The Absolute Best Ways To Flavor White Rice

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White rice can be paired with several types of savory and even sweet ingredients for flavor. If you have been looking for the best ingredients to flavor white rice, then we have the perfect guide for you!

What to add to white rice for flavor? White rice can be flavored using simple seasonings like salt and pepper, or you can also add garlic powder and other savory ingredients like protein, vegetables, herbs, cheese, and fried eggs. You can even add simple syrup to white rice to make a dessert recipe.

The sky is the limit when working with white rice, read below to learn more about how you can transform an unassuming bowl of white rice into something extraordinary!

The Basics of White Rice

Rice has been cultivated and harvested for millennia and is an integral part of numerous recipes across the globe. 

There are several different species of rice. Some species produce long grains, like basmati rice, which is a staple in India, while others can produce short grains, like Koshihikari, which is beloved in Japan and other parts of the world.

But white rice isn’t inherently white when it’s harvested – it has to be processed, usually on an industrial scale!

The journey of white rice begins at large paddy fields where the crop is grown. During the harvesting season, the crops are collected and the seeds are removed.

The seed has several layers; the first is called the hull, followed by the bran which encases the endosperm. 

First, the hull is removed using a combination of high and low-speed drums that break the top layer.

As the processed rice falls down a chute, the removed hull is separated using air or suction which allows the heavier rice to fall into a collection bin. 

Next, the bran layer is removed in a process called milling where the rice is pushed through large grinders that separate the bran while leaving the endosperm or kernel intact.

The rice is then further processed in the milling machine to give it a polish that eventually produces white rice.

White rice has little nutritional value since most of the flavor and nutrients are removed during the milling process, but the white rice kernels gain the incredible ability to absorb flavor. 

White rice is traditionally cooked in water and consumed as a side dish but it can also be cooked in broth or other flavorful ingredients to give it a delicious flavor!

Cooking White Rice Perfectly

Before we dive into the ingredients that pair well with rice, let’s first discuss the correct method to cook rice. Remember, the texture of white rice is extremely important in any recipe.

If you get the texture wrong, like in the case of overcooked rice, then the rice won’t provide the right mouthfeel.

The best way to cook rice is using the “Golden Ratio”.

The golden ratio dictates how much water you need for every cup of rice. In most cases, rice can be cooked using a 2:1 ratio where you will need 2 cups of water for every cup of rice. However, this ratio will differ a little bit depending on the type of rice.

Here are some of the most popular rice types and how much water you should be adding when cooking:

  • White Rice
    • Long-grain: 2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice
    • Medium-grain: 1.5 cups of water to 1 cup of rice
    • Short-grain: 1.5 cups of water to 1 cup of rice
  • Brown Rice
    • Long-grain: 2.5 cups of water to 1 cup of rice
    • Medium-grain: 2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice
    • Short-grain: 2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice
  • Basmati Rice
    • 1.5 cups of water to 1 cup of rice
  • Jasmine Rice
    • 1.5 cups of water to 1 cup of rice

White rice can either be cooked in a rice cooker which automates the cooking process to produce fluffy and delicious rice, or you can also go with the manual method which will give you far more control over the texture of the rice. 

Here’s how you can cook rice at home:


Step 1) Wash the rice to remove excess starch and then leave them submerged for about 10-15 minutes. 

Step 2) Bring a pot of water to a boil. You can use the golden ratio to approximate how much water you will need.

Step 3) Add salt to the water. Rice is cooked like pasta, so you will need to add seasonings to the water so that the grains can absorb them. Typically, you will require 1 tsp of salt for every cup of rice. 

Step 4) When the water comes to a rolling boil, add the rice and cook with the lid on. Let the rice cook undisturbed for the best texture. A cup of white rice will take about 15-17 minutes to cook. 

Step 5) After 15 minutes, turn off the heat, and let the rice rest with the lid on for about 5 minutes. This will allow the rice to absorb the remaining water. After 5 minutes, carefully scoop out the rice from the sides to avoid breaking the grains. 

Best Ingredients to Add to White Rice

Now that you know how to cook white rice, here is what you can pair it with:


White rice is a versatile dish that can work well with virtually any type of vegetable. For starters, we recommend adding green peas for a delicious flavor and an enhanced mouthfeel. 

You can also add sauteed carrots, cabbage, green onions, bell pepper, and even corn to a bowl of plain white rice!

For added flavor, we recommend seasoning the vegetables separately before adding them to the rice to give it an even more flavorful kick. 


Rice can go with just about any type of protein. Whether it’s fish, beef, lamb, eggs, or chicken. White rice will provide the perfect blank canvas that you can customize with your favorite protein. 

Another great tip to get the most out of white rice is to add leftovers, especially meat and gravy-based leftovers to white rice. 

Chicken in particular goes great with white rice and you can even cook the chicken with the rice so that the rice cooks in the broth for added flavor.

For vegetarians, we suggest going with a variety of mushrooms, like portobello to add a meaty texture to white rice. 

Herbs and Seasonings 

This is the easiest and quickest way to add flavor to white rice. Italian seasonings can add an earthy aroma and flavor to the rice and you can even top white rice with fresh cilantro to give it a subtle but delicious flavor. 

Powdered seasonings like garlic and onion powder can turn a boring bowl of white rice into something exquisite!

We recommend adding whole spices like crushed or whole black pepper to add a bit of heat and a ton of flavor to the rice too.

Cheese/Dairy Products

Adding cheese to white rice is a no-brainer and a great way to enhance its overall flavor and texture. 

There are generally two ways to add cheese to white rice. You can either add shredded cheese just before the rice is done cooking so that the cheese melts over the rice, or you can also fold melted cheese after the rice is done cooking for a heartier dish. 

White rice can also be topped with a piece of butter. For the best experience, dish out a bowl of hot rice and add the butter on top. Let the butter melt and then gently mix the rice to cover all the grains. 

Virtually Any Broth

Instead of cooking the rice in water, we recommend that you boil the rice in broth to give it a completely elevated flavor profile. 

A staple in Asia, white rice is usually cooked in a variety of protein and vegetable broths to create a range of delicious recipes. For convenience, you can also use a bouillon cube to flavor the rice.

This is a great alternative for people who don’t like the bland flavor of white rice! 


Some varieties of white rice already have sweet undertones which is why white rice can also be used for a variety of dessert recipes. 

The best way to do this is to create a simple syrup mixture using 1 to 1.2 cups of sugar for a cup of rice – or you can also just add sugar over the rice and let the rice steam until the sugar has liquified. 

For added flavor, lightly fry chopped nuts, raisins, and cardamom pods in about 1 tbsp of clarified butter. Then combine them with the sweet rice for a dangerously addictive dessert dish. 

You can also add a bit of orange food coloring to the rice for presentation. We highly recommend trying this recipe if you have a sweet tooth!

Related Questions 

White rice is a highly versatile dish that can be cooked or repurposed in several delicious ways. Now that you know how to flavor white rice, here are some related questions:

What can you do with overcooked white rice?

Overcooked or leftover white rice is just an excuse to cook rice pudding! Instead of tossing them, cook the overcooked rice with milk and sugar until the mixture takes on a smooth and slightly thick consistency. Top with chopped dry fruits and serve cool! 

How long does cooked white rice last?

Cooked white rice can be stored in the fridge at 40F for about 2-3 days. To reheat the rice, simply splash a bit of water over the rice and then microwave it to freshen them up. You can also freeze the rice at 0F for about 1-2 months. 

Frozen rice should always be thawed in the fridge overnight before heating them for the best flavor and texture. 

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