This savory more-ish vegetarian nasi goreng combines Indonesian-style fried rice with lots of vegetables. If you skip the egg, it’s also vegan, and ready in less than 20 minutes!
Skip MSG-filled expensive takeaways for this much healthier fakeaway! I’ve gone for a very similar flavor to nasi goreng that I’ve tried but made it vegetarian with no meat or fish paste, a bit less sweet, and have added tons of veggies for a totally inauthentic but delicious dish. Picture brown fried rice with a caramelized umami flavor, loaded up with tender veggies.
All the veggies really make it a filling meal and not a side dish, but feel free to omit them and keep it simple with just onions if you prefer. Nasi goreng is usually served with wedges of tomato and cucumber with a sunny-side-up egg on top. I’m allergic to eggs, so hubby enjoyed the egg in the photo. If you’re allergic to eggs or are vegan, you can just leave the egg out or substitute with some marinated fried tofu, or a vegan fried egg.
Chuck the vegetables in a wok or large wide pan for a few minutes, add in some cold cooked rice, pour over the sauce, stir and cook a few minutes and hey presto!
If easy delicious rice dishes are your thing, then you may also be interested in this yummy lemon rice with coconut, vegan Mexican rice, or this easy one-pot vegetable biryani. If you’re more in the mood for noodles try these super easy ten-minute sesame garlic ramen noodles.
Ingredients and substitutions
Let’s take a look at what ingredients you’ll need to make vegetarian nasi goreng, and if any of them can be omitted or substituted if you don’t have them to hand.
Chopped vegetables: Traditionally, nasi goreng is actually very light on the veggies and only uses onion. I’ve added three and a half cups for a filling vegetarian version, but you can dial down the veggies a little if you wish. You can use any mix of vegetables you want. Peas, sweetcorn, carrot, celery, bell peppers, green beans and beansprouts all go really well. Apart from peas, sweetcorn and beansprouts, make sure your veggies are all diced small and of a similar size so they cook evenly. You can also use frozen chopped vegetables. My favorite is one cup diced red bell pepper, one cup green diced bell pepper, half a cup diced celery, half a cup diced carrots and half a cup of frozen peas.
Soy sauce brown sugar mix: Nasi goreng usually uses kecap manis, a very strong concentrated sweet soy sauce (which I can never get a hold of here in Madrid!). You can use three tablespoons of kecap manis or sweet soy sauce instead of the soy sauce brown sugar mix I use in this recipe. Alternatively, you can also substitute the brown sugar with the same amount of molasses or palm sugar.
Vinegar: Don’t omit this! You can use any mild vinegar you wish, e.g. white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar.
Onion: If you don’t like onions you can leave this out but it does give a lot of flavor. Any type of onion will do, you can even use the large white part of a spring onion.
Garlic: If you don’t like garlic just omit it. Don’t substitute with garlic granules or ground garlic. It must be crushed to be added to the sauce, if you don’t have a garlic crusher you can add prepared garlic paste instead of chop the garlic and add with the other vegetables instead.
Canola oil: You can use any mild-flavored oil such as canola, sunflower etc.
Green onions: These are optional but taste great, the green parts of scallions or spring onions can also be used.
White pepper: Adds a great extra “something” but you can omit it if you don’t have it.
Cooked rice: Cooked cold rice is a must, even better if it’s a little hard and dry. If you need to use freshly cooked rice, spread it out in a thin layer to cool down quickly before using. Basmati rice or long-grain rice is best, although you can use any kind.
Sriracha: Adds a ton of flavor – if you don’t have it to hand you can add sambal oelek, a sliced red chili pepper with the vegetables, or half a teaspoon of hot sauce, a quarter teaspoon of cayenne etc. or leave out if you prefer zero heat.
Toasted sesame oil: Again adds lots of flavor, don’t leave it out if you can avoid doing so.
How to make it
Vegetarian nasi goreng is super simple to make. This section is a little more detailed than the recipe card and has some photos to help those who might be newer cooks or simply have some doubts. If you’re a seasoned pro, you can just skip on down to the recipe card.
The first thing to do is make sure you have your vegetables of choice peeled, diced and measured. If you’re using frozen diced vegetables then this won’t be an issue, you also don’t need to do anything to frozen peas, frozen or canned sweetcorn, or beansprouts.
Then add the oil to a wok or large skillet and heat it on high. When the pan is sizzling hot (test by dropping one piece of vegetable in), add all the vegetables, including the chopped onion. Fry for five minutes until the hardest veggie (carrot, for example, if you’re using it) is “al-dente”.
While the veggies are frying I recommend using a fork to gently separate the grains of rice, and dampen your hands and gently tease apart any clumps.
Make up your soy sauce brown sugar mix by mixing the soy sauce and sugar together in a large microwave-safe container. The container needs to be quite large, a cereal bowl for example, as the soy sauce and sugar will bubble up while cooking and boil over otherwise. Heat on high for one minute, stirring halfway through at thirty seconds.
Take out of the microwave, stir until all the sugar is dissolved, and set to one side. Prepare the sauce for your nasi goreng by adding the vinegar, Sriracha, crushed garlic clove, white pepper, and sesame oil to the soy sauce brown sugar mixture (image four above) and whisk briskly with a fork to combine
After the veggies are done (slightly softened as in image one above), add the rice to the pan (image two) and mix well (image three).
Pour over the sauce (image five), mix well again, and fry an additional four minutes, stirring every 30 seconds roughly to prevent sticking and allow moisture to escape (but not so often that the rice doesn’t toast, see finished rice in image six).
Sprinkle over the chopped green onions, and optionally, serve with a fried egg, and chunks of cucumber and tomato. You can eat your rice straight away but I prefer to let it cool to room temperature and let the flavors deepen. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
If you don’t have any cold cooked rice, you can cook some rice to use but you must let it cool down before using it or it will get mushy when you cook it again in this recipe. Spread the freshly cooked rice out on sheets of baking paper or pans in as thin a layer as possible. You can then leave it to cool, or place in the fridge or freezer to cool down faster, or even set up a fan to blow on the rice.
This rice will keep in the fridge for up to four days. I don’t recommend freezing it as the rice becomes very gummy once defrosted.
Nasi goreng is actually normally eaten for breakfast and made with leftover rice from the previous night’s meal, but we love it for lunch or dinner so you do you!
Nasi goreng is one of the official national dishes of Indonesia, but is also commonly eaten in several other ocuntries in Southeast Maritime Asia.
Very little, as nasi goreng literally means “fried rice” in Indonesian and Malay languages. Nasi goreng does tend to be darker and have more caramelized flavors than traditional fried rice, due to using kecap manis or a sweet soy sauce mixture.
Did you make this vegetarian nasi goreng? Let me know how much you loved it with a star rating in the recipe box, review, or comment below.
Or take a picture and tag me on Instagram (@the_fiery_vegetarian) or connect with me on Facebook, I love seeing all your creations!
- 1.5 tablespoons canola oil (or any flavorless oil)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3.5 cups diced vegetables of choice (see notes)
- 3 cups cold cooked rice (preferably basmati or long-grain)
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce (reduced sodium preferably)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1.5 tablespoon vinegar (mild: rice, wine, or ACV)
- ½ tablespoon Sriracha or sambal oelek (increase to 1 for more spice)
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
To serve (optional)
- 4 tbsp chopped green onions
- 4 fried eggs
- 4 chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 an English cucumber, sliced
- Heat the oil in a wok until smoking hot.
- Add the chopped onion and diced vegetables and fry for five minutes.
- While the vegetables are cooking, mix the sugar and soy sauce together in a large mug or cereal bowl (so as not to bubble over) and microwave for one minute on high, stirring halfway through.Add in the rest of the sauce ingredients and whisk.
- Add the rice to the vegetables and mix well. Pour the sauce over and quickly mix..
- Fry a further four minutes, stirring approximately every 30 seconds.
- Take off the heat and serve with chopped green onion sprinkled over, and optionally, one fried egg per serving along with wedges of tomato and sliced cucumber.
You can use whatever combination of chopped vegetables you wish, fresh or frozen, just make sure larger vegetables are diced small. My favorite combination is 1 cup green pepper 1 cup red pepper ½ cup carrot ½ cup celery ½ cup peas. Green beans, beansprouts and corn are also great.
Brown sugar can be substituted with molasses or palm sugar.
Will keep up to four days in the fridge, and tastes even better on the second day!
If the rice becomes cold and hard in the fridge sprinkle a tablespoon of water over and microwave on high for three minutes in a sealed container or covered with plastic wrap to restore rice texture.
Amount Per Serving Calories 485Total Fat 15gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 11gCholesterol 184mgSodium 1116mgCarbohydrates 71gFiber 10gSugar 16gProtein 17g