July 13, 2024

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Delicious food

Yellow Rice – Chelsea’s Messy Apron

This Yellow Rice is incredibly fragrant and aromatic — every bite is an absolute explosion of flavor! This rice has notes of sweetness from the raisins, sweet corn, and cinnamon, a deep richness from the butter and chicken stock, and a wonderful savory flavor from the curry powder and turmeric.

For an Indian Yellow Rice Recipe, try our One Pan Curry Rice instead!

Overhead image of the yellow rice

Yellow Rice

My in-laws lived in Johannesburg, South Africa for a couple of years and my husband and I got the opportunity to visit them — it was a trip of a lifetime! Of course, I was so inspired by the food there, especially by the South African Yellow Rice we enjoyed from quite a few different places. That rice was even better when it was paired with Piri Piri chicken — talk about a combo — wow!

Today I’m sharing my take on yellow rice, not an authentic recipe by any means, but similar flavors to the rice we enjoyed during our visit. This recipe is presented in a simple way you can easily recreate at home. In fact, you’ll be amazed how easy this rice is to make. We throw everything (uncooked rice included) into a casserole dish and let the oven do the work!

No stovetop, no babysitting, not a grain of mushy rice in sight. Instead, you’ll get perfectly fluffy grains of rice and your home will be infused with the most intoxicating smells!

What Does Yellow Rice Taste Like?

This rice has an earthy and fragrant aroma with a slightly nutty taste with notes of garlic, ginger, and onion. It is savory, with a hint of spice and a nice sweetness from the brown sugar, raisins, corn, and cinnamon.

Up close image of a scoop of this dish

What Is Yellow Rice Made Of?

The yellow rice for this dish is deeply savory, a little sweet, and loaded with flavor! There are bursts of sweetness from the raisins and crisp bites of corn throughout. The “star” of the rice that delivers it’s bright yellow color is turmeric!

Here is a list of the ingredients, and how they play into the overall flavor of the rice.

  • Butter. You may be tempted to reduce the amount of butter, but we rely on the richness and liquid it provides. We tested this rice with 4 and 6 tablespoons butter, but ultimately had the most success with 8 tablespoons. This comes out to about 1 tablespoon per serving so very reasonable!
  • Seasonings. Turmeric brings warm flavors to any dish it’s added to. Flavor-wise, it is very earthy, almost bitter and musky, with a bit of peppery spice. There is also a bit of spice coming from the yellow curry powder and ground ginger. That said, the spice is balanced nicely with the sweetness from the brown sugar, raisins, and corn.
  • Brown sugar. Just a little bit of brown sugar adds the perfect contrast to balance the seasonings and gives a slight sweetness to the rice.

Process shots of yellow rice-- images of the rice, spices, ginger, garlic, raisins, and chicken stock being added

Yellow Rice Ingredients, Cont.

  • Basmati rice. This is non-negotiable in this recipe! We tested with all different kinds of rice and basmati rice was the only one to deliver the results we want. If you don’t have this particular variety of rice I wouldn’t recommend making this recipe– it won’t work out very well.
  • Garlic and ginger. For ease and speed of recipe preparation, we use refrigerated garlic paste and refrigerated minced garlic. If you’re all about fresh, simply grate fresh ginger and garlic with a microplane right into the casserole dish — no need to sauté first.
  • Chicken Stock. The stock adds a great seasoning and so much flavor, so use a good quality stock. We love Swanson’s® chicken stock best (not sponsored).
  • Raisins. I know this is a strange addition, but it truly adds so much to the rice in ways of a good chewiness and subtle sweetness. I use regular natural seedless sun-dried raisins, but currents or golden raisins can also be used.
  • Frozen Corn. The corn adds freshness to the rice and a crisp contrasting texture as well as a touch of additional sweetness.


Frozen veggies like corn thaw almost instantly when they’re added to a hot dish. So don’t bother to thaw them in advance. Just stir ’em in and they’ll heat through quickly!

Process shots-- images of the bay leaf and butter being added

How To Make Yellow Rice

Below are our top tips for success in How to Cook Yellow Rice.

  • Generously grease the baking dish. To keep rice from sticking to the pan, give it a really generous spray with cooking spray– and don’t leave out the butter!
  • Don’t rush the process. The bake time is long on this dish, but it’s all a pretty hands-off process. Don’t try to rush it; you may end up with unevenly cooked or mushy rice.
  • Rice needs to rest. Just like cooking rice in a pot on the stovetop, it needs time to stand and steam. This keeps it from getting mushy. This recipe is no different — allow time for the rice to rest and become fully tender. 

Process shots of yellow rice-- images of the dish being baked and then frozen corn being added

Transform This Side Dish Into A Main Course Meal

  • Make Chicken and Yellow Rice: Our favorite thing to serve with this rice is a hot seasoned rotisserie chicken or chicken thighs right off the grill — so good! If you have leftover chicken that isn’t hot, throw it on top of the rice right out of the oven, cover the entire pan with foil, and this will give the chicken the opportunity to heat through while the rice is resting!
  • And add a sauce: We love a cooling yogurt sauce — either plain full-fat Greek yogurt or this tasty sauce. A good creamy sauce cools down any spice and adds a nice creaminess to the rice. Alternatively, a good ripe avocado and/or goat cheese adds a nice creamy element to the dish.
  • Add some toppings: Our faves: thinly sliced English or Persian cucumbers (sometimes labeled as mini/salad cucumbers), fresh, ripe mango, ripe avocado, and/or a squeeze of lemon. These topping ideas add crunch, vibrancy, and freshness.

Is Yellow Rice Healthy?

This Yellow Rice Recipe is packed with good-for-you ingredients. The spices, ginger, and garlic each boast many benefits including anti-inflammatory properties that can be beneficial for digestion, detoxing, and pain relief.

Overhead image of the yellow rice in the casserole dish


Another thing we love about this Yellow Rice Recipe is how much it makes! Leftovers store nicely in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days.

And leftovers freeze great! We like to portion leftovers into 2 cup increments and store in individual freezer bags. Freeze for up to 3 months thawing bags of rice overnight in the fridge. Transfer rice to a microwave-safe bowl (or small saucepan) and drizzle in 1-2 tablespoons of water. Cover bowl or pan and microwave in 30-second bursts until warmed through (or place saucepan over low heat until warmed through)

More Easy Rice Dishes

Yellow Rice

This Yellow Rice is incredibly fragrant and aromatic — every bite is an absolute explosion of flavor! This rice has notes of sweetness from the raisins, sweet corn, and cinnamon, a deep richness from the butter and chicken stock, and a wonderful savory flavor from the curry powder and turmeric.

Yellow Rice

This Yellow Rice is incredibly fragrant and aromatic — every bite is an absolute explosion of flavor! This rice has notes of sweetness from the raisins, sweet corn, and cinnamon, a deep richness from the butter and chicken stock, and a wonderful savory flavor from the curry powder and turmeric.


  • 1-1/2 cups uncooked basmati rice (Note 1)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon each: ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, yellow curry powder (Note 2)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf, optional
  • Fine sea salt & pepper
  • 2 teaspoons each: minced garlic, ginger paste (Note 3)
  • 1/3 cup raisins (or currants or golden raisins)
  • 2-3/4 cups chicken stock/broth (Note 4)
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • See Note 5 for suggestions on how to make this side dish into a main course!

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Rice: We tested this recipe with all different kinds of rice and the only one we found success with is basmati rice. Other grains of rice gave very inconsistent results — ranging from very mushy to unevenly cooked (some hard grains/some mushy).
Note 2: Ginger and garlic: To keep things quick, use refrigerated minced garlic and refrigerated ginger paste. OR use fresh ginger and garlic; simply grate (with a microplane) ginger root and individual garlic cloves into the dish — no other preparation is necessary.
Note 3: Curry powder: Use a curry powder you know you enjoy and can handle the heat of (we use McCormick® which we find to be very mild). If you aren’t sure, add less but know that you will be missing out on some flavor!
Note 4: Chicken stock: The stock is very important to flavor — use a full-bodied (not low sodium) stock. We love Swanson® stock best.
Note 5: Make this side dish into a main course: Serve with a cooked protein (we love a hot rotisserie chicken or seasoned grilled chicken), topped with some full-fat Greek yogurt (or a cooling yogurt sauce, ripe diced avocado, or goat cheese) and thinly sliced cucumbers. See blog post for more ideas!

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 226kcal | Carbohydrates: 25.6g | Protein: 3.9g | Fat: 12.8g | Cholesterol: 32.3mg | Sodium: 102.6mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8.3g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.