Lightly seasoned with garlic, cumin, and cilantro, vibrant turmeric yellow Mediterranean rice is an easy 30 minute vegan side dish. Not only is it delicious, it's the perfect for meal prep and will complement your favorite entrees.
It's common in a plant-based Mediterranean diet to find rice that is flavored with different herbs and spices. And dishes like this turmeric rice compliment all sorts of entrees from Mediterranean Tofu Tacos to Vegan Meatloaf Muffins. It may become your new favorite side dish.
Why you'll love this recipe
- The texture is perfectly fluffy.
- It's an easy alternative to plain rice.
- You can make it in half an hour on your stove without any special equipment.
As with many recipes, this one starts with staples like olive oil, onion, and garlic. Then you'll only need a few other ingredients which you may already have in your kitchen:
- Ground cumin: This spice provides a warm, earthy flavor.
- Turmeric powder: A little goes a long way, providing flavor and color. It's what gives curry powder it's golden hue.
- Long-grain white rice: Look for rice labeled "long-grain" or Jasmine. (Long-grain brown rice can also be used but will require more water and extra cooking time.)
- Pine nuts and fresh cilantro: These are optional, but are wonderful complements to the flavors of this recipe. If you don't want to add them, simply leave them out, or try hemp seeds and parsley as substitutions.
For the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions, please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Saute onions in olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the spices and rice.
- Stir for a couple of minutes until the rice starts to turn translucent.
- Stir in the water and bring to a simmer.
- Lower the heat, cover the pot, and allow the rice to cook and absorb the liquid.
- Remove the pot from the heat. Place a clean dish towel under the lid. Allow the rice to steam for a few minutes, then fluff it with a fork.
Try this recipe as part of a meal with Vegetable Kebabs and Vegan Garlic Yogurt Sauce. It's also wonderful with Sauteed Zucchini and Tomatoes, Vegan Greek salad, and homemade sesame seed hummus.
More unique rice recipes
Looking for more alternatives to plain rice? Try some of these favorites:
- Chickpea Rice Pilaf
- Brown Rice Salad
- Basmati Rice Pilaf with Chickpeas and Dried Fruit
- Coconut Jasmine Rice
And for even more recipes, join the Vegan Mediterranean Diet Recipes Facebook group for support, inspiration, and fun.
Storing and freezing
Leftover Mediterranean rice can be covered and refrigerated for 3-4 days or frozen for up to 3 months. I like to use a resealable bag for freezing room-temperature rice.
To reheat from frozen, defrosting the rice isn't necessary. Add a few tablespoons of water before reheating it in a pot on the stove or in a microwave-safe bowl.
Refer to the FDA Food Storage Guidelines for more information.
While I admit I often forget this step, rinsing the rice before cooking will result in fluffier rice that won't stick together.
Yes, you can make this recipe with long-grain brown rice instead of white. You will need to add an extra half cup of water, and the rice will take a little longer to cook.
Typically long-grain white rice is used.
If you love this recipe, please give it 5 stars! ★★★★★
Mediterranean Yellow Rice
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup onion, diced small
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 ½ cups long-grain white rice, rinsed and drained
- 2 ¼ cups water
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
- Add the onions and saute until softened and slightly translucent.
- Add the garlic, cumin, turmeric, salt and pepper, and rice to the pot. Stir frequently for a couple of minutes until the rice starts to look translucent.
- Stir in the water and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and allow the rice to gently simmer until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender.
- Remove the pot from the heat. Lift up the lid and lay a clean dish towel over the top. Replace the lid on top of the towel and allow the rice to steam for 5-10 minutes.
- Fluff the rice with a fork and fold in the pine nuts and cilantro. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper, as needed. Serve.
Nutritional information is an estimation only.
Simple, quick and delicious! Will definitely be making again
Rice had little to no flavor, had to add raisins, slivered almonds and garlic salt to revive it
Used half water, half chicken broth. Paired it with TJs chicken shawarma and roasted tomatoes. <3 delish!
This is the best Mediterranean rice recipe! I’ve made it several times, no substitutes or alterations, and love it every time! I’ve been making it as a side dish with grilled flank steak and homemade toum … it’s perfect!
I'm so glad you are enjoying the recipe, Mels!
This turned out flavorless for us. Not sure what went wrong!
That's a shame. Have you checked your spices? Maybe they aren't fresh.
I know this is a vegetarian recipe, but would do anything differently if you were to add some leftover rotisserie chicken? How about if you were to add some other vegetables, like onions?
You can certainly add it anything you like at the end with the pine nuts. Onions are already in the recipe.
Can I make this recipe with medium grain rice?
Hi Marlene! This recipe works the best with long-grain rice. Medium grain will likely be too sticky.
I made this recipe this weekend. I omitted the pine nuts, but it was still outstanding. Next time I might try saffron.
This was delicious! The pine nuts really rounded out the flavour. I love that it's easy to make and can be eaten with virtually anything. I served mine with oven baked rosemary chicken and steamed broccoli. Made leftovers for tomorrow too so I can savour this one more time (and all the additional times I'll end up making this!).
I'm so happy you enjoyed it, Debbie!
Soooo good! This is exactly what I was looking for and the recipe was very easy to follow 🙂 Thank you!
I'm glad you enjoyed it, Stacy! 🙂
Is there a instapot option?
You can make it in an Instant Pot, but the texture won't be the same. First saute the garlic, onion, and spices. Then add the rice and saute another minute. Add water according to the instructions that came with your IP and use the rice function. Then add the pine nuts and cilantro when it's done. However, I highly recommend you try making it on the stovetop. The rice will turn out more sticky in the IP.
Hey I was just wondering, when do I add he pine nuts and cilantro into the dish?
Hi William, add them in when you fluff the rice at the very end.
Thank you Amy, will do!
The best rice I've ever made! Really, really good. I substituted water for chicken broth... delish!
I'm so happy you enjoyed it, Deserea!
Doubled the recipe. Didn’t have pine nuts and subbed chicken broth for water to make the rice. It was amazing!!! This will now be our go to rice recipe. Thank you!!
This is fantastic to hear, Cami!
best. rice. ever.
Thanks so much, Chris!
This is my second time making this recipe and I just love it and so does my family!! Thank you!!
I'm so glad everyone enjoys it, Alyssa!
This is quite tasty. To make it a meal instead of a side, I added a can of chick peas, a bunch of chopped asparagus, and a chopped red bell pepper. I’m well-pleased. Thank you, Amy.
Love those additions, LisaRose!
The recipe was delicious and will be on permanent rotation. I did alter slightly by using chicken broth instead of water and omitted the cilantro. It was the perfect side dish to the chicken shwarma and tandoori bread.
I'm so happy you enjoyed it, Michelle!