11 Really Easy Rice Side Dishes

Today's post is a list of easy rice side dish recipes that you can use to complement any meal.

A couple of quick few suggestions to help you make the most of today's post:

1) Consider getting yourself a rice cooker. Not only will it be a great timesaver for many of the recipes here, it will be an enormously cost-effective tool for your kitchen.

2) Do not use
instant rice. Where is the logic in having some company partially cook your rice, cool it back down, dehydrate it, put it in a bag--and then charge you extra for the privilege? Sheesh. One of the worst examples of a second-order food.

Rice is easy to make, and it's one of the least expensive staple foods out there. Today's list should provide you with plenty of interesting sides dish ideas that you can whip up with very little effort and even less cost. Enjoy!
1) Easy Coconut Rice adapted from About.com:
Here's a preposterously easy coconut rice side dish that will add an exotic dimension to dinner.

2 cups white rice (optional: jasmine rice if you have it)
1 1/2 cups thick, good-quality coconut milk (not "lite")
2 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt

1) Place rice in rice cooker. Add the water, coconut milk, and salt. Stir well.
2) Cover and adjust setting to cook. Once done, allow another 8-10 minutes for rice to finish "steaming," this will ensure your coconut rice is fully cooked and pleasantly sticky.

Serves 6-8.

2) Mock Wild Rice from Casual Kitchen:
This is a simple and delicious favorite from my family. When it came time for each of my sisters (and me too) to leave home to live on our own, this was the first recipe each of us copied from our mother's recipe filebox.

1 cup white rice
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 10.5 ounce can beef consomme PLUS 1/2 can water
1 small can mushrooms (pieces and stems okay), drained and rinsed
1 medium onion, cut into slices or chopped coarsely

1) Preheat oven to 350
2) Combine all ingredients into a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish, cover, and bake at 350F for 45 minutes.

Serves 4-5. Can be easily doubled.

3) Cumin Rice adapted from CookEatShare:This rice dish has a unique and savory mix of spices, and you'll be able to whip it up in just a few minutes. Note that the recipe calls for whole cumin seeds, not ground cumin, but in a pinch you could probably use either.

1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 (3 inch) cinnamon stick
Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt

1) Saute onion, garlic, cumin seeds, and cinnamon stick in oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir until onion softens, about 3 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
2) Stir in the broth, sugar, pepper, and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
3) Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes before serving.

4) Cilantro Lime Rice adapted from CookEatShare:
Another preposterously easy dish that will add authenticity to any Latin American meal.

Cook white rice as per rice directions, adding 1 teaspoon salt per cup of rice.
For each cup of rice, add:
2/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped scallions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon olive oil

Add cilantro, scallions, lime juice and olive oil to cooked rice. Stir. To enhance flavors, leave in pan with lid on for a few minutes before serving. Serves four per cup of rice as a side dish.

5) Green Rice adapted from About.com:
An interesting mix of green veggies and herbs infuses this easy rice dish. For an extra kick of heat, you can add (a lot) more cayenne pepper.

2 cups uncooked rice
2/3 cup green pepper, finely chopped
1 cup scallions, sliced
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/8 cup olive oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if desired)
4 cups beef broth

1) Preheat oven to 350F.
2) Combine all ingredients in a 2-quart casserole dish, cover, and bake for 45 minutes, or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed; toss rice and serve.

Serves 6-8.

6) Chickpeas and Rice adapted from Recipezaar:
There's a little bit of extra prep work involved in this recipe, but your extra labor will be amply rewarded with this delicious and highly original rice side. Can easily stand in as a full meal.

1 cup uncooked rice (basmati rice, optional)
2 cups water
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf

1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup parsley
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

1) Cook rice in a rice cooker (or saucepan) with thyme and bay leaf, according to rice directions.
2) Heat olive oil and half of the butter in a skillet, add drained chickpeas and saute on medium heat.
3) When chickpeas start to lightly brown (about 5 minutes) add parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, oregano, basil, salt and pepper and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes.
4) Remove from heat. Mix rice and chickpeas together until rice is a golden color. Add Parmesan cheese and mix well.

Serves 4.

7) Brazilian Rice adapted from Rice Gourmet:Refreshingly simple and easy.
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cups long-grain rice, rinsed well and drained
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/4 cups boiling water

1) In a large saucepan, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes or so or until the onion is soft and translucent but not brown. Add the rice and fry for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
2) Add the tomatoes and salt. Cook for 3-4 minutes and then pour in the boiling water.
3) Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked and all the liquid has been absorbed.
4) Turn the rice into a warmed serving dish and serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.

8) Lemon Rice adapted from Recipezaar:
A perfect example of Casual Kitchen-style recipe: really easy to make, and it combines simple ingredients in a memorable way. A couple of quick recipe notes: 1) Remember that the zest of a lemon is the outermost, yellow layer of the lemon peel. 2) You can find lemonpepper seasoning in your spice aisle, or if you have extreme ambition, you can make it yourself.

1 cup water
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 teaspoons butter or margarine
1 cup uncooked rice, long grain
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/8-1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 1/4 teaspoons lemonpepper seasoning

1) Combine all ingredients EXCEPT lemonpepper in saucepan.
2) Bring to a boil, then reduce heat.
3) Cover pot and allow to simmer slowly for 20 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed.
4) Sprinkle with lemonpepper before serving.

Serves 4.

9) Best Spanish Rice from AllRecipes:
One of the easiest Spanish rice recipes you'll find--anywhere. And like all recipes from the AllRecipes site, the instructions are refreshingly clear and unconvoluted.

2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup chunky salsa

1) Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
2) Mix rice into skillet, stirring often. When rice begins to brown, stir in chicken broth and salsa. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed.

Serves 5.

10) Quick, Easy -N- Fast Orange Rice adapted from Razzledazzle Recipes:
Another intriguing combination of everyday ingredients in a striking way. This is the kind of recipe we're always on the lookout for here at Casual Kitchen.

1 cup rice
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1/2 t. salt
1 cup rice (jasmine rice optional)
1 orange, juiced
1 teaspoon grated orange peel

1) Heat oil, garlic, thyme, salt and rice in a saucepan over medium-high heat until until rice turns pale golden (3-5 minutes).
2) Meanwhile, add water to orange juice to make a total of 2 cups of liquid. Add to rice, stirring in 1 teaspoon of the grated rind.
3) Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat and cook over low heat until done, about 20 minutes.

Serves 4.

11) Carrot Rice with Peanuts adapted from Recipezaar:
Another exceptional recipe that combines everyday ingredients in a fascinating way.

1 cup long-grain rice or basmati rice
2 cups water
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
3/4 cup grated carrot
salt and black pepper, to taste

1) Cook rice and water in a rice cooker or saucepan according to directions.
2) While rice is cooking, pulverize peanuts in a blender or spice grinder and set aside.
3) Saute onions in butter over medium-high heat until golden brown. Stir in ginger, carrots. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
4) Reduce heat to low, cover, and steam for 5 minutes. Stir in pepper and peanuts.
5) When rice is done, add it to the skillet and gently combine all ingredients.

Serves 6.


Related Posts:
Seven Rules To Ensure Mistake-Free Cooking
The Dinner Party: 10 Tips to Make Cooking for Company Fun and EasyHow to Create Your Own Original Pasta Salad Recipes Using the Pasta Salad Permutator
Ten Tips to Save Money on Spices and Seasonings

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Melissa said...

Great list! You have no idea how often I want to make a rice side dish and get stuck. Thanks for reminding me how simple it can be.

P.S. You can buy pure nutmeg or nutmeg oil online. Hahaha. I honestly didn't know that until I searched just now...

Liz T. said...

How could I adapt these for brown rice? I'm guessing some of them wouldn't come out quite right

Anonymous said...

Hm, I'll have to bookmark this list to add a little pizzaz to my scratch meals, since I'm really trying to get a better meal system going in terms of meal rotation, variety, and spicing up leftovers, etc. Cooking for one creates additional challenges in that regard. Thanks for the suggestions though!

Daniel said...

Melissa...thanks for the nutmeg source! My readers are the greatest.

Great question--many of these could be adapted for brown rice without changes. In some instances in today's list you'll want to add ingredients in a bit later since brown rice cooks in 45 minutes compared to white rice in more like 20. I'll tackle this question in more depth in a future post. Thanks.

Jessica, you might want to take a look at my essay "Seven Ways to Get Faster at Cooking" for help on that issue.

Thanks, everyone, for reading and for your comments!


Jess said...

fantastic post, thank you! I'm also curious about brown rice variations. Will definitely try out the Cilantro Lime Rice very soon!

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I made the mock wild rice for supper last night. There was enough for me to freeze additional meals. I'll be fixing this again.

Mo from Oklahoma

Daniel said...

Hi Mo, you are welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed one of my family's heaviest rotation recipes.

Thanks for your comment!


Anonymous said...

I think I'm gonna try the cumin rice recipe! Is it good?

Anonymous said...


Unknown said...

Nice recipe and well explained. Ingredients and way of cooking is very easy. Keep it up for more delicious recipes. Thanks for sharing and awaiting new one.
Best Basmati Rice