From Asia to the Americas, rice is a versatile and well-loved grain around the world. There are many varieties of rice, each with its own characteristics, contributing taste and texture to various dishes—from fluffy and light to hearty and nutty. This compilation of rice side dishes ranges in cuisine, ease of preparation, and flavor for you to pair with your next meal.
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Baked Rice With Spinach and Parmesan
Baked rice with spinach and Parmesan is full of herbs, cheese, and easy to make. If you don’t have Parmesan on hand, go for any of its delicious substitutes. This side dish complements chicken piccata well, and if you want a vegetarian option, try breaded and fried tofu.
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Classic Cajun Dirty Rice
Cajun food is known for its stick-to-your-ribs dishes with plenty of flavor. The classic Cajun dirty rice uses offal meats, like chicken livers and gizzards, and while you don’t need to include them, they do add an especially rich flavor. This side dish is almost a meal unto itself, so serve it with Southern-style collard greens, and you’re ready to eat.
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Mexican food is integrally tied to maize, or corn, but plenty of dishes include rice, too. This recipe for Mexican rice includes pepper, chili powder, and tomatoes, which are foundational ingredients in a variety of other plates, too. This means you can easily pair it with chiles rellenos, pork enchiladas, or chorizo shakshuka.
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Russian Pumpkin Rice Casserole
This delicious pumpkin-rice casserole is commonly found in kitchens in Russia, where grain-based dishes are uniformly called “kasha.” If you’re not able to get fresh pumpkins, you can easily adapt this recipe for canned pumpkin—the rule of thumb is
a 3-pound pumpkin will yield about 2 cups of puree.Continue to 5 of 16 below.
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8-Ingredient Broccoli Rice Casserole
Give your mac and cheese a break and give this broccoli cheddar rice casserole a go. Together, the flavors of broccoli and cheese sing, and this dish is no exception. If you’re looking to put a spin on this recipe, try cauliflower or Brussels sprouts instead of broccoli or add some sweet caramelized onions to the mix.
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Wild Rice Stuffing
Stuffing is a sacred part of the Thanksgiving feast, but it can also be a delicious side dish year-round. Enter wild rice stuffing, which blends mushrooms, dried cranberries, pecans, and herbs. With so many ingredients, you can choose which to highlight for your main entrée, whether that is Parmesan-stuffed mushrooms or pecan-crusted salmon.
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Baked Mediterranean Rice
Baked Mediterranean rice captures the classic flavors of this region, including tomatoes, Parmesan, mozzarella, and basil. Serve it with a simple raw kale salad or, if you want to double down on cheese (and who doesn’t?) for a creamy burrata salad.
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Thai Vegetarian Pineapple Fried Rice
Pineapple on pizza may be controversial, but pineapple fried rice is loved by all. The sweet, bright flavors of the pineapple balance well with the cashews and curry powder in this recipe. Serve with a chicken or tofu satay for a simple, flavorful meal.Continue to 9 of 16 below.
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Shrimp and Rice Salad With Peas and Celery
Shrimp and rice salad is so satisfying, you could serve it as a side dish or just heap a little extra into a lettuce cup and call it a meal. You can definitely swap shrimp for another seafood like sweet lump crab, lobster, or Italian tuna in oil.
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Sure, jambalaya is often served as a main, but this lighter, vegetarian version is perfect as a side dish. Serve it with blackened catfish to keep to the Creole theme or seitan hot wings for a completely vegetarian meal.
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Creamy Sweet Potato Risotto
Sweet potatoes, pecans, and Parmesan are a flavor trifecta that makes this risotto recipe stand out. Served as a side, it's excellent with salmon fritters and roasted asparagus, or a spinach salad with apple vinaigrette.
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Thai Saffron Coconut Rice
Thai food is renowned for its expert ability to blend salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and spicy flavors all in one dish. This Thai saffron coconut rice is a great example of this principle and, as a bonus, is intoxicatingly aromatic. There are various entrées to pair with this rice—a rich Thai fish dish should be your starting point.Continue to 13 of 16 below.
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Tahdig translates to “bottom of the pot” in Persian. Rice is cooked, sometimes flavored with saffron water, and then finished off in oil to give it a delicious crust. It’s as unconventional as it is simple, so what you pair it with can range wildly—from khoresh bademjan, a Persian eggplant and tomato stew, to kofta, a Middle Eastern kebab.
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Vegetable Fried Rice With Cashews
The cashew tree is native to the southern half of the American content, but
grows exceptionally well in Asia, too. As such, it’s been included in many
Asian recipes and this vegetable fried rice with cashews is a perfect example. It’s nutty, savory, and has a touch of sweetness, thanks to its use of peas or corn. Throw a fried egg on top, or roll with the cashew theme and make cashew chicken.
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Edamame Mixed Rice
Rice is one of the foundational ingredients in Japanese cuisine, so it’s not surprising that the Japanese have found myriad ways to enjoy it. Maze gohan, or mixed rice, is one example. This recipe uses shelled edamame, or the soybean, to add a nutty flavor and satisfying chew to the dish. Serve it with tamagoyaki, a Japanese rolled omelet, or tempura halibut with garlic aioli.
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Almond Rice Pilaf
Pilaf is a rice dish that first sautés the rice in butter before cooking it. This imparts a more complex, nutty flavor, making slivered almonds the perfect accompaniment for this almond rice pilaf. This recipe calls for long-grain white rice, which results in a fluffier, less glutinous rice. Though, if you’re looking for a substitute, basmati rice will do just as well.