How to Make Easy + Frugal Cast Iron Skillet Fried Rice

We all have those days: you haven’t been to the store, and you have a house full of picky children. And it’s almost dinner time, so a big, complicated meal just isn’t in the cards. And another night of boxed Mac and cheese just might destroy your soul.

Turn to this easy recipe for basic fried rice in a cast iron skillet. It uses inexpensive ingredients you probably have on hand and can be customized to your taste.

wooden spoon scooping out fried rice.

Cast Iron Skillet Fried Rice

A simple and easy fried rice recipe that uses pantry ingredients. Budget friendly and makes the whole family happy!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Serving Size 5 cups

Equipment

  • any skillet will work, but we love cast iron

Ingredients 

  • 4 tablespoons of oil divided
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1 cup onion finely diced
  • ¾ cup frozen green peas
  • 4 cups cooked rice
  • cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoon Siracha optional

Instructions 

  • Cook egg. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the eggs and gently stir until scrambled, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from skillet to plate, chop and set aside for later.
    egg cooking.
  • Cook onion. Increase the heat to medium-high. Heat another tablespoon of oil in the now-empty skillet.  Add the onion and stir until translucent, about 3 minutes.
    onions cooking.
  • Add the remaining oil and the rice. Stir until rice is thoroughly mixed with the other ingredients, about three minutes. Add the soy sauce, frozen peas, and scrambled eggs. Stir fry for 4 minutes, until thoroughly heated and well combined. Serve hot.
  • Add soy sauce + mix-ins. Add the soy sauce, frozen peas, and scrambled eggs. If you are adding a cooked protein, do so now. Stir fry for 4 minutes, until thoroughly heated and well combined. Serve hot.
    skillet with rice and finished dish.

Notes

There are many things that can be added to this recipe to make it your own. Try adding bell pepper with the onion or cooked shrimp or chicken with the peas.
Calories: 212kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 65mg | Sodium: 892mg | Potassium: 148mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 95IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 1mg

This fried rice is the perfect weeknight meal for our family. It’s crazy easy and budget-friendly, and my kids actually eat it! I love that it’s a blank canvas for whatever veggies are about to go bad in the fridge, or any leftover protein we might have. Sometimes I’ll throw in some chopped carrots or mushrooms with the onions, or toss in some leftover chicken at the end. It’s a great way to use up odds and ends and get a delicious meal on the table.

Tips for the Best Skillet Fried Rice

  • The easiest if you already have cooked rice: You can cook big quantities of rice, place them in freezer bags, and freeze them. You can always make something with cooked rice for an easy side dish! Or just a little extra white rice every time you cook it and plan on making fried rice in the next couple of days.
  • Use a large wok or cast iron pan: These retain heat better and give you that perfect sear on the rice.
  • Keep ingredients at room temperature: This helps everything cook evenly and quickly.
  • Cook rice ahead of time: For the best fried rice, use day-old or cold rice to avoid the rice grains sticking together.
  • Use a single layer of rice: Spread the rice in a single layer in the pan to ensure it gets nice and crispy.
  • Use a slotted spoon: When adding ingredients like beaten eggs or vegetables, a slotted spoon can help reduce the amount of moisture.
skillet full of rice.

A few things will really help this recipe turn out just right. Check them out:

ingredients on counter.
  • Cast iron skillet. A cast iron skillet helps the rice get crispy and adds a subtle smoky flavor. Any large skillet will work though.
  • Frozen peas. These are a convenient way to add some veggies to the dish and they cook quickly in the hot pan.
  • Soy sauce. Soy sauce gives the fried rice a salty, savory flavor that balances the other ingredients. I prefer low sodium soy sauce.
  • Sriracha. This is totally optional, but a little drizzle of Sriracha at the end adds a nice kick of heat.

With these few simple ingredients, you’ll be well on your way to a delicious and satisfying meal.

Serving Suggestions

  • Asian-style main course: Serve your fried rice as the main course with a side of teriyaki sauce or dark soy sauce.
  • Rice bowl: Top your fried rice with a fried egg or some sesame seeds for a delicious rice bowl.
  • Pair with Chinese food: Serve alongside other Chinese food favorites like dumplings or spring rolls.

Questions and Substitutions

Can I use a different type of oil?

Absolutely! You can use sesame oil, olive oil, peanut oil, or even bacon fat to add different flavors to your fried rice.

What type of rice works best?

Day-old rice is ideal for making fried rice as it has less moisture. Cold rice or leftover rice from the fridge works perfectly. Jasmine rice is a popular choice for its fragrance and texture.

Can I use a non-stick pan?

Yes, you can use a non-stick pan, but a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or carbon steel wok will give you the best results and that authentic wok hei flavor.

What other ingredients can I add?

You can add green onion, green beans, pork belly, fresh garlic, and even a bit of fish sauce or oyster sauce to enhance the flavor. Experiment with different flavors to find what you like best.

Storage Instructions

Leftovers will keep well, tightly covered in the fridge, for 3-4 days.

I hope you give this easy fried rice recipe a try and find it just as satisfying as we do.

finished rice with peas.
How to Make Easy + Frugal Cast Iron Skillet Fried RiceHow to Make Easy + Frugal Cast Iron Skillet Fried Rice
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