Homemade Vegetarian Rice A Roni

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White bowl filled with rice and a spoon

I don’t think we ever really outgrow our desire for foods we ate when we were kids. Even though I’m now a 41-year-old dietitian who eschews meat and tries to reach the goal of 9+ servings a day of produce, a steaming skillet of Rice-A-Roni can still make my mouth water. And I’m not alone. I recently taught a class on cooking with less sodium and made this recipe for sampling. It was a huge hit, I think because it felt doable.

Besides breaking up the pasta into little bits, it basically takes the same amount of time and energy as the original. The taste, texture, and appearance took me right back to 1985, eating my ronis, watching Val Kilmer in an After School Special. Even my sister, who isn’t much into cooking, asked for the recipe on this one.

Angled down view of a white bowl with rice and a wooden spoon

While it may seem strange for a nutrition blog to have a recipe for a typically high sodium, processed food, let me explain my thoughts. I might want to recommend a favorite recipe for a salad with mung beans and tofu that’s low in sodium, but it doesn’t matter how great it is if it’s too far outside someone’s comfort zone. I can present it to them with all the reasoning in the world of why it’s a healthier choice, but it may be too unfamiliar to give it a try in their kitchen.

Sometimes baby steps get us going in the right direction with more success. A journey to mung beans for dinner may seem like a thousand miles, but maybe making homemade Rice-A-Roni instead of using the boxed kind is the single step to begin eating better.

Top down view of rice in a white bowl

So,  I’ve taken a recipe from Chaos in the Kitchen, replaced the chickeny ingredients with vegetarian alternatives, and tried to make it a little healthier in terms of whole grains and fats.

Side view of a white bowl filled with rice


Whether you’re longing to return to 1985 or simply like the idea of making more of your meals from scratch and relying less on processed foods, my doable recipe and I are here to cheer you on.



Homemade Vegetarian Rice A Roni

Top down view of rice in a white bowl

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A familiar classic side dish that’s been vegetarianized.

  • Author: Veg Girl RD
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 3 1x
  • Category: Side dish


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 cup long grain white rice
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat angel hair pasta or spaghetti, broken into bite-sized pieces (about 2 ounces)
  • 14 fluid ounces low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon vegetarian broth powder, paste or cube
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • Black pepper to taste


  1. Heat oil and butter together in a large skillet over medium heat until butter is melted. Add rice and pasta and stir to coat with oil and butter. Cook until lightly browned, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add the vegetable broth, broth powder, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder and pepper.
  3. Bring to a boil, cover, then reduce heat to low. Cook 12 to 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally.
  4. When liquid has been absorbed, take a test bite to see if rice is cooked through. Add a couple of tablespoons of hot water and continue cooking if it needs a bit more time.


The sodium content of regular and low sodium broths and bouillons varies a great deal, so I encourage you to read the labels. I used Pacific Organic Vegetable Broth Low Sodium and Rapunzel Vegan Vegetable Bouillon with Sea Salt and was happy with the flavor and the nutritional content of the final recipe. For comparison, regular Chicken Flavor Rice-A-Roni has 1060 mg of sodium in 1 cup prepared.

Adapted from Chaos in the Kitchen.


  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 330
  • Sugar: 2 g
  • Sodium: 650 mg
  • Fat: 10 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.5 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 54 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 6 g
  • Cholesterol: 10 mg

Keywords: rice a roni, homemade, vegetarian, rice, recipe

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7 thoughts on “Homemade Vegetarian Rice A Roni”

  1. Val Kilmer! That reference totally takes me back.

    I love this idea. I guess I never realized that Rice-A-Roni was rice + pasta. In my memory, it’s just comfort food. Thanks for the trip down memory lane and such a good idea for anyone who might feel intimidated in the kitchen.

    1. Very funny. 🙂 You were the mastermind on this one. It was your crazy idea to try to make a low sodium version of a classic favorite in the first place.

  2. I love this post! So much of what I work on with clients is starting where they are – kale is an advanced health food for many people. Even happier to see links to October Unprocessed. =)

    So great to connect at IFBC last month – your site is beautiful and I’m going to keep poking around now.

  3. Pingback: Homemade Strawberry Quik Milk - Veg Girl RD

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