This sweet and savory rice salad with almonds, carrots, and raisins will bring warmth and new flavor combinations to your dinner table. In fact, it may even outshine the mains!
If you have always thought that rice salad recipes are boring and never super tasty, here is a recipe to prove you wrong. This Persian-style version is fragrant, delicious, and exceptionally good-looking.
Coming from a half-Persian household, Persian rice was something we ate several times a week (similar to coconut rice). To change things up, my mom would save some of the leftovers to transform into a cold salad with all the mix-ins!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Serve it hot or cold. This salad is amazing whether it is served warm or cold.
- Vegan and gluten-free. Made without dairy, eggs, or gluten, this is very diet friendly.
- The perfect recipe for leftover rice. Leftover rice doesn’t always serve a purpose. If you have leftover cooked long-grain rice, use it as an excuse to make this delicious salad. You can even use sushi rice.
When I first served this rice salad recipe with some friends, there were a little intrigued by the ingredients but after one bite, they were swayed: this is the kind of salad you’d make over and over again!
What is rice salad made of?
This recipe doesn’t contain any special ingredients. It’s all about the unique combination of simple ingredients that make up the amazing sweet and savory flavor of this dish.
- Rice. I use basmati rice for this recipe as it is aromatic, soft, and fluffy once cooked. If you don’t have basmati rice, choose from other long-grain rice varieties.
- Almonds. Slivered or whole smoked. Almonds provide the crunch in the salad and add a nice nutty flavor.
- Carrots. Shredded. As we won’t be cooking the carrots it is important to shred and not cut them into chunky pieces.
- Raisins. I use golden raisins for this recipe not only because they complement the salad much better color-wise but because they are perfectly sweet, fruity, and chewy.
- Spices. Turmeric and saffron give the salad its signature golden yellow color and Middle Eastern flavors. I also like to add hot pepper flakes for mild heat.
- Salt. To taste.
- Lemon juice (optional). Drizzling lemon juice over the salad right before serving helps brighten up all flavors.
How to make a rice salad
To make this salad, cook the basmati rice and let it cool. Alternatively, save some leftover rice from another meal. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled rice with turmeric, saffron, salt, and red pepper flakes. Mix well.
Add the shredded carrots, raisins, and almonds. Mix well until fully combined.
Finally, drizzle with lemon juice and serve immediately.
Like any good salad recipe, this one is very forgiving and easy to customize! Here are some ideas:
- Use currants instead of raisins. If you don’t like the sweet flavor the raisins provide, use currants instead. While currants and raisins have similar textures, currants are tangy and not as sweet as raisins.
- Add apples. Chopped apples will add a refreshing flavor and crunch to this rice salad.
- Experiment with the nuts. If you don’t have almonds at home, add some toasted cashews or walnuts to the salad.
- Use curry powder. Curry powder will give this rice salad a deeper earthy flavor and some pungency.
To store: Place salad in an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 3 days. There is no need to reheat it before eating. Simply remove the salad from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature before serving.
With this said, if you like to have this salad warm, reheat it in the microwave.
More salad recipes to try
- Green goddess salad
- Cauliflower potato salad
- Greek couscous salad
- German potato salad
- Japanese potato salad
- Orzo salad
Frequently asked questions
White rice has a mild flavor that pairs well with a variety of ingredients. You can add sweet, spicy, and savory flavors to rice by mixing it with spices, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
Yes, this salad is gluten-free. If you have gluten intolerance, add this recipe to your favorites as it will come in handy when looking for easy but unique side dishes.
For a filling meal or snack, add some of your favorite protein on top. Boiled eggs, sliced chicken breast, and even a salmon fillet are great options.
Rice Salad Recipe
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled basmati rice and add the saffron, salt, and turmeric and mix well.
- Stir through the shredded carrots, golden raisins and smoked almonds and mix until fully incorporated.
- Top with lemon juice and serve immediately.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.
Arman, this looks delicious! I will definitely make it soon.
Congratulations on your big adventure in the U.S…enjoy!
Thank you SO much for your kind words, June! 🙂
I’m going to try this. Would this work
with cranberries instead of raisins?
Bahaha your mom sounds awesome! I love that you’re sharing a Mother’s Day recipe…that she doesn’t even like.
But, I have to disagree with Momma on this one…almonds and raisins BELONG to rice like peanut butter to jelly.
You understand. Pinned!
Oh you know I do. Thanks buddy 😉
Gah silly Internet ate up my comment. I’d love to see your mom with my grandmother- it would be a massive showdown between India & Persia: Who created _____ first! This rice bowl looks so yum & actually reminds me of the Indian rice dish known as biryani. Although most of the time, biryani also includes some kind of meat, especially mutton.
Hahahaha oh we need to organise it!
I LOVE Biryani- Especially with the curry mixed in!
Hahahaha! I totally want to meet Mama Arman! The part about the bag made it China totally made me crack up laughing this morning. Well written post, mate! Also, I think you need to rename this recipe. I don’t see lettuce. This clearly isn’t a salad. Quit filling the interwebs with lies! 🙂
I know, I know. I hang my head in shame.
PS- Romaine is called COS lettuce. Was confused as hell earlier.
Yummy! LOL the China reference was the best!
Right? Thanks Cassie!
“It says made in China.” <–HAHA. Legit laughed out loud at that. This looks great, very unique!
Your mom sounds like a real character! I’m glad you can laugh along, or at least I think you’re laughing along 🙂 I will have to disagree with her though on the salad. I think the raisin and almond addition is great!
Haha I just laugh and blissfully ignore it 😉
YES! Such great additions
Love this…all of it!
Of course you do- It was for you 😉
My family thinks they know EVERYTHING, but they do it all out of love….? haha. This looks delicious!
Hahaha right? Thanks Jess!
My mom would probably say that the Polish invented Turkish delight… or at least some better version of it 😆 I can’t even fault her for it, though, because a lot of foods DO taste better outside of North America. I have no idea what they’re doing to our food here, but it’s kind of scary to think about how many foods are banned in other countries and legal In the States…
Hahaha that wouldn’t surprise me- Polish cheese is delicious 😉
This is hilarious! Is your Mom chasing you with a wooden spoon virtually for that last comment? I love almond & raisins and they totally go with rice.
Hahaha she probably is! 😉 Thanks Megan!
Sounds delicious and I love your mom’s comment! You can always count on a mom for a dose of the truth! 😉
So true! Thanks Danielle!
Is it weird that I read all your Persian comments in Reza’s voice? (from Shahs of Sunset)
Also I laughed so hard at the thought of your mom chasing you with a wooden spoon! And this rice salad sounds delightful – spicy, sweet, salty – perfection!
I’m still so embarrassed lol! I thought you were a fan!
Thanks Sharon! 🙂
Lol don’t be embarrassed! I loved the show I just don’t have time to watch it. I’d get sucked into any Bravo show if I could.
I am a huge texture fan and I love the looks of this rice (without almonds since I am allergic 🙂
hahaha we can make yours with cashews or peanuts 😉
This mum says, “add as many almonds and raisins as you like, just save them for me!” 🙂 Love this Arman, your mom sounds like a wonderful and funny woman.
Thanks Linda! she really is 🙂