This Thai Green Curry Fried Rice is brimming with colorful veggies, crispy tofu, and fresh herbs like cilantro and basil. This recipe is by no means traditional, but it's definitely a delicious way to prepare fried rice! And, it's super quick and easy to make.
We usually keep curry paste in the pantry—and this recipe is a great example of how versatile it really is! Green curry paste is a delicious way to jazz up day-old rice. (Don't worry if you don't have day-old rice in the fridge, we've included tips on how to use fresh rice too!). You can adapt this green curry fried rice recipe to suit what you have on hand. Feel free to use your favorite combination of veggies and/or swap out the tofu for another protein. Just be sure to taste and adjust seasonings at the end—because every brand of curry paste is slightly different.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Quick cooking: Fried rice makes an easy weeknight dinner, especially if you're short on time. This recipe comes together in 25 minutes!
- Adaptable: Fried rice is very versatile, so feel free to adapt the ingredients to what you have on hand. Swap out the tofu for eggs or leave it out altogether. Swap out the red pepper for celery, if you prefer. And feel free to add any other veggies that catch your eye!
- An eggless fried rice recipe: Often, fried rice recipes call for eggs. This recipe instead uses tofu for a delicious plant-based source of protein.
- Coconut free: Adding liquid to the thick curry paste helps thin it, so that it can more evenly coat the rice. Coconut milk is a common pairing with green curry paste. But, we developed this recipe to use water instead, to help the green curry paste shine without introducing coconut flavors. If you're allergic to coconut, don't like it, or don't have any at home, then this recipe is for you!
Ingredients and substitutes
- Rice: It's important to use cooked and cooled rice to make fried rice. Otherwise the rice grains can stick together, resulting in mushy fried rice. We recommend Jasmine rice, but another long-grain or medium-grain white rice works too.
- Green Curry Paste: Some Thai curry pastes contain shrimp, so if you're looking for a vegan option, check the label to confirm. You'll get the best selection of curry pastes at an Asian grocery store, but Thai Kitchen is a readily available vegan option.
- Basil: If you can get ahold of Thai basil, use it! Otherwise, use Italian basil (as we often do). Either will add fresh, almost peppery, notes to the dish. But, Thai basil is slightly more intensely flavored—and has sturdier leaves that holds up better to heat (source).
- Tofu: Tofu is the plant-based source of protein in this fried rice recipe. But, you could substitute the tofu for scrambled eggs or just skip it altogether.
- Tamari: Provides a salty source of umami. Can be substituted with soy sauce.
How to make (step-by-step photos)
Fried rice makes a filling and quick-cooking meal. In fact, it comes together in 25 minutes or less! Here's how to make this Thai Green Curry Fried Rice recipe:
Tips for fried rice
- Use chilled cooked rice: Don't use hot, freshly cooked rice to make fried rice—it will likely stick together and get mushy. Instead, use fully cooled rice. Day-old rice is most convenient—and a great way to use up leftovers!
- If you must use freshly cooked rice: If you don't have day-old rice, follow these steps. First, spread the cooked rice on a baking sheet to release excess stem. Let sit on the counter for about 15 minutes, or until no longer hot. Transfer the sheet of rice to the fridge to fully cool before using. (Having the rice spread out will allow it to cool faster).
- Prep all your ingredients before cooking: Fried rice cooks very quickly, so make sure everything is chopped and ready to go before you turn on the stove to cook.
- Use high heat: With fried rice, it's best to cook it quickly on high heat. Toss the rice and other ingredients almost continuously, to avoid burning. Using too low heat will cause the ingredients to steam, which you don't want.
- Avoid non-stick pans: Coated non-stick pans typically don't hold up at the high heats that are best for stir-frying. We recommend a well-seasoned cast iron pan or a wok, if you have one.
- Trade in the stirring spoon: Chinese stir-fry spatulas look more like a flipper/turner, rather than a rounded spoon. If you don't have one (we don't!), use a flipper or fish spatula. The thin, flat bottom helps you get under the ingredients to flip, rather than smooshing or stirring.
Frequently asked questions
No, not all green curry pastes are vegan. Some curry pastes use shrimp paste or other non-vegan ingredients. Check the label if you are unsure.
Cooked rice can be refrigerated for up to 3 to 4 days, or frozen for up to 2 months.
Medium or long grain white rice, like Jasmine rice, are best for fried rice. The grains aren't as sticky as short-grain rice, so that the rice grains stay distinct and hold up during stir frying.
Our favorite method for reheating fried rice is in a hot, lightly oiled skillet. The rice gets reheated quickly this way, without overcooking the vegetables too much. Alternatively, you can reheat the fried rice in a microwave—but it won't be quite as crisp.
Thai Green Curry Fried Rice
- 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil, divided (or other neutral oil)
- 6 oz extra-firm tofu, cubed (½-inch/1.5 cm pieces, about 1 cup)
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
- 3 carrots, diced
- ½ of a red bell pepper, diced (about ⅔ cup)
- 2 shallots (or ½ cup diced onion)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups cooked and cooled Jasmine rice (or other long- or medium-grain white rice, see note 1)
- 4 to 5 tablespoons green curry paste (see note 2)
- ¼ cup water
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 1 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce)
- 1 cup cilantro, chopped
- ½ cup fresh basil, chopped (Thai basil, otherwise Italian, see note 3)
- lime wedges (for squeezing, optional, see note 4)
- Sauté tofu and veggies: Warm 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu and half of the salt; sauté until light golden, about 3 minutes. Add carrots and sauté until tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Add bell pepper and remaining salt. Saute until bell pepper starts to soften, about 1 minute. Transfer everything to a bowl, set aside.
- Sauté aromatics and rice: Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the skillet, over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic, stirring continuously until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add rice. Sauté, tossing until rice is hot and slightly crisp, about 4 minutes.
- Add curry paste: Push the rice to the edges of the skillet. To the middle of the skillet, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, then green curry paste. Let sizzle until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds, stirring. Pour water over curry paste and stir vigorously to mix. Then, gently stir the curry mixture into the rice until it's evenly coated. Stir in tamari and green peas and cook until defrosted, about 1 minute.
- Finish seasoning: Add tofu and vegetables to the rice. Toss to mix. Taste and adjust seasoning (more salt or tamari, and curry paste if needed). Stir in the cilantro and basil. Scoop rice into bowls and serve with a lime wedge for squeezing.
- Rice for fried rice: We recommend using cooked Jasmine rice, but another type of long-grain or medium-grain white rice works too. Use cooked and cooled rice when making fried rice. If you don't have day-old rice in the fridge, cook a fresh batch, then spread it out on a baking sheet to release steam (about 15 minutes). Then, transfer rice to the fridge and refrigerate until cool.
- Thai Green Curry Paste: Curry paste varies by brand. If using Thai Kitchen brand, you'll likely want to use the higher end of the range, because it's fairly mild. Adding curry paste to oil is a technique called "blooming", which helps amplify the spices' flavor (source). Since curry paste is thick, this recipe calls for adding water to help thin the curry paste (in step 3), so that it can more evenly mix throughout the rice.
- Basil: Thai cooking usually uses Thai basil, which has purple stems and a slightly more intense savory, peppery taste. Italian basil tends to be milder, with a peppery-sweet taste. Both will add fresh, herbaceous notes to the fried rice...so use what you can get your hands on.
- Lime wedges: A small bit of fresh lime juice (acid) brightens up the dish, but feel free to leave it out if you prefer.
- Storage tips: Transfer leftovers to a container and refrigerate for 3 to 4 days.
- Reheating instructions: For best results, reheat rice in a lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat. Alternatively, use a microwave.