White rice with chopped celery in white bowl with orange slices along the back.
Recipes,  Side Dishes

Easy Orange Rice Recipe

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Orange Chicken is quite popular, so why not Orange Rice? This recipe from the 1970s is flavorful and pairs well with chicken or grilled fish. It adds a pop of citrus to your meal and livens it up a bit.

White rice with celery in white bowl with orange slices in back.

This baked side dish is made with budget-friendly ingredients like celery, onions, rice, and of course, oranges. Orange rice will be a new family favorite.

Ingredients You Will Need

Ingredients for orange rice in glass bowls on wooden board.

Butter: Adds richness and flavor to the overall dish. It also helps to saute the onion and celery, giving them a deeper flavor profile.

Hot Water: Acts as the cooking liquid for the rice. The hot water will steam and absorb as the rice cooks, resulting in fluffy grains.

Uncooked Rice: The main component of the dish. Long-grain white rice is typically used for oven-baked rice due to its ability to cook up fluffy and separate.

Onion: Provides a base layer of savory flavor for the rice. The diced onion will soften as it cooks, adding sweetness and depth.

Celery: Adds a subtle crunch and additional savory notes to the dish. Similar to the onion, the diced celery will soften while cooking but provide a bit of textural contrast.

Orange Rind: This is the zest from the orange peel and adds a vibrant citrus aroma and flavor to the rice. The zest contains essential oils that pack a strong citrus punch.

Orange Juice: Provides additional moisture for cooking the rice and infuses it with a sweet and tangy citrus flavor. Orange juice complements the orange rind and brings a more rounded citrus taste.

Salt: Enhances all the other flavors in the dish. Salt is essential for drawing out the natural flavors of the ingredients and making the overall dish taste more balanced.

Why You’ll Love Making This Orange Rice

Easy and Convenient: It’s a one-pan wonder! Simply throw everything together and let the oven do the work. This frees you up to focus on other parts of the meal or relax while dinner cooks.

Flavorful and Unique: Forget bland rice! The combination of butter, onion, celery, and orange adds a surprising depth of flavor. The citrus from the orange rind and juice provides a vibrant and refreshing twist, making it a unique side dish that elevates any meal.

Budget-Friendly: All the ingredients are readily available and relatively inexpensive. This makes it a perfect option for weeknight meals or feeding a crowd without breaking the bank.

Frequently Asked Questions

Rice with cooked green celery on top in white dish.
Fresh out of the oven.

My rice isn’t fluffy. What went wrong? There could be a couple of reasons. First, ensure you used the correct water-to-rice ratio. Too little water will result in dry, hard rice. Second, avoid peeking into the oven or stirring the rice excessively while it cooks. This can disrupt the steaming process and lead to mushy rice.

Can I make this dish ahead of time? Yes, you can! Prepare the rice according to the recipe and bake it. Once cooked, let it cool completely and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently in the oven or microwave until warmed through.

Can I freeze Orange Rice? Yes, you can. Follow these tips:

  • Cool Completely: Let the cooked orange rice cool completely to room temperature before freezing. This prevents trapped heat and moisture build-up that can affect texture and quality.
  • Portion Control: Divide the rice into single-serve or family-sized portions depending on your needs. This makes thawing and reheating easier.
  • Airtight Container: Use freezer-safe containers or zip-lock bags to store the rice. Squeeze out any excess air to prevent freezer burn, which can dry out the rice.
  • Label and Freeze: Label the container with the date it was made. Frozen orange rice will typically last for up to 3 months for best quality.
  • Reheating:
  • Thaw and Reheat: Thaw the frozen rice overnight in the refrigerator or under cold running water. Reheat gently in a pan on the stovetop with a splash of water or broth to prevent drying out. You can also reheat in the microwave using short bursts with stirring to ensure even heating.
  • Texture: Be aware that reheated frozen rice might have a slightly different texture compared to fresh. It might be a bit drier, so adding a touch of moisture while reheating is recommended.

Substitutions and Variations

Rice Variety: While long-grain white rice is traditional, experiment with basmati rice for a similar fluffy texture, or brown rice for a nuttier flavor and extra fiber (adjust water ratio accordingly).

Make it a Meal: Turn this side dish into a complete meal by adding cooked protein like shredded chicken, shrimp, tofu, or chickpeas.

Lemon Love? Swap the orange rind and juice for lemon zest and juice for a tangy twist. Lime zest and juice can also be used for a more citrusy flavor profile.

Herbs and Spices: Enhance the flavor with fresh chopped herbs like parsley, thyme, or rosemary. A pinch of saffron adds a luxurious touch.

Creamy Delight: For a richer flavor, stir in a tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese or a dollop of cream cheese before baking.

What to Serve with Orange Rice

White rice with celery in white bowl.

Chicken: This is a classic pairing. Roast chicken, grilled chicken breasts, or pan-seared chicken thighs all complement the sweetness and tang of the orange rice beautifully.

Fish: Light and flaky fish like baked cod, salmon, or tilapia highlight the citrus notes in the rice.

Pork: Oven-roasted pork loin, tenderloin, or flavorful pork chops are a delicious accompaniment to the rice. Glazed pork tenderloin adds a touch of sweetness that complements the orange flavors.

Vegetarian Options: For a meatless meal, pair the rice with grilled tofu, tempeh, or a lentil burger. Black bean burgers also work well.

Other Recipes You May Enjoy

If you like Orange Rice, you might also like my Cabbage Apple Salad or my Surprise Potatoes. This Garlic Butter Rice and this Instant Pot Taco Rice are also delicious.

Final Thoughts

No matter what main dish you are making, Orange Rice will complement it well. It’s light and refreshing so it’s great any time of the year. I know my family will be making this on repeat.

White rice with celery in white bowl with orange slices in back.

Orange Recipe

Heidi Bruaw
Infused with the brightness of orange, this baked orange rice recipe is a delightful accompaniment to any meal. The simple combination of rice, vegetables, and citrus creates a flavorful side dish. The orange juice and zest add a touch of sweetness and tang, while the baking process ensures the rice cooks up fluffy and light.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Side Dish
Servings 6


  • ¼ Cup Butter
  • 2 Cups Hot Water
  • 1 Cup Rice uncooked
  • 1 Tablespoon Onion chopped
  • Cup Celery diced
  • 2 Tablespoons Orange Rind grated
  • ¾ Cup Orange Juice
  • teaspoons Salt


  • Preheat oven to 350℉.
  • Place the butter into the hot water.
  • Stir together the rice, chopped onion, diced celery, orange rind, orange juice, and salt.
  • Add the hot water and butter to the rice mixture.
  • Place in a 3-quart casserole dish.
  • Cover and bake at 350℉ for 45 minutes.
Keyword Orange Rice
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