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Once you make this homemade Rice a Roni recipe it’ll be your family’s new favorite side dish! Fragrant rice and toasted vermicelli noodles cook in chicken broth with a touch of butter and a few seasonings for a fluffy, savory pilaf. It’s easy to make and pairs well with just about anything!

easy yellow rice recipe

I remember living in Syria years ago, eating vermicelli rice (called Riz bil Sharieh) that my then mother-in-law had made, and thinking how much it reminded me of Rice-A-Roni. The only difference to speak of is that vermicelli rice is usually white instead of adding turmeric to give it a yellow color.

After that, I found out that this type of pilaf is popular in quite a few countries all over the world!

What we think of as “the San Francisco treat” was inspired by an Armenian rice pilaf that’s similar to the Riz bil Sharieh I fell in love with in the Middle East. This product has a very interesting history that showcases the converging of culinary traditions.

front view of bowl of yellow rice

The Origin of Rice-A-Roni

In the 1940s, a Canadian-born woman named Lois married an American man named Tom DeDomenico (whose father was born in Italy) who owned a pasta company called Golden Grain Macaroni Co. in San Francisco with his brothers. Lois learned how to make Armenian rice pilaf from a woman – Pailadzo Captanian – who she and Tom rented a room from after World War II.

Lois continued to make that pilaf and one evening at a family dinner, Tom’s brother Vince noted that it would be great in a box. The rest is history!

(You can read more about the history of Rice-A-Roni on NPR.)

This rice pilaf is fluffy and fragrant with nutty basmati rice. Butter adds richness and chicken broth adds depth. The spice list is short, and includes a little turmeric for yellow color. You can choose to make the buttery toasted almond topping or not. I like to add it because I love the crunch and flavor it imparts.

This beautiful side dish is easy to make (no rice maker required!) and sure to become a new family favorite!

overhead view of from scrach rice a roni in stoneware bowl

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Depth of flavor. This comes from good quality chicken broth or chicken stock. Or you can use vegetable broth for a vegetarian dish.
  • Nutty crunch. The buttery toasted almond topping is optional, but adds delicious nutty flavor and crunchy texture.
  • It goes well with pretty much anything! From roast chicken to grilled steak to baked fish to soups and stews, I have yet to find a main course that Rice a Roni doesn’t pair well with!

The Best Homemade Rice a Roni Recipe – Ingredients and Subsitutions

Ingredients Explained

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas where applicable. For the full recipe (including the ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.

homemade rice a roni ingredients

Buttery Toasted Almond Topping Ingredients (Optional)

  • Slivered almonds – Slivered almonds are blanched, then sliced in half lengthwise, and then each half is sliced in half lengthwise again. If you can’t find slivered almonds, you can use sliced almonds, which are blanched and then thinly sliced lengthwise.
  • Ghee – You can also find this called clarified butter. If you can’t find ghee, you can use a mixture of half butter and half oil.

Rice Ingredients

  • Extra-virgin olive oil – We toast the noodles and then the rice in a mixture of oil and butter.
  • Unsalted butter – For rich, buttery flavor.
  • Vermicelli noodles – This is a classic component of Rice-a-Roni! We toast the noodles to bring out a nutty flavor.
  • Basmati rice – Basmati is my favorite for this pilaf, but you can use any kind of long grain rice you like. Jasmine is also delicious!
  • Minced dried onion – Onion adds savory flavor.
  • Salt and black pepper – These pantry-staple spices make sure our yellow rice pilaf isn’t bland.
  • Garlic powder – Garlic powder adds complexity and depth.
  • Turmeric – Turmeric naturally turns the rice a beautiful shade of yellow.
  • Chicken broth – For rich depth of flavor, I like to use chicken broth or chicken stock here. However, to make this dish vegetarian, you can use vegetable broth instead.
  • Fresh parsley – Parsley is an optional garnish; it adds a pop of green color.

Step-by-Step Instructions

how to make homemade rice a roni
  1. Add the almonds and ghee to a small skillet over medium heat. Cook until the nuts are light golden and smell toasted, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and transfer the almonds to a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Add the oil and butter to a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the vermicelli noodles and cook until lightly toasted, about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in the rice and cook until it starts to smell fragrant, about 1 minute, being careful not to overcook so the noodles don’t burn. Add the minced dried onion, salt, garlic powder, turmeric, black pepper, and chicken broth, and stir to combine.
  4. Bring it up to a boil, and then cover the saucepan, turn the heat down as low as it will go, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. If the rice has absorbed all the liquid but isn’t tender, add a splash more hot chicken broth or water.
fluffing homemade rice a roni

Once cooked, remove from the heat and let the rice sit for 10 minutes with the lid on. After that, fluff it with a fork.

hand holding scoop of homemade rice a roni

Storage

Store leftovers wrapped in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Tips

  • Cooking liquid. Yes, you can use water instead of chicken broth or chicken stock! However, I find that a high-quality flavorful stock makes all the difference.
  • Take the noodles to the next level. Be sure to toast the noodles and the rice to let them develop a naturally nutty flavor and aroma.
  • Salt. Don’t be tempted to skimp on the salt. Rice needs to be seasoned well in order to not be bland.
close up top view of homemade rice a roni in bowl

Rice a Roni Recipe FAQs

Does Rice a Roni Need Butter?

No! In this recipe butter is mostly for richness and flavor. If you prefer, you can use olive oil instead of ghee and butter.

What Kind of Rice Can You Use to Make Rice a Roni?

Basmati rice works well here because it’s fragrant and flavorful. However, you can use any type of long grain rice you like to make this pilaf.

Long grain jasmine rice is another great option!

dish of homemade rice a roni

How Do You Reheat Cooked Rice?

I find that the best way to reheat cooked rice is in the microwave! Not only is it super easy, but it lets you re-steam the rice. This is important so the rice doesn’t dry out.

The Best and Easiest Way to Reheat Cooked Rice:

  1. Put however much rice you want in a bowl, spreading it out evenly.
  2. Wet a paper towel that’s large enough to cover the rice. Briefly wring it out, but still leave it fairly wet.
  3. Microwave on HIGH for 45 second increments until the rice is warm throughout, stirring in between.

More Side Dishes to Try

close up top view of rice a roni recipe in bowl on marble countertop

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Homemade Rice a Roni Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Other Time10 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Once you make this homemade Rice a Roni recipe it’ll be your family’s new favorite side dish! Fragrant rice and toasted vermicelli noodles cook in chicken broth with a touch of butter and a few seasonings for a fluffy, savory pilaf. It’s easy to make and pairs well with just about anything!

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Ingredients
 

Buttery Toasted Almond Topping (Optional):

Rice:

Instructions
 

For the Buttery Toasted Almond Topping:

  • Add the almonds and ghee to a small skillet over medium heat. Cook until the nuts are light golden and smell toasted, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and transfer the almonds to a bowl. Set aside.

For the Rice:

  • Add the oil and butter to a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the vermicelli noodles and cook until lightly toasted, about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in the rice and cook until it starts to smell fragrant, about 1 minute, being careful not to overcook so the noodles don’t burn.
  • Add the minced dried onion, salt, garlic powder, turmeric, black pepper, and chicken broth, and stir to combine.
  • Bring it up to a boil, and then cover the saucepan, turn the heat down as low as it will go, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. If the rice has absorbed all the liquid but isn’t tender, add a splash more hot chicken broth or water.
  • Once cooked, remove from the heat and let the rice sit for 10 minutes with the lid on. After that, fluff it with a fork.
  • Transfer the rice to a serving dish. Sprinkle on the parsley and buttery toasted almonds (if using). Serve.

Video

Notes

  • Vermicelli Noodle Substitute: If you can’t find these noodles, you can use fideo noodles or angel hair pasta that’s broken into 1-inch pieces.
  • Oil and Butter Substitute: Instead of 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, you can use 3 tablespoons ghee if desired.
  • Basmati Rice Substitute: You can use regular long-grain rice  instead of basmati.
  • Vegan Version: Instead of ghee and butter, use olive oil. Instead of chicken broth, use vegetable broth.

Nutrition

Calories: 288kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 718mg | Potassium: 113mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 175IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Homemade Rice a Roni, Rice a Roni, Rice a Roni Recipe

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This post was first published on An Edible Mosaic on September 14, 2022 and updated on March 1, 2024.

Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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Recipe Rating




5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Love this recipe so delicious and easy to make. I will definitely make it again.

  2. I’m really trying to cook food not in a box to become a better cook. This recipe looks amazing. I’m heading to the grocery store now and cooking this tonight! Thanks for sharing your ingredient list, if it goes wellI definitely will follow and try all your recipes. Wish me luck!

    1. Diana, This recipe is a great one to start with; it straightforward and so delicious! Good luck! :)

  3. Susan Jones says:

    Looks like a great recipe to try! I don’t seem to remember Rice-A-Roni ever having almonds in it. Sounds intriguing.

  4. I used to buy Fried Rice A Roni because of the almonds in it! They’ve taken them out, so I don’t buy it anymore – love this and will be making it very soon. Thanks!!

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