Cheesy rice is a comforting, creamy side dish that's easy to pair with your favorite main course. With just a handful of simple ingredients, you can whip up a batch of cheesy rice on the stovetop today.
Are you looking for a crowd-pleasing comfort food dish that won’t break the bank? Look no further than cheesy rice! This creamy, cheesy side dish is sure to become a new family favorite.
With just a handful of easy-to-find ingredients, you can whip up a pan of cheese rice in no time. Onions sauteed in butter, chicken broth, and paprika add mild, savory flavor to this easy side dish.
Cheesy rice comes together in a single pot on the stovetop, making it the perfect addition to your favorite main course. Pair it with mains like oven baked ribs, baked chicken drumsticks, or turkey veggie meatballs for a complete meal.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Butter - Unsalted butter can be substituted with salted butter. You'll want to cut the listed salt in half. I recommend using butter for best flavor, but it can be substituted with olive oil if needed.
- Onion - Adds flavor to the rice. I do not recommend omitting it.
- Rice - Any long grain white rice works well in this recipe. I do not recommend using instant rice. If using brown rice as a substitute, know that it will take longer to cook than the times listed in the recipe card.
- Broth - Chicken broth or vegetable broth adds flavor and seasoning to your rice. If using low sodium broth, you may want to add extra salt or fresh herbs to your rice to make up for the lost flavor.
- Milk - Whole milk makes your rice creamy and rich. Lower fat milks will work, but note that your rice will turn out less creamy.
- Cheese - Any freshly, grated, melty cheese works in this recipe. I used sharp cheddar cheese, but monterey jack, gruyere, or pepper jack cheese would work well. I highly recommend grating your cheese fresh from a block for a creamy, smooth texture. Pre-grated cheeses are often coated in anti-clumping powders that add a grainy texture when melted.
- Seasoning - Paprika, salt, and pepper add mild, savory flavor to the rice.
Can I use brown rice?
In short - yes, but with changes to the recipe.
What is the difference between white rice and brown rice? White rice is rice that has been processed to remove the hull, bran, and germ. Brown rice is rice that has been processed to only remove the hull.
What does all of that mean when it comes to cooking? Brown rice takes longer to cook because the outer bran is intact. Since the outer bran is removed on white rice, it easily soaks up water and cooks faster.
Brown rice takes about 45 minutes to cook through, and you may need to add a splash of additional water partway through cooking. I've included instructions for brown rice in the recipe card below.
Before beginning, rinse your rice to remove surface starches. This helps the rice cook up fluffy with individual grains. Otherwise, rice can turn out sticky or gummy.
To rinse rice, place your measured rice into a fine mesh sieve and hold under running water, agitating with your hands until the water runs clear. Or, pour rice into a mixing bowl, cover with water, and agitate with your hands. Rinse cloudy water out and repeat until water runs clear. This process should only take a few minutes.
Tips and tricks
- Keep an eye on your rice as it simmers. If the heat is too high, milk can easily froth up and boil over - or curdle. A gentle simmer is best.
- Rice looking dry before it's done cooking? Add a splash of water, stir gently, and cover.
- Rice sticking to the bottom of the pan? Add a splash of water, stir gently, and reduce the heat slightly.
- Don't stir rice too much. This can cause it to stick together and get mushy.
- Don't lift the lid too often - this lets out steam and heat, drying out the rice and elongating the cooking process.
- Add protein: Add shredded rotisserie chicken for a complete meal.
- Add veggies: Stir in steamed broccoli florets, peas, or spinach with the cheese.
- Add seasonings: Add your favorite seasoning blend, like taco seasoning, Cajun seasoning, or a splash of hot sauce for added flavor.
What to serve with rice
Looking for mains to serve with cheesy rice? Here are a few of my favorites:
- Oven baked ribs
- Baked chicken drumsticks
- Parmesan crusted chicken tenders
- Panko crusted salmon
- Grilled chicken tenders
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ small onion, small diced
- 1 cup long grain white rice, not instant or brown (see note below)*
- 8 ounces chicken broth
- 8 ounces whole milk
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion and cook until it begins to lightly brown around the edges, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add rice, chicken broth, milk, paprika, salt, and pepper to pan, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer, cover, and reduce heat to low.
- Cook for about 18 to 20 minutes, or until rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.
- Remove from heat. Add shredded cheese. Gently stir and fluff rice with a fork. Serve warm.
- 9" Fine Mesh Strainer
- *If you'd like to substitute with brown rice, it will take significantly longer to cook - up to 45 minutes instead of the listed 18-20 minutes. Consult your rice's package directions for best results. You may also need to add an additional splash of water partway through cooking if it begins to look dry.
- Leftovers will keep for 3-4 days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.