Popular Rice Dishes


Though rice is the third-largest food crop globally behind sugarcane and corn, it’s the most consumed. Almost half of the world’s population eats rice daily. However, it’s also a popular ingredient with chefs and cooking enthusiasts.

With rice being the most extensively eaten food item and with around 40,000 types being available, it’s no surprise that people use it to make different dishes. Every culture or region has an exclusive recipe, and some of them have become pretty popular worldwide.

If you want to know about the most famous rice dishes, continue reading, and you will know which one to make the next time you wish to eat a rice dish.

Most Popular Rice Dishes

The following are the most well-known and favorite rice dishes worldwide.

#1 Risotto

Risotto is a popular Italian dish that originated in Northern Italy. It’s a creamy rice dish made in a veg, fish or meat broth. It can also contain butter, onion, and white wine. Today, it’s a popular dish in many restaurants, and chefs have come up with many exclusive recipes.

Arborio rice is the most preferred variety for risotto, but you can also use other types like Padano, Roma, Vialone Nano, Carnaroli, Maratelli and Baldo.

Being a popular dish in Italy, each region has an exclusive recipe. Some popular risotto variants are

  • Risotto ai Frutti di mare (made with seafood)
  • Risotto alla Zucca (made with pumpkin, grated cheese and pumpkin)
  • Risotto alla pilota (made with parmesan cheese, pork and sausage)
  • Risotto ai Funghi (made with different mushroom varieties)
  • Risotto ai Milanese (made with beef bone marrow, beef stock, cheese and flavored with saffron)
  • Risotto al Nero di seppia (made with cuttlefish but with their ink sacs intact and therefore the black hue)






#2 Paella

It’s a Spanish dish which comes from the Valencia region. It has gained much popularity with time, and now it’s a favorite dish with chefs and food lovers.

The typical paella dish consists of round grain white rice, olive oil, green beans, meat (chicken or rabbit), saffron and rosemary. However, you can also make paellas with only veggies or seafood.

Those who like some heat and spice in their foods can also add chili peppers, dry chili flakes, chili powder, or spicy paprika.





#3 Biryani

One of the most popular Indian dishes in the world today, biryani is a flavorful delicacy made with basmati rice, a long-grained variety.

Though its origin is debatable, it’s part of Indian cuisine. You can make biryani using different meats like chicken and lamb. You can also make an egg or veg biryani using the same technique. Those who eat beef and mutton can use these meats too.

Other ingredients include yogurt, caramelized onions, dried fruits, herbs, coriander and spices. The dish is a bit similar to pilaf but the cooking method is different. Regarding spices too, pilaf uses only few while in biryani, spices are an integral part of the preparation.






#4 Hokkien Fried Rice

A delicacy with its origins in China, it’s also called Fujian fried rice. It’s a simple but very tasty dish. You can find it in most Chinese restaurants, and it contains fried rice with pieces of meat, eggs, veggies, mushrooms and a hot sauce poured over it.

Winter bamboo shoots and peanut oil are two ingredients that are present in authentic Hokkien fried rice, so you can add them when you make the dish.

If you want a different flavor, you can add more veggies and herbs and omit some usual ingredients.

Hokkien Fried Rice





#5 Nasi Goreng

It’s an Indonesian stir-fried rice dish consisting of vegetables, meat or seafood, herbs and spices. It also has soy sauce, chili, garlic, shallots and tamarind. Topping it off with a poached egg can make the dish even more delicious.

Nasi goreng is a local staple, but you can find it everywhere, from expensive restaurants to street food stalls. It’s also gained plenty of popularity around the world over the years.

While the dish is simple, it’s delicious, and you can use various ingredients to make it. You can omit the meat and seafood and include just the vegetables if you want a vegan option.

You will find plenty of recipes in cookbooks, magazines and online so if you want to make a nasi goreng, check those out.

Nasi Goreng - Popular Rice Dishes




#6 Sushi

The list will be incomplete without sushi, the most famous Japanese dish worldwide. It comes in all sizes and shapes and is made of rice and many cooked or raw elements.

You can have vegetable sushi or seafood sushi according to preference and availability of ingredients. Common seafood ingredients include imitation crab meat, salmon, tuna, and yellowtail.

You can also use eggs and other items to make delicious sushi dishes. Pickled ginger, soy sauce and wasabi paste are some items that accompany sushi dishes.

Sushi differs from sashimi in the sense that the latter doesn’t use any rice.





#7 Pilaf

Its origins are South or Central Asian or Middle Eastern, but no matter which, it’s one of the most popular rice dishes around the world.

It’s little similar to the biryani regarding ingredients used but follows a completely different cooking technique.

Pilaf is called by different names in different places, such as

  • Pilav (Turkish, Persian)
  • Pilau (British)
  • Kabuli palaw (Afghanistan)
  • Pelau (Caribbean)
  • Pulao (Pakistan)
  • Palov or Plov (Central Asia)

Every region has a unique recipe, so you will find plenty if you want to make pilaf. You can make it with different meats or vegetables or dried fruits.

Pilaf - Popular Rice Dishes




#8 Bibimbap

A popular dish in Korea, bibimbap means ‘mixed rice,’ and it’s made of rice, sauteed veggies, and seasoned with chili paste and soy sauce. Meat or eggs (raw or cooked) are also a common accompaniment.

Bibimbap is served in a bowl with rice at the bottom, followed by veggies, soy sauce and chili paste. You can include the meat or eggs on top and then mix all of them before eating.





#9 Rice Pudding

A sweet rice delicacy and eaten in many places around the world. The ingredients and way of making the dessert vary from place to place.

The dessert can be boiled or baked according to preference. People also eat it as a main meal in some places.

Rice pudding is also called by different names in different places. The usual ingredients include

  • Rice (short-grain white rice, long-grain basmati, broken rice, brown rice, black rice or jasmine rice)
  • Milk (whole milk, coconut milk, cream or evaporated)
  • Spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger)
  • Flavorings (nuts, lemon, rose, orange, vanilla)
  • Sweetener (condensed milk, sugar, brown sugar, fruits and syrups)
  • Eggs (optional)

Rice Pudding




So, the above delicacies are some of the most popular dishes made with rice. There are plenty more, both sweet and savory. So, you have many options when it comes to rice dishes.

Even if rice is not a staple in your area, you can enjoy the dishes whenever you like because they are available in most restaurants.

You can also get recipes and make the dishes if you like eating a rice dish.


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I've been a bodybuilder and fitness enthusiast for over 15 years. I'm also a Karate black belt and personal trainer with a PHD in sports nutrition.