HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Adding Flavour To Rice - Simple Sauces/Seasonings

I just bought a rice cooker and am waiting for my mounds of long grain rice to cook (meanwhile enjoying the ease of the entire process) . . . .
I am stumped on how to add flavour to the rice?
Some family members are going to add a tomato based sauce, some butter and cheese.
I am not feeling either of those today.
I am craving something else, something different. I am curious to learn how other chows use their rice cooker and what sauces or seasonings they add to their rice?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Soy, sesame oil, ginger and scallions.

    1. I just eat mine plain, as an accompaniment to something else.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mainsqueeze

        I do the same, but I am Asian and grew up eating it that way.

        1. re: seconds

          I have been eating it plain since I started eating it more by way of healthier eating habits my Asian sister-in-law has encouraged me on and a diet consisting of fish as the main meat and more veggies than in the American diet. The selections we now have are great, since we import them from other countries and now have been able to find some veggies I like coz there wasn't many I liked before we started importing more. I feel better eating this way.

      2. Fried onions (the kind you can find at asian/indian/middle eastern food stores) and cumin seeds toasted in a bit of canola oil.

        2 Replies
        1. re: adrienne156

          You can also just fry up your own onions and spices in a separate pan and add them in -- when I do this sort of thing, I cook the rice in that same pan, but if you really want to use the rice cooker, go for it. My sisters-in-law make top-grade main dishes of rice and meat in the rice cooker, so anything is possible!

          You can get mild flavor by just adding in sweet spices (cinnamon, cardamom, that kind of thing, whole not ground) to your water.

          1. re: willownt

            I actually do cook my rice on the stove. The OP just asked for what can be done with a rice cooker.

        2. You can always prepare the rice flavorings in a pan and add to the rice cooker. For example if you wanted a Latin flavor, you could make a sofrito of pureed garlic, onion, cilantro, tomatoes and cumin and fry it in some annatto oil with the rice. Add that into the rice cooker and cook as regular. For Peruvian green rice, just saute the rice with chopped cilantro, cumin and onions and cook in the rice cooker with diced carrots and onion and corn niblets. When I make biryani, I cook the rice in my rice cooker with bay leaves, cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, peppercorns, cloves and butter. The possibilities are endless.

          3 Replies
          1. re: JungMann

            JM, is "sofrito" always pureed? I thought the vegetables were fine chopped.
            The Peruvian green rice recipe sounds delicious, thanks for that! It will be my next rice dish. Can I use brown rice?

            1. re: Gio

              I prefer a pureed sofrito as I don't normally want chunks in my rice unless I'm making some sort of pilaf. And anyway that "Mexican" rice is normally incorporated into something else, so I don't want too much texture.

              Peruvian green rice can be made with brown rice, but the results are really less than satisfactory. When made with white rice, not only is it surprisingly delicious, it's incredibly easy as well.

              1. re: JungMann

                Thank you very much for your clarification. We normally make Jasmine or Basmati, either white or brown. I'll take your advise!

          2. Make a simple rice pilaf. Sautéing the rice and orzo pasta in butter and then cooking in chicken broth add wonderful flavor.

            1. And, if you love cilantro, you can also flavor it AFTER it is cooked by using Robert Lauriston's Cilantro Rice recipe on this board...it is awesome and easy! Just made it again last weekend.

              1. you can make a bit of tea (lapsang souchong, darjeeling etc) and mix it with the water to infuse the rice...

                1. I almost always use just plain white rice, but there are quite a few things you can do.
                  Substitute beef, chicken, or vegetable broth for the water and Add some diced meat of your choice.
                  Add any of; fresh corn, peas, or soaked beans and ham chunks, season with a small amount of salt, pepper, & garlic.
                  Use your favorite soup recipe & mix with the rice (make sure the liquid portion of the soup is slightly more than the amount of water you would have used for plain rice).
                  Broccoli crowns, carrots, or any other brightly colored hard vegetable would work well.

                  1. This might be heretical, but sometimes for flavor I'll throw in one of those seasoning packets out of a package of ramen noodles. There always seem to be extra ones of those laying around.

                    1. Heat up some olive oil in a fry pan, throw some chili flakes in, add some chopped macadamias and cook until fragrant, not burnt. Add to basmati rice cooked in some vegetable or chicken stock, and stir, or put the rice in the fry pan to fry the rice.
                      I also cook brown rice with some chicken stock and add scallions at the end. Or lately, basmati rice with some cardomom pods, a pinch of saffron, and some raisins or other dried fruit. Add some butter or coconut oil to mix in at the end.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: peppatty

                        thanks all....lots of yummy ideas....

                      2. I like that Goya seasoning, the one that turns everything yellow. (It's good in eggs, too.)

                        Pesto or roasted tomato paste work too.

                        1. I just made this rice for friends and we all loved it. It's a sweet rice. "Melt" about 2 TBS sugar in about 1/2 cup water with some orange zest and a few cardomom pods. Let it simmer down until it's like a syrup. Remove the pods and the zest. Make the rice (I used white basmati) as usual. Stir in as much/little of the syrup as you'd like and add some slivvered almonds and chopped pistachios. It really was tasty and went very well with the spicy egggplant stew I also served.

                          1. I have a dish where I bake chicken breast in a mix of chopped tomato and spicy green chiles. I like serving that over rice but I'm not fond of just plain rice (I didn't grow up with it at all). So I always take chicken or turkey base (I buy mine from Penzey's but Redibase is good, too) and mix it into the water I'm cooking the rice in. Sometimes I'll add butter. It gives the rice a nice little boost so it's more than just carbs and some texture under my chicken. :)

                            1. For Southeast Asian cooking, use coconut milk in place of water. For a low-cal version, use coconut essence with the water instead of coconut milk.

                              1. very easy.. take a container in which add basil leaves , sliced tomatoes , garlic (5 -6) , one green chilli . grind them together with a grinder.. put some oil in a pan and add the grinded mixture in the pan... put some sugar , salt and red chilli powder while cooking. cook it on the high flame for 15 minutes. you can add this sauce in the rice while cooking it with the vegetables to add flavour to the rice..

                                1. Get some ten treasures oats or millet at substitute that for a bit of the rice.

                                  Use stock instead of part of the water. Or tomato juice.

                                  Add a bit of butter, tumeric and toasted cumin seeds for cumin rice.

                                  Top plain white rice with dried shiso or a mix of salt and toasted black sesame seeds.

                                  Add some finely diced chives or green onions.

                                  Mix in some raw green peas or edamame before cooking.

                                  1. I generally rarely season but for a simple meal out of the rice cooker, I'll lay sausages on top to cook and the sausage juices flavor the rice. It's really good. It just occurred to me that at the end of the cycle, I should add eggs and soft cook them.

                                    1. Beef stock (canned is fine), sauteed mushroom (though, truthfully, canned will do) and lashings of freshly ground pepper added to rice that has been lightly browned in butter. This is then cooked in the oven for as long as you like, though I have also done it stove-top, so I assume that it would also work in a rice-cooker.

                                      In our house, this dish accompanies roasts of all sorts and turkey at Christmas where it serves as a gluten-free alternative to stuffing. It works brilliantly re-heated, with some leftover meat tossed in as a full meal and is one of our family faves.

                                      1. The other day I made Coconut Rice - I substituted most of the water with Coconut milk, added bruised Lemon Grass and a couple of Cloves. I really liked it.

                                        1. I use white rice chicken broth for the liquid a packet of goya seasoning s+p, a bit of onion powder and a pat of butter.

                                          1. I don't own a rice cooker....do it still in a pan...............but......depending on what else I am having as an entree

                                            For liquids, I have used:
                                            Pineapple Jc
                                            Beef and Chicken Broth
                                            OJ...once! .not what I expected!
                                            1/2 water half wine....especially Marsala

                                            Add ins...........most at the 10 min mark
                                            Blueberries ( maybe at the 3 min mark)
                                            diced apple
                                            sauteed mushrooms and/or onions (use the same pot)
                                            Almond slivers...............better toasted first
                                            frozen peas or corn
                                            green onions

                                            1. I'm not sure how this would work in a rice cooker, but have you tried cooking rice what I will refer to as (for lack of a better term) the Indian way? Rinse your rice well first, dry, then brown some butter, sweat some onions (can add garlic) add salt and a bay leaf, saute your rice for 5 minutes of so before adding the liquid and cooking the rice? Imparts much better flavor.

                                              1. I make a lot of rices, especially risotto. But for white rice in a pan, I use any combination of the following:
                                                Hot smoked Paprika
                                                garlic powder
                                                garlic salt
                                                onion powder
                                                sea salt
                                                lemon pepper
                                                tonight I am using all but curry & lemon pepper. I am also using butter & olive oil and it smells fantastic!

                                                1. Preserved lemons (chopped finely). Really good!

                                                  1. I remember having a cold white cream sauce served over hot rice. It was kind of like yogurt or a sour cream base, and had flecks of cucumber and onion. You could try Tzatziki and wisk in a bit of creme freche, that would be good over rice. I like toasted sesame oil and green Tabasco on mine. Rice is not meant as a feature dish. It is meant to be partnered with vegetables(s) or a protein, that is where the sauce would be.

                                                    1. Furikake and goma-shio.

                                                      Occasionally, natto and egg.

                                                      Most of the time, I end up eating it plain as an accompaniment to something else.

                                                      1. My favourite thing as a kid (and, heck, even now) was white rice, topped w/ 2 sunny-side-up eggs and drizzled with soy sauce. Tear the eggs into chunks with your fork when ready to eat and mix it all up... yolk, soy, rice... mmm... I consider it the Chinese version of kraft dinner.

                                                        If your rice cooker has a steamer, you can easily steam some white fish filets in there too. Put the fish on a small plate (that will fit inside the steamer) and drizzle it with a bit of neutral vegetable oil and soy sauce sweetened with a touch of sugar. Scatter chopped scallions and julienned ginger on top, and steam with your rice. The resulting sauce from the fish goes really well with rice.

                                                        This is more effort, but makes a 1 pot meal: brown some broken up sausages (outside of casing), and sautee some minced garlic and diced onions, carrot, celery along the way. Keep everything in the pan, and pour a can of crushed tomatoes in. Add a minced jalapeno, crumble in a mini chipotle cube (http://www.amazon.com/Knorr-Mini-Cube...), and a pinch of dried oregano. Pour in a can of drained black beans. Cook this for about 15-20 mins to let everything get to know each other, and throw in a handful of chopped parsley near the end. (I also like to make some wells in the sauce and pop some eggs in there, and "poach" the whole thing in a 350 oven for about 15 mins, but you can omit this if it seems to fussy.) Top with cheddar or jack cheese and let it melt; serve over hot rice. It's basically a hacked chili & rice.

                                                        Finally, this may not be heart-healthy, but if you have some bacon fat or chicken fat, that and a tiny pinch of salt, stirred into the rice would taste good.

                                                        1. Basic under-the-food rice is done just with salt, a good pat of butter and a shake or two of cayenne pepper in the water. For pilaf I used to cook it in chicken broth, but with Mrs. O gone veggie it's a good vegetable broth – one of the broth/soup companies has one called No-Chicken Broth that works quite well. And then there's Coconut Rice, for which I do not have a recipe but want one.

                                                          Aside from these, I don't monkey with the rice much at the basic cooking level. As several others here are saying, stand-alone rice is there to support the other food, whether it's a curry, a stir-fry or some good Southern gravy.