well in this recipe too. Pan-fried chicken breast, air fryer chicken breast, oven-roasted, broiled, or baked chicken breasts work very well as well.
Required cooking tools
A large non-stick wok is ideal for making chicken fried rice, I use it all the time. If you don't have one handy, use a large non-stick frying pan, or both. You will need two pans for this recipe, or a pan and a wok, to make things easier and eliminate transferring food back and forth.
Chicken Fried Rice
For step 1:
- 6 chicken thighs bone in and skin on, or boneless and skinless
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder or granulated garlic
- 1 tsp onion powder or granulated onion
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 Tbsp cooking oil for frying
For step 2:
- 2 Tbsp peanut oil or canola, or olive oil
- 3/4 cup finely diced carrots
- 1 cup finely diced white onion
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 Tbsp fresh ginger root about 1 inch long, peeled and grated
For step 3:
- 4 cups cooked jasmine rice or any long-grain rice; about 1 1/3 cup raw rice
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce regular; if using low sodium, you may add an extra tablespoon or a couple of pinches of salt.
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
For step 4:
- 2 eggs lightly whisked
For step 5:
- 1/3 cup water chestnuts about 5-6 chestnuts, chopped
- ½ cup green onions 2 stalks, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- Rub the chicken thighs with sesame oil, then season with salt, pepper, and garlic and onion powders. Heat a non-stick frying pan with two tablespoons of oil over medium low heat, add the chicken skin side down. Cover, leaving just a small crack, and cook for 4-5 minutes, until well-browned. Flip the chicken pieces, cover and cook for another 4-5 minutes or until cooked to at least 165F internal temperature. If the chicken is browning too fast, flip more frequently or lower the temperature. Once the chicken is done, remove from heat, let cool until you can handle it by hand, remove bones and cut into bite size pieces.
- In a wok or a large non-stick pan, heat peanut oil (or any cooking oil) over medium-high heat. Add the onions and carrots, and saute for about 2-3 minutes, frequently stirring, until lightly browned. To help the vegetables soften up, lower the heat to medium, add two tablespoons of water, and cover with a lid. Let saute for another 3-5 minutes, stirring every 1 minute or so, until the vegetables are soft enough. Add the garlic and the ginger, and saute for another minute, or until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the rice, soy sauce, butter and white pepper. Mix with the vegetables and saute for about 3-4 minutes, constantly stirring and breaking up any rice clumps. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a separate non-stick pan, cook the eggs slightly, as you would scrambled eggs, constantly scraping and mixing with a spatula. Immediately transfer to the rice and vegetable mix.
- Place the wok with the rice and the vegetable mix, and the eggs, back on the stove over medium heat. Add the chicken, water chestnuts, green onions and sesame oil. Gently fold into the rice mix and saute, gently stirring, for 1 minute, to warm up the chicken. Remove from heat and serve immediately.