Chicken and rice is a versatile combo that can be dressed up in so many tasty ways. Choosing the right sauce is key to bringing this simple plate to life and exciting your tastebuds!
In this article, we’ll explore 11 of the best sauces to serve with chicken and rice, from basic to creamy to spicy options. You’ll find plenty of ideas to suit every palate and transform a weeknight dinner into something special.
Why Chicken and Rice Works
Before diving into the sauces, let’s look at why chicken and rice just work so well together:
- Chicken is a lean, protein-packed option that offers a neutral canvas for sauces. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs are inexpensive, readily available, and easy to cook.
- Rice provides the perfect starchy accompaniment. White or brown rice soaked up flavorful sauces and provides filler to make a complete meal.
- Sauce binds everything together, adds moisture, and provides a flavor boost. With so many options, it’s easy to mix up your chicken and rice routine.
This winning combination provides a nutritious, balanced meal that satisfies. The rice offers plenty of carbs to fuel your body while the chicken provides protein to repair muscles and keep you strong.
Let’s explore some sauce ideas to really make that chicken and rice shine!
Basic Sauces for Chicken and Rice
If you’re looking for easy, everyday sauce ideas, start with these basic sauces made with common pantry staples:
- Flavor: Sweet, salty, umami
- Ingredients: Soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, cornstarch, water
- Tip: Garnish with sliced green onions and sesame seeds
Teriyaki is a Japanese classic pairing nicely with chicken and rice. The sweet soy flavor enhanced with garlic and ginger makes it a crowd pleaser.
- Flavor: Creamy, spicy
- Ingredients: Curry powder, coconut milk, garlic, ginger, onion, tomato paste
- Tip: Serve with warm naan bread
Transport your tastebuds to India with this flavorful curry sauce. Adjust the spice level to your preference by adding more or less curry powder. Mop it up with some warm naan.
- Flavor: Tangy, fresh
- Ingredients: Diced tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar
- Tip: Grate parmesan on top
Simple, versatile tomato sauce works with nearly everything. Make it your own by adding herbs like basil or oregano or a pinch of red pepper flakes for a kick.
4. Lemon Butter
- Flavor: Bright, buttery
- Ingredients: Butter, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper
- Tip: Use fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Butter and lemon make a fast skillet sauce for chicken. The tangy citrus cuts through the richness of the butter.
Creamy Sauces for Chicken and Rice
Sometimes you just need a little indulgence in the form of a creamy, luxurious sauce on your chicken and rice. Here are some decadent ideas:
- Flavor: Garlicky, cheesy, creamy
- Ingredients: Butter, garlic, heavy cream, parmesan, parsley
- Tip: Use real parmigiano-reggiano for best flavor
Classic alfredo is pure comfort food. Tossing the hot pasta with the sauce helps the parmesan melt into the most delicious creaminess.
- Flavor: Earthy, savory, creamy
- Ingredients: Sliced mushrooms, shallots, garlic, white wine, chicken broth, cream
- Tip: Try a mix of mushroom varieties
Sauteed mushrooms in a creamy wine sauce is a restaurant-worthy upgrade for chicken and rice.
- Flavor: Ooey, gooey cheese
- Ingredients: Butter, flour, milk, cheddar cheese, salt, pepper
- Tip: Add a dash of hot sauce
Smother chicken in a bubbly blanket of cheese sauce. The simplicity of cream and cheddar cheese makes this super satisfying.
Spicy Sauces for Chicken and Rice
If you like bold flavors and a touch of heat, spicy sauces are sure to satisfy. Adjust amounts to suit your tolerance for spice.
8. Hot Sauce
- Flavor: Vinegary, spicy
- Ingredients: Store-bought or homemade hot sauce such as Tabasco, Sriracha, or Frank’s Red Hot
- Tip: Add hot sauce slowly until desired spice level is reached
Perk up boring chicken and rice with a few dashes of fiery hot sauce. Use it in cooking or add directly on each bite.
9. Sambal Oelek
- Flavor: Fresh, chunky, spicy
- Ingredients: Chili peppers, shrimp paste, garlic, ginger, shallots, sugar, lime juice
- Tip: Use as a marinade or stir into rice
This flavorful Malaysian chili paste packs some heat. Its chunky texture and bright flavor make it incredibly versatile.
- Flavor: Smoky, spicy
- Ingredients: Roasted red peppers, garlic, spices like caraway and coriander
- Tip: Look for it in the ethnic food aisle
Harissa hails from North Africa and adds exotic spice to chicken and rice. Its blend of peppers, garlic, and spices provides a depth of flavor.
11. Piri Piri
- Flavor: Fiery, tangy
- Ingredients: Birds eye chilis, paprika, garlic, onion, lemon juice
- Tip: Marinate chicken in it before grilling
Piri piri’s heat is balanced by garlic, paprika and lemon. This Portuguese sauce infuses chicken with maximum flavor.
Putting It All Together
Now for the fun part – time to put it all together for a complete chicken and rice meal!
Here are some tips for building a balanced plate:
- Cook 6-8 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs to pair with rice. Bake, grill, saute, or pan fry.
- Make 1 cup uncooked rice like jasmine or basmati. Cook per package instructions.
- Steam, roast, or saute 1-2 cups vegetables like broccoli, green beans, carrots, or bell peppers.
- Add sauce during cooking or plate the sauce on top. Use about 1/4 cup sauce per serving.
- Round it out with extras like cheese, herbs, nuts, or Greek yogurt.
- Don’t forget seasoning! Salt, pepper, garlic powder, or lemon juice.
With protein, veggies, whole grains, and sauce, you have all the elements for a nutritious, colorful meal that will keep you feeling satisfied.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to sauces for chicken and rice. Get creative and try out new flavors! A yummy sauce can make all the difference.
|Sauce||Key Ingredients||Flavor Profile||Serving Suggestion|
|Teriyaki||Soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger||Sweet, salty, umami||Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds|
|Curry||Curry powder, coconut milk, garlic, ginger, onion, tomato paste||Creamy, spicy||Serve with warm naan bread|
|Tomato||Diced tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar||Tangy, fresh||Grate parmesan on top|
|Lemon Butter||Butter, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper||Bright, buttery||Use fresh-squeezed lemon juice|
|Alfredo||Butter, garlic, heavy cream, parmesan, parsley||Garlicky, cheesy, creamy||Use real parmigiano-reggiano cheese|
|Mushroom||Mushrooms, shallots, garlic, white wine, chicken broth, cream||Earthy, savory, creamy||Try a mix of mushroom varieties|
|Cheese||Butter, flour, milk, cheddar cheese, salt, pepper||Ooey, gooey cheese||Add a dash of hot sauce|
|Hot Sauce||Tabasco, Sriracha, Frank’s Red Hot||Vinegary, spicy||Add slowly to preferred spice level|
|Sambal Oelek||Chili peppers, garlic, ginger, shallots, sugar, lime juice||Fresh, chunky, spicy||Use as a marinade|
|Harissa||Roasted red peppers, garlic, spices||Smoky, spicy||Find it in the ethnic food aisle|
|Piri Piri||Birds eye chilis, paprika, garlic, onion, lemon juice||Fiery, tangy||Marinate chicken before grilling|
So swap out your usual plain chicken and rice for something vibrant and flavorful. With the right sauce, you can transform this classic comfort food into something really special. Give one of these delicious sauces a try tonight!
What are some quick and easy sauces I can make with pantry staples?
Some good options are teriyaki sauce made with soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, and ginger; tomato sauce from diced tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil; curry sauce using curry powder, coconut milk, and spices; or a simple lemon butter sauce.
What ingredients make a creamy, indulgent sauce for chicken and rice?
Heavy cream, butter, garlic, and cheese are key ingredients for creamy sauces. Try an alfredo sauce, mushroom sauce made with wine and broth, or a classic cheese sauce.
How can I add a spicy kick to my chicken and rice?
Use hot sauces like Tabasco, Sriracha or harissa, or make your own sauce with chili peppers, garlic, and spices. Sambal oelek and piri piri also provide plenty of heat.
What vegetables go well with chicken and rice?
Broccoli, carrots, green beans, bell peppers, and roasted vegetables like cauliflower or Brussels sprouts make great additions. They add color and nutrients.
How should I cook the chicken to go with rice?
Chicken breasts or thighs can be baked, pan-seared, grilled, or sautéed. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 165F. Then add your desired sauce.
What are good servings sizes for chicken and rice?
Aim for 6-8 ounces of chicken with 1 cup of rice per serving. Round it out with 1-2 cups of vegetables too. Adjust amounts based on your appetite.
What are other ways to flavor basic chicken and rice?
Fresh herbs, lemon juice, nuts, cheese, and Greek yogurt can all add interest. Don’t forget salt, pepper, garlic powder, and other seasonings too.
Which sauce would be best for kids?
Tomato sauce and cheese sauce tend to be safe, kid-friendly options. For more adventurous eaters, teriyaki or lemon butter are also mildly flavored.
Can I prepare sauce in advance?
Yes, many sauces store well for 3-5 days refrigerated. You can also make large batches and freeze portions for quick meals later.
What Sauce Goes with Chicken and Rice
- Teriyaki Sauce
- Curry Sauce
- Tomato Sauce
- Lemon Butter Sauce
- Alfredo Sauce
- Mushroom Sauce
- Cheese Sauce
- Hot Sauce
- Sambal Oelek Sauce
- Harissa Sauce
- Piri Piri Sauce
- Cook chicken breasts or thighs by baking, grilling, sautéing or poaching until fully cooked. Dice or shred chicken.
- Make rice according to package instructions.
- While chicken and rice cook, prepare your sauce.
- In a casserole dish or skillet, combine cooked chicken, rice, and your chosen sauce.
- Bake at 375F for 15-20 minutes until heated through.
- Garnish with parsley before serving.