This Cheesy Rice recipe has four options to add in veggies and has been a staple of my youngest kiddo’s diet for the past year. It’s SO easy, versatile, and stores wonderfully in the fridge. And it’s downright delish!

cheesy rice with cauliflower

Cheesy Rice

I love this approach to Cheesy Rice because of the four flavor variations is easy for kids (and adults!) to eat, the veggies are soft, and there’s just enough cheese to help it be creamy—without going overboard in the richness department. It has a full cup less cheese than many other cheesy rice recipes (to cut down on the sodium a little), but is still so delicious!

What’s the best rice for Cheesy Rice?

I love them all! Actually, I love using a white rice for cauliflower Cheesy Rice since it blends right in, but I also love using brown rice or sprouted rice blends (Trader Joes’ has a good one) for the other versions. It really works well with any kind of rice, though you’ll get more fiber and B vitamins from the whole grain brown rice options.

TIP: You will need to adjust the amount of water used to cook the rice depending on the package directions and which vegetable you add, so keep that in mind as you get ready to make this recipe.

how to make cheesy rice with broccoli step by step

Ingredients in Cheesy Rice

To make any of these Cheesy Rice recipes you’ll need:

  • rice
  • butter
  • salt
  • garlic powder (optional)
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • Broccoli florets, cauliflower crumbs (or florets), carrots, or sweet corn

TIP: You can also make the rice plain and skip the veggies.

How to Make Cheesy Rice Step-by-Step

Here’s a look at how to make Cheesy Rice with Broccoli, and then we’ll get into how to vary it to use other veggies!

  1. Gather ingredients. (photo 1)
  2. Place water in a large pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the rice and cook until tender. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, steam the broccoli. Drain well. (photo 2)
  3. Stir in the broccoli or other veggie, butter, salt, garlic powder and cheese. (photo 3)
  4. Serve warm. (photo 4)

Cheesy Rice with Broccoli

I’ve discovered that once you know the basics of how to make Cheesy Rice, you can vary it in all sorts of ways—adding in broccoli for a classic combo, or going with shredded carrots, corn, or even cauliflower crumbles. They’re all pleasantly mild to enjoy as a side dish or as a vegetarian main.

cauliflower crumbles in white bowl

Cheesy Rice with Cauliflower

To make Cheesy Rice with cauliflower, pick up a bag of cauliflower crumbs (or “rice”) or chop up cauliflower florets in the food processor to measure 2 cups. Add it to the pot with the rice, add one cup more water than the package says, and cook according to the package directions on the rice. I love making stovetop cheesy rice this way!

TIP: Frozen cauliflower rice works well here too.

cheesy rice with carrots in blue bowl with yellow spoon

Cheesy Rice with Carrots

You can do the same thing with carrots, cooking them right along with the rice. Add finely shredded or grated carrots it to the pot with the rice, add one cup more water than the package says, and cook according to the package directions on the rice.

cheesy rice with corn in pink bowl on pink striped tea towel

Cheesy Rice with Corn

You can also simply stir in thawed frozen sweet corn to the rice, seasonings, and cheese. My kids love this variation and I find that it makes an excellent base for Burrito Bowls!

What’s the best way to store leftover Cheesy Rice?

Simply store it in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Or in a freezer safe container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and serve warm.

Is there anyway to make non-dairy Cheesy Rice?

While it 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.

Tips for Making the Best Cheesy Rice

  • 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 up to 5 days and warm to serve.
  • Let the kids eat with a spoon or their hands.
  • Serve as a vegetarian main dish or with your favorite protein main.

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, 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; shredded carrots; OR frozen corn)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 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 idea without dairy, 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. 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 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!

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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.

  8. Your book says 5 cups of water and I notice this says 4. I’ve got it cooking now with 5. I guess just cook longer if the water isn’t absorbed? Thanks

    1. I’m not sure if they’ll hold but you could either preload the spoon and hand it over for her to self-feed or let her eat it with her hands.

  9. 5 stars
    I made cheesy rice with cauliflower. It’s delicious and so easy. I had a bag of frozen steamed cauli so I added it after the rice was cooked.

  10. 5 stars
    I’m a big fan of cheesy rice – I loved that this had less salt and way fewer ingredients than any boxed rice mix. We added about 1/4 cup of chicken broth to our mix for some extra flavor and moisture when reheating. Thanks!

  11. 5 stars
    Love all the alternatives – we gave tried your broccoli rice and loved it – you are so heloful.
    Thanks!

    1. I haven’t tried it but I think it should work the same as if you were cooking rice on its own. Let me know if you try it!

  12. 5 stars
    Another hit for Ms 19 months. Dairy destroys her tum and poos, so I made this with vegan butter and lactose free cheese. There are only 3 dinners she hoovers down, pasta, pizza and this.. . Without your loving care in providing dairy free options i dont know how we would be surviving. Our toddler is a nourished toddler with your recipes Amy.

    1. Yes, you’ll just need to cook any veggie you want to add separately too, then stir it into the rice with the cheese to mix and melt.

      1. How would you suggest to heat up if already cooked? Back in a pot or microwave the cheese?

  13. 5 stars
    Love the cauliflower version – wondering how you would do this with a leafy green like spinach or kale?? Would love your advice how to prepare it

    1. I found this online and tried it. It was delicious but I will add mor garlic next time! See link below. I’m always looking for delicious rice ideas.

      MARINATED KALE:
      7 cups kale sliced leaves , tightly packed (1cm / 2/5″ slices) (Note 1)
      2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
      Salt and pepper
      GARLIC BUTTER RICE:
      2 tbsp (30g) unsalted butter
      3 – 4 large garlic cloves , minced
      1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice (Note 2)
      2 1/4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable)
      FINISHING:
      1 – 2 tbsp (15 – 30g) butter
      1/3 cup chopped almonds (or other nuts / seeds of choice)

      Instructions
      Place kale in a large bowl. Drizzle over oil, sprinkle with a small pinch of salt and pepper. Scrunch with hands for 30 seconds, set aside while rice cooks.
      Melt butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute until just starting to turn golden and is incredibly fragrant.
      Add rice, stir for 10 seconds.
      Add broth, stir, then cover.
      Turn heat down to medium or medium low so the liquid is simmering very gently. Cook for 12 – 15 minutes until all liquid is absorbed (tilt pot to check).
      Quickly toss all the kale on top of the rice, put the lid back on then remove from heat.
      Rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Fluff rice with fork, stirring kale through.
      Lastly, stir through extra butter and add salt and pepper to taste.
      Serve and sprinkle over nuts (or stir nuts through rice).

  14. Thanks for the recipe, Amy! I’m going to try the corn version! My one year old is loving corn at the moment, so hopefully this will make it more of a meal for her! It’s also making me feel pretty hungry right now!

  15. 5 stars
    Another hit for my husband and I! I opted for the riced cauliflower and followed the exact directions. It came out delicious, like a creamy risotto! Unfortunately my 3 year didn’t eat it which surprised me (she did however gobble up your chicken tenders that I served with it). Regardless I will be making again even if just for me and my husband as it was simple and so tasty!!