Who says fried rice has to be boring?
With a few of the right herbs and spices, you can transform pedestrian pantry staples into restaurant-quality dishes in no time.
To help you give your fried rice recipes an extra kick, I’ve rounded up my all-time favorite spices for this classic dish.
From turmeric, cumin, and ginger to Chinese five-spice powder and more, you’ll find plenty of creative options here to take your homemade fried rice from good to great.
Read Also: 30 Fried Rice Toppings Ideas
The Best Herbs and Spices for Fried Rice
If there’s one thing that makes fried rice better, it’s the right herbs and spices.
Check out these essential seasonings!
Ginger is a beloved herb/spice that has a unique flavor.
It’s hard to describe, but it’s often labeled as spicy, peppery, and either warm or hot.
Some people also find it sweet, especially with young ginger which is very juicy and mild in flavor.
When adding ginger to your fried rice recipe, how much you use will depend on the type of dish you’re making and what kind of flavors you want to achieve.
If you’re aiming for something more subtle and mellow, start by adding 1 teaspoon of minced fresh ginger root (or ¼ teaspoon ground).
You can always add more if needed!
Ginger pairs well with many ingredients including garlic, onion, chili peppers, star anise, and lemongrass.
2. Black Pepper
Black pepper has a sharp, penetrating aroma and a distinctive woody, piney flavor.
It can be hot and biting to taste, but it also adds an interesting depth of flavor when used correctly.
In terms of quantity, you should use one teaspoon or two for every four servings of fried rice – depending on how much heat you like!
Black pepper pairs well with other herbs and spices such as garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, basil, thyme, and parsley.
You can also add some freshly ground black pepper just before serving your dish to give it that extra kick!
3. Chopped Green Onions
Chopped green onions, also known as scallions, have a sweet and mild flavor compared to their bulbous cousins the onion.
They are crisp, bright in color, and make for an excellent addition to any dish.
When it comes to fried rice recipes specifically, I recommend adding about one tablespoon of chopped green onions per cup of uncooked rice.
This will give your fried rice the perfect amount of flavor without overpowering the other ingredients.
Green onions pair well with many different ingredients; they bring out the flavors in seafood dishes like salmon or shrimp.
When added to salads they add a nice crunchy texture and great flavor as well! You can even use them to top off tacos or burgers for some extra zestiness.
Salt has a unique flavor that can be described as salty, of course, but also sourness, sweetness, and bitterness under certain situations.
The amount of salt you should add to your fried rice really depends on how much flavor you want the dish to have overall.
Generally speaking, I would recommend adding about ¼ teaspoon per serving – more or less depending on your personal taste preferences.
Salt pairs well with many ingredients such as garlic powder, onion powder, and other herbs and spices like paprika and cumin.
These all help enhance the flavors in the dish while still allowing the saltiness to shine through.
Additionally, vegetables like mushrooms or bell peppers work great when combined with salt; they give an extra depth of flavor!
5. Garlic Powder
Garlic powder has a milder flavor than fresh garlic, with sweet and garlicky undertones.
It can be used to add a subtle garlicky taste to dishes without overpowering them.
I recommend adding about 1 teaspoon of garlic powder for every 2 cups of cooked rice.
However, feel free to adjust the amount as desired according to your own personal preference and taste.
Garlic powder pairs well with other herbs and spices such as cumin, parsley, oregano, paprika, thyme, and basil.
For an extra garlicky kick in your recipes try adding a combination of these flavors together!
6. Brown Sugar (Yes, Really)
The amount of brown sugar you should add to your fried rice will depend on how sweet you want it to be. Start with a teaspoon and adjust as needed.
When it comes to ingredients that pair well with brown sugar, think about spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger, and cardamom.
Fruits like apples, oranges, peaches, and plums are also delicious when paired with brown sugar!
7. Red Pepper Flakes
Red pepper flakes have a slightly sharp, earthy flavor with a good amount of spice.
They don’t have too strong a flavor, which is why they are often used to add heat but not an overwhelming taste.
In terms of how much to add to your recipe, it’s best to start small and then adjust as desired.
A teaspoon or two should be enough for most fried rice recipes – you can always add more if needed!
When it comes to ingredients that pair well with red pepper flakes, there are many options.
Garlic and onions will help bring out its flavor while vegetables like carrots and celery will help cut the spiciness.
For some sweetness, try adding bell peppers or tomatoes.
You could also use herbs such as basil or oregano for extra depth of flavor!
8. Flax Seeds
Flaxseed has a very mild, nutty flavor.
Its taste is not overpowering and adds a nice depth of flavor to dishes.
If you are using it in fried rice, the general rule of thumb is to add one tablespoon per person.
You can also adjust the ratio depending on how strong you want the flavor to be.
Flaxseed pairs well with other ingredients such as garlic, onions, cooked vegetables, and even fruits like apples or oranges.
It goes especially nicely with herbs such as parsley and basil for an added earthy note.
Basil has a unique flavor that’s a balance between sweet and savory.
It also has hints of mint, anise, and pepper – so it’s quite fragrant!
The taste can be described as delicate yet bold.
If you are making fried rice with basil, start off by adding one or two teaspoons of the leaves to your dish.
This will give you a good flavor without overpowering the other ingredients in your recipe.
You could always add more later if desired.
Basil goes well with many other flavors such as garlic, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and cheese like feta or mozzarella.
To enhance its flavor even further try adding some red pepper flakes for a little kick!
Thyme is a unique herb that adds a sharp and minty flavor to your dishes.
The aroma of thyme is strong, but its taste is quite subtle – earthy with floral hints, slightly sweet and peppery.
When adding it to fried rice or any other dish, start by sprinkling 1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme over the top or use 5-7 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves.
You can always add more if necessary!
Thyme pairs well with many other ingredients common in many recipes such as onion, garlic, rosemary, parsley, and oregano.
It’s also great when combined with mushrooms and lemon juice for added flavor!
The taste of oregano is slightly bitter and pungent, with earthy/musty, green, hay, and minty notes.
It’s a versatile herb that can be used in many dishes such as pizza, pasta sauces, salads, stews, and soups to give them an extra kick.
When adding oregano to your fried rice recipe, it’s best to start with just a pinch or two if you’re using the dried form.
You can always add more later if needed.
If you’re using fresh oregano leaves instead of the dried version then add about 1 teaspoon per cup of cooked rice.
Pairing ingredients with oregano is easy!
Garlic, basil, and thyme all work together nicely when added together while tomatoes pair especially well due to their acidity which helps cut through the bitterness of this herb/spice.
Chili peppers are another great addition for those who like spicy food; they will enhance the flavor even further!
Mint has a unique and refreshing flavor that can be described as subtly sweet with an underlying cool sensation.
This is due to the menthol found in the herb, which gives it its distinct taste.
When adding mint to fried rice, start by adding only a small amount at first and then adjusting according to your preference.
The intensity of the flavor will depend on how much you add so be sure not to overdo it!
As for ingredients that pair well with mint, think of those that are often used in Mediterranean cuisine such as tomato, feta cheese, olives, couscous, lemon juice, or zest.
Mint also goes great with grilled fish or chicken dishes and other vegetables like potatoes and carrots.
Dill is an aromatic herb with a unique flavor that can be described as sweet and bright, similar to the taste of anise, parsley, and celery.
It also has a pungent aroma when it’s dried.
When preparing fried rice dishes, you can add about one teaspoon per serving for a mild flavor or up to two teaspoons for a more intense flavor.
You may want to adjust the amount depending on your preference.
Dill pairs well with many other ingredients such as garlic, onion, lemon juice, tomatoes, potatoes, mushrooms, and fish.
You can use dill in salads too!
Try mixing it with cucumber slices and feta cheese for a tasty combination.
14. Onion Powder
Onion powder has a sharp, pungent taste that is reminiscent of the fresh onion.
The flavor is quite strong and can easily overpower other ingredients in a dish.
That’s why care should be taken to ensure that you don’t overdo it when using onion powder.
In your fried rice recipe, start by adding 1 teaspoon of onion powder and then adjust according to taste.
Onion powder pairs well with meats like beef or pork, poultry like chicken or turkey, as well as fish and seafood.
It also goes nicely with vegetables such as potatoes, squash, carrots, green beans or mushrooms!
Herbs like basil and oregano work great too.
15. Sesame Seeds
To get the most out of this delicious ingredient, it’s best to toast them first in a dry pan until they start to pop.
This enhances their nutty taste.
When making fried rice, you can add anywhere from 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of sesame seeds – depending on your preference for intensity of flavor and texture.
Sesame seeds pair well with other herbs and spices like red pepper flakes, ginger, garlic powder, and cumin.
These ingredients bring out the natural sweetness of sesame seeds while adding some heat and spice!
15 Best Herbs and Spices for Fried Rice
- Black Pepper
- Chopped Green Onions
- Garlic Powder
- Brown Sugar
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Flax Seeds
- Onion Powder
- Sesame Seeds
- Pick your favorite spices and herbs from this collection to add to your fried rice.
- Prepare the rest of your delicious meal.
- Enjoy in no time!