This Nasi Goreng recipe is a traditional Indonesian fried rice that is sweet and salty, perfectly savory, an excellent side dish. Combine it with your favorite meat, seafood or a fried egg to serve as a full meal. It's so easy to make!
If you've never tried Nasi Goreng, my spicy food loving friends, I believe this may become your new favorite fried rice recipe. Nasi Goreng is a signature dish of Indonesian widely eaten by locals and tourists alike.
Just about every country has their own version of fried rice made with local ingredients and preferred flavors. What sets Nasi Goreng apart from other fried rice recipes is the combination of umami, salty and sweet, achieved by incorporating Kecap Manis, a sweet soy sauce, and shrimp paste, though some recipes leave it out.
Don't worry if you can't find kecap manis. I have a workaround for you in the Recipe Tips & Notes section below.
Nasi Goreng is also a touch spicy if want it that way, by incorporating spicy bird's eye peppers, which are completely optional. I, of course, enjoy a slightly spicy version, though it's offset by the sweetness. It is easy to adjust to your own heat level preferences.
This famous Indonesian fried rice recipe is a perfect side dish or small meal, though you'll often find Nasi Goreng served with a fried egg to make it more of a meal. It's also popularly combined with chicken or seafood and served as a main dish.
It's definitely one of my new favorite recipes. I believe you will love it, too.
Let's talk about how to make Nasi Goreng, shall we?
Nasi Goreng Ingredients
- Vegetable Oil. For cooking.
- Chili Peppers. Birds eye peppers or Thai peppers are more commonly used, but you can use any spicy red chili peppers to your preference. Omit for a milder version.
- Vegetables. Shallot, garlic, green onion or spring onion.
- Eggs. These will be scrambled into the fried rice.
- Cooked Rice. You can use rice you've just cooked, but day old rice will fry up better, as it is dried out a bit more.
- Soy Sauce. Adds delicious flavor and saltiness.
- Sweet Soy Sauce. Kecap manis is a sweet soy sauce found in many Indonesian recipes. See the recipe tips and notes section for substitutions.
- Shrimp Paste. Adds a wonderful umami flavor to the dish.
- Salt. To taste, if desired. Soy sauce is pretty salty, so you may not need it.
- For Garnish. Sliced cucumber, sliced or diced tomato, spicy red pepper flakes (if desired)
How to Make Nasi Goreng - the Recipe Method
Cook the Peppers and Vegetables. Heat the oil in a large pan or wok over high heat. Add the peppers and shallot. Cook for 2-3 minutes to brown slightly. Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds, stirring.
Cook the Eggs. Add the eggs and scramble them up. Cook them for 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring, until the eggs cook mostly through.
Add the Rice and Other Ingredients. Lower the heat to medium-high heat and add the cooked rice, green onion, soy sauce, kecap manis and shrimp paste. Season with salt to taste.
Stir fry the rice until the rice starts to caramelize, 2-3 minutes, scraping up the bottom of the pan as you go to avoid burning.
Garnish. Garnish with cucumber and tomato and serve!
Boom! Done! Nasi goreng is ready to serve! One of my favorite fried rice dishes. Indonesian fried rice is going to be your new favorite fried rice, I think. Looks great, doesn't it? Very tasty. Are you serving your with or without the fried egg?
Recipe Tips & Notes
Day old rice is ideal for making stir fried rice. It has less moisture, which can cause the dish to steam rather than stir fry. If using freshly cooked rice, try drying it in the refrigerator awhile before cooking. Leftover rice is ideal.
Kecap Manis is a sweet soy sauce common in Indonesian cuisine. It should be readily available at most grocery stores in the Asian or International section. If you can't find it, mix 2 tablespoons soy sauce with 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar or palm sugar over low heat, stirring, until it becomes syrupy. Use as needed.
Shrimp paste adds a wonderful umami element to this dish. Belecan is a good alternative, though needs light frying before use. Miso or fermented soy paste are good alternatives. Add fish sauce for more umami.
The Heat Factor
I'm using birds eye chilies for the spice factor here, though Thai peppers are great. Any spicy pepper will work for this recipe. Try it with a spicy chili paste, like sambal oelek, harissa, gochujang, or others. Learn to make your own homemade chili paste from fresh peppers, or, just use sriracha.
You can use other seasonings for this recipe to your preference. Turmeric and coriander are popular. I enjoy spicy chili flakes with mine. A splash of lime juice is a nice addition, as is tamarind. Fried shallots or onions are a nice crunchy topper. I've seen some versions of nasi goreng with green beans.
Serving Nasi Goreng
You'll often find Nasi goreng served for breakfast with a fried egg on top, which makes it more of a meal. Consider adding in chopped chicken or pork, shrimp, fish or your own favorite proteins if you'd like to serve it as a dinner.
Storing Nasi Goreng
Fried rice is best stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 1 week. You can simply reheat it and serve it up. It is best not to freeze, as freezing softens up the texture too much, which I don't find very pleasant to eat.
If you'd like to learn more about Indonesian cooking, I recommend 2 books that I have found very helpful and informative. These are affiliate links to Amazon, my friends. Enjoy!
- Indonesian Cooking: Satays, Sambals and More: Homestyle Recipes with the True Taste of Indonesia, by Dina Yuen (affiliate link, my friends!)
- The Food of Indonesia: Delicious Recipes from Bali, Java and the Spice Islands, by Heinz von Holzen & Lother Arsana (affiliate link, my friends!)
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy your Nasi Goreng. It's hard to go wrong with a good bowl of satisfying fried rice. Let me know if you make it. I'd love to hear how it turned out for you. Keep it spicy!
Try Some of These Other Indonesian Recipes
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Nasi Goreng Recipe (Indonesian Fried Rice)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1-2 spicy red chili peppers use your favorites – birds eye peppers are nice an spicy here, or use cayenne
- 1 large shallot minced
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 2 large eggs I like to use extra
- 3 cups cooked rice
- 1 green onion sliced
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or more to taste
- 2 tablespoons kecap manis sweet soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
- Seat salt to taste
- For Garnish: Sliced cucumber sliced or diced tomato
- Heat the oil in a large pan or wok over high heat. Add the peppers and shallot. Cook for 2-3 minutes to brown slightly.
- Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds, stirring.
- Add the eggs and scramble them up. Cook them for 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring, until the eggs cook mostly through.
- Lower the heat to medium-high heat and add the cooked rice, green onion, soy sauce, kecap manis and shrimp paste. Season with salt to taste. Stir fry the rice until the rice starts to caramelize, 2-3 minutes, scraping up the bottom of the pan as you go to avoid burning.
- Garnish with cucumber and tomato and serve!
NOTE: This recipe was updated on 5/13/22 to include new information and video. It was originally published on 12/9/20.