Ham Fried Rice is a delicious, filling, easy-to-make, one-pot recipe that makes the best use of leftovers. It makes a perfectly balanced, nutritious meal with protein, veggies and rice.
I love finding creative ways to use up leftovers, and after the holidays we always have leftover ham. Making ham fried rice is my favorite way to use up those leftovers. I also make Egg Fried Rice, Chicken Fried Rice, and Bacon & Pineapple Fried Rice.
My family says that my recipe is the best fried rice recipe they’ve ever had – restaurants included! The secret is to use leftover chilled rice. Whenever I cook white rice as a side dish, I always make a double batch and toss the (cooled) leftover rice in the freezer.
When I’m ready to make fried rice, I thaw it overnight in the fridge. Then I use whatever vegetables I happen to have, whatever protein I happen to have, and plenty of garlic and soy sauce. It’s totally customizable, so it’s a new recipe every single time!
Ingredients and Notes
This is the same base recipe I use any time I make fried rice, with a few adjustments.
Butter – Use a little for frying the vegetables, but it also flavors the rice at the end.
Eggs – Whisking them together before cooking is easier than trying to mix them after they’ve hit the pan. You can cook them in a separate small skillet like in the recipe, but often I just make space in the skillet with the rice and they cook pretty fast.
Onion – diced into fine pieces. I prefer a sweet white or yellow onion, but you can use red if that you happen to have.
Garlic – I added 3 cloves into the recipe. You want a good garlic flavor. Feel free to add more.
Frozen vegetables – Use whatever mix you like. Peas and carrots is customary, but corn add a subtle sweetness and sometimes I’ll let the green beans in too. Fresh is great too; add some bok choy, bean sprouts or broccoli.
Ham – if you don’t have leftovers, you can use a 1 pound ham steak from the butcher. You want a thicker piece, not lunch meat.
Cooked white rice – You really want to have chilled white rice. It will be less starchy and form little crispy bits as it cooks.
Soy sauce –I recommend opting for low sodium. You can add a little to the pan, then let everyone add as much as they like to their own bowls.
Salt and pepper – I don’t usually use salt but you can if you think it needs it. I do like a lot of pepper, though.
Garnish – Garnishing dishes is always optional, but does create a beautiful presentation. I used sliced green onions and sesame seeds.
How To Make Ham Fried Rice
Scramble the eggs. Whisk up some eggs in a small bowl and cook them in tiny bit of oil or butter. Set aside on a plate or in a bowl.
Cook the vegetables and ham. Add a little more butter to the pan and cook the diced onion. Add veggies and garlic and cook for a couple more minutes. Add the ham and cook until golden.
Stir in cold rice. Add more butter and the chilled rice to the skillet and stir it with a flat wood spatula. I kind of fold it in, then press down and let it sit for a minute before stirring again so the rice can fry and get some crispy bits.
Season. Once the rice is heated through you can add soy sauce, green onions, and sesame seeds until you love the flavor, then serve right away.
Feel free to customize this recipe to your liking. Add whatever veggies you have on hand, like baby corn, broccoli, bean sprouts, broccoli, even zucchini.
If you’re not a fan of ham, swap out the meat for something else. Ground or shredded pork or chicken, shrimp, or leave out the meat altogether for a delicious vegetarian dish.
Using fresh cooked rice: If you don’t have any leftover, you can use fresh cooked rice. If you must use fresh rice, cook it, then spread it out on a greased baking sheet to cool and pop it in the fridge 20-30 minutes.
Brown rice works too! Same rules apply – it should be cooked and chilled to get the best texture.
Frequently Asked Questions
What rice is best to use for fried rice?
Any leftover, chilled rice will work. I prefer a long grain rice or Jasmine rice, but I’ve used sushi rice with great results.
Is fried rice a main dish or a side dish?
It’s both! If you are adding protein, fried rice is a simple, easy main dish. Even with protein, smaller portions are great as a side dish.
Can fried rice be frozen?
Absolutely! Store in a freezer safe bag so you are able to squeeze out the excess air. Do not reheat from frozen – thaw in the refrigerator first. You’ll need to rehydrate the rice because it dries out when stored. Add a teaspoon of water when reheating in the microwave, or a teaspoon (or more) of butter or oil when reheating in a pan.
Storage and Reheating
Refrigerator: Once the rice is cooled, store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.
Freezer: Place cooled rice in freezer bags and squeeze out as much air as possible. Freeze for 3-4 months.
Reheating: If frozen, thaw completely in the fridge overnight. Heat in the microwave with a teaspoon of water to rehydrate, or in a skillet with a little butter or oil.
4tablespoonslow sodium soy saucemore or less to taste
salt and pepper to taste
Optional: sliced green onions and sesame seedsfor garnish
In a large wok or frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium high heat. Add the eggs and cook for 3 minutes or until set, stirring often. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Add another tablespoon of butter to the skillet and cook onion until translucent; about 2 minutes. Stir in garlic, frozen vegetables, salt and pepper and cook until heated through.
Add the ham and saute until golden brown; about 2 minutes.
In the center of the skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of butter and add the rice. Press down into the pan to brown the rice until it begins to sizzle and pop.
Return the egg to the skillet and toss everything together until fully distributed.
Remove from heat, then stir in 1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Adjust according to taste. Garnish with sesame seeds and sliced green onions and serve immediately.
Refrigerator: Once the rice is cooled, store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.Freezer: Place cooled rice in freezer bags and squeeze out as much air as possible. Freeze for 3-4 months.Reheating: If frozen, thaw completely in the fridge overnight. Heat in the microwave with a teaspoon of water to rehydrate, or in a skillet with a little butter or oil.
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Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.