You’ve made Emily Mariko’s viral salmon bowl like, a million times now, plus all the roasted garlic recipes that TikTok has to offer. Next on your list? Crispy rice. Like #foodtok’s pasta chips, the beloved grain that’s usually served soft is turned shatteringly crunchy in just a few simple steps. Read on to learn how to make crispy rice, and check out ten viral recipes that use it in a slew of creative ways.
What Is Crispy Rice?
You may think it’s a bad thing when you accidentally burn rice, but not so fast: Crispy rice is actually pretty delicious. Also called scorched rice and crunchy rice, crispy rice is a dish that calls for browning rice in oil until a thin, golden crust forms. The rice is typically cooked in a pot and tossed in oil first so that every grain is coated, then browned over high heat, though it can also be baked in the oven instead. It’s an awesome way to repurpose leftover rice (especially since it can be hard to return it to its fluffy former glory as it is).
Crispy rice is commonly turned into tiny fried rice cakes that are topped with sushi ingredients like spicy tuna on social media, but its most famous rendition is arguably tahdig, a staple Persian dish starring scorched, saffron-infused basmati rice. (Other Iranian dishes that lean on crispy rice include katteh, baghali polo and sabzi polo.) But various countries have their own crispy rice dishes, including Indonesia, China, the Philippines, Korea and multiple Latin American and Caribbean nations.
How to Make Crispy Rice
There are a variety of ways to make this addictive side dish, but the below explains the basics of preparing a pot of crispy rice. (BTW, most TikTokkers use basmati or seasoned sushi rice in crispy rice recipes.)
Step 1: Take the cooked rice you’d like to brown and rinse it under cold water if it’s fresh. (If you’re using leftovers, skip the rinse.) Drain it well, dry it off and toss it in melted butter or olive oil.
Step 2: Add a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil to a pot or deep pan (with an airtight lid!) over medium heat. Add the rice and spread it out to cover the entire bottom of the pot. Poke a few holes in the top of the rice so steam can escape.
Step 3: Cook the rice until it begins to steam all over. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with the lid until the bottom of the rice forms a golden crust; note that the wait time will vary depending on how much rice you use. (Pro tip: Wrapping the pan or pot lid with a kitchen towel will help the rice crisp up by absorbing excess moisture, similar to the damkesh traditionally used to make tahdig.) Once cooked, remove the rice with a spatula, or place a platter on top of the pan and flip it over to remove it in one piece.
(Note: If you’d rather make crispy rice bites instead of one single layer, pack the leftover rice into a shallow dish lined with plastic wrap and put it in the freezer. After about 15 minutes, slice the rice into squares, toss them in flour or potato starch and shallow fry them in oil.)
Ready to cook? Here are our favorite crispy rice TikTok recipes.
1. Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice Bites
All the flavor and heat of a spicy tuna roll, plus the craggy crunch of crispy rice. Be sure to use high-quality, sushi-grade fish if you’re going to eat it raw.
2. Garlic Parmesan Crispy Rice Bites
This recipe starts with a small dish of tahdig, which is cut into bite-sized pieces and drenched in garlic-Parm herb butter.
3. Vegan Crispy Rice Balls
Otherwise known as the tastiest way to use up leftover rice and almost-rotten veggies in one fell swoop.
4. Crispy Yaki Onigiri
Yaki onigiri is a Japanese dish of grilled rice balls. This flat, pan-fried version is brushed in a savory mix of soy sauce, mirin and rice wine vinegar after it’s browned.
5. Spicy Salmon Crispy Rice
So crunchy that they’re basically like rice-filled tater tots. Chalk it up to using a deep fryer instead of a shallow pan to brown the rice.
6. Persian Tahdig
Saffron water, which is made by steeping ground saffron in hot water, is the secret to tahdig’s golden color, sweet aroma and slightly floral flavor.
7. Beef Pepper Rice
8. Potato Tahdig
9. Spam with Crispy Rice
Seared glazed Spam + seaweed-spiked crispy rice + egg-avocado flowers = the cutest snack of all time.
10. Crispy Tuna Rice Burger
Excuse our drooling. Crispy rice “buns” stand in for bread in this handheld that’s piled high with raw citrusy tuna, avocado and scallions.