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What to Add to Basmati Rice for Flavor (15 Best Options)

Basmati rice is a delicious and versatile grain that can be enjoyed on its own or as a side dish.

But sometimes, you may find yourself wanting a little more flavor in your rice.

If that’s the case, then you’re in luck!

There are many different things you can add to basmati rice to give it a boost of flavor.

From simple seasonings like salt and pepper to more complex ingredients like saffron and currants, there are endless possibilities when it comes to flavoring your basmati rice.

What to Add to Basmati Rice for Flavor

And the best part is that you can tailor the flavor to your own taste preferences.

So whether you like your rice mild or spicy, there’s an option for you.

In this article, I’ll go over 15 different things you can add to basmati rice for flavor!

What to Add to Basmati Rice for Flavor?

There are many ways to add flavor to basmati rice. One way is to cook the rice in broth instead of water. You can also add spices such as saffron, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, or bay leaves while the rice is cooking.

Another way to add flavor is to stir in fresh or dried herbs, such as parsley, cilantro, or basil, after the rice is cooked. You can also top cooked basmati rice with fried onions, toasted nuts, or raisins.

Basmati Rice

Still looking for ideas?

Then keep scrolling!

Here are 15 different things you can add to basmati rice for flavor:

1. Sautéed Onions

If you’ve got a pan on the stove, you can add a lot of flavor to your basmati rice with just a few simple steps.

  1. First, heat some oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add in the onions and sauté until they’re soft and caramelized, about 10 minutes.
  3. Once they’re cooked, add in the rice and stir to combine.
  4. You can optionally add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper to taste.
  5. Once everything is mixed together, cook the rice until it’s fluffy and heated through, about 5 minutes.
  6. Serve warm with your favorite curry or chicken dish.

2. Fresh Herbs


If you’d like to add a ton of flavor to your basmati rice, try adding some fresh parsley, cilantro, or basil.

Be sure to use a high-quality herb, as cheap herbs can be overwhelming.

  1. Start by adding a few sprigs of each herb to a pot of boiling water.
  2. Cook the rice according to the package directions, then drain it off and rinse it with cold water.
  3. Add the rinsed rice to a small bowl and stir in the herbs.
  4. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for later use.

3. Fried Onions

Crispy Fried Onions

Similar to sautéed onions, fried onions are a great way to add some extra flavor to your rice.

Fried onions are also a popular topping for burgers and other dishes.

  1. To make them, start by heating a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add in a layer of chopped onion and cook until softened, about 8 minutes.
  3. Flip the onion and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.
  4. Be sure to season the onions with salt and pepper before frying them, as this will help to bring out their flavor.
  5. Serve the fried onions on top of your rice as a perfect finishing touch.

Add just enough seasoning to taste, but not so much that the onions become overpowering.

4. Toasted Nuts

Toasted Nuts

I love the flavor of toasted nuts (in any dish) and they’re a great way to add extra flavor to your rice.

However, be warned: Theses suckers pack a lot of flavor!

You can either toast them in a dry skillet or use an oven-safe dish.

If you toast them in the skillet, just make sure that the pan is really hot before adding the nuts.

Once they start to brown, remove them from the heat and let them cool slightly.

Then, simply sprinkle them on top of your rice and enjoy!

If you’d like to roast them instead, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spread the nuts out in an even layer on a baking sheet.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until they’re lightly toasted.

5. Raisins


Raisins are often used in cooking as a way to add flavor and sweetness.

When it comes to adding raisins to your rice, it’s important to use a good quality variety.

The higher-quality raisins will have a deeper color and more intense flavor.

For every cup of cooked basmati rice, you should add 1/4 cup of raisins.

6. Dried Fruits

Dried Fruit

Do you like dried fruits? If so, why not try adding them to your rice dish?

Dried fruits add a burst of flavor and sweetness to your rice, and you can use a variety of them to get different flavors and textures.

For example, apricots are tart and cranberries are sweet.

Experiment with different dried fruits, and find ones that you like.

Be sure to add them in moderation, though—a little goes a long way!—since they can be quite sweet.

Adding dried fruits to your rice dish will give it a unique flavor and texture that you’ll love.

7. Curry Powder

Curry powder

Curry is one of the most popular flavors in the world, and for good reason.

It’s a complex spice blend that can add tons of flavor to just about anything.

When it comes to basmati rice, adding curry powder is one of the easiest ways to jazz up your meal.

All you need is a small amount—just a sprinkle will do.

And unlike other spices, curry powder doesn’t change the texture or flavor of rice.

So if you’re looking for a way to make your rice taste more like Indian cuisine, using curry powder is a great option.

However, be sure to start with a milder version and gradually increase the amount as you get more accustomed to the flavor.

8. Cumin Powder

Ground Cumin

Cumin is special because it has a strong flavor and a warm, nutty taste.

It’s perfect for adding depth of flavor to basmati rice.

  1. To start, add a tablespoon of cumin powder to a pot of boiling water.
  2. Once the water is boiling, add the rice and stir well.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through.

Experiment with different amounts of cumin powder to find what gives you the flavor you’re looking for.

Too much cumin can override the delicate flavors of the basmati rice, so start with just a tablespoon and work your way up if needed.

9. Garam Masala

Garam Masala

Garam masala is a spice blend that typically contains cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon.

This combination of spices gives basmati rice a sweet and savory flavor that’s perfect for dishes like chicken tikka masala or lamb biryani.

You can add as much or as little garam masala as you like, but I recommend starting with a small amount and increasing it if you find the flavor too strong.

10. Chili Powder

Chili Powder

If you like some heat in your rice, you can add chili powder to it.

You can also add it to other dishes, such as soups or stews, to give them a little extra flavor.

Just be sure not to overdo it, or your rice will taste too spicy.

Start by adding a pinch of chili powder to your cooked rice, and then adjust the amount depending on how hot you want it.

For a milder taste, use less chili powder; for a more intense flavor, use more.

11. Soy Sauce or Tamari

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is made from soybeans, water, and salt.

Tamari is a type of soy sauce that has been fermented with brewer’s yeast.

Both sauces are high in umami, which is the Japanese word for “savory.”

Umami enhances the flavors of foods by providing a depth of complexity.

In general, you should add about 1 tablespoon of soy sauce or tamari to every cup of basmati rice.

However, this amount will vary depending on the brand and taste preference.

12. Fish Sauce

Fish Sauce

Although not as popular as soy sauce or vinegar, fish sauce is a key ingredient in many Southeast Asian dishes.

Fish sauce is made from fermented fish, and it has a distinctive, umami-rich flavor that can be quite addictive.

In addition, fish sauce has numerous health benefits.

For example, it’s high in protein and calcium, and it can help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

If you’re looking to add more flavor to your rice dishes, consider using fish sauce as your secret weapon.

Just a teaspoon or two will do the trick, and it will transform your rice into something wholly unique and delicious.

13. Lime Juice

Lime juice

Lime juice can add a freshness that can really take your rice to the next level.

Add 1 tablespoon of lime juice per cup of cooked basmati rice.

Be sure to use a high-quality lime, as the juice will add more flavor than a generic one.

If you want to make your rice even more flavorful, try sprinkling it with chopped cilantro or mint before serving.

14. Vinegar


There are quite a few vinegars that work well to add flavor to basmati rice.

White Wine Vinegar is a good option if you want to add a touch of sweetness, while Apple Cider Vinegar has a more sour flavor that is great for adding depth of flavor.

When it comes to how much vinegar to use, it really depends on the type of vinegar and the recipe you’re using it in.

For example, if you’re using White Wine Vinegar in a dish that calls for rice vinegar, then you would only need 1/4 cup.

However, if you’re cooking rice with Apple Cider Vinegar, then you would use 3 tablespoons.

Ultimately, it’s important to test out the vinegar before adding it to your recipe to see how much works best.

15. Roasted Red Peppers

Roasted Red Peppers

If you don’t mind a little prep work, adding a bit of extra flavor to your basmati rice can be a great way to stand out from the crowd.

One easy way to do this is to roast some red peppers.

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and lay the peppers on a baking sheet.
  2. Drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper over them.
  3. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until the skins are charred and the peppers are soft.
  4. Once they’re done, remove them from the oven and let them cool slightly before slicing into thin strips.
  5. Then, add them to your basmati rice for a punch of flavor that you won’t be able to resist.
  6. Add just a tablespoon or two of roasted red peppers to each serving, and you’ll be sure to impress your guests.

How Do I Make Basmati Rice Taste Better?

There are many ways to make basmati rice taste better. One way is to add spices such as cumin, cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon. Another way is to add herbs such as mint, basil, or cilantro. You can also add vegetables such as carrots, peas, or corn. Finally, you can add fruits such as raisins, apricots, or pineapple.

How Do I Spice up Basmati Rice?

If you like some spice in your rice, then you can cook it with cumin seeds, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves. Other spices that go well with basmati rice are black pepper, white pepper, and green chili peppers.

What Goes Well with Basmati Rice?

Basmati rice pairs well with chicken, ground beef, pork chops, shrimps, lobster, tacos, vegetable mix, grilled vegetables, mushrooms, chips, and salsa. Also, it goes well with coleslaw, pureed beans, green beans, baked potatoes, grilled cheese, bread, and fresh salads (such as green salad, corn salad, or Caprese).

What to Add to Basmati Rice for Flavor

What to Add to Basmati Rice for Flavor (15 Best Options)

When it comes to cooking basmati rice, there are tons of possibilities for flavoring.
This blog post provides 15 different options, ranging from simple spices to more complex flavor combinations.
Whether you're looking for a quick and easy way to spice up your rice or you're looking to create an exotic dish, this blog post has you covered.
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Total Time 6 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
Calories 39 kcal


  • Sautéed Onions
  • Fresh Herbs
  • Fried Onions
  • Toasted Nuts
  • Raisins
  • Dried Fruits
  • Curry Powder
  • Cumin Powder
  • Garam Masala
  • Chili Powder
  • Soy Sauce or Tamari
  • Fish Sauce
  • Lime Juice
  • Vinegar
  • Roasted Red Peppers


  • Pick your favorite ingredient from this list to add to your basmati rice.
  • Prepare the rest of your delicious meal.
  • Enjoy in no time!
Keyword what can you add to basmati rice, What to Add to Basmati Rice for Flavor
Benjamin Happy Muncher

Hi, I'm Benjamin. I love cooking, long walks, and my girlfriend! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less.