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30 Rice Recipes That Make Excellent Main Courses

Copycat Popeyes Cajun Rice
Copycat Popeyes Cajun Rice - Angela Latimer/Mashed

With a little creativity and a few extra ingredients, humble rice can turn into a sensational main course. It doesn't just have to be a side dish. Rice can serve as a base for everything from grain bowls and casseroles to sushi and one-pot dishes. So, if you've run out of ideas for what to do to make rice more exciting, we've got you covered.

These 30 rice recipes will steal the spotlight at your dinner table and help you expand your rice repertoire. We've included both meat-filled, vegetarian, and vegan rice recipes that will have your mouth watering and give you plenty of ideas for future meals. Even the ones that look a little complicated are well worth a try. However, the majority are simpler than you may think at first glance -- even the sushi and biryani. So, scroll through, pick out your faves, and get ready to make some new dishes.

Read more: US Foods You Surprisingly Can't Find In Canada

Ginger Maple Tofu Grain Bowls

Ginger Maple Tofu Grain Bowls
Ginger Maple Tofu Grain Bowls - Catherine Brookes/Mashed

One of the easiest rice recipes you can make as a main course is a bowl. While it's easy to just throw random veggies and proteins atop rice and call your bowl done, it's even better when you have a structured plan. Ginger Maple Tofu Grain Bowls come together with a tangy ginger maple tofu marinade and a zesty ginger maple tahini dressing for drizzling over the top of your brown rice, quinoa, and veggies. Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds and red pepper flakes over the top, and it's ready to eat.

Recipe: Ginger Maple Tofu Grain Bowls

Tik-Tok Inspired Salmon Rice Bowl

Tik-Tok Inspired Salmon Rice Bowl
Tik-Tok Inspired Salmon Rice Bowl - Ksenia Prints/Mashed

Salmon Rice Bowls were a TikTok sensation for a hot minute, popularized by TikTokker Emily Mariko. It contains rice, salmon, avocado, and a tangy and spicy soy sauce-based sauce. Our version adds Kewpie Mayonnaise to the sauce, along with seaweed for crunch or to use as a wrapper for the rice bowl ingredients. If you like more heat than a little sriracha can provide, consider serving it with kimchi or wasabi.

Recipe: TikTok-Inspired Salmon Rice Bowl

Quick Pork Fried Rice

Quick Pork Fried Rice
Quick Pork Fried Rice - Ting Dalton/Mashed

When you have leftover rice in the fridge, one of the best things you can do with it is to turn it into fried rice. Our Quick Pork Fried Rice recipe is less tricky than some because you fry the egg separately from the rice. This version contains ground pork, carrots, and peas, with lots of flavor from Chinese sauces, sesame oil, and ginger. Once the fried rice is done, you simply top it with your fried egg and green onions. This dish works as a main course that you can pair with Chinese sides.

Recipe: Quick Pork Fried Rice

Easy California Roll

Easy California Roll
Easy California Roll - Molly Madigan Pisula/Mashed

Sushi doesn't have to be difficult to make. You don't even need a sushi rolling mat to make it since plastic wrap keeps everything together. The secret to this recipe is making sure you use sushi rice so that the ingredients stay together better. Besides the imitation crab meat, the other filling ingredients are cucumbers and avocado. Once everything is rolled together inside the rice and seaweed sheets, you can sprinkle it with sesame seeds. For an authentic experience, serve your California Rolls with soy sauce for dipping, wasabi, and pickled ginger.

Recipe: Easy California Roll

Instant Pot Chicken And Rice

Instant Pot Chicken and Rice
Instant Pot Chicken and Rice - Kit Hondrum/Mashed

If you're looking for a simple recipe that your family will be asking for again, you'll want to give Instant Pot Chicken and Rice a try. Start by browning chicken, onion, garlic, and rice with the sauté setting. Then, cook the veggies and rice in broth, white wine, and thyme for 20 minutes before adding the chicken for five additional minutes. Fresh lemon juice, shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and fresh thyme make excellent garnishes when it's done. Serve with a side like green beans or a salad for a complete meal.

Recipe: Instant Pot Chicken And Rice

Hearty Chicken And Rice Casserole

Hearty Chicken and Rice Casserole
Hearty Chicken and Rice Casserole - Catherine Brookes/Mashed

Chicken and Rice Casserole reminds us of Chicken Pot Pie, except with a chicken, veggie, and rice base and cheesy topping. It's great for when you just want comfort food. You can either use peas and veggies like carrots and mushrooms that you chop yourself or take a shortcut with a package of frozen mixed veggies. The base has all sorts of lovely ingredients like white wine, crème fraîche, onions, garlic, and Italian seasonings to make it rich and flavorful. If you're feeling fancy, top it with some fresh parsley when it's done.

Recipe: Hearty Chicken And Rice Casserole

Smoked Salmon Sushi

Smoked Salmon Sushi
Smoked Salmon Sushi - Catherine Brookes/Mashed

For sushi, without the worry over whether you have the freshest seafood or not, you can use smoked salmon. It lends a smokey flavor that's extremely satisfying when contrasted with the fresh flavor of avocado. Since you'll be squeezing lemon juice over the avocado to prevent browning, you will also experience a nice zing from this sushi. Once you're ready to eat them, serve them with standard sushi sides, like wasabi and pickled ginger.

Recipe: Smoked Salmon Sushi

Spicy Shrimp Bowl

Spicy Shrimp Bowl
Spicy Shrimp Bowl - Ting Dalton/Mashed

Next time you're in the mood for some Asian-inspired shrimp, you might consider turning it into a Spicy Shrimp Bowl. The dish is both sweet and spicy since the shrimp marinade contains honey, soy sauce, Sriracha, and rice wine vinegar. Beyond the time it takes to make the rice, you'll only spend about 10 minutes to sauté garlic, ginger, broccoli, and shrimp. Some optional ingredients for serving include sesame seeds, sliced chili peppers, a squeeze of lime juice, and any leftover pan sauce.

Recipe: Spicy Shrimp Bowl

Simple Kitchari

Simple Kitchari
Simple Kitchari - Kristen Carli/Mashed

Kitchari is a dish from the Ayurvedic traditional healing tradition in India. It's an easy dish to make because there's minimal work required beyond frying the cumin seeds in oil for a minute before adding all the other ingredients to boil for half an hour. Along with basmati rice and cumin, this dish contains yellow split peas (moong dal), frozen mixed veggies, coconut milk, and turmeric. There's nothing else you need to complete this meal, but a side of garlic naan wouldn't hurt anything.

Recipe: Simple Kitchari

Kimchi Fried Rice With Spam

Kimchi Fried Rice With Spam
Kimchi Fried Rice With Spam - Cecilia Ryu/Mashed

Next time you find yourself with leftover rice and kimchi at the same time, try turning it into Kimchi Fried Rice With Spam. This Korean twist to a Chinese classic may become your new way of making fried rice. You'll start by sautéing Spam with kimchi, soy sauce, and gochugaru (Korean chili flakes) before combining it with butter and rice. A runny fried egg completes the dish and cuts the spiciness somewhat. You can serve it with a sprinkling of sesame seeds, chopped green onions, or seaweed pieces if desired.

Recipe: Kimchi Fried Rice With Spam

Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken And Rice

Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken and Rice
Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken and Rice - Kristen Carli/Mashed

Comforting Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken and Rice takes only three hours to slow cook, so you can set it up before running weekend errands and come home to a yummy Mexican dish waiting for you to dig in. One of the best things is that there's no chopping involved because the tomatoes, black beans, and corn all come from a can. The other ingredients are rice, broth, a packet of taco seasoning, and chicken. Be sure to serve it with shredded cheese and your favorite salsa.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken And Rice

15-Minute Deconstructed Sushi Bowl

15-Minute Deconstructed Sushi Bowl
15-Minute Deconstructed Sushi Bowl - Kristen Carli/Mashed

A deconstructed sushi bowl is an excellent option when you're trying to make a buffet-style meal with ingredients to please everyone. Everyone adds what they want to their bowl, depending on what makes them happy. The main ingredients for this dish are rice, shredded carrots, sliced cucumbers, edamame, and French-fried onions. You can offer spicy mayonnaise to drizzle over the top. But don't forget that you can also add other sushi ingredients you like, such as avocado, imitation crab meat, smoked salmon, or dried seaweed, to crumble over the top.

Recipe: 15-Minute Deconstructed Sushi Bowl

Spanish Yellow Rice And Chicken

Spanish Yellow Rice and Chicken
Spanish Yellow Rice and Chicken - Kristen Carli/Mashed

We love Spanish Yellow Rice and Chicken because it's easy to make in about half an hour but doesn't skimp on flavor. This dish starts with a package of Spanish yellow rice, which is pre-seasoned with turmeric and saffron. Other ingredients in the dish include onions, garlic, chicken, chicken broth, tomatoes, and peas. However, the ingredient that pushes this recipe into greatness is the inclusion of green olives. It's excellent all on its own, but we'd never say no to a little Parmesan sprinkled on top.

Recipe: Spanish Yellow Rice And Chicken

Slow Cooker Red Beans And Rice

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice
Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice - Hayley Maclean/Mashed

For the richest, most crave-worthy red beans and rice, you want to cook the beans low and slow for hours. However, we think those beans should be accompanied by ingredients like garlic, celery, bell peppers, andouille sausage, and warm spices. The secret is adding just a tad bit of brown sugar. Once your slow cooker has spent six hours making them perfect, you can serve your red beans over rice with sliced green onions over everything.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Red Beans And Rice

Easy Cucumber Roll

Easy Cucumber Roll
Easy Cucumber Roll - Susan Olayinka/Mashed

You don't have to have lots of ingredients at your disposal when you're feeling like sushi. Just a bit of sushi rice, a sushi wrapper, and some sliced cucumbers will do. These easy cucumber rolls even come together with sugar and salt in the rice if you don't have rice vinegar. Just fill, roll, and they're done. Once you've made it, you'll realize you can make sushi out of practically any one ingredient you have in your fridge, and it still fills that sushi craving. Pair it with soy sauce, and you're golden.

Recipe: Easy Cucumber Roll

Leftover Steak Fried Rice

Leftover Steak Fried Rice
Leftover Steak Fried Rice - Cindy Chou/Mashed

Last night's leftover steak and rice can easily turn into today's steak fried rice. You don't even need to make a trip to the store as long as you've got soy sauce and sesame oil in your cupboard and a few filler ingredients like shallots or onions, garlic, a veggie like celery, and an egg. This dish only takes 10 minutes of cooking time, and your leftovers are transformed into something completely new. Top it with chopped green onions, and serve.

Recipe: Leftover Steak Fried Rice

Instant Pot Shrimp Fried Rice

Instant Pot Shrimp Fried Rice
Instant Pot Shrimp Fried Rice - Hayley Maclean/Mashed

One way to take the difficulty level of fried rice down a notch is to make it in the Instant Pot. After sautéing a few shrimp, onions, and garlic, you're ready to add the rice and carrots for high-pressure cooking for five minutes. Then, you'll add pre-scrambled eggs, soy sauce, and sesame seed oil to complete the dish. With some green onion pieces and sesame seeds, it's dressed up and ready for you to enjoy.

Recipe: Instant Pot Shrimp Fried Rice

Easy Tofu Fried Rice

Easy Tofu Fried Rice
Easy Tofu Fried Rice - Kristen Carli/Mashed

Look no further than this Easy Tofu Fried Rice recipe for a vegetable-filled vegetarian version of fried rice. This colorful and flavorful dish is full of ginger, garlic, red onions, carrots, broccoli, tofu, and eggs. Plus, it has soy sauce and sesame oil for flavoring. Fresh green onions top this dish, but if you're craving added crunch, try adding a sprinkling of cashews over the top. We like how simple this dish is to make since the egg simply blends into the dish as you cook it.

Recipe: Easy Tofu Fried Rice

Copycat Popeyes Cajun Rice

Copycat Popeyes Cajun Rice
Copycat Popeyes Cajun Rice - Angela Latimer/Mashed

You don't have to go to Popeyes to get Cajun rice when you're armed with this copycat dirty rice recipe. In addition to ground beef, this recipe contains chicken gizzards, which provide the right meat texture. The flavorings include bell peppers and green onions, along with Creole and other seasonings. Meanwhile, beef broth provides added richness to the rice. While you can eat this dish by itself, you can probably guess that it pairs well with fried chicken, too, since it's a Popeyes classic side.

Recipe: Copycat Popeyes Cajun Rice

Easy Stuffed Bell Peppers

Easy Stuffed Bell Peppers
Easy Stuffed Bell Peppers - Hayley Maclean/Mashed

Bell peppers make the perfect edible container for cooked rice. Of course, you'll want to make stuffed peppers a little more interesting by adding ingredients like ground beef, onions, garlic, tomatoes, corn, cheese, Italian seasonings, and Worcestershire sauce. Be sure to save some cheese to melt over the top while it's baking in the oven. Sprinkle a few fresh green onions over the top, and then dig in.

Recipe: Easy Stuffed Bell Peppers

Instant Pot Dirty Rice

Instant Pot Dirty Rice
Instant Pot Dirty Rice - Keith Kamikawa/Mashed

Dirty rice ends up with different flavors and ingredients in every kitchen. However, we especially like this recipe because it's easy to make in the Instant Pot and is full of meat, veggies, and spices. You'll start out sautēing pork sausage, chicken liver, onions, celery, and two types of bell peppers before adding the rice and broth. Tabasco and all kinds of seasonings give this version a spicy kick. Don't miss adding parsley and chopped green onions on top when it's done for more color and fresh flavor.

Recipe: Instant Pot Dirty Rice

One-Pot Salmon And Rice

One-Pot Salmon and Rice
One-Pot Salmon and Rice - Kristin Carli/Mashed

One-pot rice meals are extra tempting since there's less to clean up when you're done. One-Pot Salmon and Rice is especially brilliant because you partially cook the rice before adding salmon and zucchini on top of it to steam while the rice is finishing up. This dish is super flavorful because it has both broth and lemon juice in the rice. For a bigger flavor punch, sprinkle plenty of fresh parsley and cilantro over the top for serving.

Recipe: One-Pot Salmon And Rice

Creamy Chicken Lemon Rice Soup

Creamy Chicken Lemon Rice Soup
Creamy Chicken Lemon Rice Soup - Ting Dalton/Mashed

Chicken and rice are very nice, but turning it into a lemony soup is even better. The tartness from the lemon makes this rice soup lip-smackingly good. Since it also uses rotisserie or leftover chicken, there's no need to handle raw meat either. In addition to chicken and rice, this soup contains onions, carrots, and garlic. Plus, you'll stir in some eggs for added texture and protein. Soup is always better with a few sprinkles of something special over the top, and this one pairs well with fresh parsley.

Recipe: Creamy Chicken Lemon Rice Soup

Authentic Cuban Picadillo

Authentic Cuban Picadillo
Authentic Cuban Picadillo - Kristen Carli/Mashed

Cuban Picadillo gets its name from all the small "picado" (or chopped) ingredients in it. Its chopped ingredients include ground beef, onions, bell pepper, garlic, tomatoes, and red potatoes. It also contains green olives, capers, raisins, and various spices to give it its distinctive flavor. Once the picadillo has simmered long enough to cook the potatoes through, it's ready to serve over rice with some of the toppings you might serve with Mexican food, like sour cream, cilantro, and hot sauce.

Recipe: Authentic Cuban Picadillo

Baked Salmon Sushi

Baked Salmon Sushi
Baked Salmon Sushi - Ksenia Prints/Mashed

We've mentioned some simple versions of sushi, but we didn't want to leave you without one that's a little more complex. Baked Salmon Sushi is one of those dishes that is tasty enough to make you feel confident about making good seafood-based sushi at home without worrying about the raw fish factor. Along with prepared sushi rice, these sushi rolls contain baked salmon, julienned cucumbers, julienned carrots, and avocado. Serve it with wasabi and pickled ginger, and you'll forget you're not eating restaurant sushi.

Recipe: Baked Salmon Sushi

Italian Rice Ball Casserole

Italian Rice Ball Casserole
Italian Rice Ball Casserole - Christina Musgrave/Mashed

While there aren't any actual rice balls in this casserole, it captures the spirit of Italian rice balls without all the time and effort. The casserole version has alternating layers of rice and beef mixture with a buttered bread crumb topping. The rice layers contain rice, Parmesan cheese, and Italian red sauce, while the meat layers contain cooked ground beef, garlic, onions, and red sauce. To finish this dish, top it with freshly grated Parmesan cheese on your plate.

Recipe: Italian Rice Ball Casserole

Easy Kimbap

Easy Kimbap
Easy Kimbap - Cecilia Ryu/Mashed

Kimbap is the Korean answer to sushi, and it's full of flavor, color, and deliciousness. Because there's a little prep involved for the filling ingredients, it will take about an hour to make them. However, it's well worth the effort. Besides prepared rice, the filling contains julienned carrots, cooked egg strips, fried Spam strips, blanched spinach, imitation crab strips, and pickled radishes. Look for the radishes in the refrigerated section of an Asian market. Kimbap is delicious alone or with Korean sides like kimchi and braised potatoes.

Recipe: Easy Kimbap

Chicken Biryani

Chicken Biryani
Chicken Biryani - Mackenzie Burgess/Mashed

While there's a long list of ingredients for Chicken Biryani, there's no need to think it's beyond your grasp because most are spices. With this version, cooking on the stovetop rather than in the oven, it's even easier than usual. However, it does require a little extra time to soak the rice and marinate the chicken in yogurt and spices before simmering all the ingredients together. Part of the appeal of this dish is all the tasty extras that go on top when it's ready to serve, like cilantro, caramelized onions, toasted almonds, and golden raisins.

Recipe: Chicken Biryani

One-Pot Chicken And Rice

One-Pot Chicken and Rice
One-Pot Chicken and Rice - Kristen Carli/Mashed

We love rice dishes that cook all in one pot, especially when they have meat and plenty of vegetables to turn them into a complete meal like this One-Pot Chicken and Rice dish. There is a little work involved with sautéing the onion, carrots, celery, and chicken before adding the rice. Otherwise, all you have to do is make rice as usual. This recipe derives extra flavor from using fragrant jasmine rice and being covered with melted garlic butter, shredded Parmesan cheese, and fresh parsley when it's done.

Recipe: One-Pot Chicken And Rice

Easy Chickpea Curry

Easy Chickpea Curry
Easy Chickpea Curry - Susan Olayinka/Mashed

Chickpea Curry is far easier to make than you might think for a dish that's so filling and delicious. It's a dish that relies largely on canned ingredients and frozen ingredients, so you'll only have to chop the garlic and onion. The base of this dish is chickpeas, coconut milk, and frozen mixed veggies, along with curry powder and a few other spices. So, it only takes five minutes of prep and 30 minutes of cooking before you have a delightful chickpea curry ready to serve over basmati rice. It's even better topped with cilantro and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes.

Recipe: Easy Chickpea Curry

Read the original article on Mashed.