Crunchy, seasonal veggies shine in Thai Vegetable Fried Rice with Cashews. Prep ahead for meal planning and dinner comes together quick! Top with texture rich sesame seeds and green onions, for the best homemade vegetarian fried rice! This recipe is vegan or vegetarian and easily gluten free. [ see VIDEO on recipe card ]
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I’ve been a fan of fried rice for as long as I can remember. Before making it at home, I wasn’t quite sure what ingredients created the salty, spicy and umami flavors I adore. And, I always assumed vegetable fried rice was vegetarian or, omit the egg to make it vegan.
The secrets of the best Thai fried rice eluded me until I started Googling and asking questions at a favorite Thai cafe years ago. Specifically, it was the texture and flavors I couldn’t quite nail down. Also, I always crave more veggies in fried rice than what’s offered at restaurants.
This was, in part, motivation to recreate those flavors and a packed with veggies homemade vegetarian fried rice.
Secrets of Vegetarian Fried Rice without Fish Sauce
In my search of how to make vegetarian fried rice at home, I found fish and/or oyster sauce to be key ingredients. So I started exploring subs and found it in liquid aminos. While it’s very close in flavor to Tamari and soy sauce, it has a certain edge to it, over-the-top umami (without MSG), enough so that I include it in my Asian cooking when fish or oyster sauce is called for. It has a long shelf life, so I don’t have to worry about using it quickly.
I also learned that making vegetarian fried rice with day old rice is key to attain that light, fluffy, lifted and separated effect we all know and love when it comes to fried rice.
Quick Guide: How to Make Vegetarian Fried Rice
Thai fried rice comes together fast, so having all your veggies prepped is key to pulling this recipe together quick! In summary, here’s how to make it (see recipe card below for details):
- First, prepare the rice at least one day before you plan to make the fried rice. The overnight rest will give your Thai fried rice fabulous texture.
- Second, toast the cashews.
- Third, saute’ veggies like onions, mushrooms, bell pepper, garlic, ginger and pepper (chili) flakes in sesame oil.
- Next, add flavor builders like Tamari (to keep it gluten free), liquid aminos and a bit of brown sugar. Stir, stir… stir!
- Last, now it’s time to add the rice. Fry it up, then stir in the remaining veggies like peas, broccoli and basil.
Garnish with toasted cashews, green onions, sesame seeds and Thai basil!
A Few Recipe Notes
- Using day old rice for vegetarian fried rice is essential for a fabulous texture and creates a lifted and separated effect – this is what we all want, right? (ahem). And it creates an overall fluffiness that’s hard to resist. Besides, once the rice is done, prepping the veggies and cooking this recipe is a snap – hello weeknight dinner!
- Now is not the time to skimp on oil. This is fried rice after-all. I choose toasted sesame oil because it has a high smoke point and it adds an overall nutty sesame flavor.
- More Spicy: To amp up the spicy, add more red pepper flakes – this recipe is about a spicy 3.
- Variations: There are many ways to change-up the vegetarian fried rice recipe using veggies on hand or those that are in season. I love adding a cup of shredded cabbage in place of broccoli or carrots in place of peas… bean sprouts, snow peas… you get the idea.
- Don’t throw out those broccoli stems! Shred it and include it in cole slaw or broccoli slaw.
- Thai basil is a complete weakness for me, and although I grow my own during summer, this is something I buy out of season. It’s a must in this recipe and curry. Cilantro makes a delicious addition as well.
- Liquid Aminos: I use it in place of fish/oyster sauce in my Asian cooking. It tastes similar to Tamari, but perhaps teases out more of that umami flavor in Thai recipes without using fish/oyster sauce.
- Thai Vegetable Fried Rice with Cashews is vegetarian and vegan friendly; a fried egg or prepared tofu is a delicious addition to this recipe.
More Thai Inspired Recipes to Love
- Thai Peanut Noodle Salad
- Thai Mushroom Pumpkin Curry
- Forbidden Rice Salad with Mango and Coconut Curried Dressing
- Red Curry with Eggplant and Sweet Peppers
- Cauliflower Potato Red Lentil Curry
- Red Curry Masoor Dal (spicy red lentils)
Thai Vegetable Fried Rice with Cashews Recipe
- 1 C (145g) Cashews whole, raw
- 5 Tbs (55g) Toasted Sesame Oil
- 1 1/2 C (150g) Yellow or Purple Onion large dice - about 1 medium onion
- 1 C (60g) Shiitake or Crimini Mushrooms sliced or large dice, stems removed
- 1 C (140g) Red Bell Pepper large dice - about 1 medium pepper
- 1 Tbs Fresh Garlic microplaned
- 1 Tbs Fresh Ginger microplaned
- 2 tsp Red Chili Pepper Flakes this is spicy(ish) around spicy 3!
- 4 Tbs Tamari divided, plus more for serving
- 2 Tbs Liquid Aminos* (see note) or more Tamari
- 1 Tbs Brown Sugar
- 4 C (475g) Jasmine Rice ** (see note) cooked, and chilled (day old works best here - see note)*
- 4 C (300g) Broccoli Florets cut to bite size
- 1 C (105g) Sweet Peas frozen
- 1/2 Lime
- 2 Tbs Thai Basil chopped, or to taste
Serve With (optional):
- lime wedges
- green onions
- sesame seeds
- plenty of chopped thai basil or cilantro
- fried egg or prepared tofu on the top
- Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Place the cashews in a baking pan and bake for about 12-14 minutes until fragrant and golden. Set aside to cool.
- In a large Dutch oven, add the sesame oil and heat until shimmering. To test to see if the oil is hot enough, toss in a piece of onion. If it starts frying, it's ready! Add the onions and saute for two minutes on medium. To the onions, add the mushrooms and stir fry for two minutes. Add the bell peppers to the onions and mushrooms and stir fry for two more minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes to the vegetable mixture and saute for one minute on medium-low. Add two Tbs Tamari, Liquid Aminos (or more Tamari) and sugar, stir. To the Dutch oven, spoon in the rice and stir fry for about four to five minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan where needed, until all the rice is coated with the oil and the veggies are evenly distributed. If the rice begins to stick, add a few tablespoons of water to deglaze.
- To the rice mixture, add the broccoli and sweet peas. Stir until vegetable are evenly distributed. Cook on low heat stirring occasionally for 5-8 minutes until broccoli is tender crisp (or until desired tenderness). Taste the rice for seasoning adjustment, adding two more tablespoons of Tamari (or more) if desired. This will also help deglaze the Dutch oven. Squeeze in 1/2 lime juice and stir in the cashews and fresh basil or cilantro. Add more herbs to taste.
- Spoon the rice into big bowls, sprinkle or serve with green onions, sesame seeds, more herbs and lime wedges. If serving with tofu or fried eggs, add to the bowls now. For those that love even more spicy, serve with Sriracha.
- Store in a lidded container for up to three days in the refrigerator.