Turkey fried rice
This Turkey fried rice recipe is quick, easy, and very economical to make. It’s the perfect Thanksgiving leftover makeover dish and great for every day. Using leftover cooked turkey and pantry ingredients, you can make this delicious fried rice in no time.
I’ll show you how to make it so your fried rice tastes just as good as the Chinese restaurants, if not better! If you don’t have a rice cooker, you can learn how to cook rice in an air fryer, so you won’t miss out.
You won’t need a trip to the grocery store to make leftover turkey fried rice. This dish comes together easily with everyday pantry ingredients:
- Cooked turkey – You can use leftover breast meat, turkey thighs, or drumstick. Then, dice them into small bite-sized pieces.
- Cooked white rice – Use day-old cooked and refrigerated long-grain basmati or jasmine white rice.
- Scallions – Dice and separate the green and white parts. I use the white parts for cooking, and the green parts for garnish.
- Yellow onion – It adds a sweet flavor to the fried rice. You can also use shallot.
- Large eggs – Use room temperature or refrigerated eggs. Whisk them well.
- Avocado oil – A neutral-flavored oil to make fried rice. Other oils such as rice bran oil or light olive oil work too.
- Coarse sea salt, garlic powder, white pepper – The perfect seasoning combo for fried rice.
- Mixed frozen vegetables with peas, carrots, green beans, and corn – Easy and fast to use, they are very economical.
- Coconut aminos – You can also use half the amount of light soy sauce for a similar taste.
- Vegetarian oyster sauce – Adds a nice savory and sweet flavor to the rice. Store-bought versions or regular oyster sauce works well, too.
- Toasted sesame oil – Drizzle over the rice right before serving. Adds a nice aroma to the dish.
Substitutions and variations
- Different proteins: This dish is made with turkey, but you can use cooked chicken leftovers from oven roasted spatchcock chicken or maple orange spatchcock chicken, or even lean ground turkey for fried rice ground turkey.
- Rice varieties: Shirataki rice or cauliflower rice are great for a low-carb alternative. You can also use cooked and refrigerated brown rice.
- Crunchy veggies: Stir fry the rice with small diced Broccoli florets, diced bell peppers, and other veggies for extra texture.
- Different sauces: Other than oyster sauce, adding keto teriyaki sauce or shacha sauce gives flavor to the fried rice. You can even drizzle the rice with some Thai peanut sauce and sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds before digging in.
How to make the dish
Making great fried rice involves more than just using cooked, cold day-old rice. The order in which you add ingredients to the pan, the timing, and the temperature are also important. Follow my step-by-step guide (plus a video on the recipe card) to make your Thanksgiving fried rice (or any fried rices) taste just like the restaurants!
- Dice the turkey into bite-sized cubes. Set aside some rice and prepare the spring onions and yellow onions. Then, whisk the eggs.
- Preheat a saute pan or wok over medium heat until it’s warm. Add oil and pour the eggs in. Gently stir and scramble the eggs. Put it aside in a bowl.
- Turn up the heat to medium-high. Saute the onion and white part of the scallion with a bit of salt and oil for 10 seconds.
- Using a cooking kitchen glove, add the rice little by little with your hands. Do this gently to separate the rice grains, avoid them from clumping, and ensure they cook evenly.
- At medium-high heat, scoop the rice repeatedly with a wooden spoon or spatula from the bottom up and gently toss it. This motion keeps the rice crisp and helps the moisture evaporate.
- When you hear the rice popping, season it with salt, garlic powder, and white pepper.
- Turn up the heat to high. Add the frozen veggies and turkey. Continue scooping and tossing for 2-3 minutes.
- Make a well in the center of the pan. Add soy sauce and oyster sauce, then the eggs. Toss everything immediately to combine all the ingredients.
- Take it off the heat. Drizzle toasted sesame oil and garnish with green onions.
What kind of rice is best for fried rice?
Day-old, refrigerated rice works best for fried rice. The ideal types of rice to use are basmati rice or long-grain white rice like jasmine. These varieties are less starchy so the individual grains are less likely to clump together when fried.
If you don’t have a rice cooker, you can make air fryer rice which yields fluffy rice, perfect for making fried rice.
Good fried rice should have rice grains that are separate and not stuck together, mushy, or wet. The refrigeration process helps dry out the rice so it fries up light and fluffy rather than gummy. For the best texture, chill cooked rice overnight before stir-frying them.
Short-grain white rice is the most challenging variety to use when making fried rice, as it tends to get clumpy when cooked.
How to make-ahead, store, and reheat
Whether you’re using turkey leftovers, or using turkey mince to make ground turkey fried rice, this Thanksgiving fried rice dish is great for meal prep. Follow these instructions to make it ahead:
- Make-ahead: Cook and refrigerate the rice a day in advance so it dries out and turns out fluffy and crispy when fried.
- Storage: Keep any leftovers in an airtight container. It’s good for up to 4 days when kept in the fridge.
- Reheat: To reheat, stir fry the rice in a hot pan for 5 minutes, or until the rice becomes warm.
What to serve with leftover turkey and rice
If you’re looking for finger-licking whole turkey or turkey in parts recipes, check out these delicious recipes by my friends – herb roasted turkey and roasted turkey drumsticks are perfect for Thanksgiving. Using the turkey leftovers, you can stir fry them with rice and pair them with other wholesome dishes:
- Add a topping: Top off your turkey fried rice with black pepper beef, or salt and pepper tofu air fryer. You can also have it with rice paper dumplings or rice paper egg rolls, an upcoming recipe so stay tuned!
- Serve with soup: Warm soups like Asian chicken noodle soup, chicken hot and sour soup, and chicken corn soup pair well with a bowl of fried rice. You can even make them using extra-cooked turkey or chicken, so there is a lot that you can make with Thanksgiving leftovers.
- Use day-old, refrigerated rice. Long-grain varieties like jasmine and basmati work best to keep rice grains separate and fluffy.
- The order of adding ingredients, timing, and temperature are key. Aromatics first, then proteins and veggies, and seasoning last.
- Add the rice gradually, gently separating the grains with your hands (wear a glove). This prevents clumping so each grain cooks evenly.
- You don’t need a wok, but it imparts a nice smoky aroma called wok hei. Use the largest pan possible for maximum crispiness.
- Use a large skillet or wok and keep the heat high. The ample cooking surface and high heat will help yield crispy rice grains.
- Add ingredients in stages, starting with aromatics like onions and garlic, then the leftover turkey and vegetables, and seasoning last. This prevents overcooking.
- Toss and stir the rice frequently, scooping it from the bottom and maintaining movement. This separates any clumps and ensures even cooking.
The secret to good fried rice is using cold, dried-out rice to keep grains separate, cooking at high heat in a large pan to create crispy textures, tossing rice frequently to prevent mushiness, and adding aromatics, proteins, vegetables, and seasonings in the right order so flavors develop without overcooking.
Chinese fried rice gets its signature flavor not only from aromatics like ginger, garlic, and scallions sautéed at the start and sauces like soy or oyster sauce added at the end but also from the high heat of the wok. Cooking in a hot wok, especially over a flame, imparts a distinct smoky aroma called wok hei that permeates the rice. The high heat also creates crispy rice grains by evaporating moisture quickly
Fried rice tastes better when made with chilled, dried-out rice to keep grains separate, cooked in a very hot pan or wok at high heat to create crispy textures without mushiness, tossed frequently to evenly distribute ingredients, and flavored by sautéing aromatics first and adding a savory sauce at the end.
Chinese restaurants make excellent fried rice by using day-old rice for light, fluffy rice grains, cooking at very high heat in a well-seasoned wok to create wok hei (smoky flavor and crispy textures), continuously tossing and stirring, adding small-diced proteins for flavor distribution, and finishing with aromatics like scallions and a drizzle of sesame oil. Their technique and hot wok make the rice perfectly crispy and flavorful.
More fried rice recipes you might like
After you’ve given my leftover turkey fried rice a try, I have more fried rice recipes using cauliflower rice, shirataki rice, and more — the possibilities are endless! Here are some that you can try:
- Steak fried rice (marinated steak tossed with crisp rice grains. so good!)
- Air fryer fried rice (a super simple fried rice recipe made in an air fryer!)
- Konjac fried rice with chicken (a Thai-inspired chicken fried rice using shirataki rice)
- Shirataki fried rice (a simple garlic and egg fried rice using konjac rice)
- Kimchi cauliflower fried rice (Korean-inspired fried rice using riced cauliflower with kimchi!)
Turkey fried rice recipe
- 2 cups cooked turkey, diced to small bite size cubes
- 3 cups cooked rice, refrigerated and cold
- 2-3 bulb scallions, diced and separate white and green parts
- 1.5 oz yellow onion, chopped, quarter of 1 small
- 2 large eggs
- 1.5 tbsp avocado oil, divided
- ½ tsp coarse sea salt, plus more to taste
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
- 1 tbsp coconut aminos, or 0.5 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce, optional
- Drizzle toasted sesame oil
- Dice the cooked turkey to small bite size cubes. Set side the rice. Prepare the spring onions, yellow onions, and whisked the eggs.
- 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 scrambled eggs for about 10 seconds then transfer the eggs out and set aside in a bowl.
- Add 0.5 tbsp oil to the pan and turn heat up to medium-high, add the onion and white scallion parts with a pinch of salt, saute for 10 seconds.
- 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 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, season the rice with salt, garlic powder, and white pepper, toss for 10 seconds.
- Turn heat up to high then add the frozen veggies and turkey, keep scooping and tossing for 2-3 minutes.
- Push the ingredients to the side of the pan, add the soy sauce and oyster sauce to the center of the pan. The sauce will immediate sizzle and create a nice aroma. Quickly toss everything to combine for 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs and use your patula to break up the eggs while tossing and scooping. The pan will be really hot so be careful as you cook.
- Turn off the heat. Drizzle with toasted sesame oil and garnish with green scallion parts. Serve warm.
- Making great fried rice involves more than just using cooked, cold day-old rice. The order in which you add ingredients to the pan, the timing, and the temperature are also important.
- When adding cooked and refrigerated rice to the pan, use your hands to gently separate the rice grains as if you are sprinkling the grains into the hot pan. By doing some, the rice grains are less likely to clump and therefore each grain cooks evenly.
- You don’t need a wok to make great fried rice. However, a wok imparts a nice smoky aroma called wok hei.
- Use the largest pan you have when making fried rice. The more cooking surface area, the crispier the rice grains will be.
- You need the pan very hot to keep the ingredients crisp and rice grains from becoming mushy or watery. This high heat is key to great fried rice.
- For store-bought gluten-free oyster sauce, check out my Chinese pantry staples for my recommendations!
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