How to Make Rice-A-Roni Better: Tips and Tricks

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Cooked Rice-A-Roni in a plate.

The human race has witnessed countless wars being waged. Some, pointless. And too many, avoidable. 

The same could be said about the last World War. 

Overly constricting restrictions were imposed world wide. Basic commodities were heavily rationed in order to feed an entire nation. 

Just take rice as an example. Who would’ve thought that a first world country like America had to make every precious grain count at some point in time?

Their somewhat beacon of hope during those dark times? The invention of Rice-A-Roni. 

This San Francisco treat is as much a war veteran as the soldiers who valiantly fought against Nazi Germany. 

Rice-A-Roni may have helped in the kitchen battlefield of dwindling rice supplies. But on the battlefront, it became a staple in ration kits. 

Fast forward to today, Rice-A-Roni has certainly made history for itself. This boxed meal hero has become a household name. 

That classic orange box.

While it’s comforting to know that a little part of history is still here, it can be a tad bland with all those years on its back. 

And sometimes, classic can equate to boring

As a show of gratitude, here’s how to make Rice-A-Roni better and catch up with the times. 

A Modern Spin on the Classic: Rice-A-Roni Add Ins

Okay, I think the first part was kinda serious and not something we’re used to. 

I did promise to deliver fun. 

As such, that’s exactly what I’ll do. I can still spin this around 😉

Steaming rice on a small bowl.


The classic Rice-A-Roni. The two-in-one dish that we’re all familiar with (and obsessed with). 

But for those who haven’t had the chance to try it out, it’s all in its name already. 

It’s part rice, part pasta, and all San Franciscan deliciousness. 

Vermicelli pasta on a white background.

It’s convenient. It’s unpretentious. It’s the culinary equivalent of a lifelong friend. 

Quick, dependable, fun, and not at all judging about your lack of cooking capabilities on any given night. 

Without further ado, here’s how to make Rice-A-Roni better:

Pro Protein 

Several meats lined up on a surface.

The original flavor of Rice-A-Roni was a simple chicken seasoning blend. The many flavors available today didn’t come to fruition until customers clamored for more variety back in ‘65. 

But us, modern people? We’re demanding so much more. At least from ourselves.

Their chicken flavor is alright, but shredded chicken, ground beef, or crumbled turkey as Rice-A-Roni add-ins? Chef’s kiss.

Rice-A-Roni may be a humble side for many, but include protein and you’ll have a hearty main course. 

Of course, we’re not stopping there. 

Fry some bacon! Dice up that ham! Spice things up with that chorizo sausage. 

Vegging Out

Bell peppers, spinach, and mushrooms on a porcelain container.

As much as possible I want you to have a balanced meal. That’s why we’re also adding in the veggies. 

Your options are sauteed mushrooms, fresh spinach, and diced bell peppers. Or you can just make a rainbow out of them all.

It also goes without saying that you need to add onions and garlic. They are, after all, the very base that fends off the blandness. 

The burst of colors isn’t the only beauty to this. You’ll also have added flavors and an extra vitamin boost. 

Did you know that in the early ‘60s, Rice-A-Roni was among the first convenience foods that were vitamin-enriched?

Consumers get nutrients like iron, niacin, and thiamine from a box. 

Say Cheese

Varieties of cheeses on a plate.

Adding cheese is a heavy artillery that you take out if you truly want to turn up the taste battle.

Cheddar, parmesan, feta, or cream cheese, whichever it may be, adding a dash of cheese is always a good idea. 

If you want it simple and easy, I suggest going with cheddar. It’s mild, creamy and slightly salty.

Looking for some cholesterol? Parmesan is both salty and rich in umami. 

Feeling adventurous? Go with feta for that punchy contrast. 

Velvety? Cream cheese is the decadent cheese to add. 

For my personal favorite, I make crispy shredded cheese (whichever is available) using the oven. Nothing beats those golden crunchy clusters of cheesiness. 


Three sauces in tiny bowls.

We’ve had meats, vegetables, and cheeses, but none of them is working for you. Something is still missing. 

Let’s go back to basics, then. How about a drizzle of creamy alfredo?

The butter, garlic, and cream concoction is sure to spark a burst of flavors. 

Still not what you’re looking for? Grab the marinara. Canned is totes acceptable here (never gonna judge you for that). 

Or or, do it Indian-style and make fragrant curry sauce.

Egg on Top

Two sunny-side eggs on a skillet.

I did say that Rice-A-Roni is a classic that needs a modern twist to it. And what can be more trendy and modern than a popular food trend. 

Yup. We’re adding egg on top!

From pizzas to burgers, we’re adding Rice-A-Roni to the trend. 

The popularity lies not in the creamy texture of the yolk nor its nutritional benefits, but in its visually appealing appearance. 

An egg’s vibrant color enhances the visual and flavor aspects of Rice-A-Roni, making it Instagram-worthy. 

It’s also a favorite among brunch enthusiasts (including myself), especially when it’s a runny sunny-side up. Having the yolk this way is already a sauce on its own. 

You could also try a poached egg. Though there’s really not much of a difference for me. 

Then there’s the fried route. We can’t neglect this one. 

Not when the fried egg is extra crispy on the outside. 

Unboxing Rice-A-Roni

That’s all I have for you today, foodies.

A simple box of Rice-A-Roni can easily be turned into a flavor bomb with the right combination of add-ins. 

With that, it still has much to offer up to this day. 

So grab that box, I saw you putting it back and thinking: “This bland thing again?”

Just think of yourself as this Michelin star chef, one whose specialty lies in instant food. 

Even if it’s just a simple easy to cook Rice-A-Roni, you can shake things up and turn every bite into an out-of-the-box experience. 

Cooked Rice-A-Roni with sunny-side egg on top.

So sorry if you had to loosen your belt for this one. I did too. 

But, here’s to adding more inches to our waists!

See you in the next article…

Patricia Barre Avatar


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