Easy Island Fried Rice for a Crowd of 75
I developed this recipe because EVERY ONE loves Fried Rice and I desperately wanted Fried Rice for our Luaus. But neither you, nor I, nor any of my dear, long-suffering friends are interested in spending hours in front of a hot wok, cooking 20 or 30 batches of fried rice. Ain’t gonna happen. SO – I came up with this quick and easy version of Fried Rice. Here’s the secret: it’s not actually fried. The ‘fried’ look and taste is supplied with sesame oil and soy sauce. The usual ‘add-ins’ of carrots, peas, and scrambled eggs further contribute to the sense that you’re enjoying fried rice.
Is it the recipe I use when I’m fixing dinner for less than 20? Nope. Is it a darn good alternative for 100 – 400? Absolutely. In fact, I had enough compliments and recipe requests, that I’ve included a “Family Size” version as well. It’s one of the more popular side dishes at our luau. Let me walk you through the steps to make it.
So how DO you cook rice for a large group?
The absolute best way to easily cook rice for a crowd is in the oven. It’s a fool-proof, hands off method that turns out perfect rice every time. The first time I tried it, I checked the rice about 10 minutes prior to the completion of the cooking time. It was still slightly crunchy – and with guests due soon I was getting concerned (it does happen, I just try never to show it). But I steadfastly replaced the aluminum foil and said a small prayer. When I removed the rice from the oven 10 minutes later – it was perfect. It’s turned out perfect every time I’ve made it. Just check a spoonful from the center of the pan before you remove it from the oven and if it’s not quite done, cover it back up and let it go 5 – 10 more minutes.
How much rice do I need to feed a large crowd?
Let’s talk about this one for a minute. Generally, most rice will triple when cooked, so 1 cup of raw rice will yield 3 cups cooked rice. This means if you start with 12 cups (5 pounds, 4 ounces) of white, long grained, uncooked rice, you’ll wind up with 36 cups of cooked rice. For this recipe you’ll be adding in 4 more cups of ham and about 4 cups of vegetables which will give you about 44 cups total. Since an average serving size is about 1/3 cup – 1/2 cup, this gives you between 88 – 132 servings per pan. I just made 2 (20 x 13 x 3) pans of this rice for our luau this past weekend. We served 141 people with enough leftovers to have served 175 – 200 with the 2 pans. You can easily count on 1 pan of this rice serving 75 people. I would even be comfortable planning to handle 80-90, and possibly even 100 people, since not everyone will take some. But rice is cheap, and so 75 is what I use for planning.
By the way – you can make many versions of this: Spanish Rice by adding pureed tomatoes, corn, oregano and green chilies or even simple plain white rice by omitting any of the add-ins with this recipe. You can also add some diced spam if you want to make it authentic Hawaiian. Like shrimp, chicken or pork? Go for it. As for the veggies, nothing’s easier than a frozen package of peas & carrots!
This rice for a crowd recipe is SO much easier than worrying about the rice overcooking and burning on the stove top. Keep it, uncovered, in a warm 200 degree oven and it easily retains its heat for up to an hour. I’m officially in love.
Some Secrets to Success
Easy Measuring Tip
Here’s a helpful hit when you measure the rice: It’s just as easy to dump the rice in the pan in discrete piles as it to throw it in casually. That way when you’re done, there’s no question as to the number of cups of rice you’ve add to the pan.
Your rice needs to be mixed thoroughly
Cooking rice in this quantity makes it difficult to effectively mix in the soy sauce and other ingredients. Once cooked, the rice takes up most of the space in the large roasting pan. If you’re not careful, you end up with clumpy, gummy rice.
The last time I served this, I was in a hurry and wasn’t able to easily, quickly and thoroughly mix in the soy sauce. I ended up serving a pan of “fried rice” with large unappetizing pockets of plain white rice. To add insult to injury, I had to transport the rice about 15 minutes the church for serving. Because I was short on room, I stacked several large, heavy pans on top of the rice pans, which turned the rice into a gummy block.
I can tell you the 200 teens were very excited with the prospect of fried rice as part of a Chinese dinner. They were less enthusiastic with my sub-par offering. Fortunately, they have been taught the importance of kindness…
Use an additional pan for mixing and break up all rice clumps by hand
To keep our reputations intact, I’ve found a very effective solution:
1. Simply pick up an extra aluminum roasting pan so that you have 2 total for each recipe. Once the rice comes out of the oven, remove half of it to the second pan. Evenly divide the soy sauce, sesame oil, eggs and meat between the 2 pans. Toss to mix well. Simply take a couple forks or serving spoons and fluff it to break up any larger clumps and cool it down so you can handle it, then break up all chunks by hand. The rice should retain its temperature well, but you can always put it, uncovered, in a 200 degree oven to re-warm it if necessary.
2. If you’re transporting this rice after cooking it, make sure you don’t stack anything on it.
3. Fluff it right before serving. Since you have now divided the rice between 2 roasting pans, this gives you enough room in the pans to easily fluff it.
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A great side dish for your next luau, girl's camp, youth conference or family reunion. Makes 44 cups. Yields roughly 75 - 100 servings.
- 12 cups white rice, long grain UNCOOKED - NOT minute or instant (This is 5 pounds, 4 ounces of uncooked rice)
- 2 white onions chopped
- 1 (16 ounce) bag frozen peas & carrots
- 4 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 quarts water
- 3 quarts chicken broth
- 8 large eggs
- 2 cups soy sauce
- 1/2 cup sesame oil
- 4 cups cooked ham diced – or 2 cans spam, diced
- 2 (20" x 13" x 3") disposable aluminum pans (this is a full-size steam table pan)
- 2 large flat baking sheets
In a large stock-pot, combine water, broth and salt. Bring to a rolling boil.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350-degrees. Lightly spray a 20" x 13" x 3" roasting pan with cooking spray. Tear off a large sheet of aluminum foil large enough to easily cover the top of the roasting pan. Set aside.
Place 12 cups UNCOOKED rice, chopped onion, frozen carrots and peas and minced garlic in roasting pan, spread evenly. Place roasting pan on flat baking sheet for stability when transporting to and from the oven.
Once water and broth is boiling, pull out the oven rack and move the roasting pan on the baking sheet to the extended rack. Carefully pour the boiling liquid over the rice and stir to mix thoroughly.
IMMEDIATELY cover tightly with aluminum foil. Using oven mitts (it's hot), press foil tightly around the pan to ensure a tight seal around ALL the edges, crimping along edges. Carefully slide the rack back in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes or until rice is tender.
15 minutes before rice is done, in a medium sauté pan over medium heat, cook meat if including. When meat is browned and cooked, whisk eggs, add to pan and scramble eggs for several minutes.
Test the rice for doneness and when done remove from oven and remove foil. Scoop out half of it into the second disposable aluminum roasting pan. Evenly divide the soy sauce, sesame oil, eggs and meat between the 2 pans. Toss to mix well. Simply take a couple forks or serving spoons and fluff it to break up any larger clumps. Then, when it's cool enough to handle, break up the rice with your hands. The rice should retain its temperature well during this process, but you can always put it back in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes to re-heat if necessary.
Can be kept warm in the oven, covered with foil, at 150 degrees or put in a covered slow cooker on LOW. Add a little water if necessary to keep from drying out.
Make sure to 'fluff' the rice immediately prior to serving.
NOTE 1: 12 cups of uncooked rice cooks up to 24 cups of cooked rice. You'll be adding in Then you’re adding 9 cups veggies, for a total of 33 cups. If everyone took 1/2 cup, this would technically serve only 66 people. In reality the average person will take 1 large serving spoon full, which is between 1/3 and 1/2 cup and not everyone takes some – so you end up with plenty for 75.
NOTE 2: It's important to select a roasting pan which holds 15 quarts to allow plenty of room for rice expansion. The 3 inch deep "full size" disposable steam pan enables the rice to cook more evenly.
Make perfect rice every time with this easy and proven recipe to cook rice in the oven.
- 1 1/3 cups long grain rice
- 2 1/3 cups water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- Aluminum foil
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil divided (use sesame oil if available)
- 1 cup cooked ham , pork, or spam, cubed
- 1/2 white onion , chopped
- 2 medium garlic cloves , minced
- 1 ½ cups frozen peas & carrots
- 4-5 cups rice cooked and cooled slightly
- 6 green onions
- 1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts , sliced (optional)
- 3 large eggs whisked
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
Preheat oven to 375°F conventional or 350°F convection.
Place 2 1/3 cups water, 1 1/2 tablespoon of butter, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a microwave safe bowl and heat in the microwave till boiling. Or heat on the stove top in a pan.
While water is heating place 1 1/3 cups white long grain rice in an oven safe pan or dish.
Add the boiling water to rice. Mix well and quickly cover tightly with a piece of foil.
Bake 23-25 minutes until the rice is tender but not mushy and all the liquid should be absorbed. If it's not done, bake for another 2 to 4 minutes. While rice is cooking prep all ingredients for the fried rice and set aside.
When rice is done turn it out onto a large tray and spread in a even layer to cool.
Add ¼ cup vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Heat until shimmering. Add white onions and cook until onions are translucent.
Add meat and cook until meat is browned.
Add garlic, and cook 30 seconds until fragrant.
Add more oil if necessary
Add 4-5 cups cooked, cooled rice. Stir and toss, until the rice is pale brown, toasted, and has a lightly chewy texture, about three minutes, adding oil as needed.
Add frozen peas and carrots, green onions and water chestnuts. Cook, stirring gently, until heated through, about 2-3 minutes.
Drizzle the eggs over the hot rice. Use a spatula to scramble the eggs, breaking them up into small bits. Toss the egg and the rice together. Add soy sauce and toss to coat.
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