Cheap Fried Rice Recipe from Leftovers

Last Updated on January 26, 2023 by Ellen Christian

This cheap fried rice recipe is one of the best ways to use up leftovers. Make this budget-friendly dinner recipe for your family today.

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Frugal Fried Rice Recipe from Scratch Using Leftovers

Cheap Fried Rice Recipe

One of the best ways to keep your grocery budget in check is to eliminate food waste. If you’re like me, you probably put leftover meat and vegetables in the refrigerator with every intention of using them. But, if you aren’t careful, you don’t use up the leftovers before their gone.

We love Chinese fried rice from our local takeout restaurant but eating out isn’t in our budget very often. Thankfully, it’s very easy to make your own leftover fried rice at home with this recipe. The base recipe is the same. You can turn it into a chicken fried rice recipe by using chicken or go all out and make it a shrimp fried rice recipe.

If you’re looking for a cheap fried rice recipe, stick to using leftovers even if they aren’t typically Chinese. You can add in leftover broccoli and ham just as easily as you can add in water chestnuts and pork. Pork fried rice is always popular at our house. Or, make plain fried rice without meat if you don’t’ have any.

dishes of Chinese food on a wooden table

Frequently asked questions

What type of rice is best for fried rice?

Traditionally, long grain rice like Jasmine is used when you make fried rice. But, if you are hoping to make a cheap fried rice recipe, use what you have on hand or what is on sale at the grocery store. There really isn’t much difference in taste.

What are the ingredients for fried rice?

My frugal fried rice recipe has been evolving for years so I do a lot of substitutions depending on what I have in the cupboard or garden at the time I make it. I usually use plain white rice. But, it’s more authentic to use jasmine rice in your recipe. You may want to add some of my gluten-free Asian sauce. Other than that, you will need leftover meat and vegetables. Some people like to add an egg to their fried rice.

This cheap fried rice recipe is one of the best ways to use up leftovers. Make this budget-friendly dinner recipe for your family today.

Most Chinese fried rice recipes having soy sauce in them which helps give it an authentic taste. When choosing your soy sauce, be careful. Most traditional soy sauces contain gluten. I use this gluten-free soy sauce.

Should rice be cold for fried rice?

Ideally, you want to use rice that is cold when you make Chinese fried rice. That’s why it’s a great way to use up leftovers. If you don’t have leftovers, make the rice in the morning and put it in the refrigerator until dinner time.

I like cooking mine in a wok. It’s not a requirement you understand. It just gives the recipe a more authentic feel for me. I also like eating it with chopsticks. The kids and I have been using them for years. My husband refuses and eats his with a fork.

vegetables cooking in a black wok

What should I serve with cheap fried rice?

We like making our own bean sprouts and often add some to the top when we have them. You can also purchase bean sprouts from the store. But learning how to make your own bean sprouts is much more fun. If you want a whole meal, try my Chinese banquet buffet menu. This cheap fried rice can work for a banquet as well.

This recipe is really a whole meal in itself since it has rice, meat, and vegetables. But, you can always serve chicken wings or boneless spare ribs if you feel like you need to have more meat in your meal.

Best pan for making Chinese food

When you cook in a wok, it’s very important that you take care of it properly. If you’re using a non-stick wok, it’s just a matter of washing it and being careful not to scratch it. But, if you’re cooking in a traditional wok, check out the video below for some tips.

So, you might want to check out this easy shrimp fried rice recipe if you enjoyed this cheap fried rice recipe.

Related Reading

Yield: 4

Cheap Fried Rice Recipe

This cheap fried rice recipe is one of the best ways to use up leftovers. Make this budget-friendly dinner recipe for your family today.

This cheap fried rice recipe is one of the best ways to use up leftovers. Make this budget-friendly dinner recipe for your family today.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 2 cups leftover finely chopped cooked meat
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 stalks green onion chopped 
  • 4 cups leftover cooked rice 
  • 3/4 cup whatever veggie you have 
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce 


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok. 
  2. Scramble three eggs and cook until almost done.
  3. Remove the eggs from the pan. 
  4. Scrape it as clean as you can. 
  5. Add one tablespoon of oil and heat. 
  6. Then add the chopped onion.
  7. Once the onions are cooked till translucent, add the cooked rice and stir well.
  8. Add in the soy sauce and mix well. 
  9. Add the meat, vegetables, and scrambled egg and mix well. 
  10. Heat over low heat until it's all hot.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 487Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 201mgSodium: 549mgCarbohydrates: 48gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 29g

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If you make this, tag me on Instagram so I can see @ellenblogs

2 thoughts on “Cheap Fried Rice Recipe from Leftovers”

  1. I love my wok! It is so much easier than trying to stir everything in a large pan and ending up with rice all over your stove! I've never heard of Steamy Kitchen. I'll have to check that one out. Thanks for stopping by!
  2. That looks yummy!

    So do you like your wok? I got the book Steamy Kitchen (which I love by the way) and she talks about the types of woks out there. But I haven't had a chance to price them.

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