Classic Shrimp Fried Rice Recipe

You know how leftover rice gets cold and dry the next day, and whatever you do you can't get it back to the sticky white rice it once was? There's a culinary solution to that, and it's been used in Asian countries for centuries: Fried rice. The dish was born out of necessity and used economically to stretch leftovers and wilting veggies. Even today, it can be inexpensive and easy to make, making it one of the world's most beloved weeknight meals.

This fried rice recipe shared by Michelle McGlinn focuses on developing a strong base of flavor that can be customized with any veggies you have on hand. This recipe dresses up the rice takeout-style with bean sprouts and scallions, but feel free to toss in a handful of spinach or a bag of frozen peas to make it your own. There's no wrong answers here – this dish is meant for riffing. Have a batch of day-old rice that needs reviving? Check out our recipe for a classic shrimp fried rice below.

What you need for classic shrimp fried rice

Depending on where you live, shrimp can be a delicious economical alternative to beef or chicken. Buy it fresh from a fishmonger or frozen in bags, just be sure the shrimp is thawed, peeled, and deveined before using. We like using medium to large shrimp for this recipe, but you can easily use smaller sizes instead. To marinate the shrimp you'll need cornstarch, soy sauce, and sesame oil, the latter two of which you'll need later to flavor the rice, as well. To cook the shrimp, grab a neutral oil like canola.

To build the flavor, you'll need fresh ginger, garlic, and scallions. You'll need the whole scallion, but reserve the green parts for topping. Grab a few eggs to scramble into the rice, and, optionally, a few extra to add on top for serving. Next, you'll need that leftover white rice — it has to be cold, day-old rice, so plan ahead if making fresh. Fresh, hot, sticky rice won't work here. Sticky rice has too much moisture, a good thing when serving fresh, but a bad thing when trying to fry. You'll have a mushy, sticky mess instead of the crispy grains of a good fried rice.

The only other ingredients you'll need for this recipe are mung bean sprouts and Shaoxing wine. Not your thing, or hard to find? Feel free to skip these or opt for other veggies.

Marinate the shrimp and prep other ingredients

Before doing anything, toss the shrimp in soy sauce, sesame, and cornstarch to give it some flavor and act as a thickener. Cornstarch, like flour, will help the sauces thicken as you cook. Once the shrimp is coated in the soy mixture, let it marinade while you prep the rest of the ingredients. It's important to mise, or prep, all the ingredients first because once you start cooking, each step only takes a minute or 2. If you try to chop your veggies while your shrimp cooks, or whisk your eggs while the garlic is in the wok, you'll risk burning your dish. Have everything ready before beginning.

Fire up the wok

Using a wok is ideal for fried rice because it heats quickly and allows ample room for tossing and cooking ingredients over different heats, but you can use any deep skillet or saucepan. Coat the wok with oil and heat it over medium, then add the shrimp. Let the shrimp crisp on each side and cook until just barely opaque, then remove from the skillet. Add the ginger, garlic, and scallion whites to the wok and stir into the remaining oil, tossing until fragrant, about a minute. Then push the aromatics to the side of the wok.

If you trust your speed, you can crack the eggs directly into the skillet and scramble them Benihana-style, but it's easiest to whisk the eggs in a small bowl and pour the beaten eggs into the wok. The eggs will start cooking immediately, so work fast and start pushing the cooked curds to the side of the wok. Repeat this until the eggs are all cooked to a soft curd, then mix into the cooked aromatics. See how a wok is useful here?

Toss in the cooked rice

Add in the cold rice, breaking apart any clumps as you go, until the rice is well separated. Mix into the egg and veggies, then pour in the remaining soy sauce and sesame oil. Toss well with the sauces until the rice is completely coated — you'll be able to tell if you missed any spots because the sauce-less rice will still be white. Taste the rice and add any extra soy or sesame as preferred, adding just a splash at a time to avoid over salting. Once the rice is crispy and sauced, add the shrimp and mung bean sprouts and toss it all together.

Add the finishing touches

The secret to takeout fried rice (besides the fact that you don't have to cook) is the Shaoxing wine. This is different from mirin, a sweet cooking wine, though it can be used in a pinch. If you have neither, you can also opt for dry sherry.

Drizzle the Shaoxing wine around the top perimeter of the wok and allow it to run down into the rice. This heats the wine slightly before it reaches the rice, which deepens the flavor. Plus, it'll really make you feel like a chef.

When ready to serve, top with the reserved green scallion slices and a fried egg. You could also add a drizzle of Sriracha, a scoop of kimchi, a sprinkle of sesame seeds, or fresh chopped cilantro. Serve the fried rice as a main course or as a side dish to chicken katsu or steamed dumplings, and save leftovers in an airtight container for up to a week. You can microwave leftovers or bring the fried rice back to life in the wok with a few tosses over medium high heat. It's the dish that keeps on giving, so make a big batch and dig in!

Classic Shrimp Fried Rice Recipe
5 from 32 ratings
Bring life back into that leftover rice with this classic shrimp fried rice recipe.
Prep Time
Cook Time
shrimp fried rice in bowl on table
Total time: 25 minutes
  • 1 pound medium-sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
  • 3 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch ginger knob, minced
  • 4 scallions, chopped, white and green parts separated
  • 2 cups cooked rice, cold
  • ½ cup mung bean sprouts
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
Optional Ingredients
  • fried egg, for serving
  1. Place the shrimp in a large bowl and mix with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, and the cornstarch. Mix well so all shrimp are coated, then leave them to marinate for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Whisk the eggs together in a bowl until frothy.
  3. Heat the oil in a wok or deep skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the shrimp and cook until just pink on both sides, then remove from the skillet using a slotted spoon.
  4. Add the garlic, ginger, and the white parts of the scallion and cook until softened and fragrant, about 1 minute. Push the aromatics to the side of the wok and add the beaten eggs. Working quickly, push the eggs around the skillet until light, fluffy, and just cooked through, then mix with the vegetables.
  5. Add the rice, breaking apart any sticky pieces. Allow the rice to heat through and crisp slightly, then add the remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 2 teaspoons of sesame oil. Toss well to combine.
  6. Once the rice is evenly colored light brown from the sauces, add the mung bean sprouts and shrimp, and toss to combine.
  7. Once heated through, drizzle the Shaoxing wine around the perimeter of the wok and allow it to soak into the rice. Toss the rice again to combine.
  8. To serve, top with the green parts of the scallion and enjoy.
Calories per Serving 406
Total Fat 20.0 g
Saturated Fat 2.4 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 262.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 26.7 g
Dietary Fiber 1.1 g
Total Sugars 1.1 g
Sodium 829.4 mg
Protein 29.4 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Rate this recipe