NOLA Bistro & Bar

Top 15 Best Herbs and Spices for Fried Rice

Fried rice is a classic Asian dish that has become popular all around the world. At first glance, it may seem simple – just rice stirred together with vegetables, eggs, and perhaps some meat. However, the secret to incredible fried rice lies in the herbs and spices used to add tons of flavor. With the right blend of seasonings, boring fried rice can transform into a restaurant-worthy meal.

In this article, I’ll share my 15 favorite herbs and spices for making fried rice burst with taste. Whether you want to recreate your favorite takeout fried rice or put a new spin on the classic, these flavor-boosting ingredients will take your dish to the next level. Keep reading for the secrets to herb-infused, aromatic fried rice perfection!

List of 15 Best Herbs and Spices for Fried Rice


Ginger is a must for fried rice. It has a fresh, zesty flavor that really enhances the rice and other ingredients. Ginger’s warming heat and subtle sweetness are perfect for balancing salty and umami flavors.

I recommend using 1-2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger per 3-4 cups of cooked rice. Make sure to grate it finely so it distributes evenly and infuses the whole dish.

Ginger pairs deliciously with:

  • Garlic – Double down on flavor by sautéing them together.
  • Onion – Sweat onion and ginger to start your fried rice.
  • Chili peppers – Compliment ginger’s heat.
  • Star anise – Anise accentuates ginger’s brightness.
  • Lemongrass – Layer the citrusy flavors.

Chopped Green Onions

Green onions, also known as scallions or spring onions, are another essential ingredient for fried rice. They offer a mild oniony flavor and refreshing crunch.

Chopped green onions are usually added at the end to keep their texture and brightness. 1-3 tablespoons is a good amount for 4-6 cups of fried rice.

In addition to fried rice, green onions pair well with:

  • Seafood dishes – Accentuate the brininess.
  • Salads – A perfect crunchy topping.
  • Tacos and burgers – Bright contrast to rich flavors.


It may seem too basic, but you can’t forget salt when making flavorful fried rice! Salt enhances and balances all the other seasonings. Without it, herbs and spices will taste flat.

Add 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt depending on how much rice you’re making. Taste as you go and adjust to your preference.

Salt brings out delicious flavors when paired with:

  • Garlic powder – Fundamental seasoning combo.
  • Onion powder – Umami boost.
  • Paprika – Smoky and sweet.
  • Cumin – Warm, earthy dimension.
  • Mushrooms – Umami overload!
  • Bell peppers – Fresh vibrance.

Black Pepper

No spice cabinet is complete without black pepper. It adds a biting heat and earthiness that complements fried rice beautifully.

1-2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper is perfect for a medium-hot fried rice. Add more or less to taste.

Black pepper combines fantastically with:

  • Garlic powder – Smoky and pungent.
  • Onion powder – Enhance the savory umami.
  • Oregano – Warming Mediterranean flavors.
  • Basil – Fresh herbal notes.
  • Thyme – Earthy highlights.
  • Parsley – Brightens and balances pepper’s heat.

Garlic Powder

Garlic powder is ideal for achieving maximum garlic flavor without the hassle of mincing fresh cloves. It has a concentrated garlicky punch with notes of onion and herb.

1-2 teaspoons garlic powder works well for 4-6 cups of fried rice. Sprinkle it into the hot oil before adding other ingredients.

Fantastic pairings for garlic powder include:

  • Cumin – Intensifies the earthiness.
  • Parsley – Bright, herbal contrast.
  • Oregano – Deepens the savory flavors.
  • Paprika – Smoky sweetness.
  • Thyme – Woodsier dimension.
  • Basil – Garden freshness.

Brown Sugar

Here’s a secret weapon that takes fried rice to the next level – brown sugar! Just a bit adds subtle sweetness and richness that perfectly balances salty and spicy flavors.

1/2 to 1 teaspoon brown sugar is all you need for a 4-6 cup batch of fried rice. Sprinkle it in with the garlic and oil.

Brown sugar beautifully complements:

  • Cinnamon – Warming spice and sweetness.
  • Nutmeg – Sweet and slightly floral.
  • Cloves – Intensifies the sweetness.
  • Allspice – Additional depth.
  • Ginger – Zingy brightness.
  • Cardamom – Headily aromatic.
  • Apples, oranges, peaches, plums – Fruity caramelization.

Red Pepper Flakes

For a flavorful kick of heat, I love adding red pepper flakes to my fried rice. They provide a sharper, more intense heat than black pepper.

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes gives a nice spicy sizzle without being overpowering. Place them in the hot oil to really infuse the rice.

Red pepper flakes spice up these ingredients deliciously:

  • Garlic – Quintessential combo.
  • Onions – Sweeter counterbalance.
  • Carrots – Vibrant crunch.
  • Celery – Fresh and crisp.
  • Bell peppers – Juicy coolness.
  • Tomatoes – Tangy and sweet.
  • Basil – Herbal contrast.
  • Oregano – Savory Mediterranean vibe.


Thyme is another herb that feels like it was made for fried rice. Its woodsy, aromatic flavor enhances everything it touches.

1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 tablespoon fresh) balances beautifully with the other seasonings.

Thyme tastes terrific with:

  • Onion – Fundamental flavor base.
  • Garlic – Warming and savory.
  • Rosemary – Herbal cousins.
  • Parsley – Bright, fresh contrast.
  • Oregano – Savory Italian duo.
  • Mushrooms – Earthy umami explosion.
  • Lemon juice – Zesty, citrusy punch.


Oregano is ideal for Mediterranean-inspired fried rice. Its bold, zesty flavor has a warmth that complements rice gorgeously.

1-2 teaspoons dried oregano gives great flavor without overwhelming. Sprinkle on at the end for maximum vibrancy.

Oregano jazzes up these ingredients magnificently:

  • Garlic – Essential pairing.
  • Basil – Sweet herbal harmony.
  • Thyme – Cousin herbs.
  • Tomatoes – Sugary burst.
  • Chili peppers – Turns up the heat.

Flax Seeds

Nutty, earthy flax seeds may seem unusual for fried rice, but they add wonderful texture and nutrition when toasted in the oil.

1-2 teaspoons flax seed gives great crunch without overwhelming the dish. Toast briefly to enhance the nuttiness.

Flax seeds blend tastily with:

  • Garlic – Deep, roasted flavor.
  • Onions – Sweetness and crunch.
  • Cooked vegetables – Contrasting texture.
  • Apples – Warm fruitiness.
  • Oranges – Bright citrus.
  • Parsley – Fresh herbal notes.
  • Basil – Garden goodness.


No list of herbs for fried rice would be complete without the king of herbs – basil! Its refreshing, aromatic flavor is the perfect finishing touch.

1-2 tablespoons chopped basil just before serving prevents it from wilting in the heat. Go easy as it has a potent taste.

Basil pairs fantastically with:

  • Garlic – Can’t go wrong with this dynamic duo.
  • Tomatoes – Sweet sun-ripened deliciousness.
  • Onions – Sauté them together.
  • Mushrooms – Earthy umami.
  • Feta cheese – Briny, creamy tang.
  • Mozzarella – Oozy, melty goodness.
  • Red pepper flakes – Intensifies the flavors.


Don’t overlook fresh mint as an unexpected fried rice herb. It adds vibrant, cooling flavor that balances spice and saltiness.

1-2 tablespoons chopped mint folded in right before eating keeps its essence intact.

Mint fantastically counters these flavors:

  • Tomato – Sweet and juicy.
  • Feta cheese – Salty creaminess.
  • Olives – Briny zing.
  • Couscous – Fluffy base.
  • Lemon – Zesty pop.
  • Grilled fish or chicken – Hot and cold.
  • Potatoes – Starchy canvas.
  • Carrots – Earthy crunch.


Another herb with a distinctive personality for fried rice is dill. Its grassy, anise-like flavor adds freshness and complexity.

1-2 tablespoons chopped dill just before serving is best. Too much heat dulls dill’s vibrancy.

Delightful pairings with dill include:

  • Garlic – Fundamental flavor base.
  • Onion – Sweet allium friends.
  • Lemon juice – Bright citrus.
  • Tomatoes – Juicy garden freshness.
  • Potatoes – Starchiness to balance.
  • Mushrooms – Savory, earthy echo.
  • Fish – Classic combo.
  • Cucumber – Cooling crunch.
  • Feta cheese – Salty, creamy richness.

Onion Powder

Sometimes you want onion flavor without the bother of chopping. For those times, onion powder is a fried rice game-changer.

1-2 teaspoons onion powder gives the taste-enhancing quality of onions without the texture. Sprinkle it into the hot oil.

Onion powder is dynamite with:

  • Beef or pork – Savory, rich meats.
  • Chicken or turkey – Lean protein.
  • Fish and seafood – Enhances brininess.
  • Potatoes – Starchy canvas.
  • Squash – Sweet roasted flavor.
  • Carrots – Matchstick crunch.
  • Green beans – Vibrant veggies.
  • Mushrooms – Doubles the umami.
  • Basil – Herbal vibes.
  • Oregano – Zesty and Mediterranean.

Sesame Seeds

No fried rice is complete without crunchy sesame seeds studding the dish. Their nutty aroma screams Asian cuisine.

1-2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted to intensify their flavor, gives great textural contrast without dominating the rice. Add them last.

Sesame seeds sizzle with:

  • Red pepper flakes – Serious Asian flavor.
  • Ginger – Zingy zip.
  • Garlic powder – Toasty and heady.
  • Cumin – Smoky and earthy.

Final Thought

So there you have it – my picks for the 15 best herbs and spices for flavorful fried rice. With the right blend of seasonings, you can create restaurant-caliber fried rice in your own kitchen. Get creative and combine different herbs for signature flavor profiles. Just remember, it’s all about balance. Fried rice is a versatile canvas. With a pinch of this and dash of that, your tastebuds will go on a flavorful adventure!

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