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 ]
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 alluded 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.
This was amazing. Did everything as described, but I only used 1 tsp of the crushed red pepper. However, I did put the sriracha sauce on the table for my husband! So flavorful & satisfying. Will definitely make this again.
Hi Peggy! Thank you for your note, giving the recipe a go and star rating! Super happy to receive your note :D
Hi! I would love to try this and am using the seasonal veggies I have on hand. I don’t have broccoli but I do have cabbage, like you mentioned! If using cabbage, what time should it be added into the recipe? This looks delicious and I’m so exited to try it!!
Hi Jane! Cabbage is wonderful in this recipe. I like it tender (not crunchy), so I add it right after the mushrooms. This gives it some time to cook down. You can slice it thin or in squareish bite size pieces. I hope this helps and you enjoy the recipe. Please keep me posted!
Toasted sesame oil has a lower smoke point. It is good for adding a lovely flavor to food, but regular sesame oil is more appropriate for stir frying. That being said, you can certainly add toasted sesame oil to this dish for flavor, but use regular sesame or grapeseed oil for the high temp cooking.
I almost never comment on recipes but this recipe has been a savior for me in these quarantine times. I am vegetarian and love cooking asian food at home. I’ve made it at least 6 or 7 times and it is really amazing. I try not to eat too much oil so I reduce the sesame oil to 2 tablespoons, and since I use soy sauce instead of tamari I reduce that slightly as well to more like 1/4 cup, but this is a winner recipe overall. The cashews add amazing flavor, and it’s great with fried tofu added and/or with a fried egg on top if you’re not vegan!
Hi Campbell! Thank you for your note, rating and giving the recipe a go! So happy to hear you’re enjoying the recipe. I appreciate your sharing your subs! Aren’t the cashews such a nice addition? Yes to tofu or egg… it makes this dish extra hearty!
Quote: “4 C (475g) Jasmine Rice ** (see note) cooked,”
I find it a bit unclear. 475 g of cooked rice is very little for 6 servings, unless we talk about a serious slimming diet.. Do you possibly mean 475 g dried rice to be cooked?
Otherwise it sounds delicious and I would like to try it.
Hi Oliver! I’m sorry about any confusion. You’ll need just what the recipe indicates, 4 C (475g) Cooked Jasmine rice. When cooking raw Jasmine rice (see notes) you’ll need 1 C (220g) of uncooked rice. Your right about 4 cups of rice alone not serving 6. It wouldn’t. But because of all the veggies that are added to this recipe, it will feed 6 (at least in our household it did). I hope this helps!
Thank you very much for your nice reply!
I cooked it today and it worked out very well. We were 1 adult and 2 teenagers and have about 2 servings left. I guess we are just big eaters because we are quite active and have a strict fitness routine. It is a nice tasty dish and we really enjoyed it.
I’m going to try this recipe this week! It sounds delicious and easy. If I don’t need the recipe to be gluten-free or vegetarian, can I use soy sauce to replace the Tamari and fish sauce to replace the liquid aminos? Or have I got them at backwards? Or can I use fish sauce for both? I live fish sauce and I’ve got lots of it.
Hi Sara…. you got it! Those are the swaps. Watch the salt however, as I’m not sure if the fish sauce is saltier than liquid aminos (320mg sodium per tsp of liquid aminos). I hope this helps and you enjoy the recipe!
You’re right and good thinking. I checked the fish sauce and it’s 535g of Adium per tsp. Luckily, I love salt but I’ll keep an eye on how much I use and not use any other added salt.
Thanks for your help!
I made this recipe the other day and it turned out fabulous and I loved it and will definitely be making it again.
So happy to hear, Vicki! Thank you for your note!
We had this for lunch today and it was absolutely delicious. I cooked the jasmine rice the day before and it does make a difference. I first used the instructions on the packet and it was a flop, I then used the rice instructions from recipe and came out perfect. Next time I would add a teeny bit more chili. Would also swap out the vegetables for ones that my hubbie likes, broccoli is not his favorite :) I bought the amino acids just for this recipe, now to google what else I can do with it.
Hi Dot! Thank you for coming back and leaving a note! I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe. I’ve been known to amp up the chili too – to a spicy 4 or even 5! I’ve a few more recipes on the blog that use liquid aminos. I tend to use it anywhere fish sauce is called for (to keep the recipe vegetarian! Lettuce wraps: https://vanillaandbean.com/thai-lentil-lettuce-wraps-with-miso-sriracha-peanut-sauce/ and Cauliflower Fried Rice: https://vanillaandbean.com/thai-vegetable-cauliflower-fried-rice-with-cashews/ Thank you again, Dot!
Could you use brown rice instead of jasmine or would that change the dish too much?
Hey Brittan! I think Brown Rice could work. It’s starchier than Jasmine, but if you give it a good rest in the fridge overnight so that it’s less sticky, I think it would be fine. I will say that the flavor and fragrance of Jasmine rice is really nice in this recipe though. I hope you enjoy it and please let us know how the brown rice works out for you.
Tessa | Salted Plains
I love using liquid aminos. Your tips for fried rice are awesome – I can’t wait to make this. And Heath might be your new bff! Haha. :) Beautiful photos too, my friend!
LOL – I hope you and Heath love it, Tessa! Isn’t LA tasty?
Nicole @ Foodie Loves Fitness
Mmmm, this fried rice sounds delicious! I love putting cashews in veggie & rice dishes, and I haven’t made fried rice in forever.
Thank you Nicole! It’s time for some fried rice!
Fried rice NEVER gets old and with cashews well it just sounds like heaven. I’m thinking this plus my meal prep jars and next weeks lunch is done!
I’m SO with you Aimee! Helloooo weekday lunch!
Izzy @ She Likes Food
I love fried rice too! Sometimes when we go out I order it as my main meal :) I’ve never been able to make it quite as good at home, so I will have to try your tips! I put liquid aminos on pretty much everything and really love the flavor so I bet it is perfect in fried rice! So pretty too!
It’s always my main meal… and this one, enjoyed simply with just the cashews. Sometimes I add an egg or tofu. Chill that rice overnight Izzy! You’ll be amazed! xo
This turned out so good. I loved the mushrooms, pepper, garlic and ginger and broccoli. I will definitely be making this again.
Hi Judith! Thank you so much for your note and giving this a go! The garlic and ginger really amp up the flavor profile… I love them too!
Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health
It’s funny, I rarely make fried rice at home because it’s never as good…well now I know why! All of your tips are so helpful and I love the Thai spin you’ve got going on here. So many flavors and textures. I’m good with all of the veggies you’ve included here, especially the broccoli stems. I didn’t realize they add such a nice texture until I used them in my broccoli salad recently. So delicious and such a great way to prevent food waste!
I completely get it Sarah… sticky, gloppy mess. The overnight or 4-8 hour rest does wonders for it! Who knew about briccoli stems? They are so sweet, but just need a bit of help to make them shine! I hope you enjoy the recipe, Sarah!
I’d love to do a high dive straight into this beautiful bowl! I am a huge fan of fried rice and this is whole new level fried rice! Love it! xo
I’m with you Annie! xo
I have such a love for Thai food this is just calling to me! It’s so beautiful too Traci!
Me too Jess! OMGeeee! So much so. I want to go to Thailand to learn how to cook!
Geraldine | Green Valley Kitchen
I love fried rice, Traci. You can put some many different veggies in there – I like to include bok choy or celery for a little crunch. And you are so right about left over rice – it’s the only way to make stir fried rice – other wise it’s just mushy. I sometime make a batch of rice in the AM and then have it in the fridge ready for a quick stir fry in the evening. Everything comes together so quickly – my kind of meal. Love all the bright colors and flavors you have going on in this dish! Pinning! Hope you’re having a great weekend.
Bok choy and celery sounds amazing, Geraldine! I would have never thought of celery… but that crunch! Making the rice in the morning is so smart. Thank you for your pin G!
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
Love how you’ve loaded this fried rice with veggies Traci! My favorites are always the onions and red pepper. And I love the jasmine rice. I also love that you’ve used sesame oil. Hope you and Ma shared a bowl while she was there to visit! Happy weekend!
Oooh the onions. I love how they turn into sweet goodness after a bit of frying! I think Jasmine rice is, in part, what makes this so flavorful!
What a genius way to pack more flavor into a classic favorite! The Thai basil and cashews totally amp it up and then all those bright veggies really make it shine. Thanks for the inspiration, as always, Traci!
Hi Jean! Thank you so much.. I hope you enjoy the recipe and all those extra goodies!
Liz @ Floating Kitchen
I’ve always been a big fan of fried rice too, but agree with you that the amount of vegetables is usually lacking in restaurant versions. But not yours! Love how loaded this is! I’ve yet to try liquid aminos, but I see them here and there. I need to pick up a bottle and experiment!
SO lacking, Liz! You know, too, there’s coconut aminos and although it’s on the shelf, I’ve not tried it. I bet it would be goooood in fried rice too!
Karen @ Seasonal Cravings
Wow, now this is a great resource for fried rice. I didn’t know I needed to use day old rice! My kids love fried rice and I love how easy it is. I can even use frozen veggies and it can be a great way to clean out the freezer. Yours looks amazing!
Hey Karen… day old rice really makes a difference. Frozen veggies are so convenient!
Laura | Tutti Dolci
This looks so vibrant and delicious, Traci! Love all the gorgeous veggies (and those cashews, of course!). :)
Thank you Laura! The extra veggies are a must with a little bit of crunch!