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Photograph by Emma Fishman, food styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, prop styling by Stephanie De Luca
  • Total Time

    30 minutes

Spice-tinted yellow rice is a staple side dish across many cuisines. Some iterations get their yellow color from saffron or annatto, or by deploying a premade spice mix like sazón. This version from chef and cookbook author JJ Johnson relies on the dyeing power of turmeric for its golden glow. A little garlic powder and store-bought fried onions (which we like just as much as homemade ones, don’t tell anybody) bring in lots of savory flavor, meaning you can simply use water as the cooking medium. Have some chicken broth or the dregs of a store-bought stock you want to use up? Go ahead; we won’t tell.

You’ll sauté the seasoning mix in butter on the stovetop before incorporating the rice to wake up the spices’ full range of flavors. Turmeric and garlic both burn quickly, so be attentive and have everything ready before you start. You can also consider this a blueprint ripe for experimentation: Swap out the garlic powder for a few sliced garlic cloves, add in ½ tsp. ground cumin or coriander, or toss in some dried fruit like currants or golden raisins to plump while the rice steams. Similarly, any variety of long-grain rice will do here. For the brightest color, stick to white rice; our weeknight go-tos are jasmine and basmati rice.

Johnson often makes this easy yellow rice recipe to serve alongside a hearty main dish like roast chicken, but it would also be a great easy dinner alongside a plate of refried black beans and warm tortillas, or topped with steamed vegetables and a poached egg. The rice reheats well—but please, hold the fresh herbs until you’re ready to serve it. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and microwave in 30-second bursts, or cook fried-rice style in olive oil or more butter to warm through.

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What you’ll need


4 servings

Seasoning Blend


tsp. store-bought fried onions

tsp. ground turmeric


tsp. granulated garlic

Pilaf and Assembly


Tbsp. unsalted butter


cup jasmine rice, rinsed until water runs clear


tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt

Chopped tender herbs (such as parsley or cilantro) and lemon wedges (for serving; optional)


  1. Seasoning Blend

    Step 1

    Whisk together 2 tsp. store-bought fried onions, 1½ tsp. ground turmeric, and 1 tsp. granulated garlic in a small bowl.

  2. Pilaf and Assembly

    Step 2

    Melt 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add seasoning blend and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup jasmine rice, rinsed until water runs clear, and cook, stirring often and reducing heat if needed to keep spices from scorching, until grains are coated and opaque around the edges, about 2 minutes.

    Step 3

    Pour in 1½ cups water and add 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt; stir to combine. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Cook until water is completely absorbed and rice is tender, 15–18 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let rice sit (still covered) 5–10 minutes.

    Step 4

    Uncover rice and fluff gently with a fork. Transfer pilaf to a platter and top with chopped tender herbs (such as parsley or cilantro) if desired. Serve with lemon wedges if desired.

An image of the cookbook cover of "The Simple Art of Rice"
Recipe adapted from The Simple Art of Rice by JJ Johnson (Flatiron Books). Copyright © 2023

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