Homemade Gluten Free Rice A Roni Style Dinner

Homemade Gluten Free Rice A Roni Style Dinner

Make your own gluten free rice a roni dish with all the right flavors, and make a great meal tonight in no time at all. Add some protein, or leave it plain.

Make your own gluten free rice a roni dish with all the right flavors, and make a great meal tonight in no time at all. Add some protein, or leave it plain.

What’s for dinner tonight?

I guess because I write a food blog and cookbooks, you’d assume that I am always magically ready with a hot meal on the table at dinnertime. Hahahahahahahahaha. I dread dinnertime just like everyone else does. And I’m not much of a strict planner, either, like I know some of you are.

Whether you’re a last minute dinner rustler like I am or a planner with a schedule, you know the value of a really good homemade dinner that everyone loves—and comes together in mere minutes. Since I’m often serving different members of the family dinner at various times throughout the evening, anything that I can make in stages is truly a gem.

This homemade gluten free rice a roni style dinner ticks all the boxes. It’s super easy, uses regular pantry ingredients, can be made in stages (the spice mix can even be made weeks ahead of time and stored in a sealed container in your pantry), can be built up with protein or left plain, and everyone loves it.

I probably the only celiac son who doesn’t really care for plain rice, but he, too, loves this dish. It’s always in the back of my mind as a go-to dish, especially if I’m caught out on time and already made my last-minute gluten free pizza that week.

Make your own gluten free rice a roni dish with all the right flavors, and make a great meal tonight in no time at all. Add some protein, or leave it plain.

Is rice gluten free?

In case you were wondering, all rice is gluten free. In fact, it’s one of the most useful, versatile gluten free grains. That means that brown rice, wild rice, white rice, short grain, long grain and medium grain rice are all gluten free. Even so-called “glutinous rice” is gluten free, as its name refers to the sticky, starchy aspect of the rice itself.

When dry long grain white rice is ground super fine, it is the base for every all purpose gluten free flour blend I use. You can even grind it into a pretty fine flour yourself at home.

Cooked rice also makes the perfect side dish for almost any meal. It’s perfect to serve with gluten free orange chicken, lemon chicken or sesame chicken. And if you’re looking for dessert, you can turn almost any type of rice into rice pudding (as long as your rice wasn’t cooked in chicken stock or something else savory!).

*If you’re just getting started on a gluten free diet and would like to know the basic rules, maybe you’d like to see my Ultimate Guide to the Basic Rules of a Gluten Free Diet. Everything you need to know is in that guide, along with plenty of links for a deeper dive into some important information.

Make your own gluten free rice a roni dish with all the right flavors, and make a great meal tonight in no time at all. Add some protein, or leave it plain.

If rice is GF, why make your own Rice a Roni?

Rice is a naturally gluten free grain. But the actual Rice a Roni product that you can buy in stores contains much more than just rice. In fact, it even contains pasta made from wheat flour, making it most certainly gluten-containing.

In this recipe, we use naturally gluten free rice, plus dried gluten free pasta. To make it most like Rice a Roni in the package, we use gluten free spaghetti noodles and break them into pieces. That also ensures that everything cooks together at the same rate and nothing gets mushy.

My whole family absolutely loves this side-dish-that-can-be-a-main-dish. It’s also ridiculously easy to assemble the fragrant, flavorful dry mixes (and even dice the chicken ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator), so everybody wins.

Make your own gluten free rice a roni dish with all the right flavors, and make a great meal tonight in no time at all. Add some protein, or leave it plain.

How to make Rice a Roni

If you’ve ever made the actual boxed, gluteny Rice-A-Roni, you know how this works. My method is a teeny tiny bit different than the method on the box. I just find that this way works best for this particular copycat recipe.

When the Rice-A-Roni people tell you how to add chicken to the ingredients in the box, they tell you to cook it with the rice and pasta. But it only takes a few moments to sauté it separately, and it results in much more flavorful chicken that is never, ever overcooked.

Make your own gluten free rice a roni dish with all the right flavors, and make a great meal tonight in no time at all. Add some protein, or leave it plain.

Serve it with chicken, or without. But most importantly, please explain to me why they called it the “San Francisco treat.” I mean, really.

Make your own gluten free rice a roni dish with all the right flavors, and make a great meal tonight in no time at all. Add some protein, or leave it plain.

Ingredients and substitutions

The flavor profile doesn’t lend itself to using beef in place of the optional chicken, but I think that turkey would work fine. Here are a few words about the other ingredients and potential substitutions:

Dairy-free: If you use a vegan butter substitute (my favorite is Melt brand VeganButter, but I’ve also used virgin coconut oil and Earth Balance with success), this recipe is entirely dairy-free. I’d recommend cutting down on the salt a bit, though, if you use a vegan butter substitute as they tend to be quite salty.

Long Grain Rice: I used Lundberg brand long grain brown rice. They also make long grain white rice, but my kids are used to brown rice and I prefer using a complex carb to a simple one. You can’t use short grain rice as it takes much longer to cook.

And yes, the brown rice does cook completely during the 20 minutes that the pan is covered. It really helps to use a large round skillet with a tight-fitting cover, and measure your water carefully. I have also used this general recipe to make spaetzle-a-roni, believe it or not. And it was excellent!

Gluten Free Spaghetti: I used Barilla dried gluten free spaghetti in this dish. I wanted to make this recipe as simple and accessible as possible and gluten free spaghetti is readily available.

There are a number of companies that make gluten free vermicelli, though, and gluten free angel hair pasta. We’ve also engaged in a complete discussion of dried gluten free pasta brands if you’re interested to see.

If you’d like, you can use one of those brands of GF angel hair pasta for a slightly more authentic feel. I haven’t made this gluten free rice a roni with only rice, and no pasta. But I actually think it would work just fine.

Nutritional Yeast: I used Bragg brand “Nutritional Yeast Seasoning,” and I find it online, in my local health food store and in Whole Foods. Bob’s Red Mill also makes a gluten free “Nutritional Food Yeast,” but I haven’t tried it.

Nutritional yeast is an inactive form of yeast and has a mild nutty and cheesy flavor. And strangely, it sort of tastes like chicken. These are life’s little mysteries. Embrace them.

I don’t know of any substitute for the nutritional yeast—especially since it’s often used as a substitute for cheese. I imagine the dish would be quite good with finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, though.

Spices: This recipe has what I consider to be the perfect blend of mild but flavorful spices. If you’d like to experiment with replacing one or the other, you certainly can but I can’t promise how it will taste!


Make your own gluten free rice a roni dish with all the right flavors, and make a great meal tonight in no time at all. Add some protein, or leave it plain. #ricearoni #homemade #dinnertonight #glutenfree #gf

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 4 servings


For the dry mixes
1 1/2 cups (270 g) long grain rice (brown or white)

3 ounces (84 g) gluten free spaghetti (or gluten free vermicelli noodles), broken into 1-inch pieces

3 tablespoons (15 g) nutritional yeast flakes

2 teaspoons dried onion flakes (can substitute 1 teaspoon onion powder)

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon turmeric

For cooking
2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter

1 tablespoon (14 g) extra virgin olive oil

1 pound skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch square pieces (optional)

3 to 3 1/2 cups (24 to 28 fluid ounces) water (depending upon the type of rice used)


  • First, make the dry mixes. In a medium-size bowl, place the rice and spaghetti or vermicelli and mix to combine. Set the bowl aside or place in a 4-cup glass or plastic container with a lid, then set it aside. In a small bowl, place the rest of the dry mix ingredients and mix to combine well. Set the bowl aside or place its contents in a small, zip-top bag, squeeze out all the air and seal, then place in the lidded container with the rice and pasta and seal the container for later use.

  • To cook the dish, in a 12-inch skillet with a lid, place the butter and olive oil and melt the butter over medium heat.** Add the rice and pasta mixture to the skillet and stir to coat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the dried pasta and rice begin to smell nutty (about 3 minutes). Add the entire spice mixture, and mix to coat the grains evenly in the spices. Add the water (3 cups if using white long grain rice, 3 1/2 cups if using brown), and mix to combine. With the skillet still uncovered, bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low and cover the skillet. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the grains are tender. Allow to sit, covered, for 3 minutes before serving.

    **If adding the optional chicken, place the chicken in the skillet at this point, and sauté in the butter and oil for about 5 minutes total or until cooked through. Transfer the cooked chicken to a separate bowl, draining it of all liquid as you remove it from the skillet. Then proceed with the recipe as written, and add the chicken before serving.

  • Originally published on the blog in 2015. Recipe unchanged. Some photos and the how-to video are new.



Comments are closed.

  • Audrey Olney
    May 26, 2020 at 7:48 PM

    Making this for the second time tonight! Thanks Nicole!

    • Nicole Hunn
      May 26, 2020 at 8:18 PM

      So glad, Audrey!!

  • Suzanne R
    July 22, 2018 at 2:42 PM

    This sounds wonderful. I have been envious when my hubby just adds water to a single serve rice-a-roni and eats it with his dinner, and now I don’t have to be. On an unrelated note, I just love that almost every single recipe of yours that I’ve ever printed fits on ONE page. Thank you so much for that.

  • Kay
    July 22, 2018 at 12:46 PM

    Thanks for the great recipes! Where can I find the videos?

    • Nicole Hunn
      July 22, 2018 at 2:37 PM

      There’s a video associated with this recipe, Kay, that begins to play on desktop on its own (without sound). On mobile, you need to click the ▶️play button. If you don’t see a video, I suggest trying another browser. Some browsers block videos!

  • Tanya Donahue
    July 20, 2018 at 11:56 AM

    A lot of recipes use nutritional yeast because it’s flavor profile is cheesy so I’m sure you could use cheese to sub for the yeast with not much of a taste change.

    • Nicole Hunn
      July 20, 2018 at 3:00 PM

      Yes, I mention in the ingredients and substitutions section that I think finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese would work as a substitute for nutritional yeast flakes.

  • Jennifer S.
    February 11, 2015 at 8:36 PM

    I made this tonight but mine took twice as long to make. I had to add a whole can of chicken broth to get the pasta and rice to cook completely. I followed the directions, so I am not sure what went wrong. It was sticky also, not flaky. I used medium low heat as instructed, but not sure if my burner was too big??? HELP!!!

    • February 12, 2015 at 9:08 AM

      I understand that it can be frustrating when a recipe doesn’t turn out as you expected, Jennifer, but at this point I have made this very recipe 10 times (the last time being last night) and it works when made as instructed. My first thought is that your measurements were off (did you measure by weight? is your liquid measure accurate?), and my second is to ask if you either doubled the recipe (not advisable) or didn’t make it in the proper size skillet.

      • Jennifer S.
        February 12, 2015 at 1:31 PM

        I did use the correct size skillet, and weighed the rice and pasta. I used a glass measuring cup for the water. I did not double the recipe.

  • Karla
    February 8, 2015 at 8:04 PM

    Just made this tonight and it was really good! I followed the recipe pretty much exactly, maybe using a bit more spice. I, too, wondered if the pasta would be mushy, but it turned out great. I cooked ground turkey with onions, garlic, peas, and carrots in another pan and topped the finished rice mix with it. Gotta go make up some of the dry mixes now!

    • February 12, 2015 at 9:26 AM

      That’s awesome, Karla. Thanks so much for telling everyone about your additions. Sounds delish!

  • Carol
    February 7, 2015 at 12:24 PM

    Instead of using the nutritional yeast, couldn’t you make it using the other spices and, when adding liquid, use chicken broth instead? Would that give it enough of the chicken flavor without using yeast or a bouillion (gf)? I made a diy rice a roni mix that used the boullion but that was before our gf days. Thanks for giving us this option.. a great way to use leftovers or to create a special dish!

    • February 7, 2015 at 6:35 PM

      Carol, that really is quite a different recipe you are describing. Feel free to experiment!

  • Maggie J
    February 6, 2015 at 3:48 PM

    Tell your publisher corporate person that it is wrong! I would love a book of copy-cat recipes made gluten free! Is it possible to make the beef version of rice-aroni? I used to make porcupine meatballs out of it all the time before we discovered my wheat allergy. Oh, and San Francisco treat? It was originally made there, before it was sold to whoever makes it now.

    • February 6, 2015 at 5:40 PM

      Maggie, I have a book of copycat recipes coming out in 2 months! It’s called Gluten Free Classic Snacks. But they won’t go for another book of copycat recipes, with savory recipes and restaurant favorites. Classic Snacks is cookies, snack cakes, candy and crackers.

      • Lucy
        February 6, 2015 at 6:51 PM

        I think we need a blog vote, yay or nay, for the ” savory copycat and restaurant favorites cookbook”
        Publishers have been known to be wrong :)

        • February 7, 2015 at 6:35 PM

          I hear you, Lucy, but we’ve already settled on a next next book, and I’ve already started work on it. :)

  • Judy
    February 6, 2015 at 3:00 PM

    How can the long grain white and brown rice cook for the same time? When I cook brown rice it takes 45 min at a full boil.

    • Sandy Dell
      February 6, 2015 at 3:11 PM

      Yes, I agree with Judy. Nicole, can you address this for us? Thanks!!

      • February 6, 2015 at 5:39 PM

        As I explain in the recipe instructions, for brown rice, you use more water. You will also cook it on the longer end of the 15 to 20 minute range. Cooking the rice in a large skillet, mixed with pasta, allows it cook much more quickly. But I have never cooked even short grain brown rice for more than 40 minutes!

  • Brenda
    February 6, 2015 at 1:00 PM

    Nicole, this sounds absolutely amazing!! Thank you so much for making this without a lot of salt. Any good online sources for the nutritional yeast? Still laid up with the bum knee. And can we pretty please add to the list of requests for g/f makeovers the Uncle Ben’s Quick Cooking Wild Rice blend? :-) That was a staple in our household for years…. and I’m craving it something awful. LOL

    • February 7, 2015 at 10:45 AM

      Just do a google search, Brenda! I’m sure you can find the brand of nutritional yeast I recommend pretty easily, probably even on amazon.com. I’m afraid I don’t know that rice blend, but it sounds like it’s just a blend of different rice, not flavored. Not really my speed! Sorry!

  • Carole
    February 6, 2015 at 12:49 PM

    Oh, thank you. I used to use it as a take off to use up leftovers. One of the take offs is my daughters favorite comfort food.

  • Mel Bee
    February 6, 2015 at 11:50 AM

    Can I just say I love you? I DID grow up on Rice-a-Roni as a kid (it was the first thing I learned to “cook”) and this recipe makes my heart happy. I’m sure it will make my tummy happy, too! Thank you!!!!

    • February 6, 2015 at 12:11 PM

      You bet, Mel! Love you, too. *mwah*
      So funny you mentioned it was the first thing you learned to cook (no quotes! it is too cooking). I was thinking that, especially if I mix up the dry ingredients, my oldest could easily whip this up on her own. Not that she’ll want to, but still….

  • beth
    February 6, 2015 at 11:33 AM

    Do you know of a “second best” ingredient when it comes to the yeast. I am allergic but would still love a way to make a version of this.

    • February 6, 2015 at 11:34 AM

      I’m afraid not, Beth. Sorry!

    • Betsy
      February 6, 2015 at 2:49 PM

      how about adding some miso? mellow miso made from chickpeas for example?

  • Linda
    February 6, 2015 at 11:03 AM

    Doesn’t that seem like a long time to cook the noodle? Wouldn’t it come out too soggy?

    • February 6, 2015 at 11:33 AM

      Linda, 15 minutes is comparable to the amount of time as directed on the box of Rice A Roni, and I have made this 5 times, start to finish and never had a “soggy” noodle. Feel free to experiment, as always!

  • Mare Masterson
    February 6, 2015 at 9:48 AM

    I did not grow up with Rice a Roni as a staple in the house. We had it a couple of times. It was okay. So, I didn’t know I even needed this recipe until now! I know your DIY one is marvelous, because it is made with quality ingredients, not a lot of salt, and because all your recipes are amazing!

  • Beth
    February 6, 2015 at 9:29 AM

    Nicole, my jaw hit the floor and I may have said a Hallelujah in my head when I saw this recipe. I’ve missed the easiness of Rice-A-Roni and other rice mixtures. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this! I am a lifelong fan, have all three cookbooks and looking forward to the fourth. You are the best!!!! (oh and could I use this as a basis for a cheddar broccoli mix, like they sell in the stores? You’ve given me such hope!…..)

    • February 6, 2015 at 11:35 AM

      Seriously, this is so, so easy. Once I have the dry mix assembled (or frankly even if I don’t), I am able to have this on the table in no more than 20 minutes flat. And others on Facebook proclaimed their love of the cheddar broccoli mix, so you’re not alone!

  • Melody
    February 6, 2015 at 9:26 AM

    Oh I love this! I’ve missed my boxed rice flavors! Thank you so much for sharing this Nicole! I’m going to try it very soon! (And I can even do it DF for my dairy allergic kiddos if I sub the butter with DF butter! Hooray!) I’m so stoked!

    • February 6, 2015 at 11:35 AM

      This one is super easy to make dairy free for sure, Melody!

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