Recipe: Homemade Rice-A-Roni

by Cate on March 30, 2010

Homemade Rice-A-Roni

The phrase “homemade Rice-A-Roni” sounds like a bit of a misnomer, right? Like, obviously you make a box of Rice-A-Roni at home, so theoretically, it’s homemade. But what this means is that there’s no box. You’re making something that is like Rice-A-Roni, yet from scratch. And better yet, with ingredients you likely have on hand.  Love that.

When it comes to cooking, I have come a long way since I first started some 20 years ago in my first single-girl apartment. When The Ex and I first got married years later, many of our early dinners came from boxes… Rice-A-Roni, Hamburger Helper, you name it, I went there. But as I slowly learned more and more about cooking, and started feeling more and more comfortable experimenting on my own, I relied on boxes less and less. I like the fact that cooking from scratch, pure homemade, allows you the means to control exactly what goes into your food … the salt, the fat, and so on. These days, the boxes in our pantry are few and far between.

Both kids love rice, and even though I’m trying to keep my own carbs away from the last meal of the day, I’m a fan too.  Growing up, white rice with a small piece of butter melting on top hit our dinner table every so often, and to me, it reminds me of my childhood, and it’s a little bit of comfort food in a bowl.   These days, the Rice-A-Roni boxes are long gone from our cupboard, so when I found this do-it-your-own version at Chaos in the Kitchen awhile back, I flagged it to give it a try.

I had to make two batches of cupcakes for the kids to take to school tomorrow, their last day before Easter and Spring Break, so I wanted to keep tonight’s dinner easy.  Although I toyed with getting take-out (the miserable weather outside didn’t help), I went with ribs and this recipe for Homemade Rice-A-Roni.  Not a speck left.  Madeline had three helpings, Nick two.  You likely have everything you need on hand already (and it’s a great way to get rid of those pasta dregs you have in half-used boxes), and the dish needs little babysitting.  It’s flexible enough that once you have the basic blueprint down, you can mix in other things based on your own preference.  Winner, winner, homemade Rice-A-Roni dinner.

Project 365, Photo #72
March 30, 2010

happy view

Madeline goes through phases with tights. Sometimes it’s all she’ll wear. Other times she doesn’t want to know a thing about them. When she saw the bear on the tush of these Gap tights, she needed no convincing. Seriously though, how can you not look at this picture and smile? Color makes me happy.  Happy kids with color on?  Even more so.

Homemade Rice-a-Roni or Rice Pilaf
Recipe courtesy of Chaos in the Kitchen
Serves 6, Prep: 5 min, Cook: 15 min

¾ cup long grain white rice
½ cup small pasta shape, like broken fideo, spaghetti, angel hair, etc.
1-3 tbsp butter, depends how much fat you want (I used 1-1/2 tablespoons)
14 oz no fat, low sodium chicken broth
1 tsp low sodium chicken base (I used one chicken bouillon cube)
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
½ tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation is the same as stated on the box of Rice-a-Roni. Melt the butter in a pan and saute the rice and pasta until lightly browned. Add the chicken broth, base, parsley and garlic. Add any other seasonings if you would like. Bring to a boil and cover, then reduce heat to low. Cook 15 minutes without lifting lid. After 15 minutes check to see if all liquid has been absorbed and fluff rice with a fork. If the rice is tender but it is still a little wet just let it sit on low with the lid off for a few minutes.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah Caron March 30, 2010 at 11:12 pm

Those tights are the cutest! She is absolutely adorable.

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mandy March 30, 2010 at 11:35 pm

I am a huge fan of rice. Its so versatile and pairs well with so much. I will definitely be trying this out.

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Merry120 March 31, 2010 at 1:30 am

Those are great tights!

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Joanne March 31, 2010 at 6:13 am

My mom used to make rice-a-roni (from a box) all the time and I am slightly ashamed to say that I crave it sometimes. (It WAS full of flavor and tasted pretty darn good). Love this recipe! Now I can recreate it without feeling like a bad food blogger.

Those tights are adorable! You think they make them for adults?

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Ramona March 31, 2010 at 10:13 am

I think we all started our cooking with the boxes. I still use them in a pinch.

You are right, the tights made me smile.

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The Modern Apron March 31, 2010 at 12:09 pm

That’s so funny–just a couple of weeks ago I made “homemade Rice-a-Roni” too! I didn’t use a recipe–just made what I remembered. I used to make the box stuff for myself as a kid, and LOVED it. Sometimes that was dinner–1 box Chicken Flavor Rice a Roni (oh, to be young and have a high metabolism again!).

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elra March 31, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Oh, that is such adorable photo of Madeline!

Your rice looks perfect and fluffy.

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Kris #40 March 31, 2010 at 3:00 pm

This looks yummy! Since I just bought some boxes of Rice A Roni and Hamburger Helper last week, you know I will try this.

Last night I made hamburger helper for the family, but made myself some Taco Macaroni with ingredients from the refrig. Some ground beef, taco spices, salsa, bow tie pasta and Mexican blend cheese. Topped with a little sour cream and crushed tortilla chips.

Love the girlie’s tights too!

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Claire March 31, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Too cute tights!!! This reminds me of a recipe my mom made once. I think it had green bell peppers and sausage in it.

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Cate March 31, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Claire – love the idea of a little sausage and green pepper thrown in – definitely will give it a try!

Kris – the Taco Macaroni sounds pretty yum! The Ex was a big fan of the Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper, and hey, in the right mood, I’ve been known to eat it too. :)

Elra – it was soooo good. hit the spot perfectly.

Modern Apron – you ain’t kidding, would love the metabolism I had 25 years ago!

Ramona – perfect thing to brighten up a rainy day. :)

Joanne – aren’t they cute? She kept going around, flipping up her short skirt, and showing people the bear.

Sarah – thanks!

Mandy – perfect, easy side dish, you’re totally right.

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Kristen Doyle April 1, 2010 at 11:06 am

What a great recipe. Always looking for side dishes and this rice would be a great addition. And who could resist getting those tights- so cute!!!!

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Elmware October 19, 2010 at 3:07 am

I make my own rice-a-roni using just Lipton’s chicken soup mix and rice. First, I brown the noodles(vermicelli) in the frying pan then add the rice (1-1 1/2 cup per package) and water. Bring to a boil then simmer covered for 1/2 hour.

Sometimes I might add things like an onion. It makes it really good but I add an extra cup of water because the onion seems to rob the rice of the water.

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Jesse February 18, 2011 at 5:39 pm

hello! i found your blog & this recipe when i did a google search for a copycat rice-a-roni recipe. i adapted the recipe you posted and it was wonderful. i’ll be linking to it on my blog when i post the recipe. thanks for sharing :)

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Theresa Huff June 23, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Cute tights. I can’t wait to try this recipe. Thank you.

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