Thai Pineapple Fried Rice or Khao Pad is a flavorful and easy-to-make main dish. This is one of my favorite Thai restaurant dishes. This Thai Fried Rice with Pineapple and Chicken also includes eggs, vegetables, cashews, and Thai fish sauce for flavor. Kids love it, adults love it. It’s a win, win!
What is Khao Pad?
Khao Pad means literally “fried rice.” Just like its Chinese counterpart, Thai Fried Rice or Khao Pad is a stir-fry of cooked rice with egg, vegetables, protein, and seasonings.
Thai Fried Rice uses Thai fish sauce or shrimp paste and oyster sauce for its seasoning. Thai Fried Rice is also more likely to have spicy flavors —crushed chilies, chili paste, or hot sauce like sriracha. It is also more likely to have a sweet element, either sugar or sweet fruit like pineapple.
This Thai Pineapple Fried Rice recipe has all of those elements. It also has crunchy roasted cashews that add flavor and texture.
How is Thai Fried Rice different from Chinese Fried Rice?
Both are rice dishes made by frying day-old rice with vegetables, meat, and seasonings in a large wok or skillet.
Traditional Chinese fried rice is found just about everywhere. It’s delicious, studded with scrambled eggs, carrots, peas, and meat, seafood, or tofu. Chinese-Style Fried Rice includes soy sauce and sometimes sesame oil for flavor.
Thai Fried Rice is same-same, but different! I make my Thai Fried Rice with pineapple, chicken, and roasted cashews. The main thing that makes Thai fried rice different from Chinese fried rice is the seasoning.
Thai Fried Rice is usually seasoned with Thai fish sauce or shrimp paste. It often has oyster sauce added as well, to add both color and flavor, along with spicy flavors from fresh or dried red chilies, chile paste, or hot sauce. Pineapple and cashews are also often added for flavor, texture, and added nutrition.
In Thailand, fried rice is commonly sold by street vendors, just like pad thai and other noodle dishes.
What ingredients do you need to make Thai Fried Rice with Pineapple?
There are a few key ingredients that are necessary to make this Thai Fried Rice, but you can substitute what you have for many of the ingredients listed here.
You can add Thai basil or regular basil or other fresh herbs, green beans, diced eggplant, or chopped broccoli or cauliflower. Substitute fish, shrimp, beef, pork, or tofu for the chicken if you like.
Make it more or less spicy according to your personal preference. That’s the best thing about fried rice, that it is flexible and can be a great way to use up leftovers.
- Cooking oil
- Fresh or canned pineapple (no sugar added)
- Green onions
- Cooked white rice
- Fish sauce (make sure to use a good Thai fish sauce)
- Oyster sauce
- Chile paste
- Cooked chicken (I like to use grilled or pan-seared chicken thighs, or you can use cooked shrimp, ground pork, pork belly, spam, beef, or tofu)
- Peas (fresh or frozen)
How do you make Khao Pad?
Making Khao Pad or Thai Fried Rice is a simple process of stir frying the ingredients, first separately and then together.
- Cook the eggs in oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Transfer them to a bowl or plate.
- Stir fry carrots and pineapple in the same skillet until the carrots are tender and the pineapple is beginning to caramelize, then add scallions and garlic and transfer them to the bowl with the eggs.
- Briefly toast the cashews in the skillet and then add the rice and cook until heated through and browned.
- Return the eggs, carrots, and pineapple to the skillet along with the chicken and peas and mix everything into the rice, cooking until heated through.
- Add the fish sauce, chile paste, and lime juice. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
- Serve hot, garnished with chopped cilantro or additional green onions and lime wedges, if desired.
Tips for Success
- It is best to use day old rice rice from the refrigerator overnight. This gives the rice a chance to dry out so that it doesn’t get mushy when you fry it. If you don’t have leftover rice, you can make rice fresh and then spread it out in a baking dish or on a sheet pan and stick it in the refrigerator or freezer until it is cold and has dried out some.
- You can use rice cooked on the stovetop or in a rice cooker. You want to use plain white rice, preferably long-grain or medium-grain white rice. I like the aromatic flavor of jasmine rice, but you can use any white rice or even brown rice if you prefer.
- If the rice sticks together or sticks to your hands when you are adding it to the skillet, wet your hands. This will help you break up the rice as you add it without it clinging to your hands.
- Be sure to taste and adjust the seasonings to suit your personal taste. You may prefer more fish sauce or more spicy chile.
What do you serve with Khao Pad?
One of the things I love about Khao Pad is that it is a full meal that is that only requires one pan to cook. You don’t really need to serve any other dishes with it. I like to offer Prik Nam Pla, chile paste, chili oil, sriracha, and other sauces and seasonings for people to add to their own serving at the table.
If you love Thai food as much as I do, though, you might want to add some other dishes to round out a feast. In that case, serve Thai Curry Puffs, Tod Mun Pla (Thai Fish Cakes), or Green Papaya Salad as an appetizer and follow up with Thai Chicken Curry, Pumpkin Curry, or Chicken Satay with Thai Peanut Sauce alongside the fried rice.
Thai Pineapple Fried Rice (Khao Pad)
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil divided
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1 carrot peeled and diced
- 1 ½ cups chopped fresh pineapple
- 4 green onions thinly sliced
- ½ cup chopped unsalted cashews
- 2 cups cooked and chilled white rice
- 1 ½ cups diced cooked chicken
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce or more if needed
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 to 3 teaspoons chili paste to taste
- Juice of 1 lime
- In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers in the pan, add the eggs and cook, stirring and moving them around frequently until they are set, about 1 minute. Transfer the eggs to a plate or bowl and use a spatula to chop them up into pieces.
- Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the skillet. When it shimmers, add the carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the pineapple and cook, stirring frequently,
until the pineapple begins to brown on the edges, the carrots are tender, and all of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir in the green onions and garlic and then remove from the heat and transfer the pineapple and carrots to the bowl with the eggs.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet. When it shimmers, add the cashews and cook, stirring, just until they become aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the rice to the skillet, breaking up any big clumps as you add it. Wet your hands before handing the rice to prevent it from sticking. Spread the rice out in an even layer and cook, stirring and turning the rice occasionally, until the rice is heated through and beginning to brown in places, about 5 minutes.
- Add the eggs, carrots, and pineapple to the skillet along with the chicken and peas. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes more, until everything is heated through.
- Stir in the fish sauce, oyster sauce, chile paste, and lime juice and remove from the heat. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Serve hot.