Cumin Rice

$1.23 recipe / $0.21 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.75 from 8 votes
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You know how I love my rice. It’s the perfect, inexpensive, blank canvas for any meal. I’ve been stuck on my favorite yellow jasmine rice for years, but sometimes I want my rice to be a little more subtle. That’s where cumin rice comes in. This is not a traditional jeera rice recipe, but rather my “what works for me” version of jeera rice. I always keep jasmine rice in my cabinet, so I used that instead of basmati, and I loooove butter with rice, so I used that in place of cooking oil or ghee. The result is a subtle but flavorful rice that I know I’ll be making often!

A pot of cumin rice garnished with sliced green onion, sitting on a patterned napkin.

What Do Cumin Seeds Taste Like?

If you’ve never had cumin seeds this recipe might be a bit foreign to you. They have a uniquely earthy and slightly peppery taste that is hard to describe. To me they taste distinctly different than ground cumin. I like them so much that I can just crunch down on them like snack. If you’re new to cumin seeds or want a slightly more subtle flavor, start with one or one and a half teaspoons of cumin seeds instead of two teaspoons.

Where to Buy Cumin Seeds

Cumin seeds are usually very expensive in major grocery stores because they’re not a common ingredient used in American cooking. Instead, check the bulk spices section at stores like Whole Foods, which is also nice because you can buy a tablespoon or so at a time. If you have any international markets in your area, especially those specializing in Indian food, you can probably find them there for a steal. I hope you can get your hands on some because they’re SO good!

Make Your Cumin Rice Vegan

If you want to make this recipe vegan, you can just swap out the butter for your favorite cooking oil.

Two bowls of cumin rice, garnished with green onion, and two gold forks.
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Cumin Rice

4.75 from 8 votes
Cumin rice is an earthy and slightly peppery dish that can be used as the base for many meals. 
Servings 6 1 cup each
Prep 2 minutes
Cook 35 minutes
Total 37 minutes


  • 1 Tbsp butter ($0.11)
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds ($0.30)
  • 1.5 cups long grain jasmine rice ($0.72)
  • 1 clove garlic ($0.08)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 3 cups water ($0.00)


  • Add the butter and cumin seeds to a medium sauce pot. Sauté the cumin seeds in the butter over medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes, or just until the butter starts to turn golden brown. Do not let the butter burn.
  • Add the uncooked rice to the pot and continue to stir and cook for 2-3 minutes more to toast the rice.
  • Mince the garlic and add it to the pot along with the salt and water, and stir to combine. Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to high, and let the liquid come up to a boil.
  • Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer (with lid) for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and let it sit undisturbed for 10 more minutes before lifting the lid.
  • After resting for 10 minutes, remove the lid, fluff with a fork, and serve.

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Serving: 1ServingCalories: 188.8kcalCarbohydrates: 37.48gProtein: 3.47gFat: 2.28gSodium: 215.25mgFiber: 0.68g
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How to Make Cumin Rice – Step by Step Photos

Cumin Seeds from bulk bins in a small plastic bag

This is what cumin seeds look like. As I mentioned in the intro, I bought a small amount from the bulk spices section of Whole Foods. This is really convenient for me, since I probably won’t use them often. You’ll only need about 2 tsp for this recipe. …If you have extra, they’re quite good to snack on IMHO!

Cumin seeds sizzling in butter in a sauce pot

Add one tablespoon butter to a medium sauce pot with 2 tsp of cumin seeds (or you can do 1.5 tsp if you want to go light). Sauté the cumin seeds in the butter over medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes, or just until the butter starts to turn golden brown. Do not let the butter burn. Letting it get slightly golden adds to the nutty flavor of the dish.

Toasted Rice in the sauce pot with Garlic and Salt

Once the butter is golden brown, add 1.5 cups uncooked long grain jasmine rice and continue to stir and cook for 2-3 minutes more. This toasts the rice and intensifies the flavor. After toasting the rice, add 1 clove minced garlic and 1/2 tsp salt. Finally, add 3 cups water and stir to combine.

Cooked Cumin Rice in the pot

Place a lid on the pot and turn the heat up to high. Let the pot come to a boil, then turn the heat down to low. Let it simmer on low (with the lid) for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat and let it sit undisturbed for 10 more minutes. After 10 minutes, lift the lid and it will look like this.

Fluffed Cumin Rice

Then just fluff it with a fork and it’s ready to serve! Yummy. :)

Cumin rice in a sauce pot garnished with sliced green onion sitting on a black and white patterned napkin.

I ate so many forkfuls right out of the pot that I guess I kind of just had cumin rice for lunch. Oops.

Overhead view of two bowls of cumin rice, garnished with green onion, sitting on a patterned napkin, two gold forks on the sides.

And that’s it! :) Super good and goes with a lot of different flavors!

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  1. Stupid question, but do you have any specific recommendations on what to pair this with (like your Indian Inspired Recipes section)? I bought some cumin seeds but have no idea what flavors go well with them since I’ve never tasted them before. Thanks!

      1. Reporting back, the rice was awesome with that recipe. I’d use it for any recipe using curry powder as the main spice,  they went together really well. 🤤

  2. I’ve made this a couple times now and I decided to swap out the water and salt for chicken broth since while I loved the flavors the first time around it didn’t quite have the overall punch I was expecting. Definitely saw an improvement once I did the swap.