Fried rice is a fan-favorite order at restaurants and on take-out menus—and for good reason. It's a simple dish that checks all the boxes: crisp-tender grains, mixed vegetables, often a protein or two, and a savory, delicious sauce. Fried rice is also endlessly riffable with dozens of options for proteins, vegetables, and sauce ingredients.
You'll find fried rice dishes in cuisines across Asia, including China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, and they're made with seafood, chicken, beef, pork, eggs, or tofu. The vegetable inclusions range from green onions and bell peppers to green beans and cabbage.
And everything is coated in a deeply savory brown sauce that's often made with soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, garlic, and ginger. Sometimes you'll find a spicy addition like fresh hot chili peppers or dried pepper flakes in the mix as well. The endless list of possibilities means that it's pretty easy to find a style of fried rice that suits your palate.
If you're cutting back on dining out or ordering in and don't want to do the chopping and stir-frying yourself, there are dozens of grocery store options for frozen fried rice that are ready in minutes using your microwave, oven, or stovetop.
To help cut through any confusion in the freezer aisle, I picked up seven of the most popular and easy-to-find frozen fried rice brands at several grocery stores. I prepared each product in the microwave, according to the package instructions. Then, I tasted and assessed each fried rice dish for flavor, ingredient quality, texture, and appearance. While some of the fried rice on my plate turned out mushy and sticky, others tasted freshly made, with crisp veggies, dry grains, and a light, umami-rich sauce.
Here's how seven of the most popular frozen fried rice products rank, in descending order:
Stouffer's Chicken Fried Rice
This fried rice comes in a family-style portion that includes four, 1-cup servings in a large microwave- and oven-safe paper tray. The long-grain white rice is tossed with white meat chicken, peas, chunks of carrots, and scrambled eggs along with a brown soy-based sauce.
The look: The sauce for this fried rice sits on top, so you have to give the dish a thorough stir after heating. I found this fried rice to be fairly bland-looking because it was light on veggies. Without the pops of color from carrots and peppers, the rice had a monochromatic brown hue that wasn't appetizing. Plus, the thick sauce coating everything made it almost impossible to tell the difference between a chunk of chicken and a scrambled egg.
The taste: Because of the family-sized tray, this rice has to be cooked in the microwave or oven for more than 10 minutes. That's a long time for tender par-cooked rice, which became gloppy and gooey after heating. The gelatinous texture was hard to get past, and the dominant flavor of the dish was saltiness.
Healthy Choice Chicken Fried Rice
Healthy Choice's chicken fried rice is a steamed meal, so it comes in a two-layer microwaveable bowl with the sauce underneath and the chicken, vegetables, and rice mixture in a perforated bowl on top. This way the sauce steams the vegetables in the microwave. After heating, you simply add the rice to the sauce bowl underneath and stir everything.
The look: The rice had a fresher, more vibrant look before it was combined with the sauce. However, there seemed to be either too much sauce or too much liquid from the steamed vegetables because the whole dish turned into a soft, mushy mixture after combining. Still, this fried rice bowl had more vegetables (carrot cubes and edamame) than Stouffer's.
The taste: This sauce was quite sweet, thanks to 8 grams of added sugar. It also had a strong nutty flavor from sesame oil, which I didn't mind, but some people may not like. The chicken was moist and tender, but the egg pieces disappeared into the sauce.
P.F. Chang's Frozen Chicken Fried Rice
The national restaurant chain P.F. Chang's has a line of frozen entrees distributed through ConAgra Foods Inc., including chicken fried rice, made with jasmine rice, carrots, green onions, and edamame. The dish is microwaved in a paper bowl and comes premixed with a sauce made from soy sauce, oyster sauce, white wine, and seasonings.
The look: This rice bowl had a better balance of grains, chicken, and vegetables than Stouffer's or Healthy Choice. The sauce was also thicker and darker in color. The chicken is cut into large fork-able chunks that didn't dry out in the microwave.
The taste: I liked that this sauce wasn't too sweet or syrupy. I appreciated the vegetables, but the carrots were cut in seemingly random shapes and sizes, so the small bits became overcooked and mushy.
Trader Joe's Bulgogi Beef Fried Rice with Kimchi
This bagged fried rice from Trader Joe's was unlike any of the others I tasted. First, because it featured beef as the protein, and second because it had a Korean flavor profile, rather than Chinese. It's also on the higher end of fat, sodium, carbs, and protein per serving.
The look: This rice had a more yellow tone than others and plenty of thinly sliced bulgogi beef throughout. It's hard to distinguish the cabbage kimchi by looks alone, maybe because it's so finely chopped, but the dish had some large chunks of green beans throughout.
The taste: This fried rice has a deep, meaty flavor that I didn't find in any other dish. The green beans were a bit bland and some became soggy in the microwave. The beef was flavorful, mostly like soy sauce, but several of the larger pieces became dry and a little stringy. I liked the acidity of kimchi in the dish.
Trader Joe's Spicy Thai Shrimp Fried Rice
It's no secret that Trader Joe's frozen food section is extensive, and the cult-favorite grocery store has several frozen fried rice options to try. This version is a Thai-flavored rice dish made with a mix of veggies and hot chili peppers with tiny shrimp for protein.
The look: This fried rice from Trader Joe's has more color than most of the others. The rice comes fully combined with the sauce, so it's not sticky, gloppy, or overly thick. This rice is on the drier side and has specs of red from thinly sliced hot peppers and green from green peas, which became quite shriveled in the microwave.
The taste: If you like heat, this Thai-style fried rice is for you. The visible rings of Thai red chilis throughout the dish add some serious heat that lingers after dinner. The small shrimp add a distinct seafood-y flavor to the bowl that's different from any of the other fried rice products I sampled. It also contains baby corn for a touch of sweetness from a source other than sugar.
365 by Whole Foods Market Chicken Fried Rice
This chicken fried rice from the Whole Foods store brand is sold in a 20-ounce bag with premixed sauce, so you can dispense only as much as you need at a time, unlike other preportioned frozen entrees.
The look: This fried rice has impressively sized pieces of chicken and scrambled eggs in the mix, along with long-grain rice and tiny bits of carrots, bell peppers, and green peas. The grains stayed separated and dry after cooking.
The taste: I would have loved more vegetables in this rice dish (they're the last ingredients listed), but the large pieces of chicken make it a more satisfying option, and it's not too sweet or salty. Though this bagged rice contains sesame oil, it's not nearly as overwhelming a flavor as I found in other options.
Grain Trust Hibachi Fried Rice
This vegan fried rice may not contain the chicken or eggs of other products on this list, but it makes up for it with ample vegetables and a light, homemade-tasting sauce. Plus, it makes a great base to add your favorite proteins, from tofu to steak.
The look: The grains in this fried rice are short and separated, not sticky or mushy. It has a light brown sauce that evenly coats the entire dish, which includes generous pieces of onions, bell peppers, carrots, and peas.
The taste: I enjoyed the savory sauce that wasn't overly sweet, salty, or garlicky. It's a well-balanced frozen dish that has just a touch of sweetness from sugar and nuttiness from sesame oil. It would make a great side dish or base for a rice bowl.