30 Tasty Ways to Make Rice a Meal

30 Tasty Ways to Make Rice a Meal

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

We bet you'd be hard-pressed to find a kitchen where there isn't at least one kind of rice stocked in the pantry. Rice is inexpensive and easy to make, but more often than not it plays a supporting role come mealtime.

Why not try making rice the star of the show? These 30 recipes will lift rice from its side-dish status and bring it to the center of the plate. We have ideas for everything from brown and wild to basmati and Arborio rice. All you need to do is pick one and get cooking!

1. How To Make the Best Chicken Fried Rice Without a Wok

Fried rice is undoubtedly the best way to transform last night's leftovers into a satisfying meal. You can use pretty much any fresh, frozen, or even leftover vegetables for this recipe, which makes it infinitely adaptable.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

2. Brown Rice Bowl with Lentils, Caramelized Onions & Fried Egg

Almost all the components of this Middle Eastern-inspired grain bowl can be assembled ahead of time. Then it's just a matter of piling everything together and frying an egg.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

3. Tomato-Basil Chicken and Rice

What makes this recipe especially awesome is that everything — the rice and the chicken — is cooked together in one single casserole dish. That makes it a great choice when you're looking for a hands-off dinner that feeds a crowd.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

4. One-Pot Weeknight Dirty Rice

This twist on a classic Louisiana dish comes together without fuss in one pot and is loaded with spicy andouille chicken sausage, which adds flavor and bulks it up.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

5. Beef and Broccoli Fried Rice

Two Chinese takeout favorites — beef and broccoli and fried rice — join forces in this quick dinner. If you'd like to make the dish even easier on yourself, feel free to swap in frozen broccoli florets.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

6. Honey-Garlic Shrimp Stovetop Rice Casserole

Leaning on a bag of frozen shrimp and a bag of frozen broccoli ensures this one-pot meal comes together in no time — you don't even need to defrost the shrimp before using it.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

7. Baked Mushroom Risotto with Caramelized Onions

This comforting risotto skips the usual endless stirring that's required and opts for baking in the oven instead. The results are still rich, creamy, and crowd-pleasing.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

8. Roasted Eggplant and Brown Rice Bowl with Turmeric Tahini

It's wise to make a double batch of this wholesome recipe, as leftovers pack up well for whatever lunches you need for the remainder of the week.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

9. One-Pot Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole

This one-pot dinner is extremely adaptable: Swap in deli ham or turkey for the chicken, use another cheese, or try stirring some frozen broccoli into the pot.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

10. Cheesy Lentil, Mushroom & Rice Bake

This meatless casserole is designed to feed a crowd, but don't hesitate to cut the recipe in half if you happen to be cooking for one. Just use an 8x8-inch dish and shave off a couple minutes of baking time.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

11. Miso Soup with Rice & Poached Egg

A bowl of miso soup on its own isn't quite enough for a dinner, but add some white or brown rice and a poached egg, and you have one of our favorite winter comfort foods.

(Image credit: Sara Kate Gillingham)

12. Iranian Jeweled Rice

Think rice is boring? Think again. This flavorful dish is packed with ingredients like barberries, saffron, and candied orange peel. Serve it solo or with the protein of your choice.

(Image credit: Anjali Prasertong)

13. Kimchi Fried Rice with Extra Greens

Looking for a new way to use your favorite kimchi? Try this fried rice. It's a great way to use up kimchi that's a bit on the potent side and leftover rice from the previous night's dinner.

(Image credit: Christine Han)

14. How To Make Congee Rice Porridge

Congee might be more traditional for breakfast, but we see no problem in turning it into a breakfast-for-dinner situation.

(Image credit: The Woks of Life )

15. Spicy Roasted Cauliflower Stir-Fry

Ginger and red pepper flakes give this cauliflower stir-fry a warm and spicy kick. If cauliflower isn't your thing, you can sub in a range of other veggies to suit your preferences — or what you have in your fridge! Serve it with fresh, steaming rice and watch the spicy flavors quickly saturate the rice.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

16. Chicken and Wild Rice Bake

This is a great freeze-ahead meal to be prepped when you have extra time or need to drop off a dish to an under-the-weather friend. It needs nearly an hour to cook, but the perfectly baked results are worth the waiting time.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

17. Slow-Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls

We love a slow-cooker recipe, and one that is this fast and easy to assemble is destined to become a favorite. All you need is a few extra minutes in the morning, and you can have this dish waiting for you after work.

(Image credit: Melissa Ryan)

18. Wild Rice Burgers

If you're bored with all the other veggie burgers out there, it's time to try these vegetarian wild rice burgers. We're ready to see their deliciousness spread.

(Image credit: The Woks of Life )

19. Seared Salmon with Soy, Scallions, and Ginger

The combination of soy sauce, ginger, and scallions in the sauce for this dish makes it feel much more special than a simple weeknight meal. The good news? It's easy enough to prepare — even on the busiest of nights.

(Image credit: Karen Biton-Cohen)

20. Wild Rice Bowl with Red Lentil Curry and Spinach

Cut down on pre-dinner cooking time by making the wild rice for this satisfying vegetarian grain bowl a day or two in advance. The rest of this flavor-packed dish comes together in no time at all.

(Image credit: Nealey Dozier)

21. Red Beans and Rice

Sometimes you just can't go wrong with a classic. This hearty dish has endless variations, but they are all delicious. We'd recommend starting out with this one, filled with smoked sausage and Cajun seasoning.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

22. Freezer-Friendly Roasted Vegetable Burritos with Black Beans and Rice

Who needs store-bought frozen burritos when you can make your very own homemade versions to keep at the ready? You can come up with your favorite veggie combination and add just as much spice as you like. The rice-and-bean combo keeps them satisfying.

(Image credit: Michelle Peters-Jones)

23. Indian Chili Chicken

This dish might look more akin to Chinese food than the Indian food you're used to. That's because it's part of a regional cuisine called South Indian Chinese. Influences from both countries are readily apparent and equally appetizing, and make a delicious companion to a bowl of rice.

(Image credit: Alice Choi)

24. Korean Mixed Rice with Sashimi

If you haven't mastered the art of sushi rolling, maybe this sashimi bowl is a better place to start. Similar to bibimbap, you mix in a spicy sauce at the end to tie everything together and serve over a bed of rice.

(Image credit: Sarah E Crowder)

25. Sweet Corn Risotto

We couldn't have an entire list of rice dishes and leave off risotto. This delightfully creamy corn version is one of our favorites. If you're able to use fresh corn, simmer the corn cobs in the stock before it's added to the Arborio rice to give it an extra depth of flavor.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

26. Minnesota Wild Rice Soup

The savory caramelized mushrooms in this hearty soup add a whole new depth of flavor. And make sure you use Minnesota wild rice if you can find it — the results are worth it.

(Image credit: Anjali Prasertong)

27. Southeast Asian Canned Salmon & Rice Cakes with Sriracha Mayo

Thanks to the quality canned salmon that's now available, these salmon and rice cakes are the perfect budget-conscious way to add fish to your weeknight meal routine while making the best of a pantry staple.

(Image credit: Melissa Ryan)

28. Stuffed Winter Squash

You can actually stuff this winter squash with any combination of grains (quinoa, farro, wild rice) and veggies that you like, but we prefer using brown rice for that perfectly nutty flavor.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

29. Chicken Tikka Masala

Put away that take-out menu — you can make your own chicken tikka masala at home. And the best news yet? It's easy. Get ready to master this uber-popular Indian dish. Your basmati rice will thank you.

(Image credit: Izy Hossack)

30. "Low-Rent" Tuna Poke Bowl

Fancy up that canned tuna with the addition of brown rice, avocado, sesame seeds, and an orange-ginger dressing. It's the perfect dish for a satisfying lunch or a low-key dinner.

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