30+ Easy Recipes That Start with Brown Rice

updated Mar 8, 2021
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Credit: Shelly Westerhausen

Open my pantry at any given time and you’re guaranteed to find at least one bag of brown rice. Along with canned beans, pasta, and tuna, brown rice is a cheap pantry staple that can be easily transformed into a nearly endless variety of easy dishes. Aside from being an affordable kitchen ingredient, brown rice is also a rich source of fiber and magnesium, so it’s a healthful addition to any meal.

If you’re like me, and you’ve been staring at that bag of brown rice in pantry it’s time to finally put it to use. Cook a pot over the stove (or make it in your oven) at the beginning of the week, then use it for rice bowls, a super-quick pan of fried rice, or as a way to bulk up a bowl of soup or a salad. Ready to get cooking? Here are more than 30 brown rice recipes that are your ticket to easy weeknight meals and sides.

Rice Bowls

Rice bowls are my favorite way to turn brown rice into a meal. Pile on an assortment of vegetables, beans, lentils, or meat for protein, and finish it off with a simple, savory sauce. You can use either short-grain or long-grain brown rice for these!

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Brown Rice Bowl with Lentils, Caramelized Onions & Fried Egg
Smoky, cumin-scented brown rice and lentils are topped with a fried egg, spicy harissa, and toasted pine nuts for a satisfying meal any time of day.
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2 / 8
Brown Rice Bowl with Lemongrass, Tofu and Cashews
This one-bowl meal jazzes up brown rice with chewy baked tofu; crunchy cashews; and the zesty flavors of lemongrass, ginger, lime, and cilantro.
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3 / 8
Roasted Eggplant and Brown Rice Bowl with Turmeric Tahini
This 30-minute rice bowl is topped with chickpeas, roasted eggplant, and a vibrant turmeric tahini sauce.
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4 / 8
Brown Rice Bowl with Chard & Nutty Tomato Romesco Sauce
Nutty brown rice is the perfect partner to this plant-based bowl topped off with smoky romesco sauce.
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5 / 8
Butternut Squash and Broccolini Rice Bowl with Soy Chorizo
This easy vegetarian one-bowl meal starts with one of our favorite grocery store shortcuts: a package of frozen brown rice.
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6 / 8
Spicy Thai Chicken and Brown Rice Bowls
These vibrant Thai chicken and brown rice bowls are topped with a rainbow of crunchy vegetables and drizzled with curried peanut sauce.
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7 / 8
Chicken Rice Bowls with Honey-Mustard Sauce
You'll have just enough time to prep the chicken, veggies, and tangy honey mustard sauce while the rice cooks on the stove.
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8 / 8
Crispy Tofu Bowl with Caramelized Fall Veggies
In this hearty vegetarian grain bowl, crispy caramelized butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, and protein-packed tofu are tossed in a savory-sweet glaze and piled onto warm brown rice.
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Fried Rice

If you have leftover brown rice, there’s no better way to turn it into dinner than by making a quick pan of fried rice. Cold, cooked rice is actually better than a freshly cooked pot when making fried rice, since the grains are a little bit dried out and less likely to clump together when being stir-fried.

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Pork Fried Rice
Tossed with crumbles of ground pork, a couple of eggs, and frozen vegetables, this is the easiest way we know to turn leftover brown rice into a pan of savory pork fried rice.
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2 / 7
Kimchi Fried Rice with Extra Greens
A heaping cup of kimchi plus whatever leafy greens you have handy give this fried rice a fun twist.
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3 / 7
Shrimp Fried Rice
Shrimp fried rice is a one-pan wonder, full of plump shrimp, fluffy eggs, and toasty rice that can be adapted to your mood and the contents of your refrigerator.
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4 / 7
Trader Joe's Orange Chicken Fried Rice
This riff on chicken fried rice comes together with three TJ's freezer-aisle favorites: Mandarin orange chicken, a bag of frozen stir-fry veggies, and a box of pre-cooked brown rice.
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5 / 7
Andrea Nyguen's Pho Fried Rice
This version of fried rice is packed with the warm, spiced flavors and aromas of Vietnamese pho.
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6 / 7
Fried Brown Rice with Asparagus, Bell Pepper & Cashews
A mix of asparagus, bell pepper, scallions, and cashews keep this nutty fried rice light and fresh.
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7 / 7
Beef and Broccoli Fried Rice
Inspired by two takeout favorites — beef & broccoli and fried rice — this one-pan meal is loaded with crisp-tender broccoli, savory ground beef, and fragrant, garlicky rice.
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Other Favorite Rice Main Dishes

Nutty brown rice can be a whole lot more than a side dish! Brown rice is a good addition to everything from meatless casseroles to soups.

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Stuffed Pepper Soup
This is everything you love about stuffed peppers, in soup form. Stick with brown rice, as it holds up to cooking and reheating better than its white counterpart.
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Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
These weeknight-friendly vegetarian stuffed peppers are packed with protein in the form of black beans and brown rice.
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Creamy, Cheesy Slow Cooker Chicken and Rice
The nostalgic casserole we love, made even easier with help from the slow cooker.
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Chicken and Rice Soup
A whole chicken is simmered to make a rich broth, with tender chicken and rice. This dish is thrifty, but tastes super-luxe.
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5 / 11
Slow Cooker Veggie Burrito Bowls
Veggie burrito bowls are a one-stop shop, delivering the best part of a burrito — the filling! — with tender brown rice, smoky pinto beans, and fresh veggies, all topped with a dollop of citrusy sour cream.
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6 / 11
Healthier Chicken and Rice Casserole
This healthier chicken & rice casserole gets a heavy dose of vegetables and a homemade cream of mushroom sauce for a light-yet-familiar flavor.
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7 / 11
Slow Cooker Steak Burrito Bowls
You'll add the rice halfway through cooking, which is just enough time for it to soften and soak up the flavors.
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8 / 11
Cheesy Lentil, Mushroom & Rice Bake
A mix of nutty brown rice, lentils, and mushrooms keep this vegetarian casserole feeling meaty, and promises to keep you satisfied.
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9 / 11
Chickpea Casserole with Lemon, Herbs & Shallots
Packed with chickpeas and brown rice, this is wholesome comfort food at its finest.
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10 / 11
Toasted Grain Soup with Crispy Mushrooms and Kale
This vegetarian soup is supremely satisfying, thanks to a winning combination of veggies, herbs, beans, and grains.
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Side Dishes

We can hardly consider brown rice without thinking of it as a side dish that can be partnered with just about anything we cook for dinner. You might be used to cooking brown rice on the stovetop, but don’t forget about the slow cooker or the oven method (which is nearly foolproof).

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Stovetop Brown Rice
Forget the crunchy or mushy stuff that you may have suffered through in the past — we've got our method locked down.
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2 / 7
Brown Rice in the Oven
If brown rice is your nemesis, there is one method I think you’ll agree is a winner: cooking brown rice in the oven.
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3 / 7
Slow Cooker Brown Rice
Need a set-it-and-forget-it method for meal prepping rice while your oven is busy? Here's how to cook brown rice in the slow cooker.
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4 / 7
Mushroom Rice Pilaf
This creamy mushroom and herb-flecked skillet makes the perfect side to anything you're cooking for dinner, or better yet top it with a yolky poached or fried egg to make it the star of your plate.
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5 / 7
Curried Corn and Coconut Rice
The coconut rice and curried corn in this recipe could very well be eaten separately, and they would make fine additions to lunch or dinner, but the combination of the two is truly special.
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6 / 7
Chopped Brown Rice Salad with Grapes and Pecans
While I think this brown rice salad is at its very best if tossed shortly before serving, it also holds up well to refrigeration.
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7 / 7
Brown Rice Salad with Apples, Walnuts, and Cherries
I recommend making this hearty salad in advance, if you can. It gets even better after sitting in the fridge overnight.
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