Ready in just 20 mins, you’ll love these Mediterranean-style salmon bowls with crispy rice and flaky, perfectly seasoned pan-seared salmon. NOT your average salmon rice bowl!
Salmon rice bowl, the Mediterranean way
Thanks to TikTok, the world has been turned on to making the beloved Emily Mariko’s salmon rice bowl for dinner. What a fun way to use up leftover salmon!
My easy salmon bowls recipe is something a little different, with a delicious Mediterranean twist. This recipe starts with crispy rice (yes, I'll show you how to get some good crunch on your day-old rice!), topped with chunks of quick pan-seared salmon in olive oil, and fresh herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, and bright bell peppers! Finish it with a drizzle of my tahini green goddess dressing, which comes together in just 5 minutes and that you can totally prepare ahead of time!
These easy dinner bowls take only 20 minutes to put together. You'll be making them on repeat!
Ingredients you’ll need for a salmon rice bowl
These rice bowls are easy to put together with a few simple ingredients including: Salmon, leftover rice, and a handful of fresh toppings you may have in your fridge! Let me share a few notes about these ingredients…
To turn your average already cooked rice into crispy rice, all you need to add is a bit of fat and heat. Toss your basmati rice with a bit of Greek yogurt and ghee (clarified butter), then cook it in olive oil in a large skillet (large enough so the rice can be spread in one layer). The rice bits will turn crunchy and golden brown, and that's exactly what you need!
The method for creating crispy rice is inspired by tahdig, a Persian-style pan-fried rice dish with saffron, butter, yogurt, dried cherries, and more. It’s a beautiful golden rice “cake” with a crispy crust on top, and tender, fluffy rice inside. (Of course, tahdig is a labor of love and takes a bit more effort than my quick crispy rice in these salmon bowls).
For best results, use day-old rice so that it crisps nicely. Freshly cooked rice has too much moisture and does not get as crispy.
I use skinless salmon fillet in this recipe (center-cut is ideal so that it’s easy to cut into 1-inch cubes or chunks). To prepare it, you simply toss the salmon cubes with lemon juice and zest, garlic powder, dried oregano, and Aleppo pepper, then cook it for a total of no more than 7 minutes in some extra virgin olive oil.
But, don’t forget, this salmon rice bowl recipe is the perfect opportunity to use up any leftover flaky salmon. So if you happen to have some salmon kabobs or baked salmon from last night’s dinner in your fridge, by all means, flake the cold salmon with a fork and use it in this recipe (no need to heat it up).
You don’t need anything fancy for salmon rice: Some crunch, chew, and creaminess bring it all together! For my salmon rice bowl topping, I used:
- Baby bell peppers (any color will work). Core the peppers and slice them up in thin rounds to add a rainbow of colors on top of your bowls!
- Green onions, both white and green parts, for some mild “oniony” flavor that is pleasant and not overwhelming.
- Fresh cilantro or parsley - Fresh herbs add beautiful bright color and fresh flavor! Cilantro is a bit more pungent with a somewhat citrusy taste, while parsley will give your salmon rice bowl a hint of a peppery bite.
- Sun-dried tomatoes - I love chopping up some of our all-natural sun-dried tomatoes to sprinkle on top. They’re sweet, a little tangy, and will make the salmon rice bowls even more colorful!
- Feta cheese - A crumble of creamy feta cheese in the brine is a salty, sharp finishing touch.
Sauce options for salmon rice bowls
To be honest, these dinner bowls are flavorful enough without any sauce, so feel free to skip it! But if you want your salmon rice bowl a little saucy, I have a few ideas for you:
- Vegan green goddess dressing - Creamy herb sauces elevate simple fish dishes, and this green tahini sauce is no exception!
- Tzatziki - If you like your sauces tangy and garlicky, dollop some cooling tzatziki over your salmon bowls.
- Ladolemono sauce - Ladolemono is a lighter Greek sauce with lots of lemon – which is always a good idea when working with fish.
How to make salmon rice bowl (step-by-step)
- Season the salmon. Toss cubed salmon with spices (2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper), a large pinch of kosher salt, the zest of 1 lemon, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Set it aside or refrigerate while you continue with the recipe.
- Fry the rice. Combine 3 cups cooked basmati rice (preferably day-old rice), 3 or 4 tablespoons Greek yogurt, and 1 tablespoon ghee in a medium mixing bowl. In a large non-stick skillet, heat a couple of tablespoons EVOO over medium-high heat and spread the rice mixture on the bottom in a single layer. Then leave it to cook undisturbed for 3 minutes or so. Mix the rice with a spoon and lower the heat to medium. Cook the rice for a further 10 to 15 minutes. Remember to stir it every 3 minutes, until most of it is crispy and golden-brown.
- Prepare the toppings. While the rice is cooking, work on the toppings and the salmon. Heat 1 tablespoon EVOO in a nonstick pan and add 3 baby bell peppers (cut into rings), and 3 chopped green onions (the white and green parts). Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, until crispy. Transfer to a plate and set aside for now. Chop a cup of fresh parsley or cilantro, and ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes. Set aside as well.
- Pan-sear the salmon. Heat a little more extra virgin olive oil (until shimmering) in the same pan that you used for the vegetables. Add the salmon cubes, and make sure each piece is touching the hot pan directly. This is how you get a nice crispy sear. If the pan is not big enough, it might be a good idea to do this step in batches. Reduce the heat to medium. Let the salmon cook undisturbed for about 4 minutes, until the bottom has gained nice color and crisped up, and the middle flesh looks a bit cooked. Carefully turn the cubes over and cook for a minute or 2, until the salmon flakes easily with a fork.
- Assemble your salmon rice bowl and serve. Divide the crispy rice and pan-seared salmon among 4 bowls. Add the toppings, including a little crumbled feta cheese. Drizzle some sauce over (optional). Serve and enjoy!
- Try different toppings: Leftover roasted or grilled vegetables, or even vegetable kabobs would make a delicious veggie topping for your salmon bowls.
- Swap out the salmon. Not a fan of salmon? No worries! Try grilled shrimp, Sliced lemon chicken, halved turkey meatballs, or beef shawarma would all complement the crispy rice very well!
- Use brown rice. If you prefer brown rice, use it instead of basmati rice and follow the recipe as written to fry it. The beauty of this gluten-free recipe is you can use basically any kind of day-old rice!
- Add an egg. For more protein, top your salmon rice bowl with a za’atar fried egg or some sliced fried boiled eggs!
Leftovers and storage
Store leftovers separately in airtight containers in the fridge. Reheat the rice and vegetables together on the stove over medium heat, and flake leftover salmon over afterward. It is tough to reheat salmon without it becoming rubbery. The heat from the rice and toppings will warm it up quickly anyway!
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Crispy Salmon Rice Bowl Recipe
For the salmon
- 1 pound salmon fillet, center cut preferred, skin removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
For the crispy rice
- 2 to 3 cups already cooked basmati rice
- 3 to 4 tablespoons Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon Ghee
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
For the toppings
- 3 baby bell peppers, cut into rings
- 3 green onions, trimmed, whites and greens chopped
- 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
- ¼ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, get my favorite sun-dried tomatoes!
- Feta cheese, crumbled, optional
- In a medium mixing bowl, toss the salmon cubes with the spices, a large pinch of kosher salt, lemon zest, and a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil. Put the salmon in the fridge for now or set it aside if you’re working fast on the rest.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cooked rice, yogurt, and ghee. Mix well until the rice is fully coated with the yogurt.
- Heat about 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large non-stick pan. Spread the rice mixture in the bottom of the pan in one single layer and let it cook for 3 minutes or so undisturbed. Check the bottom of the rice, and if it has begun to crisp and turn golden brown, you can mix it up with a wooden spoon. Manage your heat down to medium to make sure the rice does not burn. Let the rice cook for 2 to 3 minutes at a time, mixing it occasionally with your wooden spoon, and spreading it well, until the majority of the rice is crispy and golden brown (about 10 to 15 minutes in total).
- While the rice is cooking, work on the toppings and the salmon. In another non-stick pan, heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Add the bell peppers and onions and season with kosher salt, cook over high heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until crispy. Remove the vegetables to a side plate for now.
- In the same pan where you cooked the vegetables, heat a little bit more extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the salmon cubes, making sure each piece is touching the hot pan directly. Reduce the heat to medium and allow the salmon to cook undisturbed for 4 to 5 minutes or until the bottom is crispy and the middle flesh is looking more cooked, then turn over and cook for another 1 to 2 minute or so until it flakes easily at the touch of a fork.
- Divide the crispy rice and salmon among 4 bowls. Top with the sauteed vegetables, fresh herbs, feta, and sun-dried tomatoes. If you like, add a drizzle of tahini green goddess sauce, tzatziki, or ladolemono to finish (optional).
- If you don't have already cooked rice, you can start with 1 cup uncooked rice and follow my tutorial for how to cook basmati rice. You can make it ahead of time for this recipe.
- Leftovers and storage: Store leftovers separately in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 2 days. Reheat the rice and vegetables together on the stove over medium heat, and flake cold or room temp leftover salmon on top. I don't advice reheating leftover salmon.
- Visit our Shop to browse Mediterranean ingredients including extra virgin olive oils, spices (like Aleppo-style pepper), all natural sun-dried tomatoes, and more!
I cooked this recipe today and it was delicious! My 2 year old toddler devoured the crispy rice and the salmon. I added broccoli to the vegetables and they were so good. Easy and delicious.
Delicious! The crispy rice really makes this a wonderful dish. Very easy and quick to make once you have cooked rice.
Made this as a quick lunch today, I used shrimp instead of salmon, it was delicious!! Think I'll make it again, but for supper tomorrow night for hubby (with salmon this time). This will be a regular meal for sure. Thank you for all your great recipes!
This recipe is great! Even our kids, who never want to eat fish, loved the salmon! My daughter asked for seconds and our son, who never tries anything new and has sensory issues, actually ate the salmon. That is a big deal for us. Thank you!
Wow! That's wonderful!! So glad this one was a hit!
This is the most amazing salmon dish, everyone loved it, will definitely be made again and again. Had some green goddess sauce left over from this dish so last night made the green goddess chicken - also amazing. Thank you Suzy for all your recipes, I try a different one every day and have yet to find anything that I don’t like. I even feel confident to make new dishes when we have guests as I know that they will turn out great😊
Wonderful, Alison! I love hearing that!
Loved it! Relatively easy to prep and cook and our whole crew loved it (4 kids under 5!). Making it again tonight for guest! Especially loved the lemon zest and the complexity of flavors from the herbs, feta, and sun dried tomatoes. Delicious.
Yay! Love getting a thumbs up from the kiddos!! Thanks, Mina!
This is an easy and amazingly delicious dish!! We are saving the recipe to make for guests! Simple and easy to make and tastes like a five star restaurant dish! This will be a go to for guest dinners!
Wow! Thanks so much, Maria!
Can you substitute salmon for chicken or would it not work?
Hi, Adriane! Sure, that could work!
Such a great weeknight dinner! The whole family loved it!
Glad to hear it, Meredith! Thank you!