This quick and easy Mediterranean Yellow Rice recipe yields the most flavorful and fluffy result! Onion, turmeric, and cumin are sautéed to release the aromatics before cooking the rice to tender perfection. Add toasted pine nuts for a crunch and serve this vegan Greek pilaf as a side dish along with kebobs, lamb koftas, or grilled veggies.

Mediterranean Yellow Rice is served from a bowl on the counter.

Mediterranean Rice Recipe

I made a batch of these Lamb Koftas and Tzatziki Sauce and needed a simple side to go along with them.

Recently I had a delightful yellow rice at a local Greek spot so I decided to try it out.

I got started by sautéing a little oil and onion.

Then a few aromatic ground spices were tossed in and toasted slightly. (Wow does your kitchen smell in-CREDIBLE when you do this!)

Next, I added in basmati rice and water and simmered until the rice was tender and fluffy.

And of course, those fresh herbs and toasted pine nuts needed to be mixed in right at the end.

The combo of fresh herbs and ground spices really takes this delicious side dish to the NEXT level of flavor!

This yellow Mediterranean rice, with its vibrant color and nutty flavor, is the perfect addition to any Greek-themed night. Try it with Greek Chicken Shish KabobsGreek Turkey Burgers, or even Easy Greek Turkey Meatballs.

Rice, seasonings, herbs, onions, and pine nuts are the ingredients for this dish.

Ingredients

The simple ingredients you need to make this yellow rice recipe include:

  • Rice. Use long-grain basmati rice. It has a delicious taste and aroma that is also a little nutty and floral. You can substitute it with white rice, but it won’t be nearly as flavorful.
  • Water. You can also substitute vegetable broth or chicken broth for a more classic rice pilaf recipe. If you do, make sure you adjust the amount of salt added accordingly.
  • Onion. Sweet onion was used and is recommended. Yellow or white onion will also work. 
  • Spices. Turmeric gives this rice a yellow color, cumin an earthy taste, and paprika for a slightly sweet heat.
  • Herbs. Fresh herbs are key! It’s worth it to incorporate both cilantro and parsley. Flat-leaf parsley is preferred, but curly leaf can be used.
  • Nuts. Get the perfect crunch with toasted pine nuts. You can also use coarsely chopped and toasted almonds or leave the nuts out completely if allergic.

How to Make Mediterranean Yellow Rice

Below you’ll find the simple steps to make this Mediterranean rice recipe:

1. Sauté the Onion

Start by adding oil and diced onion to a medium saucepan over medium or medium-high heat. Once the onion becomes translucent, add crushed garlic and cook for another minute.

Mix in turmeric, cumin, paprika, and salt until combined. Toast until fragrant, about 1 minute.

2. Add the Rice

Rinse the rice in a strainer until the water runs clear to remove excess starch. This keeps the rice from getting too sticky.

Pour in the water and add in the rice to the cooked onion. Stir well and scrape the bottom of the pot to release any bits that are stuck. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Cook until it’s tender and fluffy.

3. Mix in Herbs and Nuts

Remove from the heat. Add the finishing touches by mixing in aromatic herbs, like chopped cilantro and parsley, and toasted pine nuts. Enjoy!

After cooking, herbs and pine nuts are added to the rice.

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep-Ahead: This rice is best if made just before serving. You can measure out the spices and chop the fresh herbs if you want to get ahead the day before.
  • To Store: Keep leftover Mediterranean rice in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days. 
  • To Freeze: This freezes great in a freezer-safe airtight container for up to 4-6 months.
  • To Reheat: Either warm up this rice in the microwave, or add to a skillet with a little oil and water.
An overhead picture shows the yellow rice in a bowl.

Can you eat rice on a Mediterranean diet?

Yes, you can definitely enjoy rice while on a Mediterranean diet. It’s important, however, to pay attention to what type of rice you eat. Your healthiest options contain whole grains like brown rice, farro, millet, or whole-wheat couscous. (Here’s more on the question, Is brown rice healthier than white rice?)

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • Toast a little bit. This releases the aromatics of the spices before adding in the rice and water.
  • Keep an eye on them. Pine nuts can burn quickly when toasting, so watch closely. 
  • Fresh is best. Use fresh herbs instead of dried for the best flavor. 
  • Cook to serve. This rice has the best texture when cooked just before serving.
Yellow rice is served with a metal spoon.

What to Serve with Mediterranean Rice

This easy side dish rounds out any Mediterranean-inspired menu. All of the following recipes make a perfect pairing:

Mediterranean recipes like Greek Chicken Shish KabobsGreek Turkey Burgers, and Easy Greek Turkey Meatballs are made even better with this rice.

Hearty sides like Gluten-Free FalafelMediterranean Chickpea Salad, Greek Cucumber Salad, and Mediterranean Couscous Salad are also delicious alongside this recipe.

Don’t forget the Greek Tzatziki Sauce, Homemade Hummus, and Baba Ganoush to complete this Mediterranean feast.

More Rice Recipes

It’s super simple to elevate a plain pot of rice into a flavor-packed side. Explore these recipes to take your rice to the next level:

Add some flavor with Cilantro Lime RiceMango Coconut Rice, or Instant Pot Mexican Rice.

If you’re watching your carbs, try plain Cauliflower Rice or Cauliflower Fried Rice.

Check out How to Reheat Rice too!

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 28 votes

Mediterranean Yellow Rice Recipe

This quick and easy Mediterranean Yellow Rice Recipe results in the most flavorful and fluffy rice! Add toasted pine nuts for a crunch and serve this vegan Greek pilaf as a side dish along with kebobs, lamb koftas, or grilled veggies.
Mediterranean Yellow Rice is served from a bowl on the counter.
Yield 8
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 20 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 2 Tbsp. oil olive or avocado
  • ½ sweet onion finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • ¾ tsp. turmeric
  • ¼ tsp. cumin
  • ¼ tsp. paprika
  • 1 ¼ tsp. salt to taste
  • 2 ¼ cups water
  • 1 ½ cups basmati rice rinsed and drained
  • 2 Tbsp. cilantro finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. parsley flat-leaf, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup pine nuts toasted

Instructions 

  • Add oil and diced onion to a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Saute for 2-3 minutes, or until onion becomes translucent. Add crushed garlic and continue sauteing for another minute.
    2 Tbsp. oil, ½ sweet onion, 3 cloves garlic
  • Mix in spices: turmeric, cumin, paprika, and salt. Toast until fragrant. (About 1 minute.)
    ¾ tsp. turmeric, ¼ tsp. cumin, ¼ tsp. paprika, 1 ¼ tsp. salt
  • Pour in water, scraping the bottom of the pot to release any bits that are stuck, and add in the rice. Give it a good stir, and bring the water to a boil.
    2 ¼ cups water, 1 ½ cups basmati rice
  • Once boiling, cover the pot with a lid and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until rice is tender and fluffy.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and mix in chopped cilantro, parsley, and toasted pine nuts. Serve immediately with some Lamb Koftas and Tzatziki sauce and enjoy!
    2 Tbsp. cilantro, 2 Tbsp. parsley, ¼ cup pine nuts

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 28 votes

Video

Notes

  • You can also use toasted almonds instead.
  • To Store: Keep leftover rice in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days.
  • To Freeze: This freezes great in a freezer-safe airtight container for up to 4-6 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 197kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 1g, Sodium: 308mg, Potassium: 137mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 640IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 26mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Made this recipe?Leave a comment below!
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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Just tried this recipe last night. A true Keeper! This recipe could rival any Mediterranean Yellow Rice Recipe in restaurants. It is so good that I feel confident even my Lebanese friends would enjoy it!

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Marjay! That’s amazing to hear. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

  2. This recipe turned out great. I made burritoes and then served the remainder as a side dish. The only adjustment was to leave out the nuts because of allergies.

  3. We loved this rice! Made it for our family gathering and it turned out perfect–no adjustments needed, though I did use toasted almonds instead of pine nuts because that’s what I had. The flavor was excellent and we served it with Mediterranean chicken, gyros, and Greek salad. But the flavor really could go with any dish. Well done! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Astrid! That sounds like a delicious meal. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment!