If you’re not using rice as a staple for your side dishes, you are missing out. Rice is versatile, cheap, easy to make, and can be paired with so many entrees. It is a staple food that has been a dietary mainstay for decades. Rice is a cereal grain widely cultivated across the globe, particularly in Asia. This essential food source comes in various varieties, including long-grain, medium-grain, and short-grain, each possessing distinct textures and flavors. Known for its ability to adapt to diverse culinary styles, rice serves as a foundational ingredient in countless dishes worldwide, from savory main courses to sweet desserts. Whether steamed, boiled, fried, or incorporated into complex recipes, rice remains a fundamental component of global cuisine, contributing to its cultural significance and widespread consumption. These rice side dish recipes will show you exactly what to do with the grain to impress a wide range of guests. 

1. Rice Side Dish Recipes: Hawaiian Fried Rice

Hawaiian fried rice is a rice side dish that is packed with Hawaiian flavors like diced ham, red bell pepper, and sweet pineapple chunks. This is a hearty side dish that can easily be served as a part of a Christmas meal or for a potluck BBQ. The rice holds all the flavors together so well. 

2. Cheesy Zucchini Rice Casserole

This zucchini-loaded cheese bomb of a rice casserole is packed with so many summer veggies and the cheesy rice part isn’t something to sleep on. The easiest way to use leftover rice and zucchini is to make this cheesy zucchini rice casserole! But you can use any veggie you have on hand, so it’s a great recipe to help you clean out the fridge. 

3. Easy Rice Pilaf

A staple rice pilaf recipe is something every cook needs. Rice pilaf can be paired with any type of protein, from fish to pork to beef, it doesn’t matter. It’s typically packed with tender al dente pasta, flavored rice, and lots of spices. Rice pilaf is much more than just a side dish of rice – it’s a great way to introduce a world of flavor to your entree. 

4. Rice Side Dish Recipes: Perfect Saffron Rice

It’s easier than you think to prepare beautiful, fluffy, aromatic saffron rice. Like rice pilaf, it goes with a variety of protein options. The pairing options are endless! This yellow rice can be made on the stovetop, instant pot, or a simple rice cooker. It’ll come out perfect every time. 

5. Easy and Quick Lemon Rice

Lemon rice is a popular dish made with cooked rice, fresh lemon juice, and a variety of seasonings. This vibrant yellow rice will brighten any spring or summer meal, and highlighting citrus during those months is always a good way to bring freshness to the table. Lemon rice goes amazingly with a roast chicken. 

6. Rice Side Dish Recipes: Mushroom Spinach Risotto

Vegetarian, comfort food, aromatic, and fragrant, this risotto can be made on the weekend and frozen into dinner-size portions for your Monday through Friday. It’s absolutely creamy and begging to be put with a warm, roasted entree. Mushrooms, white wine, pine nuts, and spinach all add to the delicious flavor, making it a perfect rice side dish for entertaining. 

7. Authentic Mexican Rice

You need a rice side dish for Taco Tuesday so keep this authentic Mexican rice marked! Rice is toasted with seasonings, oil, and garlic, then cooked in a delicious tangy tomato sauce. And you can add any veggies that you like such as corn, peas, or carrots. Serve this rice in your tacos next time and you’ll never go back! 

8. Rice Side Dish Recipes: Flavorful Herbed Brown Rice

If you want a simple way to spruce up just a regular rice side dish, this flavorful herbed brown rice is it. If you prefer white rice, feel free to use that instead. Either way, the flavor of the herbs shines through beautifully, filling your kitchen with the most aromatic smells. 

9. Vegan Brown Rice Casserole

This vegan casserole is a great way to bulk up any dinner with a hefty side. Even though it’s vegan, it’s still hearty and filling. It’s great for kids too, especially if they love rice. You can sneak some veggies into them because the taste is moreish. The whole family will love it. And if you’re not vegan, you can serve this dish alongside a pork loin or baked salmon. 

10. Indo-Chinese Fried Rice

Indo-Chinese Fried Rice is similar to regular fried rice, except it’s made with brown rice instead of white rice. It also boasts Indian flavors while keeping the Chinese style of cooking. This rice side dish is vegan, gluten-free, mouth-watering, and can be served alongside some delicious crispy Chili Tofu.  

11. Rice Side Dish Recipes: Easy Curry Rice

Curry rice is an easy, tasty, and nutritious side dish. This dish will please the whole family with its sauteed veggies, rice, peas, and curry powder. Curry is a delectable and aromatic dish that traces its roots to South Asia. It can be mild or spicy, vegetarian or meat-based. And rice is a great way to show off that unique Asian flavor. 

12. Mango Sticky Rice

Traditionally a dessert, mango sticky rice deserves a spot on this list, because it’s a delicious rice dish that needs more attention. Thai mango sticky rice is made with very ripe, juicy, and sweet mangos, paired with sticky sweet steamed glutinous rice and drizzled with a creamy and rich coconut sauce. It’s a very special dessert that can enhance any dinner party you’re throwing. 

13. Persian Rice with Crispy Tahdig

Persian Rice with Crispy Tahdig is saffron rice on steroids. (Not really, but it’s really that good). It is undoubtedly the most delicious and popular dish in Persian cuisine. Think of fluffy rice which is then flipped upside down to reveal a crispy golden crust at the top which we call Tahdig. With just a few ingredients, you can have delicious, savory rice with a crispy top. 

14. Rice Side Dish Recipes: Tawa Pulao

Tawa Pulao is a spicy street food from Mumbai, India, made with rice, vegetables, butter, pav bhaji masala, and cilantro. It is absolutely packed with savory flavors that will brighten up any feast. You can have the entire side dish done in under 40 minutes – just enough time to bake some herbed salmon to go along with it. 

15. Paneer Fried Rice

Paneer is a full-fat cow or buffalo’s milk cheese that holds its shape while cooking. It’s perfect for adding to fried rice to add a bit of creaminess (even though it doesn’t melt) as well as giving it you something to bite into. It pairs well with the tender rice and the crisp veggies, all mixed into soy sauce and cooked garlic. 

16. Turmeric Rice with Tomatoes

This recipe gives you a foolproof way to cook rice that will work every time. And it also describes how to make a mouthwatering rice side dish with turmeric and tomatoes. Turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory agent that will help with overall health. So incorporating it into more dishes will impact you for the better. 

17. Rice Side Dish Recipes: Mushroom and Red Pepper Rice Pilaf

Here is another version of rice pilaf that should be a staple for your side dishes. In this buttery, garlicky Vegetable Rice Pilaf, fresh mushrooms, bell peppers, and sweet onions are sprinkled throughout. It livens up a typical rice side dish and creates a beautiful presentation. It’s also a great way to use up any veggies in the fridge that need to go. 

18. Fluffy Coconut Rice

Fluffy coconut rice is what you’ve been missing in your sushi bowls! This tender, flavorful rice makes a fantastic base for your favorite sushi bowl toppings or a great side dish for a well-cooked piece of fish. It’ll bring fresh, vibrant flavor to the meal. And you can use the Instant Pot for the perfect texture every time. 

19. Cowboy Rice Salad

Cowboy Rice Salad is perfect for spring or fall – when it’s still slightly cold and you want something that will be hearty enough to fill you up. But the warming temperatures are also wanting you to keep dinner light. Serve this quick salad with a rotisserie chicken and you’ve got a hearty meal ready in just a few minutes. 

20. Rice Side Dish Recipes: How to Make Baked Rice

Yes, you can bake rice! And it’ll come out perfectly fluffy and tender. If you don’t have an Instant Pot or rice cooker, try this method of baking rice before investing in yet another kitchen appliance. This easy recipe is hands-off too, so you can get other things done while dinner cooks away. 

21. Spanakorizo (Greek Spinach Rice) 

If you’re a fan of spanikopita, you need to try this spanakorizo. It’s rice flavored with spinach, dill, lemon, and feta cheese. It’s amazing hot or cold, so it works great for a work lunch, if you want something you don’t have to heat up. Again, serve this alongside a rotisserie chicken and you’ve got a dinner packed with savory flavors. 

22. Rice Side Dish Recipes: Jamaican Rice and Peas

Jamaica and much of the Caribbean eat rice and peas as a staple food. As opposed to dried beans, canned beans make this rice and peas recipe quicker and easier. Jamaican Rice and Peas can be eaten on its own, but it’s also great as a side dish for seared sausages or BBQ meat. 

Grab the bag of rice that has been sitting in your pantry, and get to work. You can now elevate your weeknight dinners (easily) but adding depths of flavor to your rice side dish recipes.

And I’ll leave you with my Red Beans and Rice recipe.

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21 Remarkable Rice Recipes

Servings: 4
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
bowl of red beans and rice
This super easy Popeye’s copycat recipe offers the tender, smoky beans and rice from your favorite restaurant that are ready in less time than it takes to place a takeout order! 


  • 2 cans red beans
  • 3/4 cup rice
  • 4 slices turkey bacon, or chicken bacon
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt, or bacon salt if you have it
  • ground black pepper


  • Place water and rice in a pot with a pinch of salt and bring to a boil.
  • Turn heat down to a simmer and cook for 12 minutes.
  • Remove from heat but leave the lid on to rest for an additional 10 minutes.
  • Fluff with a fork and set aside.
  • Roughly chop the bacon and heat a large frypan over a medium heat. 
  • Add the bacon and cook until crispy and brown.
  • Add the beans, seasoning,  beef stock and simmer for 15 minutes until the beans are soft.
  • Remove about a quarter of the beans and mash with a fork or potato masher.
  • Return the mushed beans to the pan and combine. If the mixture is too thick, add a Drizzle 😉 of water.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve the beans piled on a plate with a scoop of the rice in the center.


Calories: 346kcalCarbohydrates: 58gProtein: 18gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 973mgPotassium: 670mgFiber: 10gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 160IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 55mgIron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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About Meag

Health and Wellness Writer. B.S. Dietetics. Le Cordon Bleu Graduate. 10+ years of experience in the fitness and nutrition industry!

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