Use herbs and spices to spice up your plain white rice

Healthy and Simple Herb Rice

UPDATED MAY 20, 2020

Why settle for a bland plate of rice when it should be bursting with flavours?  Cook flavourful, healthy and simple herb rice that goes with any main dish. There are only 6 steps in the cooking process to spice up your plain white rice. I am sure you are anxious to know. Let’s begin, shall we?

Firstly, gather all your ingredients. Also, I will explain briefly the types of rice you can use to make your herb rice.

How to Spice Up Plain White Rice

If you are cooking plain rice, the easiest way is using a rice cooker. However, it is preferable and sensible to use the stovetop method because of the steps involved. Using this method, you will only be using one saucepan from start to finish. Minimum washing.

Let's get started.

Choose Your Rice

Basically, there are

3 Categories of Rice

Long Grain Rice is at least three or four times longer as they are wide. When cooked, the rice is light and fluffy, and they stay separated.

Medium Grain Rice is shorter and wider compared to long grain rice, about twice as long as they are wide. When cooked, the rice is moist, a bit chewy and tend to stick together but not much.

Short Grain Rice is short and plump. The rice has a sticky texture when cooked.

When it comes to buying rice, you will most probably hear of Basmati, Jasmine, Brown rice, Sushi rice among others. Today, let’s look into these

4 Types of Rice

Basmati is a long-grain grown in India and Pakistan. It is commonly used in Indian and Asian cuisine. Served plain or with fresh herbs, they impart a pleasant, nutty aroma and flavour in any dish.

Jasmine, also known as Thai Fragrant rice is cultivated (as the name suggested) in Thailand. Also long grain, it gives a pleasant jasmine aroma while it is cooking. The moist and soft texture is ideal for soaking up spices and flavours.  Most Chinese restaurants serve Jasmine rice. You can actually smell the aroma when the rice is being served.

Brown rice comes in short or long-grain varieties. It has been milled to remove the outer husk but retain its nutritious bran layer. Brown rice is a whole grain food, rich in vitamins and minerals. You can swap in this grain for any dish that you would use white rice for.

Sushi rice comes in white or brown. Needless to mention, this is the Japanese short-grain rice used in making sushi and hand rolls. You can also use this rice as you would regular white rice.

So I hear you asking – which rice should I be using to cook healthy and simple herb rice?

In short, brown rice is most healthy but may lack the aroma of Jasmine rice while basmati is light and fluffy, sushi rice gives you the chewy texture if you desire so. All in all, choose one that you desire! Or, try them all – one at a time.

Choose Your Herbs

Knowing your herbs will be easier to figure out the cooking process. There are

2 categories of herbs

Soft herbs have tender stems and leaves. Several common ones are basil, cilantro, dill, mint, parsley and tarragon.

These herbs are to be added at the end of the cooking process, bringing out the aromatic flavour without destroying the freshness.

Hard herbs have woody stems with firm leaves such as oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme.

You should add these herbs in the early stage of cooking, allowing them time to infuse flavour into the dish.

When choosing your herbs, use what you have or your favourite! There are no hard rules to follow. In fact, cooking a pot of herb rice is one great way to use your leftover herbs.

Oh, I nearly forgot about the bay leaves. One tiny piece of the bay leaf makes a difference. Read more here.

Choose Your Spices

Adding spices to your herb rice is optional but if you have them, why not?

If you are a fan of Indian cuisine, surely you will know the popular Biryani Rice. This dish uses a variety of spices and its aroma is amazing. When I cook this, my family will know exactly what is for dinner.

So, what are the spices to use? And when should they be added depends on

2 forms of spices

Whole spices such as cinnamon stick, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cloves, star anise, nutmeg and mace are the common ones. When using these as a whole, always add to the hot oil at the beginning of the cooking process. This allows the spices to release the flavours into the oil.

Ground spices such as turmeric, paprika and chilli powder are added during cooking.

My favourite combination is cinnamon, cloves, star anise, cardamom, turmeric and paprika. What’s yours?

Buy your herbs and spices directly from Starwest Botanicals here. They have a wide range of organic products.

Choose Your Stocks

Depending on what you have and/or what you are cooking. For instance, if you are cooking a beef dish as the main, use beef stock for your herb rice. Else, you can use chicken or vegetable stock. The bouillon cube is another alternative.

I prefer not to use stocks or the bouillon as I like the flavours and aroma of the herbs and spices. I find the stock or bouillon overpowering thus the natural flavours of the herbs and spices are lost. However, you may use half amount of the stock with half water when cooking your rice.

I do add some salt when cooking my herb rice. If you are reducing your salt intake for health reasons, herbs and spices are a good salt substitute. Learn more here.

Now that you have gathered all your ingredients,

How to Cook Flavourful, Healthy and Simple Herb Rice

Here are the 6 simple steps.

Step 1. Rinse Basmati rice (my personal favourite) or brown rice (the option is yours) under running water till the water runs clear.

Step 2. Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a pot. Add your whole spices. If you choose not to use them, substitute with chopped garlic or scallion. At this point, use the white base of the scallion and save the green stalks for later.

Once you could smell the aroma of the spices, turn to medium heat and add a knob of butter.

Step 3. Once the butter melt, add your chosen rice. Give it a few stirs to coat the rice grains with the infused oil and butter.

This is the time to add your ground spices if you choose to. Turmeric is my go-to as it gives the rice a bright colour and earthy flavour. And paprika for heat. Stir till well combined.

Step 4. Add your preferred stock or water or combine both. For every cup of rice, you will need 2 cups of liquid. Personally, I use 1¾ cups of water when cooking with Basmati rice as the rice turn out the most fluffy, the way my family and I like most. Also, I add some salt here.

Turn on high heat to bring the liquid to boil. At this point, add your hard herbs. Once boiling put the lid on and turn to the lowest heat.

White long grain rice needs 15 minutes to cook while brown rice needs 45 minutes.

Important. During this cooking time, do not open the lid to check for doneness. Doing so allows the heat to escape and you will end up with unevenly cooked rice.

Step 5. Once the time is up, turn off the heat and move the pot away from the stove. Let sit for about 5 – 10 minutes without removing the lid. Brown rice may need 15 minutes.

Serving/Carving Fork

Step 6. After resting, add your chopped soft herbs and fluff the rice with a fork. While fluffing, you are mixing in the herbs as well. I suggest using a serving/carving fork if you have one because you really want to just loosen the rice without breaking them. I use a pair of chopsticks.

Do not forget your scallion if you are using them. While the white base is used in Step 2, chop the green stalks and sprinkle on top of the rice when serving.

It is DONE! Enjoy your herb rice with any main dish or on its own.

Simple Herb Rice

If you cook often, these steps are pretty easy to follow. Also, you will know approximately how much ingredients are needed. I don’t usually go with a fixed recipe. The herbs and spices are mostly approximated. For instance, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 or 2 star anise, 5 or 6 cloves, ½ or a ¾ teaspoon of ground turmeric.

Too much guesswork? I understand. It can be confusing and I certainly do not want you to be overwhelmed. Cooking should be fun. So, here are a few recipes which you can follow exactly. Once you are familiar with it, try cooking your way.

Herbed Rice on Food Network

Herb Basmati Rice on Food Network

Greek Lemon Rice on RecipeTin Eats

Should you want to spice up your plain white rice with spices as well, you have to try biryani rice. It is not a simple recipe but its tastiness is amazing. Once you are familiar with cooking the simple version, try this plain biryani rice.

Well done! You have come to the end of the cooking process.


Is it not wonderful to know that a bland and boring bowl of rice can be cooked differently? Using herbs and spices, you can easily add flavour to your rice. Furthermore, it is certainly healthier. Herbs and spices are known to be beneficial to health.

Consider growing your own herbs.

There are no hard rules to follow making herb rice. You may choose to use long grain or short grain rice, brown or sushi rice. Even the herbs and spices are interchangeable, depending on what you have. I am a frugal mom who dislikes wastage and would use what’s available at the point in time. Cooking your rice with water, stocks or bouillon cube is entirely up to you.

I have to admit and share this with you, cooking rice can be a bit tricky. The texture of the cooked rice differs depending on the type of rice grains. Too much water, the cooked rice become mushy and too little water, you end up with uncooked rice. At times the rice brand matters too. It will take some time to achieve the best result but do not let it deter you from cooking flavourful herb rice.

So, are you ready to cook yours? Follow the steps above to cook simple herb rice yet flavourful and healthy. Go on, I know you want to.

Happy Cooking!

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Please Leave a Comment

How do you feel using herbs and spices to spice up your rice? If you have been cooking herb rice, how would you cook differently? Share with us your experiences.

Look forward to reading your comments.

Share This Article

If you find this blog post interesting, please share it with anyone that you think might find it useful. Thank you and have a good day!

From the Corner of My Home – Spice Up Your Life with Herbs and Spices

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Sharon is on a career break, minding her family. During her free hours, she loves sharing her passion for herbs and spices. She learned how to build this website at Wealthy Affiliate University. If you have a passionate topic and would love to share, click here to learn how to build your own profitable website!

30 Replies to “Healthy and Simple Herb Rice

  1. Nice recipes, I eat a lot of white rice and this can help me in flavouring and spicing up plain white rice. Thanks a lot for sharing these recipes it can definitely make my food better, I think I need to change to brown rice because it is way more healthy than white rice. Good job and thank you for the information.

    1. Brown rice is definitely a healthier choice but it is alright to have white rice every now and then. Try alternating them. Just be reminded that the cooking time for brown rice is longer. Happy Cooking!

  2. Hi Sharon. I always find rice to be so boring but these are great ideas. My favourite types of rice are brown rice and basmati. I went through your list of herbs and spices and I have a lot of them right here in my kitchen, so I am going to get to work. I also like the idea of adding the spices to the oil at the beginning. Thank you for sharing these ideas. From now on eating rice is now going to be a great experience for my family.

    1. Hello JJ. Looks like you will be eating the tastiest rice from now on. Cooking should be fun and this is how you do it. Enjoy!

  3. Hi Sharon! I like the variety of options you have given us to choose for rice when we want to cook healthy. I personally choose the sushi rice because I love the chewy texture.

    And concerning herbs, I love soft herbs, specially mint. Thank you for the tip for bringing out the aromatic flavour without destroying the freshness. I can’t wait to try it!

  4. Thanks Sharon for the healthy and simple herb rice recipes. I love rice and cook it very often. The main rice i use is basmati and I make it simple. Just add chicken stock, olive oil, and salt. But now I am encouraged to try some of your recommendations, like cinnamon, turmeric, and paprika. Do you think I should start with one ingredient at a time? Just wondering about the taste.

    1. Hello Eddie. Cinnamon, turmeric and paprika blend well together. Cinnamon gives me a warm aroma and earthy flavour. I love the bright yellow colour produced by turmeric and of course paprika for the heat. Start with a small amount and adjust accordingly. I have a feeling you will like it. Cook away, Eddie. 

  5. I love rice no matter how you cook it. Thank you so much for sharing these tips. I lived in Thailand for many years and Jasmine Rice is my favourite rice ever. Especially the way the cook it when they use particular herbs. I never did try to cook rice with herbs myself but now thanks to your tips I will make sure to try it and I hope it will come out as tasty as your I am sure Do!

    1. Now is the time to start cooking your own herb rice, Barbara. I love Jasmine rice too. The aroma is wonderful. 

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting.



  6. I’m feeling hungry now. It’s a splendour of taste, really. When I was young I remember my grandma used to put pandan leaves while the rice is cooking It smells so good and appetizing.

    With your recipe, I prefer Japanese rice because I like the texture is smooth plus its a bit chewy too. Just be careful not to put a lot of water. I will try all.the spices and herb you recommeded but probably use real chicken stock.

    Do you think red rice would taste better on this or make the taste even worse? It’s really hard to swallow ’cause it always tends to get dry. Thank you for this wonderful ides. It seems easy to do and can be paired up with any simple dish.

    1. Oh yes! Thanks for reminding me of the pandan leaves, also called screwpine leaves. Indeed, it smells good, giving a floral aroma. Also, you may squeeze the green juice out of the leaves to add colour and flavour to the rice. 

      Good for you if you have been consuming red rice. They contain more nutrients than white rice. Personally, I don’t like using red rice when making my herb rice. Basmati is my favourite. However, when cooking plain rice, I use 1 part of red rice and 3 parts of white rice. You may try this when cooking your herb rice. 

      Let me know how it turns out for you. I really like to know.

      All the BEST!


  7. This herb rice will be an healthy type because of the spice and herb that are added during the  preparation. This process look easy and I’ll love to try it right away. Brown rice, long grain rice, medium and short grain rice are the common rice here. Although,,brown rice is healthy to consume, but many people usually go for long grain rice simply because it doesn’t stick together easily. I’ll try with both brown rice and long grain rice and deduce the difference. Cooking is loving and that’s my hobby. This will make me try out other options of rice too. That’s part of research. Thanks for sharing this lovable meal.

  8. Me and my wife love Rice, and reading this article makes me very curious. I’m going to show this to my wife, since she is the one who cookies. I’m pretty confident she will like it as much as me. Thanks a lot for sharing it with us!  We will try this very fast. 

    1. Nice to see you here again, Emmanuel. 

      Yes, I am very sure both of you will love the rice dish.

      Happy Cooking and Enjoy!

  9. Hi, Sharon, I eat a lot of rice. But I’ve never thought to spice it up. This is great! I will have to try it sometimes. Thanks for the information.

  10. Rice is one of our must haves in our households with almost every meal. Chicken, steak, stir fry and especially when we order food. Its nice to learn about the types of herbs to add as well as spices as my wife is always looking to add new things to supper and new tastes! Good topic to learn from as this is healthy, easy to make and good to have around! 

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Trevor. From now on, you and your family will not be having bland rice to go with the main dishes 😉

  11. First off, let me say that you have built a beautiful website. I used to market web design, so I do know a thing or two what comprises a well laid out design. I am always meaning to do more cooking at home yet rarely take the time, but I think you might just have inspired me! I will certainly bookmark this page for future reference because I do eat a lot of rice, and it can get a bit dull. Thank you for the informative article, but I will have to look up those precise ingredient measurements. I do not seem to be able to cook with the pinch and tad methodology.

    1. Thank you so much for your positive comments, Troy. 

      In any recipes, the measurements are just guidelines. Try adjusting the amounts gradually to suit your palate. I am sure you will get used to cooking with approximates very soon. 

      All the best and happy cooking!


  12. I can totally relate to your article, we Asians eat a lot of rice, every day😊 and this is a good recipe to change the normal plain white rice. I have started spicing up our rice at home actually and I am using brown rice as a healthier option over the white one. Other than dill, cardamom, star anise and basil I have not tried the other herbs mentioned in your article but soon for sure, I will try it for a change.

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe.

    1. If you have any leftover herbs, give them a try. Who knows, you may end up creating your own recipe. 

      Thanks for dropping by, Gillian. Do share with us what you have come out with. 

  13. Hi Sharon. rice has been my main meal for all my life, I only eat white rice, but thanks for the informative article and these variety of options you have given, I’ve never thought there’s different kind of rice, and recipe you’re sharing with us, it seems great and delicious, and surely healthier, I cant wait to give it a try soon, thanks again. 

  14. How do I Cook Sushi so the sea weed doesn’t stick to it and the rice is not too sticky as it crumbles causing customer complaints. I tried deep frying it then wrapping seaweed around it but keeps on crumbling.Do you have any recipes to help stop this from happening? I been looking through posts and happened to find this one. 

    1. Hello Alex. I have not dabbled with sushi rice thus can’t give you any advice pertaining to your question. Perhaps a search on Youtube on “how to” may help. I am very sure there are many good videos there.

      All the BEST!  

  15. Sushi has got to be one of my favorite when it comes to rice choices but it’s kind of luxury here since Japanese rice is slightly more expensive. I’ve actually not tried any of the herb rice you mentioned here – the closest I get is coconut rice (widely accessible here) but that’s not really a herb, right? 

    I am actually quite keen to try one of your recipes this weekend. I have all the stuff around me and the family loves eating rice. Thanks for cooking up such a neat list that’s easy to follow. 

    1. The fragrant coconut rice, yes! I love that. Try adding screwpine leaves, also known as pandan leaves from where I am. The aroma is wonderful.

      Thanks for leaving your comments here and happy cooking! 

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