Here’s an Easy Rice Salad that’s a great way to clean out your refrigerator, using up those vegetables, all while whipping up a delicious and healthy meal or snack. Packed with lots of fresh veggies, fluffy Basmati rice, and a simple flavorful salad dressing, this tasty Rice Salad recipe is a wonderful potluck dish or quick and easy meal to enjoy. Rice salad is a delicious summertime side dish, but can really be enjoyed all year long. Prepped in 20 minutes and then chilled for 30 minutes while you get the other food ready to go, this easy basmati salad dish is ready in about an hour!
Easy Rice Salad
Taking classic side dishes and bringing new life and new flavors to them has been my thing lately. It really livened up my time in the kitchen, made my tastebuds happy, and brought a nice pop of color and flavor back to some traditional sides. This recipe is a remake of an old favorite that I had all but forgotten about.
Trying new side dishes, or revamping them, brings out more variety and interest in the main dish recipes you’re serving, too. This Rice Salad side dish made me remember how much I love this Cube Steak with Onion Gravy, and helped turn my Balsamic Pork Loin Roast back to a fantastic complete meal that fills everyone’s belly.
You can use this rice recipe as a base and build off of it or add to it very easily. It’s a great way to get more vegetables in your diet without making it a chore.
This Rice Salad recipe is wonderful for barbecues, picnics, and quick snacks or light lunches. If you’re wanting to bring something more than a normal macaroni salad or pasta salad... Try this Easy Rice Salad, Chicken Taco Macaroni Salad, Tortellini Pasta Salad, or a refreshing Lemon Orzo Salad.
You can easily customize this salad with vegetables and herbs & seasonings to fit anybody's taste buds. This is a dish the whole family can find as a new favorite.
What is the Best Rice to Make This Salad With?
I really enjoy this Salad recipe using Basmati Rice. Long grain white rice, and long grain brown rice have the best texture for this type of salad recipe.
Short grain rice and wild rice are not great rices to use for this salad recipe.
Do You Serve Rice Salad Hot or Cold?
This Salad is served cold. Just like many other “salad” dishes, like potato salad, macaroni salad, and egg salad.
Can I Make Rice Salad Ahead?
• If you need to you can make this salad in advance and refrigerate it. Be sure to bring it to room temperature before serving.
• For a salad that has been chilled longer than a few hours, try adding another tablespoon of olive oil to it before serving, to help bring it to a nicer texture, if needed.
About Cooking the Rice
- When cooking rice for a salad, texture is important! The best way to achieve great salad rice is by cooking it the way you cook pasta.
- Boiling rice in a pot of water helps to get rid of the excess starch. It will wash away when you drain the rice. The rice will be fluffier and not too sticky.
- You will drain the rice and then quickly rinse and drain it. Then pat dry on a tea towel and assemble the salad while the rice is still a little warm (this help the rice absorb the flavors better).
- If you are going to add cheese or tomatoes, it is best to add them after the salad has cooled, or right before serving.
How to Make Easy Rice Salad
• Gather together all of the ingredients.
• Cook the rice like you would pasta: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the rice and cook until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Do not overcook or undercook it; the rice should be soft all the way through but should not be starting to “explode” on the ends of the grains.
• Chop the Vegetables: While the rice is cooking, wash and dice the shallots, bell pepper, celery, and carrots. Set aside.
• Make the Dressing: Add the parsley, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice to a small bowl and whisk to combine.
• Line a baking sheet pan with a kitchen towel. Drain the rice and rinse it quickly under cool water (don't let it get cold), then spread it over the kitchen towel. Cover with another kitchen towel and gently pat dry.
• While the rice is still warm, transfer it to a large salad bowl and add the dressing and vegetables and toss gently with a large spatula. Taste for salt.
• Refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.
• Serve cold or at room temperature.
Tips and Variations
- To add more crunchy and nutty flavor, feel free to add pistachios, walnuts, or other nuts to your salad.
- To add protein to this rice salad, add a can of chickpeas, hard-boiled egg, or small cubes of cooked chicken.
- You can swap out any of these vegetables for any other vegetables you have on hand. This is a great way to find new vegetable combinations you didn’t know you liked.
- You can also add different herbs and spices to the salad dressing.
- To make this similar to a Cowboy Salad, add some beans, pico de gallo and corn.
What to Serve With Rice Salad
This fantastic Basmati Salad side dish recipe goes with so many things. Bring it to your next party or get together and see what everyone loves it with. It’s so versatile!
Serve it with regular hamburgers, hot dogs, shish kabobs, and any of these main dish recipes:
Classic Pot Roast
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Creamy Ranch Chicken in the Slow Cooker
French Onion Chicken Skillet
Oven Baked BBQ Chicken Thighs
Cioppino Fish Stew
More of the Best Salad Recipes
How to Store Leftover Rice Salad
• Rice Salad should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
• If you have leftover salad, it’s great to use with other meals, making this a perfect meal prep solution!
This flexible Salad made with basmati rice is light, refreshing, and is an easy recipe that you can enjoy any time of the year, for any occasion!
If you made this delicious Salad recipe, please let me know. You can leave a comment with a star rating below. I'd like to know how you liked it!
Easy Rice Salad
- Large Pot
- Baking Sheet Pan
- 2 Kitchen Tea Towels
- Sharp Knife
- Large Salad Bowl
- 1 ⅔ cups Uncooked Basmati Rice (5 cups cooked)
- 2 Shallots, diced
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
- 2 Celery Ribs, diced
- 2 Carrots, diced
- ½ cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
- ¾ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Pepper
- 5 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
Optional Dressing Add-Ins
- ½ teaspoon Garlic Paste (or to taste)
- Minced Fresh Herbs (tarragon, basil, etc.)
- Cook the rice like you would pasta: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the rice and cook until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Do not overcook or undercook it; the rice should be soft all the way through but should not be starting to “explode” on the ends of the grains.
- Chop the Vegetables: While the rice is cooking, wash and dice the shallots, bell pepper, celery, and carrots. Set aside.
- Make the Dressing: Add the parsley, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice to a small bowl and whisk to combine.
- Line a baking sheet pan with a kitchen towel. Drain the rice and rinse it quickly under cool water (don't let it get cold), then spread it over the kitchen towel. Cover with another kitchen towel and gently pat dry.
- While the rice is still warm, transfer it to a large salad bowl and add the dressing and vegetables and toss gently with a large spatula. Taste for salt.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.
- Serve cold or room temperature.
- If you like crunch and nutty flavor, feel free to add pistachios or walnuts to your salad.
- If you want to add protein, add a can of chickpeas, hard-boiled egg, or small cubes of cook chicken.
- Rice salad is also a great way to use up any leftover veggies you have in the refrigerator.