When it comes to cooking, we have a few foods and kinds of dishes that we are totally guilty of overdoing. We make them so often that our families often get tired of them if we make them the same way every single time, and we can’t say we blame them! That’s why we’re always on the lookout for ways to switch up our favorite side dishes for a little bit of variety. Lately, the thing we’ve been obsessed with making the most, because it’s something we’ve always love, is rice! We started out making it very plain when our kids were little because the taste was friendly and mild for their sensitive little taste buds, but now even our little ones would rather see something a little bit more exciting on their plates than plain rice with butter.
Just in case you’re in a similar boat, check out these 15 awesomely fragrant and absolutely scrumptious rice recipes that we’ve come across in our quest to try things that are new and unique but still involve our favourite food!
1. Nigerian coconut rice
Are you looking for something that gives you a little bit of a flavour change up but is still nice and mild so that your kids will enjoy it too? Ours are certainly adventurous in the things they’re willing to taste but that doesn’t mean that do well with spice, and we can’t blame them because we’re the same way! That’s why we were pleased to come across this delicious fragrant Nigerian coconut rice recipe from 2 Day knowledge. It’s got just a hint of flavour that adds a little extra to your meal without overwhelming the simple joy of eating a rice side dish.
2. Blueberry cheesecake rice cake topping
Okay, we admit to knowing that enjoying a crunchy rice cake snack and eating a yummy rice dish meal are two very different things, but we also know that many people choose rice due to dietary restrictions rather than just an enjoyment of the taste. In that case, rice cakes are the perfect side dish, or even dessert, at lunch or snack time! They can be kind of flavourless if you just eat them dry though, so consider trying out some toppings. We love the way Clean Eating Veggie Girl made a “blueberry cheesecake” on top of this rice cake, giving you great taste without getting quite as unhealthy as an actual piece of cake.
3. Rice with meatballs and snow peas
Sometimes the challenge of keeping your cooking with rice interesting isn’t in actually changing the rice itself, but rather in finding new combinations of things to put your rice with. We’re totally okay with our rice being very simple and plain if there’s something flavourful and scrumptious piled on top! That’s why we loved this yummy meatball and snow peas idea from Blue Apron so much.
4. Homemade fried rice
Fried rice is an absolute classic and our family has definitely ordered it countless times but it never ceases to be a favourite. Because we usually order it rather than making it at home, we tend to eat it less often than we do regular rice so it always feels like a treat when we’re having it. That’s why we finally decided that we wanted to learn to make it at home! We’ll still make sure we don’t overdo it so that we keep enjoying the dish, but now we can make fried rice instead of plain whenever our family gets bored of the same old thing. Check out how to make your own fried rice on Creative Little Carrie.
5. Mango rice salad
We know some people who aren’t huge fans of cold salads made with ingredients that are most often served warm. For example, our kids originally refused to eat things like potato, past, or rice salads because they were used to only eating those things as a hot dish next to their entrée. We took that as a challenge, however, operating on the logic that they just hadn’t tried the right cold salads yet and we’d have to find them ones that taste even better. That’s how we came across this deliciously fresh tasting mango rice salad from Bring A Little Bread.
6. Indian sweet rice
If you’re a big fan of rice pudding than you already know that not every rice dish has to be served with savoury sauces or ingredients, even though those are definitely more common. In fact, some of our very favourite things that include rice are actually sweet meals or desserts! This fragrant, filling, and mouth-wateringly good Indian sweet rice is the perfect example of what we mean. Find out how it’s made on The Taste Space and then try it both hot and cold to figure out how you prefer serving it!
7. Golden curry fried rice
Were you tempted to start making your family some friend rice for tonight after you scrolled by the classic recipe earlier on our list but now you’re not so sure because it is a fairly common way of serving rice and you do eat it semi-often? Well, if you can put all of these different unique spins on your plain rice, who says you can’t making your fried rice a little bit more unique tasting too? Check out how Lesungbatoo upped their fried rice game by making this scrumptious curry version!
8. Seasoned Spanish rice
We know we talked earlier about being careful with spice when it comes to making unique rice dishes, but what if the spices you’re using are actually full of flavour and not actual spice? We’d encourage you to take a chance on recipes like that because they’re certainly some of the best rice dishes we’ve ever tried! This fragrant Spanish rice from Evergreen Dishes is the perfect example; it’s spiced to perfection and chalk full of tasty ingredients like raisins to create a delicious contrast.
9. Lentil and brown rice arancini
Sometimes when we’re mentally combing through our options for new rice dishes, we forget that rice can be served in all kinds of shapes and forms too, rather than just all kinds of flavours. The second we remember that, however, we get excited because that means we can make ourselves arancini! If you’ve never had arancini before, you must check out this delicious recipe from Bites for Foodies. They’ll guide you through the process of making yummy fried balls made of brown rice and lentils.
10. Homemade chicken and wild rice soup
We’ve talked a whole lot about rice as a base for something else or as a side to an entrée, but what about rice as a primary ingredient in the entire dish? Well, continuing with the previous theme of being able to enjoy rice in all different forms rather than just its natural loose state, here’s a wild rice soup from Hot Eats and Cool Reads that smells so good when you’re making it that your family will come running from all corners of the house to get their dinners! Throw in some chicken, celery, and mushrooms and you’ll have a complete meal in a single bowl.
11. Green tea rice
Green tea flavoured everything has been all the rage in the last few years and, honestly, it’s possible that we’ve never been so happy about a food trend. We absolutely adore green tea and we find that, no matter what form you’re serving it in or what you’re using it to flavour, it tastes refreshing and hearty every time. That’s why we love putting it in our rice! Cook and Post shows you how it’s done and, since we’ve actually made this dish quite a number of times, we can assure you that it suits just about anything you pair it with taste-wise.
12. Wild rice and barley salad
Are you still about the cold rice salads we were talking about earlier on our list and you’re almost sold on the idea of making one but your family doesn’t actually like mangoes? Well, lucky for everyone, that’s nowhere near being the only rice salad you can make! There are innumerable options, but one of our personal favourites is this wild rice and barley salad from Stranded in Cleveland. It tastes light and fresh but fills you up will, making it the perfect salad for a light, summery buffet style meal.
Is your family intent on enjoying rice but really looking for something different than their everyday plain rice with butter and a bit of pepper recipe? Then help them try something deliciously international that they probably won’t have tried yet elsewhere by making them bhadang! This crunchy snack is a spicy Diwali delicacy made with puffed rice, coconut, garlic, chutney, and shaved nuts. We might have said earlier that we weren’t great with spice, but this dish is worth taking the heat for! Find out how it’s made on Crave Cook Click.
14. Afghan rice pulao
Did you try the Spanish rice and quite enjoy it, but now you’d like to try something that’s similar but even more hearty and chalk full of deliciously contrasting ingredients? In that case, we definitely urge you to try this Afghan rice pulao recipe from International Cuisine. This dish is Kabuli in origin, made with lamb, carrots, raisins, and even some fresh tasting dried apricots!
Now that we’re really getting into the world of delicious international dishes, are you intent on trying to make yourself as many as you can? We went through that too and that’s how we discovered the mildly refreshing but totally delicious wonder that is Japanese katsudon! This is a warm rice bowl made with either chicken or pork cutlet, depending on your preferences, with a fried egg laid on top. Find out how you can make your own katsudon at home on Serious Eats!