Inspired by classic NYC street food, this easy chicken over rice recipe piles seared chicken breasts over yellow rice. It’s dressed in a simple white sauce and makes the best dinner ever.
You might get bored with chicken for dinner every night if you’re like me. Its versatility is both a blessing and a curse! As much as I love some classics like air fryer chicken breast or baked chicken tenderloins, my family sometimes wants more.
Thankfully, this chicken over rice recipe is anything but ordinary. I was inspired by the classic NYC halal cart-style chicken, which features marinated and crispy chicken strips layered on a bed of curry-seasoned yellow rice with a creamy-tangy white sauce on top. My family loves to dig into this satisfying meal for weeknight dinners, but it’s also perfect for meal prep!
Table of Contents
- Simple and budget-friendly. I didn’t want to break the budget, so I made this chicken recipe with affordable ingredients like everyday dried spices, a basic chicken marinade, chicken breasts, and white rice.
- A marriage of flavor. Like my curry fried rice, I infused the yellow rice in this dish with wonderfully warm flavors that pair beautifully with the tangy white sauce and smoky-savory marinated chicken breasts.
- Quick and easy. This dish comes together in less than 30 minutes, making it perfect for a quick, weeknight dinner.
- All in one bowl. Like my Mediterranean bowl or salmon bowl, it’s the perfect one-dish dinner with little effort.
This ingredients list is a touch on the long side, but most, if not all, of these items should be in your pantry already. Let’s go over what you need:
- Lemon juice. You need freshly squeezed lemon juice for the chicken marinade and the sauce.
- Herbs and spices. Dried oregano, paprika, ground coriander, and cumin add heaps of warm and indulgent flavors to the marinade.
- Garlic cloves. Infuses a nice savoriness into the chicken marinade.
- Olive oil. To sear the chicken.
- Chicken breasts. I made this recipe with four butterflied boneless chicken breasts. As the main source of protein, the bite-sized pan-seared chicken pieces make this dish filling and satisfying. Boneless skinless chicken thighs will work as a substitute, but they’ll need to be seared for slightly longer.
- Mayonnaise and Greek yogurt. The base of the creamy white sauce.
- Sugar. I only used one tablespoon of white sugar in the sauce to balance the rich and tangy flavors.
- Rice vinegar. To help thin the sauce and give it a tangy element.
- Basmati rice. I recommend making this dish with long-grain rice, like basmati or jasmine rice.
- Butter. Adding melted butter to rice gives it a rich, mouthwatering flavor and texture.
- Curry powder and cumin. To season the rice and give it a vibrant golden color.
- Chicken stock. Cooking the rice in chicken broth adds more flavor than if you were to use water. I like to use low sodium broth so I can control the salt.
- Salt and black pepper. To season the chicken, sauce, and rice.
How to make chicken over rice
I’ve included step-by-step photos below to make this recipe easy to follow at home. For the full printable recipe instructions and ingredient quantities, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Step 1 – Marinate the chicken. Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl and add the chicken breasts. Set them aside to marinate.
Step 2 – Pan-sear. Sear the marinated chicken breasts in a hot skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown on both sides. Set them aside to rest before slicing them into strips or bites.
Step 3 – Make the sauce. Whisk the sauce ingredients in a bowl.
Step 4 – Cook the rice. Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat, then add the coriander and cumin. Toast the rice in the pot before pouring in the chicken stock, salt, and pepper. Bring it up to a boil, then cover and cook until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid.
Step 5 – Serve. Add a scoop of rice to each plate, then top with the chicken and sauce. Serve with fresh chopped tomatoes, spicy mayo, fresh parsley, and pita bread or lettuce, then enjoy!
Recipe tips and variations
- Butterfly the chicken. Slicing each chicken breast in half will not only leave you with enough to serve the whole family, but they will also cook much quicker.
- The chicken needs time to marinate. Soaking the chicken for a minimum of 10 minutes will infuse it with some tasty flavors; however, for the best results, marinate the breasts for 1 or 2 hours instead.
- Instead of pan-searing the chicken breasts, cook them in the air fryer, sous vide chicken breast, Instant Pot chicken breast, or oven baked chicken breast to avoid the excess oil.
- Use pre-cooked rice. If I’m short on time, I sometimes use pre-made rice. Sushi rice is always a winner, as is coconut milk rice.
- Omit the chicken. If all you want is an aromatic side dish, omit the chicken and enjoy the rice as-is with fragrant and flavorful dishes like beef kabobs, lamb vindaloo, chicken saag.
- Vegetarian substitutions. Cook the rice in vegetable broth and top it with falafel instead of chicken.
To store: I recommend storing the chicken, rice, and sauce separately in airtight containers. Keep them in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
To freeze: You can freeze the cooked rice and chicken in separate airtight containers or resealable ziplock bags for about 3 months. Let them thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
To reheat: Reheat everything together in the microwave or a skillet over medium heat.
More easy chicken dinners
- Chicken Lettuce Wraps – Healthy seasoned chicken loaded into crunchy lettuce cups.
- Air Fryer Chicken Parmesan – A quick and easy way to enjoy breaded chicken with tomato sauce and cheese on top.
- Instant Pot Chicken Thighs – An ultra-juicy and flexible chicken recipe that’s ready in 30 minutes or less!
- Firecracker Chicken – Crispy chicken bites glazed with a spicy, sweet, and tangy sauce.
Chicken Over Rice
- In a bowl, combine the lemon juice, oregano, paprika, coriander, cumin, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Add the chicken and marinate for at least 10 minutes, or up to two hours.
- Heat a frying pan or skillet and cook the chicken for 4-5 minutes per side or until golden brown.
- Let the chicken rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes before slicing them into strips or bites.
- Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
- Add the butter into a medium pot and heat it until it starts melting. Add coriander and cumin and stir for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Add rice to the pot and toast it for 4-5 minutes. Pour in the stock, salt, and pepper, and cook until it starts boiling. Reduce the temperature to medium, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.
- Remove the pot with rice from the stove for another 15 minutes to soak the rest of the liquid. Fluff with a fork.
- Serve by placing rice on the plate, followed by chicken and sauce on top.
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