Rice Salad


5 from 22 votes
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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!

rice salad.

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.

cold rice salad.

Flavor variations

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. 

Storage instructions

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. 

rice salad recipes.

More salad recipes to try

Frequently asked questions 

What is good to mix in with rice?

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. 

Is this recipe gluten-free?

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. 

Can I add protein?

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.

Rice Salad Recipe

5 from 22 votes
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!
Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 1 minute
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 6 minutes


  • 2 cups cooked basmati rice cooled to room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 cup carrots shredded
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup smoked almonds slivered
  • 1/4 lemon juiced


  • 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.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 191kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 5gFat: 5gSodium: 304mgPotassium: 225mgFiber: 2gVitamin A: 2675IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 44mgIron: 1mgNET CARBS: 32g
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Author: Arman Liew
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

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  1. And I adore this recipe, even the raisins and I’m not a huge raisin girl. I can see why they’d work wonderfully here though especially with the crunch of the almonds and the shredded carrots. I need to make this stat!

    1. oh God. I just added raisins to the meatless meatballs and was about to message you saying ‘It’s a meg recipe!’

  2. I love the combo of flavors in here. Nice vegan healthy salad that I could eat any day of the week. My kind of food.

    1. Thanks so much, Miryam- Definitely good to have on hand for easy lunches…after some cheeky no bake bars 😉

  3. Oh wow! Everything I love is here – basmati rice, raisins, almonds…..I can almost taste it! Definitely adding to my must-try list! 🙂

  4. Who invented Turkish Delight? I’m not touching that one, no way. Passions run way too high.

    When my spouse returned from his last Iraq deployment he was raving about some rice dish with almonds and raisins that he’d eat when meeting with local officials. He got a rough recipe from one of his translators, but it wasn’t enough for me to make it.

    Thanks for this, Aunty Arman!

    1. Hahahaha, that’s a smart way to go about it!

      Ohhhh I think this would be very similar- Trust the Iraq VS Iran contest over a rice dish! 🙂

  5. Holy flavor Batman! This rice salad looks so legit! Can’t wait to try it out!

  6. This looks so good! I love the addition of almonds and raisins! And I’m giggling at your mom – she sounds like a riot! 🙂

  7. Love your repping of the Persian roots here, Arman! That’s a dish I know all too well thanks to my mom and grandmother as well, and you’ve really taken it up a notch! 🙂

  8. Pinning this 🙂 It’s clearly taste and texture! One cannot succeed without the other!
    What a good son you are! My mum doesn’t give me any room for creativity either. She texted me the other day that for Mother’s Day she wants a cake filled with pudding. Okay mum, challenge accepted – not that I had any chance 😛
    And expertise based on heritage? Sure! Beer 😉

  9. This sounds wonderful, Arman. I love the sound of this side…perfect for Mother’s Day or any day…this would go with so many dishes.

  10. You post made me smile!!! You mom sounds amazing and so fun. And this rise? Amazing just as well!! I’m loving everything about it and I’m thinking this is something my whole family will love. Tell your mom that a family in San Diego is loving the recipe!!

    1. Kim!!! We have relatives in San Diego and San Jose- I’ll make her personally come and make it for you guys 🙂

  11. I have this for lunch at work whenever the kitchen sends it to us! Instead of rice, they use couscous but it’s just as good! Thanks for the recipe! My family is Polish so whenever I asked my mom for new socks because mine were only holes, she gave me the newspaper…

  12. I am so making this. as soon as I cat EAT again (had a massive dental surgery today, guh). I will have this waiting for me in a few days…

  13. I have no idea who invented Turkey delight for real, but I tried to make it once in college and failed miserably. That was also in my hot-pocket-turkey-sandwich days, so I guess I can’t really blame myself.

  14. See, now THIS is my kind of salad.
    And while my mom isn’t nearly as funny as yours, she does go on quite a tangent about “fat free” foods a lot. Its annoying as hell.
    Fat free foods are less calories!
    Fat free foods are better for you!
    You won’t get fat from fat free foods!
    Oh my gosh mom do you know its 2015 and that “fat free” crazy was like, 10 years ago?!