Thai fried rice, or khao pad, is a quick and easy fried rice recipe that you can make in 15 minutes! It's full of flavor and can be made with your choice of chicken, beef, pork, or shrimps. Perfect with any Chinese takeout dishes like Mongolian beef or these Vietnamese egg rolls!
"Khao pad" literally translates to "stir fried rice", or what we know as Thai fried rice. In Thai cuisine, it is as popular as egg fried rice from Chinese restaurants. However, unlike Chinese fried rice that is a bit more subtle in flavor, as its often just a side, Thai fried rice is much more fragrant, flavorful, and packed with umami, thanks to both the fish sauce and oyster sauce used.
Ingredient needed for Thai fried rice
Please scroll down to the recipe card for the ingredient quantities!
- Jasmine rice - Thai fried rice is distinguished by its use of jasmine rice, which makes it super fragrant and aromatic. If you don't have jasmine rice, you can use regular long grain white rice.
- Protein of you choice - Feel free use chicken, pork, beef, or shrimp. If you prefer, you can even omit the meat and use more veggies.
- Gai lan - These are also known as Chinese broccoli. They are hardy green veggies that you can usually find at most Asian markets. Most Asian markets offer both the regular gai lan and the gai lan tips (thinner and more tender than regular).
- Egg, onion, and garlic - All three of these ingredients act like aromatics. It makes the rice extra fragrant and tasty.
- Tomato - Thai fried rice are often served with fresh tomatoes or tomatoes will be added to the rice for a brief stir fry. We usually use beefsteak (aka hothouse) tomatoes, but any tomatoes are fine.
- Chili pepper - This is optional for if you want some kick in your Thai fried rice. We recommend using bird's eye chilis, but they quite spicy. So use with caution!
- Fish sauce, oyster sauce, and soy sauce - These three sauces are the seasonings for Thai fried rice.
- Black pepper - This adds some peppery kick to the rice.
- Salt - For seasoning the protein.
- Oil - Any neutral cooking oil is fine.
- Cucumber, cilantro, lime - These three are optional ingredients served with Thai fried rice.
How to make Thai fried rice
Please scroll down to the recipe card for the full recipe and instructions!
Prepare the ingredients:
1. Break up the rice. Rub the rice in between your palms to separate the cold, day old rice. You can also do this in a resealable bag.
2. Wash and cut the gai lan. Trim the bottom of the stems and separate the leaves from the thick stem. Cut the leaves into 1 inch pieces and the stems diagonally, into ¼ inch slices.
🌟 Pro tip: Keep the steams and leaves separate. The steams take a little longer to cook, so it need to be added a little earlier.
3. Prepare the protein. For chicken, pork, and beef, cut the protein into ¼ inch slices. If using shrimps, peel and devein.
Make the Thai fried rice:
1. Scramble the eggs. In a well seasoned wok or large nonstick pan over medium heat, add a couple tablespoons of oil. When the oil is hot, add the eggs and scramble until just cooked. Remove and set aside.
2. Cook the protein. In the same wok/pan over medium heat, add about a tablespoon of oil. Once the oil is hot, add the protein and season with a generous pinch of salt. Stir fry until just cooked. Remove and set aside
3. Stir fry garlic and chili. In the same wok/pan over medium heat, add about 3 to 4 tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and chili, if some heat is desired. Cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Then, add the rice and stir fry briefly until the rice is evenly coated with oil.
🌟 Pro tip: Be generous with the oil! Using enough oil will make fried rice taste better. It will also help to prevent clumping, since jasmine rice is stickier than regular long grain rice.
4. Cook the gai lan. To the rice, add the steams of the gai lan and onion. Stir fry for about 1 to 2 minutes. Then, add the gai lan leaves and stir fry for another minute, or until the leaves are wilted.
5. Season. Add the scrambled egg and cooked protein back into the wok/pan. Stir fry briefly to combine. Season with fish sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and black pepper. Toss and stir fry until everything is hot and evenly coated with the seasonings.
6. Finish. Add the tomato and green onion. Stir fry briefly to combine.
7. Serve. Enjoy the Thai fried rice while hot and garnish with cilantros if desired, along with some cucumber slices and a couple wedges of lime.
- Use cold, day old rice for fried rice. Long grain rice, refrigerated overnight, is the best kind of rice for making any fried rice. The rice grains separates easier, which prevents clumping, and the rice will less likely become mushy and overcooked.
- Break up the rice ahead of time. This will make the cooking process faster and easier.
- Be generous with the oil. It is necessary to use enough oil for fried rice to taste good.
- Feel free to use your favorite hardy greens if you can't find gai lan (Chinese broccoli). You can usually find these Chinese greens at most Asian markets, but if you can't find them, hardy greens like broccoli and kale are good substitutes.
- Add the tomato and green onion last for a very brief stir fry. The purpose isn't to cook the tomato and green onions. It is to simply have them warmed up.
Storage and reheating
Leftover Thai fried rice can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days. Just make sure to allow the fried rice to cool completely before covering and refrigerating.
To reheat, you can simply cover and microwave the Thai fried rice until heated through. You can also reheat the fried rice on the stovetop, over medium heat. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of water into the fried rice and stir fry until heated through and the rice is tender again.
The biggest difference in Thai fried rice and Chinese fried rice is the type of rice used and the seasoning. Thai fried rice is made with Thai jasmine rice, while Chinese fried rice is made with regular long grain white rice, or a blend of white rice. The other difference is that Thai fried rice is often seasoned with fish sauce, oyster sauce, and/or soy sauce. Chinese fried rice are not seasoned with fish sauce.
If you do not have oyster sauce on hand, you can use ½ tablespoon more fish sauce and add ¼ teaspoon sugar per recipe. The color of the rice may be slightly lighter, but the flavor will be fine. Also, this substitution is based on our recipe, so it may not work with other recipes.
Thai fried rice is often served with some cucumber slices and a wedge of lime. The lime gives the fried rice an extra zing and the cucumber refreshes and helps to cool your palate, if you made it spicy.
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Thai Fried Rice (Khao Pad)
For the Thai fried rice:
- 2 cups jasmine rice cold, day old rice
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 12 ounces protein of your choice chicken, beef, pork, or shrimps
- 2 stalks gai lan also known as Chinese broccoli
- ¼ large yellow onion diced
- ½ beefsteak tomato core removed and cut into wedges (also known as Hothouse tomato)
- 1 stalk green onion sliced
- ½ tablespoon garlic minced (about 1 clove)
- 1 bird's eye chili sliced (optional for heat; use more or less to your preference)
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- ½ tablespoon soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper more or less to your preference
- Salt as needed to season protein
- Oil as needed for cooking (any neutral cooking oil)
To serve (optional):
- Cucumber sliced
- Cilantro roughly chopped
- Lime cut into wedges
Prepare the ingredients:
- For the rice:Break up the cold, day old rice by gently rubbing it between your hands. Feel free to use clean bare hands (with or without gloves) or break up the rice in a resealable bag.
- For the gai lan (Chinese broccoli):Trim off the ends of the gai lan and discard. Separate the leaves from the thick stem and keep boths separated. Cut the leaves into 1 inch pieces and cut the thick stems diagonally into ¼ inch slices.
- For the protein:If using chicken, beef, or pork, cut the meat into ¼ inch slices.If using shrimps, peel and devein the shrimps.
Make the fried rice:
- Into a well seasoned wok or a large nonstick pan over medium heat, add about 2 tablespoons of oil, or enough to generously cover the bottom of the the wok/pan. Once the oil is hot, add the eggs and scramble until the eggs are just cooked, about 15 to 30 seconds. Remove the eggs and set aside.
- Into the same wok/pan over medium heat, add about a tablespoon of oil. Once the oil is hot, add the prepared protein. Season the protein with a generous pinch of salt and stir fry until the protein is just cooked. Remove and set set aside.*No need for a hard sear, as color is not necessary, but would not hurt if the protein has color.*
- To the same wok/pan over medium heat, add a generous amount of oil, about 3 tablespoons. Once the oil is hot, add the minced garlic and bird's eye chili. Sauté until fragrant, about 15 seconds.
- Add the cold, day old rice and sauté briefly, until the rice are evenly coated with oil, about 15 to 30 seconds.
- To the rice, add the gai lan stems and diced onions. Sauté for about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the gai lan leaves and cook for about another minute, or until the leaves are wilted.
- Add the cooked protein and scrambled eggs to the rice and stir fry briefly to combine. Season with fish sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and black pepper. Stir fry the rice until the rice is evenly colored and everything is hot.
- Finish the fried rice by adding the tomato wedges and sliced green onions. Stir fry for about 15 seconds to combine.
- Enjoy the Thai fried rice while hot, topped with chopped cilantro and serve with sliced cucumber and a squeeze of lime if you wish.
- Rice - The best rice to use for Thai fried rice is Thai jasmine rice because it's super aromatic and fragrant. We recommend using day old rice that's been refrigerated overnight because the rice is less sticky and stir fry better than fresh rice. The rice is also less likely to become soggy and mushy.
- Gai lan - These greens are also known as Chinese broccoli. You can find them at most Asian grocery stores, and they are usually offered as regular gai lan and gai lan tips. Both are fine to use. Gai lan tips are more tender than regular gai lan, so you can combine the stem and and leaves.
- If you can't find gai lan, feel free to use other crisp, hardy greens, such as broccoli and kale.
- Tomato - We highly recommend adding tomatoes to Thai fried rice. It acts as a palate cleanser and helps to lighten up the fried rice. We usually use beefsteak (aka hothouse) tomatoes, but you can use any types you prefer. Add the tomato last so that they don't become mushy and overcooked!