Basil Rice – A Couple Cooks


Basil rice is tasty addition to any meal! Fresh basil and garlic bring an herbaceous aromatic flavor to this easy side dish.

Basil Rice

Need an easy side dish? Try this herbaceous basil rice! It’s simple to whip up with fresh basil, butter, and garlic, which bring an aromatic flavor to this easy side dish. A bit of lemon zest and juice add an extra citrus spin! It’s amazing what a few extra ingredients can do to add pizzazz to simple rice. This one is a standard on our table (and, you can make variations with any herbs you have on hand!).

Ingredients in basil rice

It’s simple to make basil rice, and it’s perfect for when you have fresh basil on hand. Whether it’s fresh from your garden or leftover from the store, it works perfectly to make an impressive and easy side dish. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • White long grain rice
  • Salted butter
  • Garlic (or garlic powder)
  • Fresh basil
  • Lemon, zest and juice, optional
Basil rice

Tips for basil rice

There’s no trick to basil rice: the fresh basil and bright lemon carry the flavors! Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you make a pot of rice:

  • No shortcuts with a short ingredient list! Use a real garlic clove for the best flavor (not jarred in either case). But if you don’t have garlic on hand, garlic powder tastes good too. If you have it, a real lemon gives a big punch to this recipe! But it’s optional and tastes great either way.
  • Rinse the rice. Rinsing rice removes starch from the outside of the grains. This prevents getting a gooey, sticky, gummy pot of rice.
  • Allow the pot to stand for 10 minutes after cooking. This rest time is crucial because it steams the rice, letting the water become fully absorbed into each grain.

Leftover storage

This basil rice recipe tastes the best the day of serving. But leftovers also keep well! Store leftover basil rice refrigerated for up to 5 days; reheat gently on the stovetop with a small splash of water. You may need to add an additional pinch or two of salt.

One thing to keep in mind for leftovers: the color of the basil darkens after refrigeration. So if you’re making this ahead, keep the basil separate and add right before serving.


Ways to serve basil rice

Basil rice is very versatile: it pairs with many Mediterranean-style recipes from chicken to fish and vegetarian dinners. Here are a few great ways to serve it:

More basil recipes

There are so many ways to cook basil into meals! Here are a few favorite basil recipes:

This basil rice recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free. For vegan, plant-based, and dairy free, use olive oil.


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Basil rice is tasty addition to any meal! Fresh basil and garlic bring an herbaceous aromatic flavor to this easy side dish.

  • 1 cup dry white long grain rice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter or olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely minced (or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder)
  • ½ cup thinly sliced basil
  • Zest from 1 lemon and/or 1 tablespoon lemon juice, optional

  1. Place the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse it under cold water, then drain and shake dry.
  2. Place the rice in a saucepan with 1 ½ cups water and ¼ teaspoon of the kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low. Cover and simmer 12 to 15 minutes, until the water is completely absorbed. Remove from the heat, cover and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Fluff the rice with a fork. Stir in the butter, minced garlic, basil, lemon zest and juice (if using), and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Taste and add additional salt if necessary. Serve immediately or store leftovers refrigerated for up to 5 days; reheat gently on the stovetop with a tablespoon of water. Keep in mind, the color of the basil darkens after refrigeration, so if making in advance, add the basil directly before serving.

  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian


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