For a delicious combo of sweet and salty, pineapple fried rice is a terrific weeknight meal. It’s ready in less than a half an hour. And it includes plenty of vegetables to round it out. Serve it as an entrée or side dish. Vegan and gluten-free.
Whenever we’re getting Thai takeout, pineapple fried rice is one of our regular orders.
You’ve got to love that perfect balance of salty, sweet, and tangy. It’s great on its own as a full meal. Or it can be used as a side dish.
But when you want to save time & money, it’s easy to make pineapple fried rice at home. Plus, it’s a great way to make use of leftover rice!
This savory rice dish is filled with chunks of pineapple, peas, bell peppers, carrots, and onions. Finish it with eggy tofu, and you’ve got a complete meal in a pan!
Cold rice is a must
The joy of fried rice is getting individual grains, fully coated with seasonings, and a bit of toasting for texture. The key to achieving that perfection is using cold rice.
If you use freshly cooked rice, it will clump. And the flavorings won’t combine as nicely throughout.
I always have a box of frozen rice in the freezer. Simply move the frozen rice to the refrigerator the day before. Or if you’re in a time crunch, put it on the counter to quickly thaw while you’re preparing the vegetables.
If you don’t have cold rice on hand but you need fried rice, here’s a workaround. Make a fresh batch of rice. Then spread it out on a baking sheet and freeze for about 15 minutes until cooled. Then continue with the recipe as written.
Use a non-stick skillet for less oil & easier browning
When making fried rice, a non-stick skillet comes in very handy. You won’t need as much oil for browning the vegetables.
And when you add rice, you can let it toast before stirring it, adding a nice bit of color and texture. Otherwise, the rice can stick to the bottom of the pan, which is less than ideal.
Eggy tofu is a great egg replacement
Very often pineapple fried rice includes egg. Since this is a vegan recipe, I’m using crumbled eggy tofu instead.
The same thing works here as a protein-packed finish for this rice dish. Simply cut off a slab of tofu, crumble it in a hot skillet, brown, and add kala namak to taste.
I like to use it almost as a garnish, so that the sulfuric flavor doesn’t get lost in the mix of the rice.
If you’re not a fan of that eggy taste, you can easily omit this part of the recipe. Or replace the eggy tofu with browned cubed tofu, seitan, or vegan ham instead.
How to make pineapple fried rice
In a small bowl, combine:
- Tamari (I use the low-sodium gluten-free variety)
- Toasted sesame oil
Sauté onions, bell pepper, and carrot until fragrant & softened. Add oil, and sauté garlic.
Push the vegetables to one side, and add cold brown rice. Toast & combine with the vegetables.
Add pineapple, peas, and the tamari mixture. Cook until warmed through. Stir in a handful of chopped cilantro.
If you’d like added eggy flavor, crumble tofu in a separate skillet with oil. Add a sprinkling of kala namak (black salt).
Add the browned & seasoned tofu to the pineapple fried rice.
Make it your own
You can make this dish you own by varying some of the ingredients.
- Use white or pink rice instead of brown.
- Use soy sauce instead of tamari.
- Vary the vegetables by replacing what’s listed with an equal amount of your preferred produce. Think cauliflower, broccoli, or sugar snap peas. Remember to add hardier vegetables earlier in the cooking process.
- For more spice, add up to a teaspoon of curry powder with the tamari mixture, an extra drizzle of sriracha as garnish, and/or sauté chopped jalapeño & ginger with the garlic.
- I like to use fresh pineapple. But in a pinch, canned pineapple will work just fine. Just remember to drain it first.
- Add browned vegan ham instead of or in addition to the eggy tofu.
- Add a handful of salted cashews or peanuts for extra crunch.
What to serve with pineapple fried rice
Pineapple fried rice can be a complete meal on its own. Or you can fill out the meal with any of the following:
- Vegan crab rangoon
- Vegetable spring rolls
- Thai vegetable gyoza (I get the frozen kind at Trader Joe’s)
- Air fryer asparagus
- Potsticker soup
Pineapple fried rice with eggy tofu
- 1 ½ Tablespoons tamari
- ¼ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sriracha plus more for extra heat, if desired
- 1 ½ teaspoons organic canola oil divided
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ½ red bell pepper chopped
- 1 carrot chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 ½ cups cooked brown rice cold
- ½ cup chopped pineapple
- ¼ cup peas fresh or frozen
- Handful cilantro chopped
- Pinch salt
Eggy tofu (optional)
- ½ teaspoon organic canola oil
- 3 ounces super firm tofu from vacuum-packaging
- ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon black salt or to taste (also known as kala namak)
For the pineapple fried rice
- In a small bowl, combine tamari, sesame oil, and sriracha with a fork until blended. Set aside for later use.
- Bring a large skillet to a medium heat with one teaspoon of canola oil. Add onion, bell pepper, and carrot to the pan. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the carrot has softened but still has some bite.
- Push the vegetables to the side of the skillet, and add the remaining ½ teaspoon of canola oil to the empty area. Add minced garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, until the garlic is fragrant.
- Push the garlic into the area with the peppers. Then add the cold cooked rice to the empty area of the pan. Allow it to toast a bit. Then combine the rice with the vegetables.
- Add the pineapple, peas, and tamari mixture to the rice. Continue cooking until the pineapple is warmed through, stirring occasionally. Stir in a handful of chopped cilantro & pinch of salt.
- Finish with a sprinkling of optional eggy tofu on top. For extra spice, add another drizzle of sriracha across the rice.
For the eggy tofu
- Bring a separate non-stick skillet to a medium heat with ½ teaspoon of canola oil.
- Use your hands to crumble the tofu into the skillet. Allow one side of the tofu to brown before flipping it. Continue until it's fairly evenly colored.
- Add black salt to the tofu and toss, so that it salts all sides. Start with ⅛ teaspoon and add more to taste. (If you like a very eggy fried rice, feel free to add a sprinkling of black salt to the fried rice itself just before serving.)
Content, recipe, and photos updated February 21, 2021. Originally posted March 12, 2014.