Brown Rice Salad

4.78 from 9 votes

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This pretty, vegetable-filled brown rice salad is the perfect side for cookouts and a welcome offering to bring to a potluck.

Vegetable and Brown Rice Salad in red bowl on wood table.

This healthy brown rice salad filled with colorful vegetables is the vegetarian side dish you’ve been looking for! Perfect for when you’re hosting a crowd, or asked to bring something to a potluck. It’s so easy to make, vegetarian, portable, gluten-free, flexible, and PRETTY. Really, really pretty. And a great way to get more whole grain brown rice into your meals in the most appealing way!

We do love a side dish that brings deliciousness and visual appeal while being able to withstand a car trip. Even a bumpy car trip. And one that does all of this without breaking the bank. This entire brown rice salad, which serves 10, could be produced for about 10 bucks worth of ingredients. It sidles up nicely to anything from Grilled Chicken Kebabs with Vegetables to New York Strip Steak with Jalapeno Butter to Grilled Peaches with Burrata to Poached Salmon.

Table set with bowls of brown rice and veggie salad with water.

This brown rice salad recipe is the vegetarian side dish you’re always looking for when you’re hosting a crowd or going to a potluck.

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Ingredients

You can definitely change up the vegetables depending on what’s on hand and what’s in season! Just keep thinking about color and texture, and whatever you add will be fine.

Brown rice, cucumber, carrots, celery, and other ingredients for salad.
  • Long-grain brown rice – Make sure to cook this ahead of time (up to 4 days), and that it’s cooled before making the salad.
  • Carrots – Shredded carrots add lovely color and nice texture to the salad.
  • Cucumber – Either use seedless cucumbers or make sure to scrape out the seeds before dicing them so the salad doesn’t become watery.
  • Onion – Use any color of onion you like; adds a nice bite to the salad.
  • Radishes – Slice as thinly as you can; adds crunch and color.
  • Celery – More fresh crunch.
  • Italian parsley leaves – Add more or less as you like.
  • Fresh thyme leaves – Adds a lovely herbal note.

Honey-Lemon Dressing

Fresh lemon, honey, mustard, and other ingredients for dressing.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Lemon juice – Use fresh if you can.
  • Honey – You can use agave nectar instead if you want this to be a vegan salad.
  • White wine vinegar – Feel free to sub in any kind of vinegar.
  • Dijon mustard – Adds zing to the dressing.
  • Garlic – Use fresh garlic, and make sure it’s finely chopped so it blends into the dressing.

What Type of Brown Rice to Use

There are a number of brown rice varieties easily available these days, from brown basmati to brown jasmine, and of course, plain regular brown rice works out just perfectly. Use any type that suits you (or what’s in your pantry).

Glass bowl of brown rice on marble table.

Variations and Substitutions

  • You might try other grains in place of the rice, such as quinoa, bulgur, farro, or wheat berries. Farro and wheat berries are denser, so I would say 2 cups of those grains to the same amount of vegetables would be smart. This way, the salad won’t get heavy. Or double the amount of vegetables and stick with the 4 cups of grains — either way.
  • Use agave instead of the honey for a vegan brown rice salad.
  • Play around with the vegetables! Just make sure to slice them thinly or cut them into small dice, so they blend in with the rice easily, and the salad can be scooped up with a fork. Try summer squash, zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes, lightly cooked and chopped broccoli, or sliced asparagus. I also would love to see some chopped-up grilled peaches in this salad for a little smoky sweetness!
  • If you have another vinaigrette recipe you’re into, there is no reason not to try it here, instead of the honey lemon dressing below. The bit of sweetness from the honey (or agave for a vegan dressing) plays really well against the very earthy ingredients in this rice salad, so if you can incorporate that, all the better. Try Honey Mustard Dressing, or this Sesame Honey Dressing, or Spicy Honey Tahini Dressing for a different twist.
Brown rice salad tossed with carrots, radishes, and other veggies in red bowl.

How to Make Brown Rice Salad

  1. Make the salad: In a large bowl, combine the brown rice, carrots, cucumber, onion, radishes, celery, parsley, and thyme.
  2. Make the dressing: In a small container, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper.
  3. Combine the salad: Pour the dressing over the brown rice salad, toss to combine very well, turn into a serving platter and serve at room temperature.

FAQs

What can I add to brown rice for taste?

A flavorful honey and lemon vinaigrette add a lot of interest to this brown rice salad recipe. Parsley and thyme add nice herbal notes, and all of the finely shredded and chopped vegetables also add great flavor.

Are rice salads really that healthy or not?

Brown rice is a very healthy grain, and all of the vegetables are very healthy as well. The light dressing doesn’t add much by way of calories or fat, so all in all, this is a very healthy salad.

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Woman scooping rice and vegetable salad into serving bowls.

More Grain Salad Recipes

And if you are as besotted by the notion of grain salads as I am, here are a few more to consider.

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4.78 from 9 votes

Brown Rice Salad

This pretty, vegetable-filled brown rice salad is the perfect side for cookouts and a welcome offering to bring to a potluck.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 10 People

Ingredients 

For the Brown Rice and Vegetable Salad

  • 4 cups cooked and cooled long-grain brown rice
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup diced seedless cucumber
  • ½ cup chopped red or yellow onion
  • 1 cup thinly sliced radishes
  • ½ cup thinly sliced celery
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

For the Honey-Lemon Dressing

Instructions 

  • For the salad, in a large bowl, combine the brown rice, carrots, cucumber, onion, radishes, celery, parsley, and thyme.
  • For the dressing, in a small container, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the brown rice salad, toss to combine very well, turn into a serving platter and serve at room temperature.

Notes

  • There are a number of brown rice varieties easily available these days, from brown basmati to brown jasmine, and of course, plain regular brown rice works out just perfectly.  
  • Try other grains in place of the rice, such as quinoa, bulgur, farro, or wheat berries. Farro and wheat berries are denser, so use 2 cups of those grains instead of the 4 cups of rice. 
  • Play around with the vegetables! Just make sure to slice them thinly or cut them into small dice, so they blend in with the rice easily, and the salad can be scooped up with a fork. Try summer squash, zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes, lightly cooked chopped broccoli, or sliced asparagus.
  • Try other vinaigrette recipes instead of the honey lemon dressing below. Consider Honey Mustard Dressing, this Sesame Honey Dressing, or Spicy Honey Tahini Dressing for a different twist.

Nutrition

Calories: 180kcal, Carbohydrates: 25g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 40mg, Potassium: 163mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 2365IU, Vitamin C: 10mg, Calcium: 28mg, Iron: 1mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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13 Comments

    1. Loved this and added wild rice, soaked currants and toasted almond slivers. I had a separate green salad so didn’t put in all the veggies. Added some ground cumin and fresh coriander in the dressing. Very nice!

  1. Delicious, changed up a few ingredients, don’t like radishes. Added some fresh kale. Really good and my husband loved it!