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Rice a Roni Homemade (with lemon and dill)

Homemade Rice-a-Roni has that great texture combination of rice and pasta, delicious lemon-dill flavors and a trip down memory lane. It’s a versatile, delicious side dish.

Remember the commercial 🔔 Rice-a-Roni, that San Francisco treat 🔔?. Basically, rice a roni is a combination of rice and pasta that comes in many flavors. This recipe is not really a big secret copycat rice because you are essentially using the same process to make flavored rice/pasta.

bowl of rice a roni with dill and lemon

Rice a roni is a step up from plain rice, easily adaptable and way better than the boxed stuff. You can use any combination of rice and pasta, any type of broth (vegetable, chicken, beef) and any vegetables and seasonings.

It’s easy to create your own version. In this recipe, I use lemon and dill which creates a lovely earthy zesty flavor profile. I also add asparagus to bulk it up and make it healthier, but this is completely optional.

Bottom line: What makes this homemade version of rice-a-roni a great recipe?

  • The easy side dish is vegetarian (or not)
  • Cooking time is only about 30 minutes
  • It’s as simple as making rice
  • It can be tweaked to the different flavors the whole family will like
  • All the ingredients are easily found at your local grocery store.
  • And did I mention is way better than a boxed version?

Tailor To Your Taste

Here are several substitutions and variations you can try. 

  • Pasta: I use orzo, but any type of spaghetti noodles will work fine, broken into small pieces – e.g. vermicelli pasta, thin spaghetti, angel hair pasta
  • Rice: Any long grain rice will do – plain white rice, Jasmine, Basmati
  • Pasta-rice ratio: Use any combination of rice and pasta e.g. half and half, more rice than pasta, more pasta than rice.
  • Fresh Herbs: I use dill. Other good options are chives, thyme, basil, oregano. If you don’t have fresh herbs, use dried herbs. The rule of thumb is a 1:3 ratio meaning 1 tablespoon fresh to 1 teaspoon dried. 
  • Broth: vegetable broth, chicken broth (or chicken stock), beef broth, mushroom broth. If you don’t have canned or boxed broth, use bouillon cubes with water. 
  • Add-ins and flavor options (instead of dill and lemon):
    • Mix  in freshly chopped baby spinach at the end. It takes about 1 minute to wilt.
    • Sautéed tomatoes and garlic 
    • Onions and mushrooms;
    • Curry powder and raisins
    • Add a bit of garlic powder or onion powder for extra flavor.

Step instructions

rice, orzo, lemon, green onion, oil, fresh dill, salt, pepper, lemon
Ingredients: white rice, orzo, lemon, fresh dill, olive oil, salt, pepper, butter, broth
rice and orzo with herbs sauteed in pan
Sauté rice, orzo and green onions in a skillet in butter and oil until lightly brown.
broth rice and orzo in pan
Add broth and remaining ingrdients.
covered skillet with rice a roni and asparagus
Cover skillet and simmer on low for 15-20 minutes until tender and liquid is absorbed. Add asparagus if you like 5 minutes before cooked.
final dill rice a roni in bowl with lemon and dill beside it
Garnish with a squeeze of lemon juice and more fresh chopped dill.
rice a roni and salmon
bowl of rice a roni with dill and lemon p

What to serve with rice a roni

Rice a roni homemade is a perfect side dish for pretty much any main dish you would serve with pasta or rice. Here are a few of my faves.

Make Ahead 

  • The recipe can be made ahead and warmed in the microwave with a tablespoon of broth or water.
  • If refrigerating overnight, the asparagus (if using) may lose their vibrant color.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge. The rice a roni may also be frozen for 2-3 months. 

A few other orzo dishes you might like

And more rice dishes

bowl of rice a roni with dill and lemon
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Rate this recipe here

5 from 2 votes

Lemon Dill Homemade Rice-A-Roni

Homemade Rice-a-Roni has that great texture combination of rice and pasta, delicious lemon-dill flavors and, of course, a trip down memory lane.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Vegetarian
Servings: 4
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or unsalted butter (or combination)
  • 1/4 cup orzo, Note 1
  • 1/2 cup long-grain rice, Note 1
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion or onion
  • 1 1/2 cups broth, Note 1 (vegetable, chicken or beef)
  • 3 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 1-2 teaspoons lemon zest,
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or more to taste)
  • salt and black pepper to taste (about 1/4-1/2 tsp)
  • 3 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 8-10 medium asparagus stalks, cut into pieces (OPTIONAL)

Instructions

  • SAUTÉ ORZO, RICE, ONIONS: Heat oil/butter in skillet to medium-high heat. Add orzo, rice and onions and sauté, stirring for about 5-6 minutes, until half of orzo and rice turns light golden brown.
  • ADD BROTH, HERBS AND SIMMER: Add broth, lemon, zest, dill, salt and pepper. Bring to boil. Cover, lower heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until broth is absorbed and rice/orzo is tender. (If adding asparagus: add asparagus pieces to skillet 4-5 minutes before the rice-orzo finishes cooking. Cover and continue cooking). Mix in parsley. Taste and adjust seasonings (adding more salt, dill or lemon zest if desired) and serve immediately.

Notes

  • Variations
    • Pasta: I use orzo, but vermicelli pasta, thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta, broken into small pieces will work fine.
    • Rice: Any long grain rice will do – plain white rice, Jasmine, Basmati
    • Pasta-rice ratio: Use any combination of rice and pasta e.g. half and half, more rice than pasta, more pasta than rice.
    • Fresh Herbs: I use dill. Other good options are chives, thyme, basil, oregano. If you don’t have fresh herbs, use dried herbs. The rule of thumb is a 1:3 ratio meaning 1 tablespoon fresh to 1 teaspoon dried. 
    • Broth: vegetable broth, chicken broth, beef broth, mushroom broth. If you don’t have canned or boxed broth, use bouillon cubes with water. 
    • Add-ins and flavor options (instead of dill and lemon):
      • Mix  in freshly chopped baby spinach at the end. It takes about 1 minute to wilt.
      • Sautéed tomatoes and garlic 
      • Onions and mushrooms;
      • Curry powder and raisins
      • Add a bit of garlic powder or onion powder for extra flavor.
  • Make Ahead 
    • The recipe can be made ahead and warmed in the microwave with a tablespoon of broth or water.
    • If refrigerating overnight, the asparagus (if using) may lose their vibrant color.
    • Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge. The rice a roni may also be frozen for 2-3 months. 
Nutrition value estimates do not include the optional asparagus. 

Nutrition

Calories: 200kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 177mg | Potassium: 157mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 326IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 1mg
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4 Comments

  1. Like this recipe! If using mushrooms, do I leave out the lemon and dill and use everything else? What about the parsley?
    TY

    1. Hi Rose, yes I would use mushrooms and onions and a bit of thyme if you like instead of the lemon and dill. Parsley would be fine too and adds great colour. I would sauté the mushrooms with the onions first. Empty into a small bowl. Then add them back to the skillet after you brown the rice and orzo, along with the broth. Hope you enjoy it!