How to Cook Everything: The Basics: Chicken and Rice


By Alaina Sullivan

The simple combination of chicken and rice is a one-pot dish that’s made all over the world. Despite the countless variations on the theme, this version is stripped down to the bare essentials: chicken, rice and onion (with peas added at the very end). Short-grain white rice is what the classic recipe calls for, but since I already had brown jasmine rice on hand, I went with long-grain (less sticky, more fragrant).

The ingredients initially take turns in the pan (the chicken browns, then the onion sautés, then the rice gets a glossy coat), until finally all three come together to simmer, covered and undisturbed. The rice will slowly absorb the cooking liquid (water, or stock, if you want a more intense flavor), and become tender at about the same time that the chicken is cooked through. With saffron laced throughout, peas adding little bursts of sweetness, and fresh lime juice to brighten the entire plate, this one-pot wonder deserves a spot on your roster of go-to recipes. Recipe from How to Cook Everything: The Basics.

Chicken and Rice

Time: About 1 hour

Makes: 4 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 whole cut-up chicken or about 3 pounds parts

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 medium onions, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 1/2 cups short-grain white rice

Pinch saffron threads, optional

3 1/2 cups water, chicken stock, or vegetable stock, or more as needed

1 cup peas (frozen are fine; no need to thaw them)

2 limes, quartered, for serving

1. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the chicken, skin side down. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, undisturbed but adjusting the heat so the chicken sizzles but doesn’t burn, until the pieces release easily from the pan, 5 to 10 minutes. Then turn and rotate them every few minutes to brown them evenly. As the chicken pieces brown, after another 5 to 10 minutes, remove them from the pan.

2. Reduce the heat under the skillet to medium and pour or spoon off most of the oil so that only 2 tablespoons remain. Add the onions to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until they soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and rice; cook, stirring, until the rice is glossy and coated with oil. Crumble in the saffron threads if you’re using them.

3. Return the chicken to the pan, add the water, and stir gently to combine everything. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat so it bubbles gently but steadily. Cover the skillet and cook, undisturbed, for 20 minutes, then check the rice and chicken. The goal is to have the liquid absorbed, the rice tender, and the chicken cooked through. If the rice is dry but nothing is ready, add another 1/4 cup water and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. The meat is done when a quick-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 155–165°F.

4. Remove the skillet from the heat. Taste the rice and adjust the seasoning. Add the peas, then cover the pan again and let it sit for 5 to 15 minutes. Fish the chicken out of the pan and transfer it to a serving platter. Fluff the rice with a fork, spoon it around the chicken, add the lime wedges, and serve.


Saffron (as you probably know if you’re using it) is not cheap. Fortunately a little goes a long way.

-Don’t be intimidated by cooking chicken and rice in the same pan. It’s no harder than cooking either ingredient on its own. You may need to monitor the moisture in the pan toward the end of cooking, but as long as you resist the urge to uncover the skillet and stir, it will come out great.

-Short-grain rice is classic here, but if you like rice less sticky and more fluffy, use long-grain rice. You’ll probably need to add the extra liquid in Step 3.


Chicken and Lentils: Skip the peas and use lemon instead of lime. Replace the rice with 1 cup dried brown or green lentils (rinsed and picked over) and continue with the recipe.


Posted in Recipes


  1. emilyjones9 said...

    I’ll try it write away. Hope it’ll be delicious.<a href="">70-545(CSHARP)</a><a href="">70-545(VB)</a><a href="">70-547(CSHARP)</a>

  2. voltaireferrer said...

    If you are a contractor, <a href="">home builders luxury</a> is a heaven for you! They have offers and major deals that are very affordable and quality-wise products! In there you will learn <a href="">types of flooring</a> used for different kinds of weather and also for various designs. You will also learn <a href="">how to remove carpet</a> on your own.

  3. johnandrewwalsh said...

    This looks great! Could I do the final simmer in the oven at around 325? I burn stuff to a crisp when I try to do it on the stovetop

  4. mrg123 said...

    Firstly, this was delicious. Secondly, in the variation with lentils it should mention that it takes significantly longer than cooking rice. The lentils needed to cook for close to an hour.

  5. I together with my pals were checking the best tips and tricks located on your site and then instantly developed a horrible suspicion I never thanked the web blog owner for them. Those women are actually as a result very interested to see all of them and have now pretty much been enjoying them. Many thanks for really being well kind and then for utilizing this sort of extraordinary areas most people are really desirous to understand about. My honest regret for not saying thanks to sooner.

  6. Shannon Ramsey said...

    Thanks for the recipe. I didn’t know how to cook this dish although it is one of my favorites. And I didn’t use a whole chicken but boneless chicken breast. It still turned out great. Thanks again. Peace

  7. Shantell Leslie said...

    This was delicious! I’m didn’t add the peas. The rice cooked to perfection and had an awesome flavor thanks to the onion, garlic and broth. This will definitely be a family favorite.

  8. DGM said...

    Delicious! I used boneless chicken thighs and brown rice. The brown rice took ~45 to cook.

  9. Anna Wright said...

    Thank you for this fantastic info to Cook Everything The Basics: Chicken and Rice. The tips listed above are insightful and will help me a lot. The article is well written as well.

  10. shouldn’t the chicken thighs be marinated in some kind of marinade and refrigerated for a few hours or overnight before cooking this nice recipe.
    Please advise as I believe I saw a similar recipe a long time ago, but the chicken was marinated first in the fridge.Thanks

  11. Carrie said...

    I tried this recipe tonight. The chicken tasted great but rice was way too soggy. I used 2 cups short grain rice and 3.5 cups liquid. After exactly 20 min, I uncovered the dish to find a big soupy looking dish. Not sure how much liquid I should’ve used since it says to cover undisturbed for 20 min so it’s not like I could’ve kept an eye on it and adjusted accordingly.

  12. deborah reading said...

    I love cooking like that. My fiance can’t stand veggies so I chop them up soo small he can’t see them. I put them with the meat, olive oil and spices. I then put olive oil in a pan and brown the meat and chopped veggies with the olive oil. He’s diabetic and that’s the only way he gets his veggies.

  13. cynthia chipeta said...

    nice i got it


  14. Tobias said...

    What I do is put water in a pot,boil frozen chicken for an hour then cut it into pieces.

    Then I put the rice in and put salt and pepper into it and wait for the rice to be done. Sometimes I add dumplings

  15. CJC said...

    Thanks for the warning, Carrie!

    I used 1/2 cup less liquid – 1/2 cup chardonnay and 2 and 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth and it came out great. Also added 6 large crimini mushrooms sliced to the veggie saute. More would have been even better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *