This 30-minute recipe for cheesy rice is similar in taste to mac and cheese and just as easy to prepare! The recipe uses only one dish, so you won’t be stuck at the kitchen sink for hours afterward cleaning up (*silently fist pumps in the air*). Ready? Let’s whip it up!

Graphic for post – easy cheesy rice, loved by baby, toddler, and kids, for simple ingredients. Image is of a blue kids bowl on top of a blue kids play with a blue napkin a blue spoon with cheesy rice on top.

Easy Cheese Rice

This cheesy rice is a comforting side dish that the whole family will love. And it can easily take the spotlight of the meal if you choose to add a protein or veggie to it. It’s that versatile and simple!

Naturally gluten-free and made with kitchen staples, it also stores well for lunches the next day. And this cheesy rice uses only one dish, so you won’t be stuck at the kitchen sink for hours afterward cleaning up (*silently fist pumps in the air*).

Feeding kids can be tricky! But, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Here you will find real-life toddler meal ideas, over 100 toddler snack ideas, great hidden-veggie recipes50 cooking with toddler recipes, and so much more! For even more toddler-friendly recipes, be sure to check out my best-selling cookbook: Little Foodies: Recipes for Babies and Toddlers with Taste.

Cheesy Rice Video

Watch this video to see how easy it is to make this family-friendly cheesy rice!

spread of ingredients for cheesy rice on a white counter with graphics of texts for each ingredient.

Ingredients Needed

  • Rice: Jasmine or any other type of white rice works best, or you can use brown rice which has more fiber and B vitamins but will take longer to cook.
  • Cheese: grating your own cheese (instead of pre-shredded) will melt the best in this dish, we love sharp cheddar but feel free to try a combination of a couple different cheeses for added flavor
  • Butter: to help the cheese mix well with the rice
  • Salt: optional, feel free to omit if serving to baby under 1 year
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder

Tip: You can also substitute cauliflower rice for this recipe. You’ll need to cook the cauliflower rice in either a skillet or microwave and then stir in the remaining ingredients.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Favorite Add-Ins

The ability to customize this cheesy rice is where it’s at! Rice and cheese make for an easy base to add a variety of different veggie or protein options. We’d recommend not adding any more than 1-2 cups of additions per batch of cheesy rice for the best results.

  • broccoli
  • cooked chicken
  • cooked salmon
  • peas
  • chopped asparagus
  • chopped or pureed sweet potatoes
  • chopped carrots
  • riced cauliflower
  • chopped parsnips
  • black beans
  • cooked and chopped spinach
  • cooked and chopped onions
Kids blue bowl and plate with fluffy cheese rice inside with blue spoon resting on top.

How to Serve Cheesy Rice to Baby

You can offer cheesy rice to baby around 6 months, about the same time you would start to introduce other solid foods. Since cheese is a food that’s often higher in sodium, you may want to offer this food sparingly and continue to serve in moderation once your baby gets closer to 12 months of age.

Rice can be tricky for small hands to pick up and eat – although this cheesy rice does tend to stick together better, making it a little easier for your baby to grasp. Try rolling it into a little ball and placing on their tray or pre-loading a spoon with cheesy rice flattened on it and handing to your baby. Encourage small bites to minimize choking risks.

How to Serve Cheesy Rice to Toddlers and Kids

Toddlers can eat this cheesy rice rolled into a ball shape or practice using their spoon, fork, or even fingers to scoop it. For younger toddlers, you can still alternate offering a pre-loaded spoon in between their own attempts at bites, if your toddler seems to be frustrated by those little grains of rice. Older kids can help with picking out a veggie to add to the cheesy rice.

Kids blue bowl and plate with fluffy cheese rice inside with blue spoon resting on top.

Expert Tips

  • Serve in moderation for younger babies due to sodium content in cheese. You can also choose to make it with water instead of broth if watching sodium levels.
  • Depending on the type of rice you use, be sure to adjust the cooking time according to the directions on the package.
  • Form the cheesy rice into little balls or rice “patties” which makes it easier for little hands to pick up and manage.
  • Choose rice from California and give it a good wash to help reduce arsenic content.
Kids blue bowl and plate with fluffy cheese rice inside with blue spoon resting on top.

Get the recipe: Easy-Peasy Cheesy Rice for Kids (Stovetop Recipe)

3 stars (2 ratings)
This cheesy rice is a savory and satisfying dish that both kids and adults will love. It's similar in taste to mac and cheese and just as easy to prepare!

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups jasmine or other white rice, preferably organic (see notes below)
  • 2 cups veggie or chicken broth, or water
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 cup shredded cheese

Instructions 

  • Place the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse until the water is clear.
  • Add the broth/water, rice, butter, garlic powder and onion powder into a medium sauce pan. Over high heat, bring to a boil.
    Silver saucepan on a burner with ingredients for cheesy rice.
  • Turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.
  • Do not remove the lid, move the saucepan off of the heat and let sit for 15 minutes.
    Cooked rice with seasoning in a silver saucepan on a white counter.
  • With a fork, fluff the rice and then add in the cheese and gently mix with a fork until melted.
    Fluffy cheesy rice in a silver saucepan against a white counter.
  • Serve and enjoy!
    Blue kids bowl full of cooked cheesy rice.

Notes

Age: 6 months and up sparingly
Cheese: it’s best to grate your own cheese from a block for this recipe so it won’t clump together. 
Brown Rice: you will use 2 cups of brown short-grain rice with 4 cups of water and cook for 45-55 minutes or until tender. Take off burner and let sit for 10 minutes before stirring in other ingredients. 
Benefits of Cheesy Rice: Rice is full of carbohydrates needed to fuel a busy baby or toddler’s day, and rice is full of fiber to help keep bellies full and the digestive system moving along. Cheese gives this rice much-needed calcium for healthy bones, and depending on what other add-ins you choose, they can give a boost of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Did you make this recipe?

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Medically reviewed and cowritten by Jamie Johnson, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), and Lauren Braaten, Pediatric Occupational Therapist (OT).