21+ Delicious Rice Side Dishes

Rice is often touted as the world’s most beloved grain, and for good reason. Not only is it an affordable and nutritious option, but its versatility knows no bounds. Whether you’re looking to add a vegetarian or vegan twist to your meal, or simply seeking a side dish that complements a variety of main courses, rice is the ultimate canvas for creativity.

From fragrant jasmine to nutty brown, the seemingly endless varieties of rice offer a unique opportunity to explore different cultures and cuisines. Rice has a remarkable ability to absorb flavors, making it an ideal base for an array of delicious and innovative side dishes.

Cheesy Spinach Rice

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This spinach rice recipe is a game-changer, especially when made with cheddar cheese (Velveeta for an extra creamy twist). While the original calls for instant rice, you can easily substitute it with long grain rice like brown rice or basmati rice. The combination of finely grated Romano cheese and heavy cream (or milk) creates a rich, cheesy flavor that’s simply irresistible.What sets this recipe apart is its convenience – it’s a one-pot meal that requires minimal effort. Simply combine the rice, water, butter, beef bouillon (or chicken bouillon), and most of the seasonings in a pot, cover with a tight- fit lid, and let it simmer. When the rice is tender, remove the lid and stir in the mayonnaise, cheese, and spinach. Then, put the lid back on and let it sit for about eight minutes – it’s as if it cooks itself!The magic doesn’t stop there; this recipe also incorporates a blend of savory spices, including minced onion, garlic, and dried parsley flakes.

Curried Rice

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Curried rice is a versatile and flavorful side dish that pairs well with various Indian-inspired main courses. If you’d like to elevate it into a satisfying entrée, simply add your choice of protein, such as chicken, seafood, or tofu. The simplicity of this recipe belies its rich flavor profile, which arises from the combination of sautéed onion and garlic, sweet curry powder, and aromatic rice. Feel free to experiment with additional spices like ginger, coriander, paprika, cumin, or chili powder to further enhance the dish’s depth. To make it even more substantial, consider adding other vegetables like peas or carrots. For a vegan or vegetarian option, sprinkle some cashews or pistachios on top for added protein and crunch. This curried rice is particularly well-suited when served alongside garlic prawns or pan-fried fish.

Broccoli and Cheese Rice

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Chicken, broccoli, and cheese rice casserole is a beloved side dish that’s sure to please. This comforting classic is surprisingly easy to make from scratch, without relying on canned condensed soup. The combination of tender chicken, steamed broccoli, and creamy cheese-infused rice makes for a satisfying meal that’s perfect for a weeknight dinner or a special occasion.

One of the reasons this recipe stands out is its versatility – it can be served as a side dish alongside roasted or grilled chicken, but it’s also hearty enough to be enjoyed as a main course. And with the option to customize it for vegetarians by swapping in plant-based protein sources, this casserole truly has something for everyone.

What sets this recipe apart is its use of two types of cheese: shredded cheddar and cream cheese. This adds a rich, indulgent flavor to the dish that’s hard to resist. Serve it with a fresh green salad and some crusty bread for a comforting meal that’s sure to become a family favorite.

Mushroom Risotto

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While our list of rice side dishes doesn’t stop at traditional classics, we can also explore the world of risotto. But before diving in, let’s clarify what risotto is all about. Risotto is a staple from Italy, made with a specific type of short-grained rice called Arborio. Interestingly, Arborio rice isn’t exclusive to Italy; it’s grown in various parts of the United States as well. The unique characteristic of Arborio rice lies in its higher starch content, which gives risotto its signature creaminess when cooked. What’s more, you can use three different types of rice – Arborio, Carnaroli, and Vialone Nano – to achieve this creamy consistency. Notably, Carnaroli rice might be a bit harder to find in the US, so online shopping might be your best bet. For this mushroom risotto recipe, you’re free to experiment with button mushrooms, crimini, portobello, hen of the woods, shiitake, or oyster mushrooms. The real magic happens when you combine these ingredients with shallots, garlic cloves, fresh thyme sprigs, dry white wine, fresh lemon juice, parmesan cheese, heavy cream, and chicken stock – all of which contribute to a rich flavor profile.

Brown Rice Apple Salad

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We were thrilled to discover a delectable brown rice salad recipe while searching for healthy options. This dish is a game-changer if you’ve never tried a rice salad before – it’s an absolute delight! What makes this recipe stand out is its versatility; you can easily scale it up or down, making it perfect for meal prep or as a satisfying lunch or dinner. The combination of flavors and textures is truly impressive, with the sweetness of the apples, crunch of the green onions, and creaminess of the cheddar cheese all working together in harmony. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a splash of cider vinegar add a tangy depth to the dish, while parsley, sea salt, and black pepper provide a subtle yet essential boost of flavor. With its numerous benefits and ease of preparation, this brown rice salad is an excellent addition to any meal routine.

Black Rice

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Black rice, also known as Forbidden Black Rice, is a nutritious and unique option for a healthy side dish. This type of rice stands out due to its high protein content and low carbohydrates and calories compared to other rice varieties.The name ‘Forbidden Black Rice’ originates from a legend about noble Chinese men who allegedly stole the black rice crop, allowing them to control its production and sell it only to royalty, forbidding commoners from growing or consuming it. Despite this history, Forbidden Black Rice has become a popular gluten-free and vegan side dish that pairs well with various meals, including beef, chicken, pork, stir-fry, and tofu.What makes this recipe special is the versatility of cooking methods – you can make it on the stovetop or use an Instant Pot. This Forbidden Black Rice recipe offers a simple yet flavorful way to prepare this classic side dish.

Turmeric Rice

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Turmeric is a culinary powerhouse that’s hard to resist. Its vibrant yellow hue instantly elevates the visual appeal of any dish, while its distinctive flavor and aroma add depth and complexity. But what truly sets turmeric apart is its impressive nutritional profile.

When you incorporate turmeric into your cooking repertoire, you’re essentially guaranteeing a winning meal that’s sure to delight both family and friends. And this turmeric rice recipe is no exception – with its blend of coconut oil (or olive oil for a non-saturated option), dried thyme, and ground cumin, it’s a true flavor bomb.

The addition of fresh or frozen green peas, garlic, carrots, and onion provides a delightful contrast in texture and adds a burst of freshness to each bite. Just be mindful of the potential staining power of turmeric – take necessary precautions (like wearing gloves) to ensure your cooking experience is stress-free and enjoyable.

Cilantro Lime Rice

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Cilantro rice has become a staple in many cuisines, particularly thanks to Chipotle’s popular menu option. However, this flavorful dish is surprisingly easy to recreate at home. When prepared correctly, cilantro rice makes a stunning side dish for any Mexican-inspired meal, whether it’s burritos, tacos, or enchiladas. Its versatility doesn’t stop there – the distinct flavor of cilantro also lends itself well to other international cuisines. This recipe combines garlic, scallions, lime zest, fresh lime juice, chopped cilantro, sea salt, and red pepper flakes for a truly unique taste experience.


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Arancini di Riso, also known as Italian rice balls, are a distinct culinary delight that sets them apart from other rice-based side dishes. Originating in Sicily, these bite-sized morsels are bursting with flavor and texture, filled with a medley of ingredients such as mozzarella cheese, peas, and meat sauce. Once formed into their characteristic spherical shape, they’re incredibly addictive.

While similar rice balls can be found in Rome under the name suppli, these typically consist only of melted cheese and may not always maintain a perfect roundness. Regardless of the filling, the preparation process remains consistent: a coat of egg, flour, and breadcrumbs precedes a deep-frying that yields a crispy, golden-brown exterior.

As popular snacks in Sicily and Southern Italy, these Italian rice balls can be found at bars, pizzerias, and other establishments. A pro tip for achieving optimal results is to prepare the arancini in advance and refrigerate them before frying, which helps the ingredients adhere together, ensuring a satisfying texture upon consumption.

Greek Lemon Rice

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Greek lemon rice is a Mediterranean staple that combines sautéed garlic and onions with the tanginess of lemons. The dish begins by cooking white rice in chicken broth, where it absorbs the flavors of herbs like parsley and dill. This aromatic rice pilaf is elevated by the brightness of freshly squeezed lemon juice, adding an explosion of citrus flavor to each bite. To make this Greek lemon rice, start by sautéing garlic and onions in olive oil until they’re soft and translucent. Then, add the white rice and stir until it’s evenly coated with the flavorful mixture. Next, pour in chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil before reducing the heat and letting it simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through. Finally, stir in some chopped parsley, dill, and a squeeze of lemon juice for an added burst of flavor. This Greek lemon rice is perfect for serving alongside your favorite Greek dishes, such as gyros, meatballs, chicken, or souvlaki.

Cheese Broccoli Wild Rice Casserole

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There’s something special about cooking with wild rice – it’s a surefire sign that the day is going to be a great one. This hearty casserole is incredibly versatile, pairing perfectly with everything from beef steak to lamb, and even making for a satisfying vegetarian main course or Meatless Monday option when served with broccoli and a blend of cheeses. The creamy sauce, achieved through the use of heavy cream, is made richer still by the combination of white cheddar and gouda cheese. When it comes to the type of wild rice used, you have the flexibility to opt for all-wild-rice or a blend – the choice is yours. A medley of spices, including crushed red pepper flakes, fresh thyme, black pepper, and sea salt, adds depth to the dish, while an abundance of vegetables like broccoli, carrots, celery, and sweet onion provide a burst of freshness. The secret to this wild rice casserole’s success lies in the judicious use of both olive oil and butter – trust us, it makes all the difference.

Rice Pilaf

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Rice pilaf is a popular and delectable side dish that has earned its place in many culinary hearts. Its ease of preparation and irresistible flavor make it a staple in many households. This recipe yields perfectly fluffy and flavorful rice, eliminating the risk of mushy textures. The combination of long-grain white rice and vermicelli (or orzo) provides a delightful contrast of textures, while a blend of spices – including garlic powder, smoked paprika, onion powder, sea salt, and black pepper – infuses the dish with depth and warmth. For those who prefer brown rice, this recipe can be adapted by adjusting the cooking time accordingly. One of the greatest benefits of this pilaf is its versatility; it can be easily frozen for later use. Simply allow the rice to cool completely before transferring it to airtight bags designed for freezer storage. Frozen wild rice pilaf remains fresh for up to three months and can be reheated in the microwave oven with ease.

Garlic Parmesan Rice

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One-pot meals are a staple in many households, but simple weekend recipes are always welcome too. This creamy garlic parmesan rice dish is a game-changer, melting in your mouth with its rich flavors. To boost the nutrition factor, spinach is added to the mix, while vegetable or chicken broth, milk, and butter come together to create a velvety texture. The key to this recipe’s success lies in sautéing the rice with garlic until it’s nicely coated in melted butter, then finishing it off with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. This dish pairs perfectly with grilled meats like chicken, seafood, or steak, but can also stand alone as a satisfying vegetarian meal when served with a green salad and crusty bread.

Cranberry Rice Pilaf

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Bring the warm and cozy flavors of the holiday season to your table with this delectable Persian cranberry rice pilaf. The sweet and tangy combination of cranberries and saffron is a match made in heaven, and when paired with crunchy nuts like pistachios, pecans, or almonds, it’s a filling side dish that can easily become a full meal without the need for meat. Whether you use dried or fresh cranberries, this recipe offers versatility and endless possibilities. For an added twist, feel free to substitute the cranberries with dried cherries, creating a unique and flavorful variation.

Coconut Rice

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When it comes to pairing rice with Thai dishes, grilled chicken meals, seafood feasts, or tropical gatherings, coconut rice has become my top pick. This flavorful side dish boasts a rich, natural coconut taste that seamlessly blends with various other flavors. What’s more, making coconut rice is surprisingly straightforward, requiring only a few pantry staples.

For the best results, I recommend using high-quality Jasmine rice or basmati rice as your base. To bring this dish to life, you’ll also need canned coconut milk (not cream or beverage), coconut water (or plain water), and sea salt.

Don’t skip the sea salt – it’s essential for adding depth to your coconut rice. Without it, the finished product can taste flat.

Before cooking, be sure to rinse your rice under cold water. Alternatively, you can use a rice cooker to simplify the process. If you want to take things to the next level, consider adding soy sauce for an extra boost of flavor.

Salsa Rice

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While Mexican rice and Spanish rice are delicious, salsa rice offers a simpler and more straightforward recipe that requires fewer ingredients. One key difference is the absence of Caldo de Tomate, making this dish even more accessible. To get started, you’ll need either vegetable broth or chicken broth, depending on your preference.

This recipe also lends itself well to using brown rice, which just requires an adjustment in cooking time due to its slightly longer preparation time.

In terms of flavor, this salsa rice dish relies heavily on the savory taste of store-bought or homemade salsa. You can use whichever you prefer, and even customize it with your favorite spices, such as ground cumin and garlic powder.

What really sets this recipe apart is its versatility – feel free to add protein sources like ground beef, cooked chicken, or black beans to make the dish more filling and satisfying. Veggie options like poblano peppers, green peas, and corn also pair nicely with the rice.

Ultimately, this salsa rice recipe makes a great side dish that can be served alongside a wide range of Mexican foods, including tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, or tamales.

Mexican Rice

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When it comes to Taco Tuesday, weekend fajitas or any other Mexican-inspired meal, a flavorful and authentic Mexican rice dish is a must-have side. To achieve that perfect balance of taste and texture, you’ll need a few key ingredients, starting with Caldo de Tomate – essentially a tomato bouillon that adds depth to the dish. While it’s possible to make Mexican rice without this ingredient, it’s the secret to truly authentic recipes.

For this recipe, you’ll also need olive oil (or canola oil), long-grain white rice, tomato sauce, and water. Feel free to substitute chicken broth for added flavor. The seasonings are simple: just garlic (or garlic powder) and chili powder. With these ingredients and a bit of know-how, you’ll be on your way to creating a delicious Mexican rice dish that’s sure to please.


Get ready to delight your family and friends with these mouthwatering recipes. Whether you’re looking for a quick side dish or a satisfying American-inspired meal, these options are sure to please. Take a moment to share your thoughts and let us know what you think!

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