Chicken and Yellow Rice

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Chicken and Yellow Rice bowls are loaded with fresh and crunchy veggies, African-inspired yellow rice, paprika-spiced chicken, and the best sun-dried tomato sauce.


Overhead image of Chicken and Yellow Rice.

Chicken and Yellow Rice

I haven’t shared too many recipes inspired by the time we visited my in-laws in Johannesburg, South Africa last Fall. I’m finally remedying that today, and making up for it with one of the best recipes!

Chicken and Yellow Bice bowl is inspired by a dish I had in the city; it was one of my favorite things I ate the whole trip. While this recipe is far from an authentic South African dish, it’s a new family favorite at my home. I’ll be honest– it took a bit of coaxing to get the boys to try the yellow rice at first, but once they did, they deemed it the “best rice ever.” Now they complain when white or brown rice hits the table– ha!

I took inspiration from South African Piri Piri chicken and yellow rice. First, I simplified both of the components of the meal as much as possible. I also cut down the spice to make this chicken and rice dish family friendly and ensure ingredients are readily accessible. While the chicken does have a little bit of a kick to it, the dish as a whole is fairly mild when everything is put together. This dish is more “smokey” flavored than spicy, but if you’re very sensitive to spice, it could be a bit overwhelming.

Process shots-- images of the yellow rice being made.

Yellow Rice

The yellow rice for this dish is deeply savory, a little sweet, and loaded with flavor! There are bursts of sweetness from the raisins and crisp bites of corn throughout. Here is a list of the basic elements, and how they play into the overall flavor of the rice.

  • Butter. We use unsalted butter so we can control the amount of salt in the rice. If you don’t have butter, vegetable or canola oil work instead.
  • Seasonings. The one essential spice to use is turmeric. (That’s where the yellow hue comes from!) Two optional additions add flavor and warmth to the rice: yellow curry powder and ground ginger. I use Simple Truth Organic® yellow curry powder which is very mild (not spicy).
  • Brown sugar. Just a little bit of brown sugar adds the perfect contrast to balance the seasonings and gives a slight sweetness to the rice.
  • Basmati Rice. In Chicken and Yellow Rice, we prefer basmati rice. Long grain white rice can be used instead if you prefer (differences between white rice and basmati rice here).
  • Chicken Stock. The stock adds a great seasoning and so much flavor, so use a good quality stock. We love Swanson’s® chicken stock best (not sponsored).
  • Raisins. I know this is a strange addition, but it truly adds so much to the rice in ways of a good chewiness and subtle sweetness. I use regular natural seedless sun-dried raisins (read about the differences between the different types of raisins here). 
  • Frozen Corn. The corn adds freshness to the rice and a crisp contrasting texture. Read under “chicken and rice toppings” for an option to use fresh corn instead.


Let’s talk turmeric. Turmeric brings warm flavors to any dish it’s added to. Flavor-wise, it is very earthy, almost bitter and musky, with a bit of peppery spice. The flavor of this spice is balanced nicely with the sweetness from the brown sugar, raisins, and corn.

Process shots-- images of the sun-dried tomato sauce being made.

Sun-dried Tomato Sauce

This sauce is smoky, sweet, and a tiny bit spicy. It ties everything together so nicely in these bowls.

  • Sun-dried tomatoes. Make sure to use sun-dried tomatoes that have been packed in oil and julienne cut. The oil from the tomatoes will also be used in this sauce.
  • Mayo. We love Hellman’s/Best Foods® mayonnaise in this sauce (not sponsored). It has a robust flavor without being too sweet.
  • Garlic. Add garlic to personal preference; we like 1-2 cloves in this sauce.
  • Smoked paprika. This is the only seasoning in this sauce and the main flavor profile. It gives the sauce a slight hit of heat and wonderful smoky flavor.
  • Red wine vinegar and lemon juice. These two ingredients add a slight hit of acid.
  • Olive oil. Once the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes has been used, we finish it off with extra virgin olive oil. The better quality of olive oil, the better the sauce will taste.


Smoked paprika vs. plain: Regular paprika is made from crushed dried chilies, while smoked paprika uses chilies that are smoke-dried and then crushed into a spice. Smoked paprika contains chiles that are typically smoked with oak, giving it a rich, smoky, outdoor flavor.

Chicken and Yellow Rice Bowls Shortcut

While the rub on this chicken isn’t overly difficult or time-consuming, it still takes time to do, especially when all the other components are considered.

To simplify this aspect of these Chicken and Yellow Rice Bowls, use rotisserie chicken instead or simply drizzle chicken breasts with olive oil and then sprinkle on salt, pepper, oregano, and smoked paprika (about 1 teaspoon of each per 1.4 pounds of chicken).


For extra-tender chicken in these Chicken and Yellow Rice bowls, use thighs instead of breasts.

Process shots-- images of the marinade for the chicken being made and grilled.

Chicken and Yellow Rice Toppings

The toppings add crunch, vibrancy, and much-needed freshness to cut through the smokiness and spice of the other components. Below are our favorite toppings for Chicken and Yellow Rice:

  • Persian cucumbersEnglish cucumber or Persian cucumbers (sometimes labeled as mini/salad cucumbers) are crunchy and mild. The skin is thin and edible so there’s no need to peel. They add a nice crunch and freshness to the chicken and yellow rice.
  • Fresh mango. While not featured in these photos, the bowls we enjoyed in South Africa had loads of fresh, ripe mango. It was such a great addition and definitely one I’ll add to these bowls when they’re in season.
  • Grilled corn. If you have access to fresh corn, we love to grill it on the cob alongside the chicken and stir that into the yellow rice instead of using frozen corn. Read up on how to grill whole corn on the cob in the “quick tip” section below!
  • Ripe avocado. A good ripe avocado adds a nice creamy element to the dish.
  • Fresh lemon wedges. For a hit of citrus, we like to squeeze a wedge of lemon over everything right before eating.
  • Arugula and spinach mix. This salad blend adds a peppery flavor and additional fresh component to the Chicken and Yellow Rice.

In the recipe, several of the ingredients overlap but have been written out twice for clearer recipe reading! 

If I could only choose two toppings, I’d recommend the cucumbers and avocado.


To grill corn on the cob, peel back husks, and remove silk. Rub vegetable oil on all sides of the corn and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place on heated grill (400 degrees F) and rotate every 3-4 minutes or until charred. Remove, let cool, and then slice off the cob. You can also use this same method for a grill pan.

Overhead image of Chicken and Yellow Rice on a plate ready to be eaten.

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Chicken and Yellow Rice

4.67 from 3 votes
Chicken and Yellow Rice bowls are loaded with fresh and crunchy veggies, African-inspired yellow rice, paprika-spiced chicken, and the best sun-dried tomato sauce.
Print Recipe

Chicken and Yellow Rice

4.67 from 3 votes
Chicken and Yellow Rice bowls are loaded with fresh and crunchy veggies, African-inspired yellow rice, paprika-spiced chicken, and the best sun-dried tomato sauce.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Healthy
Keyword chicken and yellow rice
Prep Time 50 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 336kcal
Author Chelsea Lords
Cost $9.82


Chicken (See Note 1)

  • 1 pound, 4 oz (20 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs (~2 large breasts)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Fine sea salt and pepper
  • 2 large lemons (2 tablespoons juice; 1/2 teaspoon zest)
  • 1 tablespoon grated garlic (~2-4 cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: smoked paprika, dried oregano, honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes


  • 1 cup basmati rice, thoroughly rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 cups chicken stock (I recommend Swanson)
  • Optional rice additions: 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/8 teaspoon yellow curry powder, 1/4 cup (33g) raisins; 1 cup (152g) frozen corn


  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes with herbs (packed in oil)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (See Note 2)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Toppings (optional)

  • Arugula/spinach blend, thinly sliced Persian or English cucumbers, thinly sliced ripe avocado, fresh chopped mango, lemon wedges


  • CHICKEN RUB: Place 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, 1 tablespoon grated garlic (I use a microplane to grate), 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon honey, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste (I add 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper) in a large bowl or zipper-top plastic bag. Whisk together or knead the bag with your hands to mix.
  • CHICKEN: Slice large chicken breasts in half horizontally. Cover chicken breasts with plastic wrap (to avoid splatter). Using a meat mallet or the bottom of a frying pan, pound breasts to even thickness (you don't want to flatten the meat, just even it in thickness). Pat chicken dry with a paper towel. Put in the bowl or bag with the chicken rub and make sure it is generously coating chicken. Seal (or cover the bowl tightly) and refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes or until the other aspects of this dish are ready and it's time to grill!
  • RICE: Meanwhile, rinse rice in a fine-mesh sieve under cold water until the water runs clear. Tap the sieve a few times to remove any excess water. Heat a medium-sized pot with 2 tablespoons oil or butter over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder and 1/8 teaspoon yellow curry powder (if using), and 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Sauté seasonings and sugar for 1 minute. Add the rinsed rice to the pan and sauté for about 2-3 minutes. Add in the 2 cups of stock and 1/4 cup raisins and bring to a boil. Season (I add 1 teaspoon salt, but this will vary depending on how salty the stock is), cover, and then reduce heat, and simmer over lowest temperature until rice is completely cooked (about 18- 20 minutes). Add additional stock if needed (if the stock is absorbed and rice isn't tender). Remove from the heat and let stand for 5-10 minutes. Then stir in frozen corn if using. Let stand, covered, until serving.
  • SAUCE: In a food processor, add the sun-dried tomatoes (using a fork, pull them out of the oil from the jar to measure), coarsely chopped garlic clove, and 1/4 cup mayo. Process to combine and add in 1 tablespoon red vinegar and 1 teaspoon smoked paprika. Process to combine; then, while the motor is still running, gradually drizzle in the oil, one tablespoon at a time, until sauce is emulsified. Add the lemon juice, process to combine, and season to taste. (I add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.) Place in the fridge to chill. This can be made ahead of time (and only gets better as it sits!). Simply pulse it again or stir it up before serving.
  • GRILL CHICKEN: Preheat grill to medium high (400-450 degrees F.) Add chicken to cleaned and greased grill (I rub grill grates with a vegetable oil-drenched paper towel). Grill for 4-5 minutes per side, flipping over halfway in between or until chicken registers 160 degrees F. Remove to a plate and tent with foil to rest for 5-10 minutes. Chop into bite-sized pieces or thinly slice for these bowls.
  • ASSEMBLE: Divide rice evenly among plates and top with chicken. Add desired toppings: we like thinly sliced Persian cucumbers, a handful of arugula/spinach mix, ripe avocado, and occasionally will add in a diced mango. Top bowls with loads of sauce and enjoy, drizzling a wedge of lemon over everything if desired.


Recipe Notes

Note 1: To simplify the chicken in these bowls, use rotisserie chicken instead or simply drizzle chicken breasts with olive oil and then sprinkle on salt, pepper oregano, and smoked paprika (about 1 teaspoon of each (1/2 teaspoon pepper) per 1.4 pounds of chicken).
Note 2: I use all 1/4 cup (47g) oil from the tomatoes container first and then use 1/4 cup (47g) extra virgin olive oil for the rest of the 1/2 cup total measurement of oil.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 336kcal | Carbohydrates: 21.5g | Protein: 29.9g | Fat: 13.8g | Cholesterol: 101.6mg | Sodium: 224.5mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 4.5g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.


I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 4 stars
    I enjoyed this dish. It has a lot of flavor. I only gave it 4 stars bc it didn’t appeal to everyone in our family. I was the only one who used the sauce and my husband didn’t like the rice. That being said I thought the sauce complimented the dish nicely – toning down the spice in the chicken and sweet in the rice. For the rice, I may cut back a little on the brown sugar next time bc it is pretty sweet. I used ground ginger, raisins, and corn as suggested. The sauce has a nice tang to it…I kept going back for more and liked it chilled the next day with leftovers. I plan to meal prep and use for my weekday lunches!

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