This Cheesy Rice recipe has four options to add in veggies and has been a staple of my family’s diet for a few years now. It’s SO easy and versatile—and stores wonderfully in the fridge. And it’s downright delish!

cheesy rice in bowl with spoon and hands with pink nail polish.

I love this approach to Cheesy Rice because the four flavor variations make it easy for kids (and adults!) to eat, the veggies are soft, and there’s just enough cheese for it to be creamy and yummy.

It has a full cup less cheese than many other cheesy rice recipes (to cut down on the sodium a little), but is still delicious.

The veggies cook right along with the rice, to cut down on the number of pots you need. And you can go with the veggie you prefer with options including cauliflower, broccoli, corn, or carrots.

You can serve this Cheesy Rice as a vegetarian main dish or as a side dish. And you can add diced chicken, beans, peas, or other protein to make it a little more filling if you’d like.

(You may also like Cauliflower Tots, Pasta with Peas, and Coconut Rice. And try my Strawberry Frozen Yogurt for dessert!)

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Ingredients You Need

To make Cheesy Rice, here’s a look at the ingredients you’ll want to have on hand and ready to go.

ingredients in cheesy rice on counter.
  • Rice: I prefer to use short grain brown rice since it has such a pleasant texture and ample nutrition, but you can use almost any rice you like. See the recipe for more information.
  • Unsalted butter: I like to cook and bake with unsalted butter so I can control the salt level. You can use salted butter if that’s what you have on hand, though.
  • Garlic powder: To add more flavor to this dish, you can add a pinch of garlic powder. You can also add in another herb or spice that you like.
  • Shredded cheddar cheese: At the end of the cooking time, shredded cheese is added and stirred in to create the creamy, cheese texture.
  • Cauliflower rice (or florets), broccoli florets, shredded carrots, or sweet corn: You can choose one of these veggies to add into the rice mixture.

TIP: You can also make the cheesy rice plain and and skip the veggies if you prefer.

Ingredient Substitutions

Rice: My top choice is short grain brown rice since I love the texture. But you can use white rice if you prefer. The main thing to know is that you will need to adjust the amount of water used to cook the rice depending on the type, so keep that in mind as you get ready to make this recipe.

Cheese: Use another type of shredded cheese besides cheddar as you prefer. You can also use dairy-free cheese if desired.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a preview of how to make Cheesy Rice so you know what to expect from the process. Scroll down to the end of this post for the full amounts and timing.

rice and water in pan on counter.

Step 1. Cook the rice almost all the way in a pot with water, then add the veggies.

cooked rice and cauliflower rice in pan.

Step 2. Continue cooking the rice and vegetables until the liquid is almost absorbed.

cheesy rice in pan with cheese added and spatula.

Step 3. Stir in the butter and cheese to melt and combine into a uniform mixture.

cheesy rice in two bowls on counter.

Step 4. Serve warm, topped with cracked black pepper and/or salt as desired..

Frequently Asked Questions

Does cheese go well with rice?

Yes, cheese stirs in so nicely with cooked rice adding flavor and richness. It also makes rice easier to eat for toddler since it sticks together.

What pairs well with rice?

You can cook almost any vegetable with rice and stir in cheese, spices, and butter or olive oil to make delicious cheesy rice.

Can I make cheesy rice with broccoli?

Yes, mince broccoli florets so they are in small pieces and cook quickly and add to the recipe towards the end of cooking. The classic flavor combo of broccoli and cheese is perfect with rice.

Nondairy Cheesy Rice

Though the result won’t be exactly the same, you can replace the butter with olive oil or coconut oil and use mashed avocado instead of the cheese to help the rice hold together. You can also use nondairy cheese and vegan butter.

Serving Suggestions

You can serve this cheesy rice on its own, or pair with:

Hands holding cheesy broccoli rice in white bowl.

How to Store

Simply store leftover Cheesy Rice with broccoli (shown above) or any other veggie in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Or in a freezer container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and serve warm.

To heat leftovers, place into a heat-safe bowl, sprinkle with a little water, and warm in 30 second increments in the microwave, stirring in between until heated through.

Best Tips for Success

  • Use whichever rice you prefer, adjusting the cooking time according to the directions on the package. I like jasmine or basmati white rice or short grain brown rice best.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container for 3-5 days and warm to serve.
  • Let the kids eat with a spoon or their hands.
  • Serve as a vegetarian main dish or as a side with your favorite protein main.
  • Cook the Cheesy Rice in chicken broth or Vegetable Broth instead of water to add more flavor if desired.
  • For more easy recipes using rice, try my Veggie Nuggets and Easy Rice Pudding (with Cooked Rice).

I’d love to hear your feedback if you try this recipe so please comment below!

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cheesy rice in bowl with hands and pink nails.

Easy Cheesy Rice (with Veggies!)

This Cheesy Rice recipe has four options to add in veggies and has been a staple of my family's diet for a few years now. It's SO easy and versatile—and stores wonderfully in the fridge. And it's downright delish!
4.99 from 60 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Dinner
Calories 191kcal
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • cups short grain brown rice (or sprouted rice or other white rice)
  • 2 cups finely chopped cauliflower rice (OR broccoli florets, minced; OR shredded carrots; OR frozen corn)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
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Instructions

  • Place 5 cups water in a large pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the rice and cook for 20 minutes, or until mostly tender. (Partially cover the pot to allow some steam to escape. It's okay if there's some water still in the pot at the end of this step.)
  • Add the vegetable of your choosing, cover, and cook for an additional 6 minutes or until everything is tender.
  • (If the rice and veggies are not tender at the end of the cooking time, but the liquid is absorbed, add another ½-1 cup water and continue cooking.)
  • Turn off the heat. Add the butter, salt, garlic powder, and cheese. Let sit for a few minutes so the flavors meld and serve warm.

Video

Notes

  • Store leftovers in the fridge for 3-5 days in an airtight container or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and serve warm.
  • To make a version of this dish without dairy, replace the butter with olive oil or coconut oil and use mashed avocado instead of the cheese to help the rice hold together. Or use nondairy cheese and vegan butter.
  • To make this with another type of rice, cook the rice according to the package directions, adding 1 cup water. Proceed with Step 2 at the end of that cooking time. 
  • Serve as a vegetarian main dish or as a side with your favorite protein main.
  • Top your own serving with cracked black pepper, fried egg, hot sauce, chopped nuts, or any other garnish that sounds good to you.

Nutrition

Calories: 191kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 29mg, Sodium: 267mg, Potassium: 225mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 305IU, Vitamin C: 26mg, Calcium: 152mg, Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

This post was first published December 2019.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I food processed canned corn to keep safe for my new eater. She loved it and adults had with burrito bowls!

  2. 5 stars
    I didn’t have sour cream so I added Ricotta and
    raw asparagus. It was so good. Rice was great and the asparagus was al dente.

  3. 5 stars
    My fussy eater initially turned her nose up at this, I encouraged her to just give it a try and she loved it! I used up left over broccoli, grated carrot and a tin of sweetcorn. Didn’t have garlic powder but it was lovely all the same.

  4. 5 stars
    I made the recipe using brown rice and cauliflower chopped in the food processor. It was absolutely delicious, and got my kids interested in brown rice. Love this recipe!!

  5. 5 stars
    Made this as a side to chicken fajitas tonight. Used corn and a can of black beans, also added 1/2 tsp onion and it was a big hit!

  6. 5 stars
    Delicious!
    Made with rice in Instant Pot.
    1 c. Organic brown basmati
    1 c. Water
    1 c. Shredded zucchini (1/2 of a zucchini)
    Cook on high pressure for 22 and then 10 minute slow release.

    Then I stirred in the other 1 c. Shredded zucchini, cheese, butter, salt and garlic powder. Great flavor!

  7. 5 stars
    My son loved this! I puréed my vegetables to make it less noticeable to my kids and they devoured it. I can’t wait to try more recipes.

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