Dinner Lunch

Highest Protein and Lowest Calorie Microwave Rice in the UK

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Microwave rice pouches are my go-to quick calorie-efficient carbs. But with so many choices these days, have I been buying the ones with the optimial macros?

To find out, I checked the protein and calorie content of all the microwave rice available in the most popular supermarkets.

Image credit: @lifewithlibs_

Key takeaways

  • There are no microwave rice pouches that are specifically advertised as high protein or low calorie.
  • Wholegrain microwave rice tends to be higher in protein
  • Microwave rice mixed with other grains and beans tend to be higher in protein
  • The lowest calorie microwave rice pouches are also the lowest in protein

Why trust my picks?

My top-picks are 100% based on the nutritional data published by the retailer or manufacturers. They do not take into account subjective factors, such as taste, and don’t account for price. They are never influenced by any commissions or advertising deals. I will only make subjective comments about products I’ve had real experience with, and these opinions are not factored into the rankings. See the publishing principles page for more info.

Finding the microwave rice

To find the highest protein and lowest calorie microwave rice in the UK I searched the websites of all of the most popular supermarkets in the UK that make their entire range accessible online. I also searched Amazon to find any microwave rice by independent companies that aren’t stocked in supermarkets yet.

I used this data to create a table of every microwave rice that’s available in the UK with columns for highest protein per portion, highest protein per 100g, lowest calories per portion, lowest calories per 100g, and I calculated two metrics you won’t find on the packaging; highest protein per 100kcal and lowest calories per 10g protein.

Types of microwave rice I included

Here are the types of microwave rice that I’ve included:

  • Any microwave rice pouch where rice is the primary ingredient.
  • “Veetee” style microwave rice trays.

I didn’t include; chilled rice, frozen rice, frozen steam bags, pouches/trays of other grains, any rice that requires adding water, or any rice that wasn’t microwaveable.

Highest protein microwave rice (per 100kcal)

If you’re looking for microwave rice with the highest protein content per 100kcal, in other words “high-protein, low-calorie microwave rice” for those counting calories and trying to get the most protein for your daily calorie allowance, here are the top picks. 

#NameProtein (100kcal)Stockists
1Worldwide Foods Louisiana Style Dirty Rice3.08gAldi
2Tropical Sun Microwavable Jollof Rice3.03gOcado
3Merchant Gourmet Glorious Grains with Red Rice & Quinoa3.02gASDA, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose
4Waitrose Wholegrain Mexican Style Rice2.93gWaitrose
5Merchant Gourmet Jamaican-Style Grains & Pulses2.89gOcado, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Morrisons
[Benchmark] Ben’s Original Long Grain Microwave Rice2.01gTesco (& most others)
X[Lowest] Veetee Sticky Rice1.51gASDA (& most others)
Find more high protein per 100kcal microwave rice in the full data table.

In perspective

Aldi’s Dirty Rice has 50% more protein than the ubiquitous Ben’s Long Grain and 100% more protein than Veetee’s Sticky Rice, which is the worst pick for protein per 100kcal.

If you switched from Veetee’s Sticky Rice to Aldi’s Dirty Rice, you’d add 3g protein to your meal, about how much you’d get from one small egg white, for 15kcal less.

I tried Aldi’s dirty rice, the winner of the highest protein per 100kcal.

Highest protein microwave rice (per serving)

If you’re looking for microwave rice with the highest protein content per serving (half a pack), regardless of calories, here are the top picks. 

#NameProtein (Serv.)Stockists
1Merchant Gourmet Glorious Grains with Red Rice & Quinoa Cooked6.88gASDA, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose
2Tropical Sun Microwavable Jollof Rice6.25gOcado
3Merchant Gourmet Smoky Spanish-Style Grains & Rice6.00gASDA, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Tesco, Amazon
4Worldwide Foods Louisiana Style Dirty Rice 250g5.63gAldi
4Worldwide Foods Special Wholegrain, Wild & Red Rice5.63gAldi
5Waitrose Wholegrain Mexican Style Rice5.50gWaitrose
5Worldwide Foods Classic Wholegrain Rice5.50gAldi
5Nice Rice Chipotle recipe5.50gOcado, Waitrose
[Benchmark] Ben’s Original Long Grain Microwave Rice 220g2.97gTesco (& most others)
X[Lowest] Tilda Sun Dried Tomato & Basil Basmati Rice2.63gTesco (& most others)
Find more high protein per serving microwave rice in the full data table.

In perspective

Switching from Ben’s Long Grain to Merchant Gourmet’s Glorious Grains would add 4g protein to your plate, which is about what you’d get from one large egg white.

Do it for one meal per day over a week, and you’d be adding 28g of protein to your weekly intake, which is how much you’d get from two chicken mini fillets.

Image credit: @lydiaeatsvegan

Highest protein microwave rice (per 100g)

If you’re looking for microwave rice with the highest protein content per hundred grams, regardless of portion size, here are the top picks. 

#NameProtein (100g)Stockists
1Merchant Gourmet Glorious Grains with Red Rice & Quinoa5.50gASDA, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose
2Tropical Sun Microwavable Jollof Rice5.00gOcado
3Merchant Gourmet Smoky Spanish-Style Grains & Rice4.80gASDA, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Tesco, Amazon
4Morrisons Microwave Rice Medley4.60gMorrisons (via Amazon)
5Worldwide Foods Louisiana Style Dirty Rice4.50gAldi
5Worldwide Foods Special Wholegrain, Wild & Red Rice4.50gAldi
[Benchmark] Ben’s Original Long Grain Microwave Rice2.70gTesco (& most others)
X[Lowest] Tilda Sun Dried Tomato & Basil Basmati Rice2.10gTesco (& most others)
Find more high protein per 100g microwave rice in the full data table.

In perspective

If you swapped your quintessential Ben’s Long Grain for Merchant Gourmet Glorious Grains, you would double the amount of protein from rice on your plate.

Image credit: @healthyhoots

Lowest calorie microwave rice (per serving)

These microwave rice have the lowest calories per serving (half a pack). Ideal if you’ve already met your protein goal already and want the lowest-calorie option (be mindful of the sizes though).

#Namekcal (serv.)Stockists
1Tilda Microwave Indonesian Fried Rice139kcalTesco, Sainsbury’s, Amazon, Morrisons, ASDA
2Ben’s Original Long Grain Microwave Rice147kcalTesco, Sainsbury’s, ASDA, Morrisons
3Tilda Mushroom Steamed Basmati Rice150kcalTesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Morrisons
4Tilda Spicy Mexican Steamed Basmati Rice151kcalTesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Waitrose, ASDA
5Tilda Sun Dried Tomato & Basil Basmati Rice154kcalTesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose
[Benchmark] Ben’s Original Long Grain Microwave Rice147kcalTesco (& most others)
X[Highest] Riso Scotti Microwave Venere Wholegrain Black Rice237kcalOcado
Find more low-calorie microwave rice in the full data table.

In perspective

If you currently indulge in a calorie-dense rice, such as the Venere Black Rice, switching to a lower calorie rice pouch, such as Tilda Indonesian Fried Rice, would cut 100kcal from your plate.

100kcal is the same calories you’d get in a bag of Walker’s Squares or what you’d burn in 11 minutes jogging.

Image credit: @slimmingworldcara

Lowest calorie microwave rice (per 100g)

To put the various sizes of microwave rice on a level playing field and give the larger microwave rice a chance, here are the lowest calorie microwave rice per 100g.

#Namekcal (100g)Stockists
1Tilda Microwave Indonesian Fried Rice111kcalTesco, Sainsbury’s, Amazon, Morrisons, ASDA
2Tilda Mushroom Steamed Basmati Rice120kcalTesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Morrisons
3Tilda Spicy Mexican Steamed Basmati Rice121kcal Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Waitrose, ASDA
4Tilda Sun Dried Tomato & Basil Basmati Rice123kcal Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose
5Tilda Firecracker Basmati Rice124kcal Tesco, ASDA, Morrisons, Amazon
[Benchmark] Ben’s Original Long Grain Microwave Rice134kcalTesco (& most others)
X[Highest] Riso Scotti Microwave Venere Wholegrain Black Rice237kcalOcado
Find more low-calorie per 100g microwave rice in the full data table.

In perspective

The Riso Scotti Wholegrain Black Rice has 100kcal per 100g more than the go-to Ben’s Long Grain rice. This equates to adding 90kcal to your plate.

That’s equivalent to adding two knobs of butter or swimming breaststroke for 7 minutes!

Image credit: @fayanddale_ww

Lowest calorie microwave rice (per 10g protein)

These are the microwave rice that allow you to add 10g of protein to your meal for the fewest calories (this doesn’t account for portion size).

#Namekcal (10g prot.)Stockists
1Worldwide Foods Louisiana Style Dirty Rice324kcalAldi
2Tropical Sun Microwavable Jollof Rice330kcalOcado
3Merchant Gourmet Glorious Grains with Red Rice & Quinoa Cooked331kcalASDA, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose
4Waitrose Wholegrain Mexican Style Rice341kcalWaitrose
5Merchant Gourmet Jamaican-Style Grains & Pulses346kcalOcado, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Morrisons
[Benchmark] Ben’s Original Long Grain Microwave Rice496kcalTesco (& most others)
X[Highest] Veetee Sticky Rice661kcalASDA (& most others)
Find more low-calorie per 10g microwave rice in the full data table.

In perspective

To get 10g of protein, you would have to eat around 170 calories more of Ben’s Whole Grain Rice than you would of Aldi’s Dirty Rice

That’s the equivalent calories of 2 Funsize Mars Bars or 38 minutes of brisk walking!

Image credit: @slimmingworldveggie_

Make a suggestion

Found a product that I’ve missed? Please let me know by leaving a comment, sending a message via the contact page, or DM on Instagram.

The good news: minute brown rice [microwave wholegrain rice] is nutritionally not that different from slower-cooking brown rice. Normal brown rice may contain slightly more nutrients that may be lost during minute rice’s processing, but minute brown rice is not a bad whole-grain option.

It’s important to pay attention to the label if you’re looking to avoid added sodium or sugar, as well as preservatives.

Emily Shiffer – Eat This, Not That!

Just My Opinion

I was expecting to see the egg-fried rice pouches rank near the top for the protein categories. Egg = protein, right? Well, no, it turns out they don’t have enough eggs in them to make a significant impact. They’re near the top, but no higher in protein than the mixed-grain rice.

My two go-to microwave rices before writing this post were Aldi’s Special Wholegran Wild & Red Rice and Tesco Wholegrain Rice.

Although they do not rank in the tables at the top for the metric I care most about – protein per 100kcal – they are within 0.5g of the top spot. So, since I enjoy them, I don’t see any point in switching for such a negligible protein gain.

I bought the Aldi Dirty Rice so I could try one of the winners. It was fine. But obviously, it’s a very specific flavour that wouldn’t go with everything. I prefer rice to be the neutral half of the plate, balancing out the spices and flavours with the meat and sauce.

I also buy Tesco’s Microwave Pilau rice to have with chicken curry. Now, it’s not great on protein, but there’s so much protein from the chicken in the Slimwell Tikka curries that I buy that it really doesn’t matter.

What I did find interesting is that if I get the Aldi steamed pilau rice tray instead of the Tesco pilau rice pouch, I get more volume for fewer calories, as the Aldi one is 96% rice compared to the Tesco’s 89%, resulting in less fat.

Pro tip: mix your pilau rice with a bag of microwave cauliflower rice to double the volume for only about 30 extra calories.

I’m surprised nobody has made a “microwave protein rice” pouch yet it seems like it would fit with the other protein-added products already available.

I guess they can’t go any lower in calories without reducing the rice content in favour of a non-grain, low-calorie filler, but then where do you draw the line and class it as veg with added rice?

Considerations

The top picks above give you a shortcut to the items that best fit your protein and calorie goals. I do not recommend that you buy them without considering the other factors. Below are some examples of factors you may consider. And remember, if the top picks above aren’t a good fit for you, check out the full data table to see the other options I found that didn’t make the top 5.

Other Macros

Check for added sugars and fats in microwave rice, which can raise calories. Review nutrition labels for specific details.

Protein Sources

Rice is primarily a carbohydrate source, not a protein source. You should focus on optimising traditional protein sources (meat, fish, beans, etc.) first, and then fine-tune with protein from things like rice.

UPF

Microwave rice is more processed than its uncooked counterpart, which could land it in the ultra-processed food category. Examine the ingredients to get an idea of the level of processing.

Size

Microwave rice packets range from 220g to 300g. A lower stated calorie count per serving may result from smaller portion size, not lower calorie density. Compare products by calorie per gram for true comparison.

Sources

Nutritional information for each top pick was taken from the retailer’s website.

All metrics on this page are calculated by us using data collected from retailer websites and compiled in my unique data table of all microwave rice available in the UK.

Protein and calorie amounts for other foods and exercises mentioned in the “In Perspective” and “Just My Opinion” sections were all obtained from Nutracheck. Please note that calorie equivalents for exercises vary depending on individual factors like sex and weight.

Images sources under each image, if not created by us.

What is your favourite microwave rice?

Let me know in the comments

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