Rice and Vidalia Onion Casserole

Betty Greene
Rice Casserole Hero

Rice and Vidalia Onion Casserole

Serves: 8 to 10

Hands On Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes


8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing

3 1/3 cups coarsely chopped Vidalia onions

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons long-grain white rice

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup grated Swiss cheese

3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley  

Sweet paprika


Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Generously butter a 9- by 13-inch baking dish.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter is foamy, add the onions and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, deeply golden brown and caramelized, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the rice and boil for 5 minutes. Drain well.

When the onions are caramelized, remove from the heat and stir in the cream and cheese until the cheese is melted. Stir in the rice and parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with paprika.

Bake until the casserole is browned and the top is crisp, about 1 hour. Serve hot.

About the recipe

Southern Kitchen reader Betty Greene sent us her family’s recipe for a simple onion-studded and paprika-sprinkled rice casserole, which has clearly stood the test of tinkering. With particularly specific ingredient amounts — 3 1/3 cups chopped onions, 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons rice — Greene has fiddled and fussed to make the casserole as perfect as can be.

Besides the attention to detail when it comes to measuring, little else other than time is required for this easy, satisfying side. Onions are cooked down slowly in a heap of butter until they themselves begin to melt and caramelize. A little more than a cup of Swiss cheese is added for a hint of seasoning and just a bit of binding power — this is not a cheesy rice casserole by any means — and a modest cup of cream does the work of softening parboiled white rice. A sprinkling of parsley and paprika are the only other ingredients, and we can imagine the casserole made with just about any herb and spice you’d like. Thyme and smoked paprika would make for a slightly more complex dish, while oregano, cilantro and cumin would take the dish in a Mexican-inspired direction.