Rice is a staple food for many cultures around the world. It is versatile, affordable, and nutritious. Yellow rice, sometimes called Spanish rice, is a variety that is flavored with turmeric or saffron, giving it its distinctive golden color.
If you enjoy yellow rice and want to keep track of your calorie intake, you may wonder, “How many calories are in 1 cup of yellow rice?” Read on to find out the calorie count and nutritional information for yellow rice.
Calories in 1 Cup of Yellow Rice
The total calories in 1 cup (158g) of cooked yellow rice can vary depending on a few factors:
- Ingredients used: Plain yellow rice made with only rice, oil or butter, and seasonings is lower in calories than yellow rice that contains extras like vegetables, meat, or sauce.
- Cooking method: Yellow rice prepared by boiling or steaming is lower in calories than rice cooked in a lot of oil or butter.
- Serving size: The more rice in your portion, the more calories it will contain.
On average, for plain yellow rice made from white long grain enriched rice, here are the nutrition facts for 1 cup:
As you can see, a plain cooked 1 cup serving of yellow rice contains about 216 calories.
Factors That Influence Calorie Count
Several factors account for variations in the calorie content of different preparations of yellow rice:
Plain yellow rice made with just rice, oil, and seasonings is lower in calories. Yellow rice that has extras mixed in will be higher in calories:
- Vegetables like peas, carrots, corn, etc. add nutrients and calories.
- Meats like chicken, pork, shrimp, etc. boost protein and fat content.
- Using a pre-made rice mix with flavors and seasoning also increases calories.
- Stirring in a fatty sauce like butter chicken masala can significantly increase calories.
The more ingredients you add to yellow rice, the more calories the dish will contain per serving.
How the yellow rice is prepared also impacts its calorie content:
- Boiling or steaming rice adds little to no fat, keeping calories lower.
- Rice cooked in oil or butter absorbs more fat, increasing calories.
- Rice cooked with animal fat like lard, bacon grease, or schmaltz is high in saturated fat and calories.
- Rice cooked in broth or stock absorbs some fat from the liquid.
- Pre-seasoned packaged rice mixes may be cooked in fat or contain dried fat.
- Rice made in a sauce or gravy absorbs the fats from the additional ingredients.
In general, rice prepared by boiling or steaming tends to be lower in calories than rice simmered in fat or sauce.
As with any food, the serving size affects the number of calories:
- A smaller 1/2 cup portion contains about 108 calories.
- A larger 2 cup serving doubles the calories to 432.
- Calories increase with every additional spoonful of rice.
To keep calories in check, pay attention to your portion sizes. A food scale can help with precision.
Beyond just calories, yellow rice offers some important nutrients, though exact amounts vary between recipes:
Since rice is mostly carbohydrate, yellow rice is high in carbs. A 1 cup serving of yellow rice has around 45 grams of total carbs:
- The majority comes from starch and complex carbs in the rice itself which provide energy.
- Any vegetables or sugars mixed in also contribute more carbs.
- Yellow rice is not a significant source of fiber, with less than 1 gram per serving.
There are a few grams of protein in a typical serving of yellow rice:
- Plain yellow rice provides about 4 grams of protein per cup.
- Any additions like meat, beans, or eggs will boost the protein content.
- Yellow rice is not a high protein food on its own.
The fat content in yellow rice comes from a few sources:
- Oil or butter added during cooking provides mostly unsaturated fats.
- Meat or sauce stirred into the rice adds saturated and unsaturated fat.
- On average, expect 2 to 3 grams of fat per cup of yellow rice.
Vitamins and Minerals
Yellow rice provides small amounts of various vitamins and minerals:
- Added turmeric offers some manganese, iron, vitamin B6, and other antioxidants.
- Any veggies mixed in will contribute vitamins like vitamin A.
- A 1 cup serving contains traces of potassium, folate, and more.
- Yellow rice is not a significant source of most micronutrients.
To boost nutrition, enjoy yellow rice alongside other healthy foods like vegetables, lean protein, beans, and fresh fruit.
Calories in Different Types of Yellow Rice
There are endless variations of yellow rice, each with its own calorie profile. Here is the calorie count per 1 cup serving for some popular recipes:
Plain Yellow Rice
- Long grain white rice with oil: 216 calories
- Jasmine yellow rice: 205 calories
- Basmati yellow rice: 200 calories
- Short grain brown yellow rice: 215 calories
Yellow Rice with Meat
- Chicken yellow rice: 285 calories
- Shrimp yellow rice: 320 calories
- Spanish yellow rice with chorizo: 375 calories
Yellow Rice with Vegetables
- Peas and carrot yellow rice: 235 calories
- Yellow rice with corn and edamame: 250 calories
- Loco moco yellow rice: 285 calories
Seasoned Yellow Rice
- Boxed Spanish yellow rice mix: 210 calories
- Kashmiri pulao yellow rice: 260 calories
- Cajun dirty yellow rice: 320 calories
As you can see, calories vary widely for different yellow rice dishes based on what is mixed in. Aim for simpler preparations using healthy cooking methods to keep calories in check.
Tips for Reducing Calories in Yellow Rice
Here are some easy ways to lighten up yellow rice and cut back on calories:
- Use less oil when cooking the rice. A spritz of cooking spray is a low-cal alternative to pouring on oil.
- Skip adding fatty meats like sausage or bacon. Sub in lean proteins like shredded chicken breast instead.
- Boost nutrition by mixing in veggies like peas, carrots, onions, or bell peppers.
- Choose lower calorie cooking liquids like low-sodium broth or tomato juice instead of heavy cream or coconut milk.
- Avoid pre-made packaged rice mixes which can be high in sodium and fat.
- Flavor rice with fresh herbs, spices, citrus, or hot sauce rather than fatty sauces.
- Serve smaller portions by dishing rice with a measuring cup instead of a serving spoon.
- Bulk up rice with cauliflower rice or extra veggies to make portions more filling.
With smart substitutions and healthy cooking methods, you can still enjoy flavorful yellow rice as part of a balanced diet.
Healthy Yellow Rice Recipes
Here are some nutritious and delicious yellow rice recipes to add variety to your menu:
1. Curried Coconut Yellow Rice
Ingredients: Rice, lite coconut milk, onion, peas, curry powder, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper
Simmer white or brown rice in a mixture of lite coconut milk, vegetables, and Indian spices for a flavorful vegetarian meal. Pairs nicely with roasted or sautéed veggies.
2. Cheesy Yellow Rice and Black Bean Casserole
Ingredients: Rice, black beans, salsa, low-fat cheese, milk, cumin, cayenne pepper
Combine cooked yellow rice with protein-rich black beans, salsa, and spices. Top with melted low-fat cheese for a Mexican-inspired casserole.
3. Chicken & Veggie Yellow Rice Bowl
Ingredients: Rice, chicken breast, zucchini, bell pepper, carrots, peas, onions, garlic
For a balanced one-bowl meal, top cooked yellow rice with lean protein and sautéed mixed vegetables like zucchini, bell pepper, and snap peas.
4. Pineapple Yellow Rice
Ingredients: Rice, pineapple tidbits, chicken or shrimp, peas, coconut milk, cilantro
Sweet, tangy pineapple and coconut milk liven up traditional yellow rice. Add cooked chicken or shrimp for a tropical fusion main dish.
5. Instant Pot Yellow Rice
Ingredients: Rice, chicken or vegetable broth, onions, garlic, turmeric, salt
An Instant Pot or other multicooker makes quick work of cooking up fluffy yellow rice. Use broth instead of oil for maximum flavor.
Is Yellow Rice Healthy?
In moderation, yellow rice can be part of a healthy diet, but it’s important to pay attention to portion size and how the rice is prepared.
Here are some of the pros and cons of eating yellow rice:
- Good source of energy from carbohydrates
- Low in fat, especially if prepared with minimal oil
- Contains some protein
- Offers traces of B vitamins and minerals
- Simple additions like veggies boost nutritional value
- More flavorful alternative to plain white rice
- Low in fiber and micronutrients
- Higher calorie and lower nutrition if cooked with a lot of oil, butter, or sauce
- Pre-seasoned mixes may contain lots of sodium
- Higher glycemic index than brown rice
To maximize nutrition, enjoy yellow rice as a side dish rather than the main part of your meal. Pair it with lean protein and plenty of low-calorie, fiber-rich vegetables and fruits.
So how many calories are in 1 cup of yellow rice? On average, a plain cooked cup of yellow rice contains around 215 calories, but can range from 200-350 calories depending on preparation method and added ingredients. To lighten it up, opt for simple seasonings and healthy cooking techniques. Yellow rice offers a tasty way to add color and flavor to your plate while providing carbohydrate energy. Combined with other nutritious foods as part of a balanced diet, it can be a healthy addition to your meals.