This Super Easy Yellow Rice Recipe is light, fluffy, and flavorful. Made with simple pantry ingredients, pair this aromatic and fragrant side dish with all of your dinner favorites, from chicken to fish.
If you love Spanish rice, then you’re really going to love this super simple yellow rice recipe. Flavorful and fragrant, it’s just as easy to make as plain white rice but tastes a million times better. Serve it with all your family’s favorite recipes, from grilled chicken to hearty Middle Eastern stew to lemony baked salmon.
- Rice: Long-grain rice such as Basmati rice or Jasmine rice are the favorites for their fluffy texture and fragrant flavor.
- Turmeric or Saffron: These key ingredients give yellow rice a distinctive color. Turmeric powder provides a vibrant yellow hue and a slightly earthy flavor, while more expensive Saffron imparts a subtle yellow color, unique aroma, and flavor. You’ll notice that this recipe calls for both turmeric and saffron. If you can’t find good-quality saffron, it’s better to leave it out than substitute with low-quality or fake substitutions.
- Broth: Chicken, vegetable, or beef broth is commonly used instead of water to cook the rice as it adds more flavor. For a vegan version, vegetable broth or water is used.
- Onion and Garlic Powder: Sauteed with the rice before adding any broth.
- Oil (or Butter): Used to toast the rice, sometimes I’ll add a tablespoon or two of butter for added flavor.
Optional Additions: Additional ingredients like peas, carrots, bell peppers, raisins, nuts, or proteins (like chicken, shrimp, or tofu for a vegan option) can be added to make the dish more substantial and varied in flavor.
Find the printable recipe with measurements in the recipe card below.
How to Make Yellow Rice
1. Soak the Saffron: Place the saffron threads and boiled water in a small bowl. Allow the saffron to soak for 5-10 minutes or until the water turns yellow/orange.
2. Wash the Rice: Transfer the rice to a large bowl. Rinse the rice with several changes of clean water or until the water runs almost clean. Drain thoroughly.
3. Toast the Rice: Heat the vegetable oil in a medium pot or Dutch oven set over medium heat. Toast/sauté the rice, stirring often for 5-7 minutes or until the the grains turn opaque. Optional: For a richer rice, add 1-2 tablespoons of butter with the vegetable oil.
4. Add the Spices: Stir in the turmeric powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt and continue to cook until fragrant, stirring the entire time to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
5. Add the Liquids: Pour the saffron water and vegetable broth into the rice. Optional – Strain the saffron liquid through a small fine mesh strainer (as shown in the photo). For more potent flavor, leave them in.
6. Cook: Turn the heat to high and bring to a gentle boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Allow the rice to cook for 18-20 minutes.
7. Rest: Remove from heat, keep the pot covered, and allow the rice to steam for 10 minutes.
8. Fluff and Serve: Gently fluff with a fork and season with additional salt if needed. Serve with finely minced cilantro and lime wedges if desired.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How Can I Add More Flavor to Yellow Rice? Apart from spices like cumin and red pepper flakes, you can enhance the flavor of this yellow rice by sautéing onions and garlic before adding the rice and liquids. Add veggies like bell peppers, peas, beans, or proteins like chicken or shrimp to make it a complete meal.
- Can You Make Yellow Rice in a Rice Cooker? Yes, you can make yellow rice in a rice cooker. Add the rice, broth, saffron, turmeric, and other spices to the cooker, and follow the standard cooking procedure for your model.
- Why is Yellow Rice Yellow? The yellow color in the rice is achieved by using turmeric or saffron. Turmeric provides a bright yellow hue and is more affordable, while saffron offers a subtler color and a distinct flavor but is more expensive.
- Can I Use Brown Rice to Make This Yellow Rice Recipe? I have not tried making yellow rice using brown rice, so I can’t speak for the final result. If you want to try it, you may need to increase the cooking time by approximately 10-15 minutes. You’ll also need to increase the cooking liquid to 3.5 cups per 2 cups of rice.
Storing and Freezing Leftover Yellow Rice
Transfer leftovers to an airtight container and place in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat it in the microwave or stovetop, adding a little water or broth to prevent it from drying out.
Cool the rice to room temperature before transferring it to a freezer-safe container or bag. Transfer to the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
More Easy Rice Recipes
- Stick of Butter Rice
- Easy Mexican Rice Recipe
- Easy Spanish Rice Recipe
- Coconut Rice Recipe
- Easy Dirty Rice Recipe (Cajun Rice)
- Fried Rice Recipe
If you try making this Easy Yellow Rice Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
Easy Yellow Rice Recipe
- Combine the boiled water and saffron threads in a small bowl. Allow the saffron to soak for at least 5-10 minutes or until the water turns a yellow color.
- Transfer the rice to a large bowl. With the water running, gently swish the rice in a circular motion until the bowl is filled with water. Drain the rice using a fine-mesh strainer or colander (with tiny holes) and repeat until the water runs almost clear. Drain thoroughly.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a medium pot or Dutch oven set over medium heat. Toast/sauté the rice, stirring often for 5-7 minutes or until the the grains turn opaque.
- Stir in the turmeric, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt and continue to cook until fragrant, stirring the entire time.
- Pour the saffron water and vegetable broth into the rice. Optional – Strain the saffron threads through a small fine mesh strainer (as shown in the photo). For more potent flavor, leave them in.
- Turn the heat to high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Allow the rice to cook for 18-20 minutes.
- Remove from heat, keep the pot covered, and allow the rice to steam for 10 minutes.
- Gently fluff with a fork and season with additional salt if needed. Serve with finely minced cilantro and lime wedges if desired.
- Serving size: 1 cup cooked rice (approx.)
- Long-grain white rice (basmati, jasmine, or standard long-grain rice) is recommended for this recipe.
- Saffron is pricy, but you don’t need a lot. For the best flavor, it’s important to buy good-quality saffron.
- Transfer leftovers to an airtight container and keep stored in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)