Find out if fried rice is gluten-free, what it’s made from, and if you should order it from a restaurant on a gluten-free diet.
Note: I am a proud Amazon, Chomps, MunkPack, and Thrive Market affiliate and am happy to recommend their service and products to you. Please know that as an affiliate, I may receive a small commission on the products you purchase after clicking through my links. For more info, please see my disclosure policy here.
If you’ve been at a restaurant lately and have been making the switch to a gluten-free diet, you may have wondered if this dish might work for you. After all, most rice is gluten-free, right?
We’re going to talk all about fried rice and what you need to know about ordering it from restaurants, as well as what the main ingredients are in fried rice. Finally, we’ll cover how to enjoy fried rice on a gluten-free diet – and learn how simple it is to make sure it’s safe for you!
Let’s talk about fried rice!
What is fried rice?
Fried rice is a dish made with rice that has been stir-fried with vegetables, eggs, sometimes meat or seafood, and a sauce – usually soy sauce.
Fried rice is most popular and originates from Asian cuisines. Different counties and regions use different ingredients to make their fried rice unique to their area. For example, some cuisines use egg in their fried rice, while others don’t. In areas where vegetarian diets are common, meat and seafood are often left out.
Fried rice in the United States is often served at many Chinese, Japanese, and other Asian cuisine restaurants. You can also make it at home with just a few ingredients as well.
Read on: Gluten-free Chinese food
What are the main ingredients in fried rice?
Though the ingredients for fried rice can be unique to the region or simply taste preferences, fried rice can have some or all of these ingredients:
What would fried rice be without rice? You can use any type of rice that you wish, but most commonly white rice is used. Either jasmine rice or basmati rice. You can definitely use brown rice or any other favorite rice you have on hand too.
I’ve also seen versions of fried rice that make the dish a little healthier with quinoa or cauliflower rice instead of white rice.
Meat or seafood of choice (optional)
Many fried rice dishes have a protein added. You can choose from or mix and match some of these ideas: chicken, pork, shrimp, diced ham, and beef.
You don’t have to include meat or seafood in your fried rice at all and simply have it be vegetarian if you wish.
Most fried rice contains vegetables of some sort that have been stir-fried before the rice and flavorings get added. You’re most likely to find vegetables like carrots, peas, corn, peppers, and onions. But no vegetable is off the table if you’re making your own at home – add whatever you like most! I’ve also seen pineapple, which isn’t a fruit, but another interesting addition to fried rice.
Most recipes call for eggs in fried rice dishes to add flavor, texture, and protein. If you make this dish at home, you can choose whether or not you add eggs to your fried rice, but know that most versions from restaurants do contain eggs.
Fried rice uses oil to stir-fry the vegetables, meat, and rice in. This can be any oil available at a restaurant or that you have on hand at home, but oils that are meant for higher heat cooking are best. Canola, peanut, and sesame are some of the most popular oils used in fried rice.
The final but most important part of fried rice is the flavorings and seasonings added. Depending on the recipe a restaurant uses or you use at home, the flavorings will be different. You may find any combination of these ingredients as flavorings added to your fried rice: soy sauce, oyster sauce, ginger, garlic, pepper, salt, sugar, toasted sesame oil, and scallions. Other ingredients may be added based on the recipe used.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in most wheat products, and acts as the “glue” that helps to hold wheat, barley, kamut, spelt, farro, durum, bulgur, rye, and semolina together to maintain their shape.
You can find gluten in whole grains, but also in many processed foods as well. If you purchase wheat bread, there will be gluten in it, because wheat by nature has gluten.
Many processed foods have hidden gluten in them in the form of gluten or wheat derivatives. These are also in the form of flavorings, binders to keep ingredients together, or other additives.
Is fried rice gluten-free?
Fried rice is usually not gluten-free, because most recipes call for soy sauce. Most soy sauce brands contain wheat in their ingredients, making this dish not usually a safe option for gluten-free folks when dining out at restaurants.
If you go to a restaurant that is committed to serving gluten-free food, you may find they use gluten-free tamari soy sauce in place of Chinese soy sauce. This is going to be a better option, however these places are somewhat hard to come by in my experience.
That said, it’s not just about the soy sauce when it comes to fried rice and gluten, you’ll also want to be aware of the potential for cross contamination in the kitchen if you’re eating at a restaurant.
You’ll need to know if the wok used for fried rice is also used for other ingredients that contain gluten, like breaded meat or ingredients that call for a flour mixture. If you eat at a restaurant, keep in mind where cross contamination may take place and if those trace amounts of gluten could affect you and your body.
Read on: Is soy sauce gluten-free?
Read on: Top 5 gluten-free soy sauce brands
Can fried rice be gluten-free?
Absolutely. Like many dishes, if you make your own fried rice at home, you can control the ingredients that go into the recipe. In place of soy sauce, you can swap that out for tamari soy sauce which has no wheat or gluten ingredients. You can also know that your kitchen is free of gluten and doesn’t have a potential for cross contamination.
Best of all, you get to choose ingredients, so you can pick vegetables and meat (or none!) ingredients that you love.
If you’ve been wondering if you can order fried rice at a restaurant on a gluten-free diet or have been wondering if this dish is going to work for you even if you make it at home, I hope this post has given you some answers.
Most fried rice from restaurants contains gluten, but it can easily be made gluten-free at home.