How to Make Orange Rice

With its vibrant color and zesty flavour, orange rice is a delightful dish that can brighten up any meal. This aromatic and tangy rice recipe incorporates the refreshing taste of oranges into the classic rice preparation. Whether you are looking for a side dish to complement your main course or a unique standalone meal, orange rice will surely please your taste buds. This comprehensive guide will walk you through making orange rice from scratch, providing step-by-step instructions and tips for a flavorful outcome.

Understanding Orange Rice

Orange rice is a versatile dish that combines the earthy taste of rice with the citrusy notes of fresh oranges. It’s a fusion of flavours that can be enjoyed in various forms, from simple and mildly seasoned to more complex and spicy preparations. The key to successful orange rice lies in achieving the right balance between the sweetness of the oranges and the savory elements in the dish.

Ingredients for Orange Rice

Before you start cooking, gather the ingredients you’ll need to make your flavorful orange rice:

For the Rice

  • 1 cup of long-grain white rice (such as basmati or jasmine)
  • 2 cups of water
  • A pinch of salt

For the Orange Flavor

  • 1 large orange (for both zest and juice)
  • 2 tablespoons of orange zest (from the orange’s peel)
  • 1/2 cup of fresh orange juice (from the same orange)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar (adjust to taste)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

For Aromatics and Seasoning

  • 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (adjust to your spice preference)
  • Fresh herbs for garnish (e.g., parsley or cilantro)

Preparing the Rice

The first step in making orange rice is to prepare the rice itself:


Rinse the rice thoroughly under cold running water until the water runs clear. This removes excess starch and prevents the rice from becoming overly sticky during cooking.

Combine the rinsed rice, 2 cups of water, and a pinch of salt in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring the water to a boil over high heat.

Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, and let the rice simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until the rice is tender and has absorbed all the water.

After the rice is cooked, remove it from the heat, but keep it covered to allow it to steam and fluff up for an additional 10-15 minutes.

Once the rice is ready, use a fork to fluff it, separating the grains. Set the rice aside while you prepare the orange flavour components.

Infusing Orange Flavor

The heart of orange rice lies in the infusion of citrusy goodness. Here’s how to do it:


Begin by grating the zest from the orange peel. Use a fine grater or a zester to obtain about 2 tablespoons of orange zest. Set the zest aside.

Cut the orange in half and extract the juice. You’ll need approximately 1/2 cup of fresh orange juice. Strain it to remove any seeds or pulp.

Combine the fresh orange juice, the reserved zest, and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a separate bowl. Stir well to dissolve the sugar and create a sweet, tangy orange mixture.

Cooking Orange Rice

Now, let’s infuse the cooked rice with the delightful orange flavor:


Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter over medium heat in a large skillet or frying pan.

Add the finely chopped onion and minced garlic to the pan. Sauté them until the onion becomes translucent and fragrant, which should take about 3-4 minutes.

Stir in the ground cumin, coriander (if using), and red pepper flakes. Cook for an additional minute to toast the spices and enhance their flavours.

Carefully pour the prepared orange mixture (orange juice, zest, and sugar) into the skillet with the sautéed onions and spices. Stir well to combine all the ingredients.

Let the mixture simmer for 2-3 minutes, allowing the flavours to meld and the sauce to thicken slightly.

Add the cooked and fluffed rice to the skillet, gently folding it into the orange mixture until well combined. Make sure the rice is evenly coated with the orange-infused sauce.

Season the orange rice with salt and black pepper to taste. Adjust the seasoning as needed to achieve the desired balance of flavors.

Continue to cook the orange rice for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is heated through and infused with the orange flavor.

Garnish and Serve

Your fragrant and flavorful orange rice is ready to be enjoyed:


Transfer the orange rice to a serving platter or individual plates.

Garnish the dish with fresh herbs such as parsley or cilantro. The bright green color adds a visual contrast to the vibrant orange rice.

Serve the orange rice hot as a side dish alongside your favourite main course. It pairs wonderfully with grilled chicken, fish, or roasted vegetables.

Variations and Tips

Protein Additions: To make your orange rice a complete meal, add protein sources like grilled shrimp, chicken pieces, or tofu cubes. Marinate the protein with some orange juice and seasonings for enhanced flavour.

Nuts and Dried Fruits: For added texture and sweetness, you can incorporate toasted nuts (e.g., almonds or cashews) and dried fruits (e.g., raisins or apricots) into the dish.

Spice Variation: Customize the level of spiciness by adjusting the amount of red pepper flakes. You can also experiment with spices like paprika or ground ginger for different flavour profiles.

Use Whole Oranges: If you prefer, you can use whole oranges and extract the zest and juice from them. Just ensure that the oranges are ripe and fragrant for the best results.

Orange Zest Tip: Avoid the bitter white pith underneath the peel when grating the orange zest. Only use the outer, brightly colored part of the peel.


Orange rice is a delightful addition to your culinary repertoire, offering a refreshing burst of citrusy flavour that elevates your meal. With the step-by-step instructions and tips in this comprehensive guide, you can easily create this vibrant and aromatic dish in your kitchen. Whether served as a side dish or a standalone meal, orange rice will become a favourite for those seeking a unique and tangy culinary experience.

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