If you need a simple but flavorful recipe to share at your next summer dinner or barbecue, this tasty Rice Salad (Ensalada de Arroz) is just what you've been looking for. This Paraguayan-inspired Rice Salad combines cooked rice and vegetables such as bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots, and peas, then dressed with mayonnaise to add flavor and creaminess.
Although this salad is excellent, you can add hard-boiled eggs, olives, green beans, or crispy bacon bits. You can also opt for whole grains like jasmine rice instead of white to add more whole grains to your diet or chickpeas or lentils if you want to add ingredients with a plant-based protein source. Thus, a tasty, colorful, and visually appealing dish will be ready in just a few minutes.
What is Rice Salad?
Brief Highlights Of Our Rice Salad Recipe:
- Taste: Your Rice Salad offers a refreshing and colorful combination of cooked rice and vegetables dressed with mayonnaise for creaminess. It's a versatile dish that can be customized with additional ingredients like hard-boiled eggs, olives, or beans.
- Texture: The salad has a delightful mix of textures, including bell peppers' crunch and plum tomatoes' juiciness. It's a visually appealing and satisfying side dish.
- Method: This Rice Salad recipe is quick and convenient to prepare, making it suitable for picnics, barbecues, or potlucks. It can be served chilled or at room temperature and offers the flexibility to use various ingredients to suit your preferences.
Rice Salad Ingredients
Note: The full ingredients list is provided in the recipe card below.
- Jasmine rice: Cooked until al dente; this provides the base for the salad.
- Whole Kernel Corn: Well rinsed and drained, this adds a sweet crunch to the dish.
- Frozen peas and carrots: Cooked according to package instructions, these provide additional texture and color to the salad.
- Green and red bell peppers: Finely diced and cored, add a refreshing crunch and sweetness to the dish.
- Italian parsley: This herb adds a fresh and earthy flavor to the salad.
- Plum tomatoes: Halved lengthwise with seeds squeezed out and finely diced; these add a juicy and tangy flavor to the dish.
- Green onions: Thinly sliced; these add a mild onion flavor and a pop of color to the salad.
- Ground black pepper: Used twice in the recipe, adding mild heat and flavor depth to the salad.
- Kosher salt: To taste, this enhances the overall flavor of the salad.
- Mayonnaise: Adjusted to taste, this adds a creamy texture and tangy flavor to the salad.
Tool You'll Need
- Measuring spoons
- Cutting board
- Chef's knife
- Large pot with lid
- Wooden spoon
- Large liquid measuring cup
- Measuring cups
- Rubber spatula
- Large heatproof bowl
How to Make Rice Salad
Note: The full instructions are provided in the recipe card below.
Heat the oil in a medium nonstick saucepan. Add the rice and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and constantly stir for about 1 to 2 minutes until all the rice is coated in the oil and smells toasted. Pour in the 5 cups of boiling water and cover tightly immediately since it will boil vigorously. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 7 to 12 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Turn off the heat and let the white rice rest, covered, for another 5 minutes (Do not uncover!)
Uncover and fluff with a fork, turn the rice onto a sheet tray, and let it cool completely. Alternatively, rinse the rice under cold water until cool; shake off the excess water. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the cooled rice, bell peppers, corn, green onion, parsley, chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper, peas, and carrots in a large bowl. Toss gently to combine. Add the Mayonnaise over the rice mixture and mix until the rice is thinly coated. Taste and re-season if necessary. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve for up to 2 days. After that, it can be served cold or at room temperature.
- Rice: Feel free to substitute brown rice for white rice. Make sure you adjust the liquid ratio according to the package directions and the cooking time.
- Herbs: Instead of parsley, you can use chopped cilantro leaves.
- Vegetables: Use your favorite fresh vegetables. If it is out of season, use frozen; prepare it according to the instructions on the package, then allow it to cool.
- Whole Kernel Corn: Canned, frozen, or fresh corn can be used. If fresh, boil or roast it before adding it to the salad.
- Frozen peas and carrots: You can use any frozen or fresh vegetable, such as green beans, broccoli, or bell peppers. If using fresh, cook or blanch them before adding them to the salad.
- Green and red bell peppers: You can use any color of bell pepper or omit them entirely if you prefer.
- Italian parsley: You can substitute cilantro or another fresh herb.
- Plum tomatoes: You can use any tomato or omit it entirely.
- Green onions: You can substitute chives or thinly sliced red onions.
- Mayonnaise: You can substitute Greek yogurt or sour cream for a healthier option or omit it entirely and use a vinaigrette dressing instead.
- Tuna Rice Salad: Add 2 to 3 (5 ounces) of light tuna chunks in water well-drained.
- Spiced up: You can add a bit of yellow mustard if desired for an extra kick of flavor.
- Whole Grains: Use 100% whole grains, jasmine rice, chickpeas, or lentils to add more whole grains to your diet if you want to add ingredients with a plant-based protein source.
- Mediterranean Rice Salad: Add chopped cucumber, Kalamata olives, crumbled feta cheese, and a lemon-herb vinaigrette dressing to the rice salad for a Greek-inspired twist.
- Protein-Packed Rice Salad: Add cooked and diced chicken breast, hard-boiled eggs, and chickpeas to the rice salad for a protein boost.
- Vegan Rice Salad: Omit the mayonnaise and add chopped roasted nuts, such as almonds or cashews, and a vinaigrette dressing to the rice salad for a vegan option.
Check out this Mexican Rice version of this recipe on my website!
How to Serve
The rice salad is a versatile dish that can be served in many ways. It can be served as a side dish alongside grilled or roasted meats, fish, tofu, or as a vegetarian main dish. Pack it in a lunch box or bring it to a potluck or picnic. To serve, you can present the salad in a large bowl or dish or portion it into individual bowls or containers.
Garnish with extra herbs or sliced vegetables if desired. In addition, this salad can be enjoyed at room temperature or chilled, making it a great make-ahead option for busy weeknights or entertaining.
How to Store
Transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate for 3-4 days. Ensure the salad has cooled to room temperature before storing it in the fridge.
The rice salad is a great make-ahead dish that can save you time and effort on busy days. You can prepare the rice, vegetables, and dressing and store them separately in the fridge for 2-3 days. Then, when you're ready to serve, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, mix well, and adjust the seasoning to taste. This way, you can have a delicious and healthy salad ready in just a few minutes.
Another option is to portion the salad into individual containers or jars for easy grab-and-go lunches or snacks throughout the week. This is a great way to stay organized and ensure you have a healthy meal option. Refrigerate the salad and consume it within 3-4 days for optimal freshness.
Tips for Making The Best Rice Salad
- Choose the right rice: Use long-grain rice, such as Jasmine or Basmati, for the best texture and flavor.
- Toast the rice: Toasting it in oil before cooking can help prevent it from becoming mushy and give it a nutty flavor.
- Don't overcook the rice: Cook until it is tender but still has a bit of a bite. Overcooking can cause it to become too soft and mushy.
- Dice vegetables into small: uniform pieces to help ensure they cook evenly and mix well with the rice.
- Use a flavorful dressing: The dressing combines all the flavors, so use one with plenty of flavors. Mayonnaise, vinaigrette, and yogurt-based dressings are all good options.
- Let it chill: Chill the salad in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. This will help the flavors meld together and make it more refreshing.
- Add fresh herbs: Fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, or basil can add flavor and color to your rice salad.
- Experiment with different add-ins: Try adding proteins like cooked chicken, tuna, or shrimp, or add different vegetables like cucumbers, celery, or avocados. Be creative and have fun!
Can I use brown rice instead of white rice?You can use brown rice instead of white rice for rice salad. Just adjust the cooking time and liquid ratio according to the package directions.
Can I freeze this recipe?It is not recommended to freeze the recipe as the texture and flavor may change.
Can I add protein to the recipe?You can add protein to the recipe, such as cooked chicken, tuna, shrimp, or beans, to make it a more filling and satisfying meal.
Can I use different vegetables for rice salad?You can use any vegetables you prefer in a rice salad. Just make sure to dice them into small, uniform pieces so they cook evenly and mix well with the rice.
Is this recipe a healthy dish?The salad can be a healthy dish if it is made with nutritious ingredients like brown rice, vegetables, and lean protein and a healthy dressing option like vinaigrette or yogurt-based dressing. However, it can also be high in calories and fat if made with many mayonnaise or other high-calorie ingredients.
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How to Make Rice Salad
- 3 cups Jasmine rice , cooked until al dente (6 cups cooked)
- 1 can (15.25 oz/432g) Whole Kernel Corn, well rinsed and drained
- 12 oz (340g) Frozen peas and carrots, cook according to package instructions
- 1 small green bell pepper , cored, and finely diced
- 1 small red bell pepper , cored, and finely diced
- ⅓ to ½ cup cup Italian parsley chopped
- 3 ripe plum tomatoes halved lengthwise , seeds squeezed out, and finely diced
- 2 green onion , thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt , to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper , to taste
- ½ cup mayonnaise , adjust to taste
- Heat the oil in a medium nonstick saucepan. Add the rice and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and constantly stir for about 1 to 2 minutes until all the rice is coated in the oil and smells toasted. Pour in the 5 cups of boiling water and cover tightly right away since it will boil vigorously.
- Reduce the heat to low and cook for 7 to 12 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Turn off the heat and let the white rice rest, covered, for another 5 minutes (Do not uncover!) Uncover and fluff with a fork and turn the rice out onto a sheet tray and let it cool completely. Alternatively, you can rinse the rice under cold water until cool; shake off the excess water. Transfer to a large bowl.
- In a large bowl, add the cooled rice, bell peppers, corn, green onion, parsley, chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper, peas, and carrots. Toss gently to combine. Add the Mayonnaise over the rice mixture and mix until the rice is thinly coated. Taste and re-season if necessary. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve for up to 2 days. After that, it can be served cold or at room temperature.
All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.