Best One-Pot Rice Recipes from Around the World
21 easy, family-friendly dishes including creamy risotto, spicy jambalaya, and more
In some parts of the world, nothing spells comfort quite like a big bowl of noodles. But around the rest of the globe, where wheat is not the predominant staple crop, rice is more than nice … it’s a way of life.
For me, growing up in a Chinese American household, rice was a given, and no meal was complete without a bowl of it. As my siblings and I grew older and began to discover the possibilities of rice beyond utilitarian plain white rice, we eagerly looked forward to meals where it was elevated from a simple side to a flavor-packed one-pot rice dish.
And we aren’t alone in this preference. From China and across the globe to Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Latin America, and the United States, this staple carbohydrate has been reimagined as iconic one-pot main dishes and easy one-pot rice recipes beloved by generations.
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One-pot rice Q&A
In theory, making meals that center around rice seems pretty simple. But once you get into the details, it might feel as opaque as the rinsing water.
1. What types of rice should I buy for one-pot rice recipes?
Across the world, more than 120,000 varieties of rice exist, but there are only a few types you need to know for one-pot recipes. Long-grain rice is commonly used for dishes where you want the rice to be individually pronounced and fluffy. This includes pilafs, fried rice, and salads. Aromatic jasmine rice and basmati rice, both long-grain rices, offer their fragrance as a lovely complement to their light texture.
Medium-and short-grain rices such as arborio, bomba, and Calrose are great for creamier one-pot rice dishes like paella, risotto, and pudding.
Most popular types of rice are available as whole-grain brown rice, where the hull has been removed but the nutritious germ and bran are left intact. Brown rice requires more water and cooking time than white rice, so be sure to take that into account if you swap it into a recipe.
2. What are some one-pot rice recipes?
As this recipe collection demonstrates, cultures around the world have developed a slew of rice entrees, including Chinese fried rice, African jollof rice, Italian risotto, and Puerto Rican pigeon peas and rice, to name a few. Closer to home, in the American South, jambalaya is a classic original. And across America, there’s a wealth of beloved one-pot chicken and rice recipes that use skinless, boneless chicken breasts or chicken thighs to make a hearty, family-friendly meal.
3. How to make one-pot rice
Rice is incredibly versatile, and exactly how one-pot rice recipes come together depends on the dish you’re making and the tools involved. Usually, you’ll start by browning aromatics (onions, garlic, bell pepper, celery, and others) in the pot. Many main dishes will also include browning the meat as the next step. After that, if you're starting with the raw grain, it’s typical to add rice and liquid, bring it to a boil, then let it simmer under a lid until the rice is tender. For already cooked or leftover rice, you’ll only need to re-cook it enough to heat it all the way through.
No matter the recipe, whether you’re baking it in a casserole dish or cooking it in an Instant Pot or slow cooker, don’t forget to fluff the finished product before serving! Releasing steam and separating the grains adds volume and improves texture.
4. How to store one-pot rice
Let your rice dish stand at room temperature no more than two hours after cooking, then store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
5. How long does one-pot rice last?
Most one-pot rice dishes last three to four days stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, but dishes with seafood, such as paella, only keep one to two days.
6. Can I freeze one-pot rice dishes?
Yes, you can freeze cooked rice dishes in an airtight container up to three months.
Asian one-pot rice recipes
If there’s one part of the world that’s mastered the versatility of rice, it’s the Asian continent. Every country there pays homage to the staple grain and does one-pot (or wok!) in easy but wondrous ways.
Fried rice is actually best made with day-old, chilled rice since it’s had a chance to dry out and will therefore resist steaming and turning mushy. Add protein as you like to this Chinese one-pot rice recipe to make it a meal. (Looking for a vegetarian one-pot rice recipe? Consider adding crispy tofu.)
If you've ever eaten at a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant where food is cooked before you on a hot iron griddle, you've likely tried umami-rich, flame-kissed chicken fried rice. Here's how to make it at home in only 35 minutes! You'll need cold leftover rice, rotisserie chicken, a few veggies and seasonings, and a wide metal spatula for gathering and tossing portions of the fried rice as you cook.
Those warm, spice-driven flavors of the most famous Indian one-pot rice recipe become much more accessible with a slow cooker! Technically, this takes two pots since you need to parcook the rice, but with the short list of ingredients, it’s worth the extra rinse.
A classic congee recipe gets a modern update with brown rice, which adds nuttiness and more texture to this umami-packed Chinese porridge. Mysterious, creamy century eggs can be found at Asian markets — there’s nothing in the world quite like them.
Bibimbap, while a one-bowl dish, isn’t a one-pot one, so consider this a bonus recipe. A long list of ingredients including gochujang, mirin, toasted sesame oil, and rice vinegar are what gives the dish such flavor complexity and color, but it’s well worth the effort.
African and Middle Eastern one-pot rice recipes
Did you know that Africa is the native home of one of only two species of rice, and that African rice is especially rare? Luckily, comparable varieties of Asian rice do just as well in these recipes.
Also called Jellof rice and attributed to Nigeria, Ghana, and other countries in West Africa, this is one of the most popular and famous home-cooked recipes south of the Sahara. To make it you’ll saute onions, ginger, garlic, and peppers to build a rich flavor base before you add seasonings, rice, and chicken broth.
The first time I saw Samin Nosrat’s show “Salt Fat Acid Heat” was the first time I heard of Persian tahdig, and I’ve been enchanted ever since. The challenge of creating the golden brown crust is made a little easier with the addition of potatoes, which also make it a more filling meal.
European one-pot rice recipes
Rice has been part of European foodways since 320 B.C., when Alexander the Great started his journeys in and out of Asia. Since then, it’s become iconic to several regional cuisines with many popular interpretations.
This simplified but still spectacular weeknight version of the dramatic Valencian dish swaps a skillet for the usual paella pan. It also skips the mussels and clams, but in trade, you get lobster. Fair enough!
Personally, I can’t resist meaty styles of paella like this one, which is beautifully bright thanks to paprika in the chorizo. Using a cast-iron skillet lets it get extra crispy.
Here, some pretty basic ingredients get you to restaurant-worthy, but feel free to make it a primavera by adding just-cooked asparagus or other seasonal vegetables. You could also drizzle truffle oil on top to make this gluten-free main an even more luxurious treat.
One-pot meals with rice aren’t exclusively the domain of western Europe, as this eastern European-style dish demonstrates. Technically, you do need two pots — a regular and a Crock Pot — but if you’re just boiling water, does it really count?
Latin and Caribbean one-pot rice recipes
You could say Latin America and the Caribbean have perfected one-pot rice dishes, with rice and beans and rice and chicken starring in many inventive combinations.
If you have leftover rice, you can put together this stovetop casserole in only 35 minutes. Punchy flavors permeate every bite. Tomatoes, black beans, and queso fresco will remind you of a vegetarian burrito.
In this version of the much-loved Latin American stovetop dish, bone-in chicken thighs cook with rice, beer, chicken broth, vegetables, and plenty of garlic for deep, earthy flavor.
Puerto Rico’s national dish is filling and satisfying with layers of mellow flavor that start with sofrito, an aromatic sauteed blend of bell peppers, onions, garlic, and herbs. You can make the sofrito yourself or buy it.
Caribbean rice and beans meets jerk chicken for a one-pot Jamaican wonder. You can make this as spicy as you like, with one optional whole Scotch Bonnet pepper … or more.
Southern one-pot rice recipes
Rice is an important part of the story of the American South, a crop brought from Africa and cultivated by enslaved people. Forced to adapt to this new world, they created one-pot rice recipes that are a testament to resiliency.
This one-pot sausage and rice recipe (with chicken) skips the tomato and shrimp you get with some jambalayas but packs on savory, salty, deeply seasoned flavor — similar to the jambalaya I loved eating at Jazz Fest in New Orleans. Though Louisiana or Carolina long-grain rice is most authentic, as this recipe shows, regular long-grain rice will do just fine.
Canned kidney beans, smoked sausage, and vegetables cook with Creole spices and chicken broth for a hearty and flavorful dish that’s ready in under an hour. The rice here cooks separately, but to keep things easy, you could simply microwave a pouch of cooked rice.
Also called “rice dressing,” this dish gets its name from the color it takes on from the ground beef, chicken livers, bacon grease, and seasoning that the raw rice cooks with. Don’t let the liver deter you — it adds loads of flavor!
American one-pot chicken and rice recipes
If there’s one thing American dishes can be counted on, it’s global influence with local ingenuity. These riffs, all featuring chicken, show that beautifully.
Chicken and rice are a perfect pair, but cooking them with cream and cheese makes this Italian-ish dish luscious. Best of all, it comes together on the stovetop with one pot in just half an hour.
Cooked rice, cooked chicken, store-bought salsa, and plenty of cheese go together with minimal prep time to create this crowd-pleasing Mexican-inspired dish.
If lemon and garlic aren’t already on your short list for working magic with chicken and rice, they will be once you try this one-pot dinner recipe. You’ll brown chicken thighs in olive oil over medium-high heat, then saute some onion. Cook 1 cup long-grain rice and some garlic in the pan drippings, add the meat back to the pan along with some chicken stock, and simmer. The total time is 1 hour, but the last half of that is hands-off. And clean-up is easy, since everything cooks in one pan!
Recipes the whole family will love
In these next articles, read on for more easy, family-friendly (and cook-friendly!) recipes, including details on how to make the one-pot chicken fried rice.