Homemade Chicken Rice-A-Roni

I used to love Rice-A-Roni. I remember eating a lot as a kid and always being excited to see it on the table. Then when I started cooking for my own family, I relied on those boxes of rice fairly frequently. Once my husband and I made the decision to start eating from scratch 95% of the time, I mourned the loss of my beloved San Francisco treat. (I’m not the only one who remembers those commercials, am I?)

I’m not sure why I didn’t think to make it from scratch sooner. It’s SO easy and SO good! It tastes exactly like the boxed Rice-A-Roni I loved, except for one thing – it’s better. It tastes fresher with more flavor and less salt. It’s cheaper too. Oh, and one other thing – it can be assembled ahead of time and bagged up to store in your pantry. Whenever you get the desire for a quick rice side dish, grab a bag and your all set. How great is that?

Homemade Chicken Rice-A-Roni

  • 1/4 lb. spaghetti, angel hair or vermicelli pasta
  • 1 c. rice
  • 3 chicken bullion cubes, crushed or 3 t. chicken stock base
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. black pepper
  • 1/4 t. Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 t. paprika
  • 4 T. butter
  • 2 c. water

Break noodles into small pieces.

Combine with rice; set aside until using. In a small bowl, chicken bullion cubes or stock base. Stir in salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and paprika until combined. Set aside until using.

+ 15 minutes simmer time  Melt butter in a large skillet. Stir in broken noodles and rice. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently over medium heat, until pasta is lightly browned.

Stir in seasoning mixture and water. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 15 minutes.

If you’re a 100% from-scratch eater instead of a 95% from-scratch eater, you could definitely use chicken stock in place of the bullion cubes or stock base and water.

36 thoughts on “Homemade Chicken Rice-A-Roni

  1. LOL – what a great idea! I love finding ways to make a favorite food from scratch, especially if it’s a healthier version of it. I’m a big fan of of Rice-A-Roni, but I always feel guilty eating it because I know it’s pretty unhealthy. (OK, really unhealthy.) Definitely bookmarking this one!

  2. Thanks so much for this. Just today I was looking at the grocery flier and trying to decide if I the sale was good enough to justify getting some Rice-A-Roni. I also remember the ads and grew up eating it once or twice a week. I already bookmarked this and look forward to trying it.

  3. So smart! And I love that you can box it up and have it ready, just like the stuff you’d buy at the store. My husband loves the Parmesan and Romano cheese Rice-A-Roni — do you think this same idea could apply to that? The cheese part is the part that I’m not sure about…

    1. I would imagine the cheese would be fine. I would add it when the rice is completely done, and stir the cheeses in and then dish it out. That’s how I would do it.

    2. I dehydrated some broccoli the other day and purchased a bag of dry roasted peas from the Wholefood store and I always have almond slices in the freezer-Look out here I go! I was thinking the el cheapo parmesan cheese could be mixed right in w/bouillon(chicken,beef, and/or veg) cubes/powder. If I decide to get really crazy maybe cut up some beef jerky and have complete instant meal…Oh and because wild rice can be pricey, just throw in a few tablespoons.

  4. I’m so excited to find this recipe! I’ve been looking for a Rice a Roni clone – every time I make it, I think, “this would be so easy to do myself!”

  5. I made this lastnight and it was a HUGE hit. I’m an American living in The Netherlands and rely heavily on from scratch recipes..mostly due to the fact that they don’t have the same products over here. I really missed Rice-A-Roni and after trying several faux recipes that weren’t the same was a real bummer. However this is it!!! love love loved it. What I like is that you can change this up a bit. Nest time Im going to add in some sauteed mushrooms and maybe some shredded cheese..maybe add in some steamed broccoli another time. Thanks so much for a fantastic recipe that will be used many times : )

  6. Thank you! When I saw this recipe I had to try it! I also loved the box stuff when I was a child. Living in Spain I can’t get that sort of stuff so this is a great alternative. Probably healthier too! I just finished making it but haven’t tried it as it is cooling off a bit. It smells great though! I hope my little one likes it as much as I did!

  7. Thanks for the recipe. I’m going to try making it gluten free using brown rice spaghetti noodles. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

    1. How did the gluten free version turn out? That is the whole reason I was looking for an alternative.

  8. I made this tonight in a gluten free version and everyone loved it! It tastes just like the boxed stuff I remember from years ago. I only had gluten free fettuccine on hand and it worked just fine. I didn’t have any “italian seasoning”, I just used “garlic ‘n herb” frontier seasoning and it worked perfectly.

  9. Oh my gosh! This was so good. My family raved about it. Thanks so much for posting this recipe. My family LOVES chicken Rice-a-roni, and I’ve been wanting to find a scratch recipe. Yours was the first I tried–and definitely the last. I have saved this in my “Favorites” folder. Thank you!

  10. Thank you for your recipe. It was neat to see how others make their favorite San Fransisco treat! (Those commercials were fun!) I make mine with 2 tbsp butter, 1 c white rice, 1/4 c orzo, 1 Knorr bouillon cube, 1/4 tsp dried parsley, 1/16 tsp red paprika, 1 tsp dried onion, 2 1/2 c boiling water. Yum! We’re actually having this for breakfast. Its great left over with eggs scrambled into it, scallions, and some cheese. Thank you again!

  11. I just made this tonight, and it was a HUGE hit! I had to tweak it for my food allergies (I have a few), and I just blogged my tweaks so I can remember them next time. Thanks for such a great recipe! It really is “Just like it, but better!”

  12. Thanks for the post! Wondering what kind of rice to use? I originally was looking for a reason why the rice part of mine wasn’t cooking enough…..

  13. Just checking out your recipe and I do not understand how this would work. You need to use 2 cups of water to one cup of rice when you make rice. Now you are adding 1/4 lb of pasta – how could only 2 cups of water work. Do you mean 1/4 cup of pasta?

  14. Yum! Thanks! I reduced the butter to 1 tbsp and used cooking spray. Also reduced salt (lots of salt already in bullion) and pepper (my kids aren’t crazy about pepper, plus you can add later if you want). Lots of ways to add veggies and extras too.
    This is a MUCH healthier and cheaper version of the San Fransisco Treat. And it tastes great too. Thanks for sharing!

  15. I have been cooking for scratch since I became a stay at home mom in January. I’ve missed chicken rice a roni so much and have been craving it during this pregnancy. It suddenly hit me to Google recipes and I found this one. Thank you! I made this tonight and my husband and picky 3 year old and I LOVE it! You’re awesome for sharing this!

  16. I was just thinking about how much I missed Rice-A-Roni and telling my 8 year old who probably doesn’t remember it, since we went organic when she was about 3. She was asking me what ingredients to add to make rice taste good (first thought…sugar, no, arrrgghhh help :). I decided to Google how to make Rice-A-Roni and here you are. What a concept! Yay! I will try it tonight. Soaking my rice now. It is important to note that whole grains (and nuts) should be soaked, before cooking, to avoid phytic acid and to unlock the good enzymes to improve digestion. Thank you! -The Cleanfood Advocate

  17. Thank you for this recipe. I can’t wait to try it. I am a HUGE rice-a-roni fan and remember eating it as a kid. Recently I bought some for the heck of it (hadn’t had it in YEARS) and have been eating it once a week for lunch for the past month or so. I am excited to try this and make up a bunch so I can cross a prepackaged item off my grocery list, it will save us $$ and is also a lot healthier for us. I add some pre-cooked garlic chicken to it for a quick meal at lunch for me and the kiddos with leftovers.

  18. I can’t wait to try this. We use a lot of rice-a-roni in this house and a less expensive, less processed alternative is awesome. I can’t wait to see some of your other 95% homemade ideas!

  19. I love your recipe for homemade ricearoni I can’t wait to try it and see if my hubby can tell the difference. I love the fact it won’t have msg in it. Thanks for posting. We always make a meal out of it, adding canned or boneless chicken breast and a can of veggies.

  20. I made this recipe and it was dead-on. I used Chinese vermicelli and basmati, and it worked out fantastically!

  21. My husband LOVES chicken flavor Rice-a-Roni… childhood memories, I think. I can’t stand the idea of the chemicals that go into him when he eats it, not to mention the smell of it cooking! So I’ve been planning to formulate my own version for quite some time now. Thank you for saving me the trouble! This recipe has won him over, although we increased the amount of broth to 3 c. to give him that soft, out of the box consistency (and maybe that has something to do with us being at 5000ft?). Baggies of rice and broken noodles and a container of the spice mix will become permanent residents of our pantry!

  22. I’m going to try this tonight. Can’t wait! I’m sure it will be much better than the boxed stuff. I’m wondering if you could use the same recipe for Beef Rice a Roni, We like to have that with cubed steaks.

  23. Thank you for this alternative. I tried it tonight following the recipe exactly. It was a hit from my 14 year old to my 5 year old. They are accustomed to the boxed version, and all loved it and wanted seconds. This is an excellant remake.

  24. I have wanted to make rice-a-roni from scratch for quite awhile. I was going to make some today, but all I have for pasta is fettuuccine. Will this suffice as opposed to smaller guage pasta? Thank you for your help. D.B.

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