Plain white rice is always good as a standard side choice, but sometimes you get bored of plain long grain, Jasmine or even Basmati and want to give it a little kick to compliment your meal. You can opt for the pre-packaged cook in 90 seconds flavored style rice, but that can get pretty pricey when you compare what you get. Those often start at $2.50 for a package that will give you rice for one night, and you can get a big bag of rice that will last for many more nights for nearly the same price. So why not save some money, cut out the artificial flavors, and make your own deliciously flavored rice?
*Time-saving dinner tip – make a big bowl of white rice and use one of these ideas to spice up the leftovers for dinner the next night.
5 Ways to Spice Up Your Rice with Extra Flavor
1 – Add the Basic Boosters
There are a few basic ingredients that can make even plain rice more flavorful: salt, pepper and butter. These work great for giving your rice a little extra flavor when you don’t feel like putting in a lot of extra time. Follow your regular rice directions, and at the end add salt and pepper and a tablespoon of butter. Stir it in, taste and add more salt if needed. I usually use garlic salt myself. Just adding this little extra step bumps up the flavor considerably.
2 – Substitute the Water
Another easy way to give your rice some flavor is to replace the water with a different liquid. Chicken or vegetable broth works great to give your rice a savory kick, and can replace all the water in the recipe. You can also just replace a portion of the water and add something like a little orange juice for a citrus tang or a cup of coconut milk for a creamy coconut rice.
3 – Make it Mexican Inspired
We love taco night and I often look up how to make Mexican rice and other sides because tacos always need something to go with them. So I have several ways to spice up the rice to go with a Mexican inspired dish!
Cilantro and Lime Rice
Cilantro and lime flavoring go great with both Mexican and Thai dishes. I chop up about a tablespoon (or more) of cilantro and mix it in after adding a little butter and salt. I also add a squirt of lime juice, but the secret to getting that great lime taste isn’t in the juice, it’s in the peel! Once I started zesting limes and lemons, and even oranges then I could really tell the difference in the flavor. I zest half the lime and add it to the rice at the end. If I can’t taste it, I zest the other half.
Rice with Pico De Gayo
I love a nice fresh Pico De Gallo! Click here for my favorite Pico De Gallo recipe. If you make pico and have leftovers, they mix great with rice. You can also make a small amount with a quick mix of chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro and a squirt of lime. It liven up your rice side and gives it a bit more substance.
Rice and Beans
Rice mixes well with black beans, but they don’t add much flavor unless you use the seasoned kind. If I do beans, then I usually add a bit of tomato and onion too.
4 – Asian Inspired Flavors
Rice is a staple in Asian cuisine, and you can bump up the flavor by mixing in a little soy or ponzu sauce. You can take it a step farther by turning your leftover rice into fried rice. Just add a bit of soy sauce and heat your rice up in a frying pan or wok. It’s great with chopped up onions, carrots, scallions, ginger, garlic and a fried egg on top!
5 – Raid the Spice Rack for Flavor
Any spice or herb can be mixed with the rice to add flavor. I usually take a little extra of whatever spices I’m using for the main dish, and add a bit to the rice. Or I just pick spices that match the cuisine- like basil and oregano with a touch of garlic salt for Italian dinners, a bit of curry and cumin for Indian food. It’s hard to go wrong if you just add a little at a time, and taste as you go!
6 – Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment
You can mix and match these ideas, or even use them all at once! You want to just give it a bit of flavor without overpowering the main meal. Rice is great as-is, but it’s good to mix it up now and then.
If you have a favorite way to make plain rice more, exciting, please comment! I’m always looking for new ideas for dinner.
Categories: Food & Recipe