Got a packet of rice? Here are 18 budget rice recipes

Rice is the basis of so many wonderful meals and integral to the cuisines of many countries around the world. From China to Nigeria, Iran to Indonesia, rice is a daily staple and its versatility knows no bounds.

With the cost of living crisis still at the forefront of everyone’s meal planning, we’ve brought together 18 rice-based dishes that are light on the wallet but big on flavour and good for you, too.

Got a packet of rice? Here are 18 budget rice recipes

How to cook rice

For the absorption method, measure rice by volume not weight. You must use 2 parts water to 1 part rice. For four people, measure 300ml rice in a measuring jug, followed by 600ml water. Put the rice and water into a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid (if you don’t have a tight-fitting lid, put tin foil between the pan and the lid). Stir the rice just once, then bring to the boil, uncovered, cover and reduce the heat to its lowest setting. The rice will take 12-15 minutes to cook. Do not lift the lid before the time is up. If it’s not quite cooked, give it a few minutes more. Remove the lid and let the rice dry off for a minute. Fluff up with a fork and serve.

Can you reheat rice?

Rice can contain bacillus cereus spores, which can survive the boiling temperature required to cook rice. If the rice is cooled too slowly after cooking or left at room temperature for too long, bacteria can develop from the spores, releasing toxins that can cause food poisoning – and these toxins won’t be destroyed by reheating. So it’s important to cool and refrigerate leftover rice as quickly as possible, and then keep the rice for no more than a day before reheating it. Whichever reheating method you use, make sure the rice is piping hot before serving.

To reheat on the hob, put rice in a saucepan with a splash of water and break up any clumps. Add a few drops of oil or a knob of butter if needed. Cover with a lid and cook over a very low heat, stirring occasionally, until steamed through and piping hot.

To reheat in the microwave, put the rice in a microwaveable dish, sprinkle lightly with water and add a splash of oil or knob of butter. Cover and microwave on high for 1-2 minutes. Stir with a fork, then microwave for 1-2 minutes more until hot and steaming.

What kind of rice to buy

There are as many different varieties of rice as there are shapes of pasta. Most of the recipes we include below can be made with long grain or basmati rice.

For the best value rice, it’s always best to buy in bulk in bags of 5kg or 10kg, which you’ll find in the ‘World Food’ aisles of many supermarkets. Buying in larger quantities is cheaper, with basmati rice often costing as little as £1.80 a kilo. You might need to try a few brands before you find the kind that’s right for you – Tilda and Laila are brands that get the delicious. team’s seal of approval (we are particularly fond of Laila’s Xtra Long basmati rice, for South Asian dishes).

Our 18 favourite budget rice dinners

Smoky jollof rice

This recipe by Nigerian food writer Lerato Umah-Shaylor is ideal for serving a crowd, and is also known as ‘party rice’. What sets it apart is the smoky flavour from the smoked paprika, a cheat to add the smoky flavour that is typically achieved through cooking on firewood or coals.


Find the recipe here

Bengali khichdi

Khichdi is one of India’s most popular dishes, a tasty veggie dinner comprising of pulses and rice that’s as comforting as it is filling. Try this recipe from Chetna Makan which she discovered at a khichdi takeaway in Delhi.

Bengali khichdi

Find the recipe here

Coconut chicken rice

Imagine a dish that’s filling, comforting and low on cost that only takes 5 minutes of prep! You’ve just imagined our coconut chicken rice pilaf – it’s a little different but you’re bound to love it.

Coconut chicken

Find the recipe here

Pumpkin and coconut pilaf

Pumpkin and coconut is a fabulous combination and here it’s turned into a full-on meal with the addition of rice, onions, green chillies, spices and ginger. It’s a real winner of a dish.

Pumpkin and coconut pilaf

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Sriracha chicken rice

Members of the delicious. team cook this weekly, because it really is so lip-smackingly good and easy. Sriracha is used in a sticky glaze for this super tasty chicken thigh recipe.


Find the recipe here

Stuffed cabbage rolls

Stuffed cabbage rolls in a tomato sauce make for a filling and inexpensive dinner, which you can tailor to be meaty or vegetarian depending on who you are feeding. Here, we’ve used green lentils for protein, good for you and the planet.

Stuffed cabbage leaves

Find the recipe here

Persian tahdig

A tahdig is one of Iran’s national dishes – people go wild for the crusty caramelised bottom. It’s often served with meat stews, but this version is topped with courgettes, feta and walnuts making for a meal in and of itself.


Find the recipe here

Fish finger kimchi rice

Fish fingers are low-cost and here they’re paired with a flavourful kimchi fried rice that packs a punch. It is something different, texturally satisfying and good for you too!

Fish fingers

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Chicken rice with tomato and mozzarella

This recipe from our food producer Pollyanna Coupland makes the most of that unmistakable tricolore of tomato, basil and mozzarella and pairs them with olives, peppers, pesto and chicken rice for a filling midweek dinner.

Rice and mozzarella

Find the recipe here

Jeremy Pang’s nasi goreng

Nasi goreng is a versatile Indonesian fried rice, with nasi meaning rice and goreng meaning fried. At just over £1 per serving, you can’t get much better than this winner from Jeremy Pang, which can be enjoyed with a homemade sambal or a shop-bought version.

Nasi goreng

Find the recipe here

Extra special kedgeree

Kedgeree is a classic and this version is one of our go-tos. The milk used to poach the haddock gives the dish richness while cooking the rice with a cloth beneath the lid keeps it nice and fluffy.


Find the recipe here

Paneer, pea and spinach rice

Scatter fried paneer over rice, peas and spinach then garnish with coriander leaves and serve with lemon wedges. An easy vegetarian main full of fibre and protein.

Paneer rice

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Fried halloumi and chickpea rice salad

Everyone loves halloumi and, for less than £2 a portion, you can have a tasty nutritious meal for 4 ready in just 15 minutes. Use whichever rice you have to hand.


Find the recipe here

Dishoom’s chicken biryani

Biryani is a celebratory dish that’s as comforting as a plate of rice can be. If you’ve never made one, don’t be intimidated by it – this recipe from Dishoom won’t break the bank, and feeds 6 people with just 500g of meat thanks to the comforting yogurt-enriched rice.


Find the recipe here

Baked basmati rice with squash

In this recipe inspired by a baked pilaf, basmati rice is paired with squash, spinach, chilli and goat’s cheese for a one pan meal that is under £2 a portion.

Baked basmati

Burnt aubergine and rice soup

Rice in soups is a wonderful thing and something that we don’t see enough of. Josh Katz pairs ‘burnt’ aubergine (rendered smoky by being cooked over a direct flame) with crispy shallots, tangy tomato, a subtle chilli kick and cooling crème fraîche. It’s a thing of wonder.

Burnt aubergine soup

Teriyaki aubergine with rice

A meat-free winner, this dish of teriyaki aubergine is easy on the wallet and serves 4. The lime and chilli bring it to life.


Find the recipe here

Roast chicken with rice pilaf

Can you imagine a better dinner than garlic-buttery chicken juices soaked up by a herby rice pilaf? The rice is cooked with milk and stock meaning it packs in flavour and becomes incredibly comforting.

Roast chicken with pilaf

Find the recipe here

Stuffed peppers

This 7-ingredient recipe is a winner, and who doesn’t love the combination of roasted peppers, rice and melted cheese? A great option for vegetarians.

Stuffed peppers

Find the recipe here

Hungry for more? Discover all of our rice recipes here.

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