This Pineapple Fried Rice is quick and easy to make – on your table in less than 30 minutes!
This healthy-ish Pineapple Fried Rice recipe is an explosion of mouthwatering Southeast Asian flavor that is a perfect balance of umami, sweet and savory. Fragrant jasmine rice is stir-fried with aromatic onions, garlic, ginger, curry powder, fish sauce, oyster sauce with tantalizing bursts of buttery, crunchy cashews and balancing pops of sweet caramelized pineapple and juicy raisins/craisins. This Pineapple Fried Rice can be served as a tempting side or it makes a fabulous base to add your protein and veggies for a delectable meal-in-one (fried rice variations included). You can also amp up the presentation by serving it in a carved-out pineapple boat. No matter how you serve it, this fried rice recipe is better than takeout and destined to become your favorite way to use leftover rice!
Pineapple Fried Rice Recipe
This Pineapple Fried Rice is going to blow your mind. It is some of the best fried rice I’ve ever devoured – restaurant or homemade. It’s so good, I couldn’t stop eating it straight from the pot – before photos, in between photos and after photos.
And the best part? It’s EASY and CUSTOMIZABLE! Add your favorite protein to make it a stand-alone-meal, add more veggies to make it a vegetarian meal or the most delicious side and the best way to clean out your fridge.
Now, I can go on and on about this Pineapple Fried Rice recipe and I wouldn’t be bragging because the recipe comes from Abigail Sotto Raines Cookbook, “Rice. Noodles. Yum: Everyone’s Favorite Southeast Asian Dishes.” Abigail was born and raised in the Philippines (currently resides in Connecticut) and has traveled all over Southeast Asia to bring you a cookbook packed with authentic, vibrant Southeast Asian recipes that celebrate the sweet, salty, spicy flavors that we all love so much.
Raines cookbook includes Southeast Asian favorites like this Pineapple Fried Rice, Pad Thai and spring rolls but what I love most is diving into a whole world that I am not as familiar with such as Mee Grob (Crispy Noodles in Sweet and Sour Sauce), Char Kway Teow (Malaysian Sir-Fried Flat Rice Noodles), Khao Pad Gang Keow Wan (Green Curry Fried Rice) and on and on.
So, if you love multi-dimensional Southeast Asian flavors and creating new and exciting meals in your kitchen, you will LOVE this cookbook. This Pineapple Fried Rice recipe is just a glimpse of all the deliciousness that you can unlock in your own kitchen! You can purchase “Rice. Noodles. Yum” on Amazon today!
FRIED RICE RECIPE INGREDIENTS:
This Pineapple Fried Rice recipe features pantry and freezer friendly ingredients. The only items you can’t stock are pineapple (unless you use canned), tomatoes and green onions. I’ve detailed the ingredients below and offered substitutions when applicable.
- Rice: you will need 4 cups cooked, COLD long grain rice such as jasmine or basmati rice (more info on rice below). The rice should be one day old and cold/chilled in your refrigerator so this Pineapple Fried Rice recipe is perfect to use up leftover rice! You cannot make successful fried rice with fresh rice.
- Pineapple: use one ripe pineapple when possible. I’ve included tips for how to select the sweetest, most flavorful pineapple and how to know when your pineapple is ripe below. If you can’t get your hands-on fresh pineapple, then you may use drained, canned pineapple in juice (not syrup). You can use 1-2 cans depending on your pineapple love – I vote two.
- Oil: use a neutral, high smoking point oil such as vegetable or canola oil. I don’t recommend olive oil because it introduces flavor we aren’t looking for but you can use it in a bind.
- Sesame oil: adds fabulous sesame flavor to the Pineapple Fried Rice and is non-negotiable in my opinion. You can even drizzle additional sesame oil onto your fried rice at the end of cooking if desired. Sesame oil is typically found in the Asian section of your grocery store or with the other cooking oils.
- Shrimp: is optional but pairs beautifully with pineapple. I’ve also included many different protein options below. Use peeled and deveined shrimp. Leave the tails on when cooking to infuse the shrimp with more robust flavor. You can remove the tails once cooked if desired. You may also use pre-cooked shrimp and add it at the end and warm through.
- Garlic: is a must! Use 4-6 garlic cloves depending on how much you love garlic.
- Onion: use 1 small yellow onion and make sure to finely chop it so it cooks quickly.
- Curry powder: is another must for the BEST Pineapple Fried Rice recipe that delivers huge flavor with minimal effort. Curry powder is the curry you find in the spices section of your grocery store. It will probably just be labeled “curry powder” instead of yellow curry powder. The amazing thing about curry powder is that it is comprised of many different spices (such as turmeric, coriander, cumin, galangal, fennel, closes, chili powder, mustard) – all combined FOR YOU, resulting in delightfully complex flavor.
- Ginger: I use ½ teaspoon ginger powder because it is such a small amount but you may substitute it with 1 ½ teaspoons freshly grated ginger.
- Raisins or craisins: I LOVE these sweet pops of juicy delight. If you hate raisins, then you can omit them (or use craisins) but if you even like them a little, you will love them in this fried rice recipe. You can also stir them into individual servings if some eaters are opposed to them.
- Toasted Cashews: add a satisfying buttery crunch that can’t be beat. Use unsalted cashews so we can control the salt level. If you can only find raw cashews, then toast them yourself by adding them to a skillet in a single layer (without any oil) and cooking for a few minutes until golden.
- Tomatoes: are a new concept to me in fried rice but they must be authentic to Pineapple Fried Rice in the Philippines, so I trusted Abigail and added them with delightful results! Make sure you seed the tomatoes before chopping so they aren’t soggy. We don’t want to add additional moisture to the fried rice.
- Green onions: the Pineapple Fried Rice is garnished by freshly chopped green onions. Feel free to use more than the recipe calls for.
- Fish sauce: is a fried rice must! It will not make your Pineapple Fried Rice taste fishy but will add a satisfying umami flavor. If you are vehemently opposed to fish sauce, you can substitute it with soy sauce.
- Oyster sauce: adds TONS of flavor to this fried rice (but doesn’t taste like oysters) so please don’t skip it! Oyster sauce is a staple in Asian cooking, like in my Beef and Broccoli recipe, so I promise your bottle will not go to waste! Oyster sauce is a thick, brown sauce with a balance between sweet and salty with an earthy undertone. You can find oyster sauce in the Asian aisle of any supermarket for only a few dollars. My personal favorite is Lee Kum Kee, which is just a few more dollars. Not all oyster sauce is created equal. The quality of oyster sauce will affect the flavor, so if you want the extra “oomph” to your dish, go with a good quality sauce.
- Sugar: ½ tablespoon sugar balances the earthy oyster and fish sauce. You may use white or brown sugar.
- Salt and pepper: you will want to add salt and pepper to taste. The Pineapple Fried Rice has tons of flavor and the salt and pepper make it shine.
WHAT RICE IS BEST FOR Fried RICE?
There are many different types of fried rice recipes and each uses a different type of rice depending on the country. For example, basmati rice is used in Indian rice dishes; white long grain rice is used in Chinese fried rice; short grain rice is used in Japanese fried rice; and jasmine rice is used in Southeast Asian/Thai fried rice.
So, in short you can use any rice for fried rice – white, brown, long, short, basmati or jasmine depending on the desired outcome. Each rice will deliver a different texture and flavor.
Pineapple Fried Rice with Jasmine Rice
For this Pineapple Fried Rice, I recommend fragrant, fluffy, flavorful Jasmine rice. I have also tried it with basmati rice which worked, but it did give it more of an Indian flair with distinctive rice grains vs. the desired southeast Asian flair with delicate clumps.
Jasmine rice is a type of long-grain white rice. You can easily purchase it at your grocery store next to the other varieties of rice. Jasmine rice is fragrant like popcorn, moist, and soft with a slightly sweet flavor. Once cooked jasmine rice is slightly sticky making it perfect to eat with chopsticks.
HOW TO SELECT A PINEAPPLE
The best Pineapple Fried Rice starts with juicy, sweet, ripe pineapple. Here is what to look for:
- Select a pineapple without any blemishes such as indentations, squishy spots, wrinkles or cracks.
- Choose a pineapple with bright green leaves as opposed to brown and stiff.
- The diamonds on the surface of the pineapple are called “eyes.” Look for a pineapple with flat eyes, meaning the spiky points are pressed against the pineapple instead of sticking out. Flat eyes mean the pineapple is sweeter.
- The pineapple should feel heavy for its size. This means it’s juicy.
- Choose the pineapple with the largest eyes, this means the pineapple was allowed to ripen the longest on the branch.
- If choosing a ripe pineapple to use immediately, select one in which the yellow reaches high up the pineapple. The higher the yellow, the more evenly flavored the pineapple. More tips on how to know when a pineapple is ripe below.
HOW TO KNOW WHEN A PINEAPPLE IS RIPE?
You can purchase a ripe pineapple if making Pineapple Fried Rice immediately, but more often than not, you will have to first select a pineapple and wait for it to ripen on your counter a few days. Here is how you know your pineapple is ripe and ready to use:
- Touch: Squeeze the pineapple gently. The skin should give a little, but it should still be firm.
- Smell: Put your nose close to the bottom of the fruit. It should smell sweet; that indicates it is ripe.
- Sound: Tap the pineapple. Unripe fruits will sound hollow whereas ripe pineapple will sound dull and solid.
- Color: It is possible for a green pineapple to be ripe, but more often than not, look for yellow coloring around the eyes and base.
- Shape: When a pineapple is ripe, the eyes will be uniform in size as opposed to small on the bottom and large in the middle.
HOW LONG IS PINEAPPLE GOOD FOR AFTER CUTTING?
You can chop your pineapple in anticipation of making Pineapple Fried Rice 3 to 5 days in advance. Store chopped pineapple in an airtight container in your produce drawer. This comes in handy because you can chop the pineapple once it’s ripe – even if you aren’t ready to make the fried rice yet.
Can I make Gluten Free Fried Rice?
Yes! Rice is already gluten free, so you really just need to make sure your oyster sauce and fish sauce are gluten free by double checking the label. All the remaining ingredients in this Pineapple Fried Rice recipe are gluten free.
Can I make Vegan Fried Rice?
Absolutely! Simply omit the shrimp/protein, replace the fish sauce with soy sauce and replace the oyster sauce with imitation oyster sauce (check the label).
How to make Pineapple Fried Rice
Step 1. Caramelize pineapple
Whether you use fresh or frozen pineapple, you’ll want to caramelize it by cooking at medium high heat for 3-5 minutes. This concentrates the sugars and enhances the flavor. Remove pineapple to a plate.
Step 2: Cook protein
Cook protein of choice just until cooked through then remove with a slotted spoon, leaving the flavorful juices and oil behind in the pan.
Step 3: Cook aromatics
Cook onions then add curry powder, ginger and garlic. Sautéing the curry powder first (“blooming”) unlocks a hidden depth of flavor.
Step 4: Fry rice
Add rice to the pan and pat the rice grains down with a spatula. Let rice cook for a bit, then fold the rice over. Repeat patting the rice down and folding over a few times until the rice grains have separated and the rice is fully coated with the curry powder.
Step 5: Add in the rest of the ingredients
Add the raisins/craisins, cashews, tomatoes, pineapple and shrimp to the wok (reserving some shrimp for garnish if desired) along with fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
Step 6: Adjust to taste
Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper etc. if needed. You can also drizzle on additional sesame oil or soy sauce.
Step 7: Serve
Transfer to hollowed out pineapples or serving plate and garnish with green onions and any remaining shrimp. Serve with additional soy sauce if desired.
How to Cut pineapple To Create bowls
This Pineapple Fried Rice is delicious served on a plate or in a bowl – but it’s so much more fun served in a pineapple bowl – and it’ so easy! To make Pineapple bowls/boats:
- Cut the pineapple in half lengthwise.
- Run a knife around the inside edges leaving at last ½-inch from the edge.
- Cut the pineapple flesh three to four times across and once down the center.
- Scoop out the pineapple chunks using a spoon.
- Smooth out the bottom surface of the bowl.
- Drain any remaining juices and pat the inside of the pineapple dry.
- Cut the pineapple you sliced into chunks and use in the making the fried rice.
- Place the fried rice inside the cut-up pineapple just before serving.
Tips and Tricks for Pineapple Fried Rice
Pineapple Fried Rice is quick and easy to throw together in minutes- literally, but it does require a few non-negotiable elements and techniques. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to achieve the perfect fried rice every time:
- Rinse Rice well. Rice contains a lot of gluten which will cause the rice to stick together and can even make it mushy once cooked. We want our Pineapple Fried Rice to clump slightly, but we don’t want it gooey. So, before you cook your rice, it is crucial to remove the extra starch from the rice by rinsing it with cool water in a fine mesh sieve until the water runs clear – don’t shortcut this process!
- Use COLD Rice. Pineapple Fried Rice (or any fried rice recipe) must be made with cooked, chilled, preferably a day old rice – don’t even think about using fresh, warm or lukewarm rice! Fresh rice contains too much moisture and seeps up too much moisture like a sponge resulting in a sticky, gluey, mushy mess. Cold rice, on the other hand, dries out in the refrigerator which allows the rice to fry up beautifully once it hits the hot pan resulting in just the right texture.
- Prep Ahead. This fried rice comes together very quickly, so chop your aromatics, pineapple, tomatoes, etc. ahead of time and line up the rest of your ingredients.
- Use a large pan. You can use a large wok if you have one, otherwise a large well-seasoned skillet or nonstick pan will work great. If you’re not sure your skillet is well seasoned, then add ½ tablespoon extra oil or butter to ensure the rice doesn’t stick. Take care your pan is large enough to accommodate all of the rice so it doesn’t spill as you flip and so there is enough surface area for the rice to crisp up.
- Use a Hot Pan. Make sure you wait until your pan is nice and hot before adding your rice. This does NOT mean high heat – it simply means the pan has had time to reach temperature. A hot pan will help fry the rice instead of just steaming it which can cause the rice to clump together. It will also help prevent the rice from sticking to the pan.
- Don’t Over-Stir. In order for the rice to fry, it needs time to sizzle in one spot. To accomplish this, we are going to pat the rice down in an even layer and let it cook, then flip over and pat down again. Please be patient and give the fried rice time to rest undisturbed and resist the urge to stir.
- Cook protein separately. In order for the fried rice to cook properly, it needs adequate surface area which can be inhibited if you try and cook the protein with the rice. Instead, cook whatever protein you choose (I used shrimp), separately, remove to a plate and then proceed to cook the fried rice.
- Sauce to Taste. This Pineapple Fried Rice boasts tons of flavor but if you want additional salty flair, add soy sauce to taste at the end of combining.
How to Chill Rice Quickly
If you haven’t planned ahead and need Pineapple Fried Rice NOW (I get you), then you can still make fried rice by drying out your rice in the refrigerator or freezer.
- First, cook up a big batch of rice.
- Spread rice out in an even layer on a large baking sheet.
- Place baking sheet in the refrigerator for 60 minutes (uncovered) OR place in the freezer for 15 minutes or until chilled and dried out (not frozen).
- Proceed with the recipe as directed.
How to Customize Pineapple Fried Rice
This Pineapple Fried Rice is incredibly versatile. It is fabulous as written, or you can customize it depending on your mood, preference or what you have in the fridge.
- Swap protein: delicate shrimp is fantastic in this Pineapple Fried Rice recipe but you can also make it with chicken, pork, beef, or fish (see directions below).
- Eliminate protein: you can eliminate the protein to make vegetarian Pineapple Fried Rice or when serving as a lighter side.
- More veggies: add any stir-fry veggies your heart desires such as broccoli, carrots, snow peas, peas, bell peppers, mushroom, zucchini, cauliflower, eggplant, spinach, etc. You will want to stir fry the veggies separately from the rice then stir them all together at the end.
- Add egg. This Pineapple Fried Rice recipe does not contain egg per Abigail’s recipe which is authentic to Southeast Asia. If you would like to add egg, then lightly beat 4 eggs in a bowl. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon canola oil over medium heat and swirl around the pan. Add lightly beaten eggs, and cook without stirring just until they barely start to set. Next, scramble the eggs while breaking up into bite-size pieces, just until cooked through. Transfer to a plate and add back in at the end of cooking.
- Crunch! I love crunch in everything, and this Pineapple Fried Rice is no exception. I added cashews but you can also use toasted peanuts, sliced almonds, water chestnuts, etc.
- Make it spicy! As written, this, this fried rice recipe is not spicy, just flavorful. If you know you love heat, then you can add ¼-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes when you sauté the garlic or stir in chili sauce at the end of cooking.
FRIED RICE VARIATIONS:
With this basic Pineapple Fried Rice recipe, you’re ready to get creative!
- Pineapple Chicken Fried Rice: sauté bite-size pieces of chicken with butter or olive oil before making the rice. Remove chicken from the pan before cooking the rice. Make sure not to overcook the chicken so it remains juicy. You may also use shredded rotisserie chicken and stir it into the fried rice at the end.
- Pineapple Pork Fried Rice: Sauté bite-size pieces of pork tenderloin with butter or olive oil before making the rice. Remove pork from the pan before cooking the rice. Make sure not to overcook the pork so it remains buttery tender.
- Pineapple Beef Fried Rice: Sear bite sizes pieces of steak in butter and olive oil until browned then stir fry just until cooked. Remove steak from the pan before adding the rice, then stir together to combine at the very end of cooking.
- Pineapple Ground Protein Fried Rice: brown ground beef, ground pork, ground chicken or ground turkey before making the rice, then remove to a separate plate. Just be aware that ground proteins will dramatically change the texture of the dish.
- Pineapple Shrimp Fried Rice: This is what I’ve included in the recipe and is SO GOOD! I recommend purchasing shrimp that is peeled and deveined to make your life easier.
How to Store Leftover Fried Rice
Pineapple Fried Rice is fabulous the next day! The flavors build and meld and become even more tantalizing!
- To Store. Let fried rice cool to room temperature then transfer to a tightly covered airtight container or to several small containers for meal prep. Store in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. The rice will seam extra crunchy after chilling but will soften upon reheating.
- To Reheat. For small portions, microwave fried rice in a microwave safe container for 60-90 seconds or until warmed through. For larger portions, transfer to a lightly greased skillet and heat over medium heat, stirring often until warmed through.
- To Freeze. You should NOT freeze your Pineapple Fried Rice if it contains shrimp that has been previously frozen as seafood should not be frozen twice. If your homemade fried rice doesn’t contain previously frozen shrimp, then you may freeze it. To freeze, let fried rice cool to room temperature. Transfer it to a freezer safe bag and squeeze out as much excess air as possible to prevent freezer burn. Label and freeze for up to 3 months. Let fried rice thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat in the microwave or stove as directed.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH FRIED RICE:
Pineapple Fried Rice is the answer to all your Asian side dilemmas. Some of my favorite recipes to serve with fried rice are:
- Wonton Soup
- Asian BBQ Salmon
- Asian Pineapple Salad
- Caramel Pulled Pork Tacos
- Chicken Satay or Pineapple Chicken Satay
- Crockpot Sesame Chicken or Cashew Chicken
- Cream Cheese Wontons or Potstickers
- Lemongrass Chicken or Korean Chicken
- Sesame or Sweet and Sour Chicken Egg Rolls
- Chicken Lettuce Wraps
LOOKING FOR MORE RICE RECIPES?
- Restaurant Style Mexican Rice
- Cilantro Lime Rice
- Coconut Ginger Rice with Black Beans
- Cranberry Apple Pecan Wild Rice
- Cilantro Lime Avocado Rice
- Greek Lemon Rice
- Parmesan Risotto
- Coconut Rice with Pineapple and Cashews
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Recipe source: “Rice. Noodles. Yum“ by Abigail Sotto Raines; slightly adapted by caramelizing pineapple, adding ginger, salt and pepper