Orange Cashew Rice

Thanks to an unfailing grocery budget, I don’t splurge on seafood very often. So you’d think that when I did, the seafood, tilapia in this case, would be the star of the show. And while it is extremely delicious – baked simply with lime zest and butter – it was the out-of-this-world orange cashew rice that had me craving more.

An unusual combination (don’t be skeptical!), this rice is so unbelievably delicious that even my mainstream willing-to-eat-hot-dogs-for-every-meal-husband was begging me to make it again the next night. Basmati rice simmers in orange juice, zest and water and is then tossed with roasted cashews, freshly diced red and yellow peppers, green onions and sweet mandarin orange segments. It is light and fresh and so tasty, it left me wondering why I’ve never simmered rice in orange juice before!

What To ServeWhile it was wonderful served with delicate fish, it would also be fantastic with any sort of lean meat, chicken or pork, or simply served as a vegetarian weeknight meal.

A delightfully healthy and refreshing meal, both components are bound to be making a comeback. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to dream about this rice every day until we make it again. It’s really that good.

Orange Cashew Rice

One Year Ago: Baked Kettle Corn {The Loaded Version}
Two Years Ago: Chocolate Truffle Cookies
Three Years Ago: Skillet Chicken Pasta with Broccoli and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Orange Cashew Rice {With Baked Tilapia}

Yield: Serves 4

Orange Cashew Rice {With Baked Tilapia}

Note: If you don't have basmati rice on hand, you can try substituting long grain white rice since it has the same basic rice-to-liquid ratio. Also, if your cashews are untoasted/unroasted, simply scatter them in a skillet and toast them for a few minutes on the stovetop for a few minutes until golden.


    For the rice:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashew pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped yellow peppers
  • 1/4 cup chopped red peppers
  • 3 green onions, minced
  • 1 (8-ounce) can mandarin orange segments, drained well
  • For the tilapia:
  • 4 (6 to 8 ounce each) tilapia fillets
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 lime, finely grated zest and juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces


  1. For the rice, in a 2-quart saucepan, bring the water, orange juice, orange zest, olive oil and salt to a boil. Stir in the rice. Cover the saucepan and lower the heat to a gentle simmer, simmering the rice for 25-30 minutes, until the rice is cooked through and the liquid has totally evaporated. Let stand, covered, off the heat for 5-10 minutes. Scrape the rice into a large bowl. Add the cashew pieces, peppers and green onions. Season with salt and pepper and add the drained orange segments to the rice, folding them in gently to prevent the oranges from breaking.
  2. For the tilapia, while the rice simmers, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and coat a 9-10 inch cast iron pan with nonstick cooking spray. Rinse the tilapia and pat dry. Place the fish in the cast iron pan in a single layer. Season each fillet on both sides with salt and pepper. Sprinkle lime zest over the fish and drizzle with lime juice. Place a pat of butter on each fillet. Bake in the oven for 8-12 minutes until cooked through. Serve rice and fish immediately, spooning pan juices over fish, if desired.

Recipe Source: rice adapted slightly from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook, tilapia from Bobby Deen

49 Responses to Orange Cashew Rice {With Baked Tilapia}

  1. […] Cashew Quinoa (based on one of my favorite rice recipes from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe) succeeded in melting my husband’s quinoa-hating heart.  He gladly gobbled it all up, and […]

  2. Holly says:

    I don’t have basmati rice, but I have jasmine and brown. Which one would work better?

  3. Kat says:

    I love this rice! I’ve made it several times now and it is always wonderful! I saute the peppers since that’s how I like em, and sometimes I’ll omit the Mandarin oranges. It’s still yum.

  4. Melanie says:

    I just made the rice and served it with grilled shrimp. Yum!!

  5. […] I cannot take credit at all for this fantastic recipe, and I won’t! This recipe comes from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. I have adapted it slightly from the author’s version based on meeting our fresh food requirement […]

  6. Christen says:

    Thanks Mel!!! It turned out delicious!!!!!!

  7. Christen says:

    Do you use juice from an orange, or orange juice?
    Looks delicious. It’s on my menu to make this week!!!

    • Mel says:

      Christen – I’ve used both and either option works great, just make sure if it is orange juice from a carton that is as all-natural as possible (no added sugar or anything).

  8. Gigi says:

    Oh my goodness! I prepared this tonight for dinner and I loved it. Upon starting to eat my rice I had a feeling that my fiancé, who had only touched his tilapia and sautéed veggies at that point, wouldn’t like it, but I was wrong! So this IS a good recipe. However, you said the best part about the dish was the rice. I say it was the tilapia! I am forevermore preparing it like so, because it’s been my favorite of all the ways I’ve prepared it before. Thanks so much for this!

  9. Amanda Z says:

    This was delicious! I made this with the honey lime tilapia recipe on here and WOW! What an amazing combination!! I don’t think I could ever make one without the other now. Thanks for such an amazing dinner!!!

  10. Radhika says:

    Hi Mel,

    I made the rice yesterday, to serve with a vegetarian dish. It was divine! Not only did the kitchen smell wonderful when I zested the orange, but my family loved the rice as well! Thank you 🙂

  11. Kathy says:

    Mel, This recipe looks so good. Can you use brown rice instead of basmati?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Kathy – yes, you could but you’ll want to just take a look at liquid amounts and cooking time and adjust as needed since brown rice usually needs a bit more of both.

  12. Lisa says:

    Mel, I have made this dish twice in the last week. It’s AMAZING! I just love the zesty orange flavor of the rice and with the crunchy cashew pieces… YUM! I used fresh clementine sections in my rice. I’m a little picky, when it comes to fish, but this has hit the spot both times! Thanks for another great recipe, Mel!

  13. Shannon says:

    Made this tonight and it was great! It was fast too. I didn’t have a lime, so I substituted orange rind and orange juice on the fish, and sectioned the fresh orange for the rice instead of mandarin oranges. It was fantastic! I think I liked the orange fish even better with the orange rice than I would have the lime–I think next time I’ll try the fish with lime, and a rice with salsa and cilantro. Thanks for another delicious recipe!

  14. Sara Beth says:

    The tilapia…pretty good. The rice…outstanding! Love the contrast in flavors, so bright and fresh. This has definitely become a staple for us for spring and summer. Thank you!

  15. Aimee says:

    This recipe is amazing! We used cod and did not have a cast iron pan so we used a 9 in regular pan and it still turned out great! I cannot tell you how amazing all these flavors are together–we loved it! My 2.5 yr old ate it all! I am not usually good at cooking fish but it cooked up amazing and I actually can’t wait to put it on the menu plan again soon!!! Thank you for all your amazing recipes! I am rarely let down by the awesomeness of your recipes!! My family and I thank you so much!!!

  16. Ginger McLeod says:

    This has become a family favorite! Thanks for the amazing recipe.

  17. Sieglinde says:

    I made this last night and it was FABULOUS! Seriously, I am not a huge Tilapia fan…but this combination was sublime! THanks for another amazing recipe 🙂

  18. gramma says:

    Tilapia is fed testosterone, growth hormones, “poop”.(waste runoff from poultry and livestock) by dumping animal wastes into the ponds. it is low in omega-3 oils.The skin is sold for the manufacture of beauty products. The head and meat scraps are sold as fish oil. The scales are sold for collagen injections. how much of a price do you pay for eating unhealthy foods to save some money in the long run.

  19. Kate says:

    Made this tonight and seriously LOVED IT! It came together fast and was one of the best dinners I’ve had in a while. Thanks, Mel!

  20. LB says:

    This was a great dish. I bought some Alaskan salmon that was on a great sale, and it went lovely with it as well. My mother-in-law was in town visiting, and she has a very particular diet to consider. She was able to eat it and actually ate it every day she was with us, raving about the rice flavors. The prep was pretty fast – I chopped/prepped the ingredients earlier in the day, then cooked the rice and fish and was still able to have it on the table early enough to eat with our toddlers before their bedtime.

  21. Elita says:

    More LOVELY food! Had to use dorade (sea bream) as it’s easily obtained here in Geneva (Switzerland) and it was gorgeous! Wish we’d had the rosemary bread to go with it but we might have had to sleep at the table. Thanks for such wonderful, easy to follow recipes. I’m having trouble deciding which recipe to try next as they’re all looking really good at the moment. May just have to pull a Julia (from the Julia & Julia movie) and try one every day for as long as it takes. You keep posting & I’ll keep trying! 🙂

  22. sara says:

    My boyfriend and I made a half recipe for this for dinner last night (since we didn’t think leftover fish would keep too well). It turned out AMAZING! I am a disaster at making rice, but this recipe turned out totally perfect – fluffy and really flavorful (love the idea of using orange juice for some of the cooking liquid!). And the fish was tasty and moist – we used cod because the grocery did not have tilapia. Thanks for sharing a fantastic recipe!

  23. Kimiko says:

    This sounds so good, Mel! We have a budget in our house too, so I’m always drawn to recipes involving affordable seafood, such as tilapia. I think I might try this recipe out this weekend; it’s something my boyfriend would enjoy too. He’s leaving on Monday for business for a week, something he doesn’t do too often, so this would be a great send off meal. 🙂

  24. […] this tilapia would be great with a rice dish instead.  I’m eager to try it with the Orange Cashew Rice from Mel’s Kitchen […]

  25. Amy says:

    Tried this last night and my 4 year old couldn’t get enough fish. My husband eyed the rice a little skeptically, but really enjoyed it. I thought it all was delicious (restaurant quality as my husband would say) and very easy to make. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Deb says:

    @Diana – I made this in the rice cooker and it worked great. I just added all the ingredients that Mel listed here and added additional water to get me to the “line” in my rice cooker. I should point out that I used brown basmati rice (from Trader Joe’s) – super tasty.

    Mel – I loved this recipe. So fresh tasting. The fish tasted great with just lime, butter, salt and pepper. The only other change I made to the method aside from using the rice cooker was that I sauteed the peppers (and added broccoli) before adding to the rice. I’m trying to get more fish into our regular rotation and the family loves tilapia, so I’ll be making this alot. Thanks so much!

  27. Mel says:

    Diana – I don’t have a rice cooker so I can’t really offer any advice on using it for this recipe. Sorry! Hope it turned out for you.

  28. Veronica says:

    My mouth is truly watering! I have to try this.

  29. Susannah says:

    Mel, I made this for dinner tonight and it is soooooo delicious! It left us completely satisfied without that heavy feeling. It’s such a light and tasty dinner! Loved the tilapia and LOVED the rice. Wow….such great flavor. I’ll be making this again very soon! Thanks once again for a knockout recipe!

  30. Diana says:

    This looks amazing … I’m making it tonight. Any tips about preparing the rice in a rice cooker as opposed to on the stove? Love your site!! 🙂

  31. This rice looks seriously yummy. Will be trying it this week with my favorite tilapia recipe! Love your site! Thanks!

  32. Cammee says:

    This meal sounds divine! I can’t wait to try both of these recipes.

  33. Looks fabulous, love all these delightful flavor treats! And your photos are very enticing!

  34. Elizabeth says:

    This look so good!

  35. Clarissa Meegan says:

    Tilapia is on our menu for the week and now I can give it a little facelift. Thanks for always pulling through for me!

  36. amy says:

    This looks so good. I make all your rice recipes over and over. Keep them coming, I all too often run out of ideas, and this really helps. Thanks!

  37. Kim in MD says:

    YUM! My family will love everything about this recipe! We love tilapia- it’s so mild and flaky. I can’t wait to try this recipe, Mel!

  38. kathy says:

    it’s on the stove/in the oven as i type and, mmmmm, one little taste of the rice while it’s cooling and i’m sold! i also love the way the browning butter over top of the fish is smelling 🙂 thanks for another fabulous recipe.

  39. Marisa says:

    That looks amazing! I’m always looking for different things to do with fish. So I can’t wait to try this. And it feels like ions since I popped in on you :).

  40. Tracee says:

    Sounds wonderful! One of my favorite chinese dishes is chicken with cashews. Not only are they my favorite nut, but I like to save all the cashews in the dish and eat them with nothing but the rice. Yum!

    I made the Zuppa Toscana soup from Olive Garden tonight and made a fresh loaf of bread to go with it. We are stuffed but this is going on my list for sure!

  41. Kelly says:

    How perfect! I was looking for a simple, yummy side dish for some chicken for tonight’s dinner- this was great! I used the juice from one orange and it gave the rice just a bit of sweetness, but not an overwhelming citrus taste. I used orange pepper instead of red, dried minced onion instead of green, and long-grain white rice because it’s what was in the pantry! I skipped the mandarins because my better half doesn’t like fruit in his dinner (but I bet they would’ve been delicious!) . Served with Asian-marinated baked chicken. Yum!

  42. Monette says:

    Hubby got a big bag of tilapia at Walmart last night and requested to have it for dinner tonight so I am trying this recipe with wildrice since that is all I got.:)

  43. Deb says:

    So, I pulled some tilapia out of the freezer an hour ago and thought to myself, hmm, I really wish I had a recipe to make this with asian flavors, maybe some rice to go with it. SERIOUSLY. I love you! Will report back on the result, although I could probably write it now…this looks delicious 🙂

  44. StephenC says:

    To Erin I would say go for the fish. It’s very easy – and there are plenty of varieties. To you, Mel, I say that you have sold this recipe very well. Orange juice with rice – never thought of it. Will do it now though. Tilapia is not my favorite inexpensive fish, that would be catfish. But, what the heck, no one’s holding a gun to my head!!!

  45. Ooh, it does sound good – pinned it! I haven’t cooked fish very often, but I am starting to try it a bit more.

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