Recipe Connection: Homemade Chicken Rice-a-Roni

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chicken rice-a-roni
Choosing a side dish is often something I struggle with, especially since I don’t like to rely on packaged mixes like mac-n-cheese or rice-a-roni. I used to use them, but my family’s nutrition has become more important than the convenience. This dish is super easy, tasty, totally frugal, and tastes great. There are lots of options to vary the flavors, too.

Find this recipe, updated and with even more frugal tips and transformation options, along with 29 other bean recipes and a ton of information on cooking dry beans, the health benefits of beans, and ideas for bean haters in The Everything Beans Book, available now at Kitchen Stewardship!

This recipe will be entered in this week’s October Fest Carnival of Super Foods, Broth/Stock Edition. I love to help people find recipes that use homemade bone broth beyond the typical soups. (I could also enter it in the carnival in two weeks, Un-Processed foods, for things you could buy at the store but make at home instead. I’ll share my Mexican version for that theme!)  Last week’s carnival of beans had over 60 amazing entries. I guess this recipe could hook up with that, too! We are a bean-y family, after all, and I love sneaking beans into a side dish where you wouldn’t normally get them in a meal.

Bloggers, come on back on Thursday to link up YOUR broth/stock recipes!

Designer Impostor Homemade Chicken Rice-a-Roni
Recipe type: Side Dish
  • 1 c. brown rice
  • 2 c. chicken broth (1 can plus a little water makes 2 cups)
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1-2 stalks chopped celery
  • can of black, kidney or other beans (or 1½ cups cooked dry beans)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Saute onion and celery in a little water, oil or butter 5 minutes until limp.
  2. Add chicken broth and rice, salt and pepper; bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes until rice is cooked and liquid is absorbed.
  4. Drain and rinse beans.
  5. Add and heat through.
Freezes fine in single serving sizes.

Timesaver: If you have chopped celery and onion in your freezer, this is just as quick as the boxed stuff!

Cost: $1 with homemade chicken stock; $1.50-2 if using canned (but it makes a MUCH bigger batch than the little boxes of Rice-a-Roni, and the nutrition is far superior because you’re using brown rice and healthy fats, plus no MSGs.)

Super foods: 1 + 2 honorable mentions
*Props are due to Martha, our local Pampered Chef guru, for the recipe idea!

Healthy Upgrade:
Soak brown rice in one cup water plus 1 Tbs. whey or lemon juice for 7-12 hours or overnight. Add 1½ cups chicken broth when it’s time to cook. (Why soak grains? A very short explanation here.)

You can use just about any bean in this recipe, switch out the celery for sweet peppers, and add spices or spicy peppers to zoop it up a little!

I tried garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and subbed fresh yellow peppers for the celery. I think I liked it better than the original!



chicken rice-a-roni 3

In this photo, I used garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and subbed fresh yellow peppers for the celery. I think I liked it better than the original!

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Other side dish options:

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21 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. says

    This looks so delicious! I’ve missed rice-a-roni so much. :)

    On an unrelated note, how do you get whey and how long does it keep? I’ve been reading that lacto-fermentation is so good for you, but have been nervous about starting it.
    .-= Jendeis´s last blog ..Pain Management =-.

    • Katie says

      There are two ways to get whey: make cheese or use yogurt. You can make a simple cheese like this: and get a whole bunch of whey (I made a half gallon of milk and got a cup of cheese and 7 c. whey). Add herbs and it’s soooo good on crackers.

      Or drain yogurt through a cheesecloth, tea towel, or even a coffee filter. You can do a whole jar or just a few Tbs at a time. (Put a coffee filter over a jar and a few Tbs of yogurt on top – in an hour or two you’ll have whey in the jar and a sort of cream cheese on top.)

      Whey is supposed to last for up to 6 months (it is a preservative itself), but I had some “go” on me after 6 wks or so. The great thing with the yogurt is that you can get just a smidge. L-f is really different – I tried pickles and salsa this year. (Recipes tab at the top.) I hope that helps!
      :) Katie

  2. says

    I love this idea!! My mom never made rice-a-roni or anything out of a box. I’ve been clicking through getting all of your time-saving ideas.

    I love the celery idea and as far as the onions go, I love that too. I think I might put them in an airtight plastic container, too.

    Also – as far as nuts go (from your time-saving tips!) I buy all my nuts in bulk and keep them in SnapWare so they stay fresh. It’s a big up-front cost but saves so much in the long run.

    Finally – thanks for linking up to Slightly Indulgent Mondays!

  3. says

    This is too funny! I was looking at a recipe that involved rice (I will be using brown of course), and I was wondering if I should soak the rice to make it healthier, since it’s a grain. Then I thought, I bet I can find out at Kitchen Stewardship!!! So I scrolled down and found the rice category and sure enough – you mentioned soaking it overnight! Quick question though, have you noticed that it affects the cooking time? As in, does it cook faster?
    Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my many q’s, btw! You’re blog has been so helpful for me in my real food journey!
    .-= Kelli M´s last blog ..Hot Target Deal! =-.

  4. says

    THANK YOU for the Chicken-flavored rice recipe! I made my 2nd batch of chicken stock today…thanks to your inspiration and tips!! I was excited to find this recipe for the rice.

    After our 3rd son’s birth, our dear friend brought us a YUMMY meal that was SUPER healthy except it called for Uncle Ben’s Chicken flavored rice in a box. I’ve NEVER made it because I don’t buy packaged foods like that. However, your recipe here redeemed it!! Here’s the yummy recipe:

    1) Bake 2-4 Chicken breasts in the oven (however you like to cook/bake/roast them. I brush them w/olive oil & add pepper, thyme, onion powder & garlic powder)
    2) Make up a batch of your yummy chicken flavored rice. (If using 4 chicken breasts, double recipe). two boxes of Uncle Ben’s chicken flavored rice can be substituted here if you don’t want to use KS’s FABULOUS chicken flavored recipe above!
    3) Once chicken is done, chop or shred (frozen shredded chicken can be used here)
    4) Add chicken to rice once rice is finished.
    5) Toss together 1/3 cup of olive oil AND white vinegar with 1 tsp. each of oregano & basil. Whisk.
    6) Pour vinaigrette over chicken & rice mixture.
    7) Chop package of grape tomatoes in half. (My friend’s recipe calls for a can of black olives finely chopped, but I omit that). Stir into chicken & rice mixture.
    8) Serve over a plate of fresh, raw baby spinach leaves.
    YUMMY. SOOOOOOO excited to have this recipe in my ‘repertoire’ now thanks to your chicken flavored rice recipe!

  5. Lindsay says

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I love Rice-A-Roni, but have wanted to make a healthy alternative for years. Your recipe is simple and delicious. Most of all my husband loves it, which is fantastic since he never loved how salty real Rice-A-Roni is. I can’t wait to check out your other dishes!

  6. Megan Harris says

    I just stumbled on this website when I googled homemade rice-a-roni with brown rice. I was skeptical about finding anyone else who would’ve paired the words rice-a-roni and brown rice. I’m so glad I clicked the link! Now I’m signed up for the newsletter, and I plan to explore the site more as time allows.

  7. Lauryn says

    I made this today and what came out is certainly delicious but not as creamy and it was done and even a little burnt after only 20 minutes. Any recommendations? The only thing we left out was the onions and we used garbanzo beans.

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