This Panda Express fried rice recipe is a quick, affordable, and yummy side dish great for students, busy families, and singles! Enjoy the taste and textures of one of your favorite vegetarian takeout dishes made healthier at home.

This recipe makes healthy swaps like better cooking oil, less sodium, more veggies, and options for a gluten-free sauce—plus it’s ready in just 15 minutes with minimal prep! Pair it with my Panda Express honey sesame chicken for a full takeout experience!

Image shows crisp rice grains and vegetables served in a red bowl Panda Express style.
Simple, delicious, and fast!


This copycat recipe for Panda Express fried rice is an affordable, family-friendly side that uses simple ingredients to build great flavor and texture with fewer calories. While there are no gluten-free options at Panda, I provide suggestions to make this fried rice from Panda Express gluten free, too!

Photo shows ingredients needed to make Panda copycat fried rice dish.
  • Jasmine rice: I use my air fryer rice cooked the day before and cooled. Just like Panda Express, we use Jasmine rice. You can use any medium or long grain rice for this dish.
  • Large eggs: While you could omit the eggs to make this vegetarian Panda fried rice vegan, they are a classic fried rice ingredient. I suggest using them!
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Shitake mushroom bullion: This is my personal touch to add umami flavor to this recipe. You can also use chicken bouillon or a touch of MSG (the restaurant uses MSG). Or skip it.
  • Garlic powder and white pepper: These ingredients add an authentic Chinese takeout flavor to the dish. These are my flavor additions to this recipe, so you can omit them if you prefer.
  • Light soy sauce: For a gluten free Panda Express sauce, substitute with coconut aminos (or see substitutions below for more options.
  • Dark soy sauce: Adds a rich color to the sauce. You can also substitute this for one of the gluten-free alternatives below.
  • Toasted sesame oil: Adds an authentic Chinese takeout flavor to the sauce.
  • Coconut brown sugar: Or use Keto brown sugar. This ingredient is optional for a sweeter sauce. If you use coconut aminos, you can omit any sweetener from the sauce.
  • Avocado oil: A neutral-flavored oil great for high-heat cooking. You can also use peanut oil.
  • Frozen mixed vegetables: We used frozen peas and carrots.
  • Green onion: Diced for a garnish.

Substitutions and variations

  • Gluten-free soy sauces: There is no Panda Express gluten free menu, but using Lee Kum Kee’s gluten-free light and dark soy sauces makes many of their menu items more accessible.
  • Rice types: Medium or long-grain white rice are the best options. You could also use short grain rice, but you have to cook it perfectly in a rice cooker as it has more starch.
  • Other vegetables: Any bite-sized veggies will do! Corn kernels, diced green beans, or diced broccoli are great options for added nutrition and fiber.
  • More proteins: Add cooked and diced chicken, beef, shrimp, turkey, or tofu. See my steak fried rice or turkey fried rice for tips on incorporating meat.
  • No mushroom bouillon: You can use chicken bouillon or simply leave it out. The dish will still be packed with flavor, especially with the addition of salt, garlic powder, and white pepper.

How to make Panda Express fried rice

This fried rice Panda Express recipe comes together in just 15 minutes total time! Using rice cooked and cooled in advance ensures you get a great, crisp texture and maximum flavor on every grain of rice. The stir-frying process is fast, so be sure to prep your ingredients before cooking.

Person demos preparing ingredients and making scrambled eggs to make Panda fried rice.
  1. Prep the rice, eggs, spices, and sauce. Set cooked rice aside in a bowl. Whisk the eggs, mix the dry spices, and combine the sauce ingredients in separate bowls.
  2. Cook the eggs. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add beaten eggs and gently stir to make soft scrambled eggs (about 10 seconds) then transfer the eggs out.
Person demos how to make fried rice at home and season the rice with Panda Express flavor.
  1. Stir-fry the rice. Add the rice to the pan little by little while using your hands to gently separate the rice grains. Turn the heat up to medium-high and use a wooden spoon or spatula to toss the grains in a scooping motion. You should hear sizzling from the pan.
  2. Season the rice. When the rice is dry (the grains will start popping), add the frozen vegetables and the seasoning mixture. Toss for 10 seconds.
  3. Mix in the sauce. Turn the heat up to high, push the rice mixture to the side, and add the sauce ingredients to the center of the pan. Fold the rice and veggies in to coat with the sauce.
  4. Finish and serve. Return the eggs to the pan, breaking them up with a spatula. Turn off the heat. Transfer to a large serving plate. Garnish with green onions. Serve warm.

Tips for the best homemade fried rice

Choosing the Right Rice:

  • Best Rice Types: Medium-grain or long-grain white rice like jasmine are ideal for this Panda Express rice recipe. They’re less starchy, preventing clumping.
  • Short-Grain White Rice: It’s more prone to clumping but can work well if prepared correctly. Check out our guide on how to cook white rice in a rice cooker and Din tai fung shrimp and egg fried rice recipe.

Prevent Rice Clumping:

  • Chill Your Rice: Use day-old rice, cooled to room temperature then refrigerate overnight. This reduces moisture, making the grains harder and less likely to stick together.
  • Add Rice Gradually: Gently separate chilled rice grains with your hands and sprinkle them into the hot pan. This ensures even cooking and prevents clumping.

Cooking Tips:

  • Al Dente Texture: Cook the fresh rice to a slightly firm texture with distinct grains.
  • Avoid Freshly Cooked Rice: It’s too moist for stir-frying.
  • Proper Stir-Frying: Use a large non-stick pan or wok and stir-fry with a scooping motion to keep grains intact.

How to make ahead, store, and reheat

This quick and easy fried rice is best enjoyed fresh! To ensure the best texture, you so want to cook your rice a day in advance and let it cool. You can also prep all of the sauce, seasoning, and veggie ingredients before you start cooking.

  • Make ahead: For best results, cook and cool the rice the day before. Spread it out to let cool and then refrigerate it. Don’t smash the rice grains.
  • Storage: Once cooked, store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or store for up to 2 months in the freezer.
  • Reheat: In a microwave or stir fry on a stovetop over medium-high heat until warmed through.

What to serve it with

This gluten-free version of Panda Express vegetarian fried rice is a perfect side dish for any meal. You can easily add meat to enjoy a beef, shrimp, or chicken fried rice dinner. Or pair with any of your favorite Asian takeout dishes for a larger meal.

Umami Tips

  • Day-Old, Chilled Rice Is Key: Use rice that has been cooled to room temperature and then refrigerated overnight. This reduces moisture and prevents clumping.
  • Choose the Right Rice: Opt for jasmine rice or medium-grain Asian rice for their less starchy qualities, which help keep grains separate.
  • Cook Rice Al Dente for Short-Grain Varieties: If using short-grain, cook it al dente a day in advance and refrigerate.
  • Opt for the Right Pan: Use a large non-stick pan, a well-seasoned wok, or any pan that has a broad open surface with high walls to prevent rice from spilling out during the cooking process.
  • Gradually Add Rice to the Pan: To avoid clumps, gently separate the rice grains with your hands and sprinkle them into the hot pan for even cooking.
  • Scoop and Toss, Don’t Smash: Use a large non-stick pan or wok and employ a scooping motion to keep the rice fluffy.
  • Maintain Consistent Heat: Keep your pan hot and at a consistent medium-high temperature to quickly cook the ingredients, ensuring the rice becomes crispy without turning mushy.
  • Perfecting the Eggs: When stir-frying the eggs, gently stir to create soft scrambled eggs. Aim for a tender texture by cooking for about 10 seconds, then promptly transfer the eggs to a separate bowl and set aside.


What does fried rice from Panda Express have in it?

Fried rice from Panda Express contains cooked rice, eggs, peas, carrots, soy sauce, and green onions, offering a simple yet flavorful blend of ingredients.

Is Panda Express fried rice white or brown rice?

Panda Express uses steamed white rice that’s chilled and refrigerated as the base for their fried rice, ensuring a perfect texture and flavor.

How can I make fried rice Panda Express gluten-free?

Use coconut aminos or Lee Kum Kee gluten-free soy sauce instead of regular soy sauce, keeping the flavor without gluten.

More Panda Express gluten free recipes

Replicating your favorite Chinese takeout at home saves money and allows you to control your ingredients for a healthier meal. Try these trending gluten-free and lower-calorie Panda Express copycat recipes for yourself!

A side close shot shows crisp texture of the rice grains stir fried with frozen veggies and served in a red bowl.
Recipe photo shows copycat Panda Express fried rice served in a red color bowl.
5 from 3 votes

Panda Express fried rice recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: ChihYu Smith
This Panda Express Fried Rice recipe is easy, economical, and tastes delicious with crisp rice grains & veggies.
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  • 3 cups cooked jasmine rice, refrigerated and cold, or use long grain or medium-grain white rice
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ tsp coarse sea salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ tsp Shiitake mushroom bouillon, or chicken bouillon, ¼ tsp msg
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce, or 1 tbsp coconut aminos
  • 0.5 tbsp dark soy sauce, or 0.5 tbsp coconut aminos
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • ½ tsp coconut brown sugar, or keto white sugar, optional
  • 1.5 tbsp avocado oil, divided
  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables, peas and carrots
  • 1 bulb green onion, diced


  • Set aside the cooked rice in one large bowl. Whisk the eggs in a separate small bowl. Add the dry spices in a small bowl with salt, mushroom bouillon, if using, garlic, and white pepper. The sauce combo in another bowl with light and dark soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar, if using.
  • Preheat a large 12-inch saute pan (or wok) over medium heat until it feels warm when placing your palm near. Add 0.5 tbsp oil and pour in the eggs. Gently stir to make soft scrambled eggs, keep the texture tender, 10 seconds then transfer the eggs out and set aside in a bowl.
  • Add 1 tbsp oil and add in the rice little-by-little while using your hands to gently separate the rice grains (I wear a cooking kitchen glove to do this). By doing some, the rice grains are less likely to clump and therefore each grain cooks evenly. Turn heat up to medium-high.
  • Use a wooden spoon or spatula to scoop the rice from bottom up and repeat the motion to toss the grains without smashing them. This scooping motion also helps the moisture to evaporate and keeps the rice grains crisp. You should hear the sizzling sound. If not, turn the heat up a bit more.
  • When you see the rice grains start popping, that means the grains are no longer wet, about 3-4 minutes, add the peas and carrots and season the rice with salt, garlic powder, shiitake bouillon, if using, and white pepper, toss for 10 seconds.
  • Turn heat up to high and push the ingredients to the side of the pan, add the light and dark soy sauce and sesame oil to the center of the pan. The sauce will immediate sizzle as soon as it hits the hot pan and creates a nice aroma. Quickly fold the rice in to coat with the sauce and toss everything to combine until the rice grains are no longer wet, 2-3 minutes. The pan will be really hot so be careful as you cook.
  • Return the eggs to the pan and use your spatula to break up the eggs while tossing and scooping. Turn off the heat. Transfer to a large serving plate. Garnish with green onions. Serve warm.


  • If using coconut aminos instead of soy sauce, skip the added sugar—it’s naturally sweeter.
  • Success in fried rice lies beyond just using day-old, cold rice; it’s crucial to consider the order, timing, and temperature of your cooking.
  • To prevent clumping and ensure even cooking, gently separate the refrigerated rice grains with your hands before adding them to the pan.
  • While a wok isn’t necessary, it does add a unique smoky flavor known as ‘wok hei.’ However, a large pan can also achieve crispy rice grains by providing ample cooking surface.
  • High heat is essential to keep the ingredients crisp and avoid soggy rice, key for that perfect fried rice texture.
  • When cooking rice, aim for grains that are cooked through yet firm, avoiding mushiness. After cooking, fluff the rice and let it cool to room temperature before refrigerating loosely covered, to prevent the grains from smashing together. This prep ensures the rice is in optimal condition for frying.


Serving: 1serving, Calories: 195kcal, Carbohydrates: 27g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 0.01g, Cholesterol: 62mg, Sodium: 449mg, Potassium: 130mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 0.4g, Vitamin A: 1632IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 26mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American Chinese
Keyword: Panda Express fried rice, Panda express gluten free fried rice
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