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No more boring rice! This simple and easy rice pilaf recipe is a flavorful side dish that pairs nicely with just about any entrée — from grilled fish to roasted chicken or seared steak. Vegetables like carrots, celery, and onion simmer with the rice in chicken broth for a quick and delicious addition to your next family dinner. Skip the boxed mix of Rice a Roni, because rich, homemade rice pilaf is easier than you think!

Overhead shot of rice pilaf in a cast iron skillet

How to Make Rice Pilaf | 1-Minute Video

Vegetable Rice Pilaf

This simple vegetable rice pilaf is an easy side dish that can be adapted to suit your taste preferences and the ingredients that you have on hand. Whether you add mushrooms, lemon, garlic, or peas, feel free to get creative and make it your own. The base recipe is just a starting point for your new favorite rice dish!

What is the difference between rice and rice pilaf?

Rice is typically cooked in boiling water without any additional flavoring. By contrast, the pilaf method of cooking rice involves cooking the rice in broth for extra flavor, along with sautéed aromatics. In many pilaf recipes, the uncooked rice is also sautéed before coming to a boil, providing even more flavor to the dish.

Vegetable rice pilaf in a white skillet

Ingredients

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need to make simple rice pilaf. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Salted butter: to sauté the rice and vegetables and to add flavor to the dish.
  • Onion, celery and carrot: classic aromatics that season the rice pilaf.
  • Chicken broth: pick a high-quality store-bought broth or chicken stock, or use homemade broth. You can substitute with vegetable broth for a vegetarian pilaf.
  • Bay leaf: for more flavor.
  • Long-grain white rice: do not substitute with brown rice, instant rice or other rice varieties. The cooking time and the amount of liquid specified in this recipe are tailored for long grain white rice.
  • Fresh parsley: adds a bright, colorful touch at the end.
  • Toasted sliced almonds: for nutty flavor and great crunch.
  • Salt and pepper: enhance the other flavors in the dish.

How to Make Rice Pilaf

This easy homemade rice pilaf comes together with just a few minutes of hands-on prep. The stovetop does most of the work while you focus on the rest of the meal!

  1. Toast the uncooked rice in a skillet for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the vegetables and cook until they start to soften, about 4 minutes.
  3. Season with salt, pepper and a bay leaf, then stir in the broth.
  4. Bring the liquid to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet, and simmer the rice for 18-20 minutes. You’ll know that it’s done when the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
  5. Discard the bay leaf, fluff the rice with a fork, and stir in the parsley and almonds. Serve and enjoy!
Process shot showing how to make rice pilaf from scratch
Process shot showing how to make an easy rice pilaf recipe
Adding parsley and almonds to rice pilaf in a pan
Square overhead shot of a pan of the best rice pilaf recipe

Why is my rice pilaf mushy?

If you find that your rice pilaf is mushy, you likely overcooked it or you added too much liquid to the pan. Keep a close eye on your pot and set a timer when you simmer the rice. That way you’ll know when it’s done and it will come out fluffy and perfect every time!

What to Serve with Easy Rice Pilaf

This perfect side dish pairs well with almost any of your favorite entrées. Here are a few ideas to serve with rice pilaf:

Storage

Leftover rice pilaf will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. The cooked rice pilaf will also last in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Reheat individual servings of rice pilaf in the microwave for about 1 minute, or until heated through. If reheating the rice on the stovetop, place it in a saucepan or skillet, add a splash of water or broth, cover and warm over low heat, stirring occasionally, just until heated through.

What to Add to Basic Rice Pilaf {Recipe Variations}

  • Scale the recipe up or down to suit your needs. For instance, double all of the ingredients to make 8 servings, or cut all of the ingredients in half for just 2 servings.
  • For a vegetarian option, use vegetable broth or vegetable stock instead of chicken broth.
  • Use any vegetables that you prefer. Sautéed mushrooms, frozen peas and corn would all be delicious additions to the rice. The peas or corn can be stirred in at the end of the cooking time so that they don’t get brown and mushy.
  • Season the rice with your favorite fresh herbs and spices other than parsley. For instance, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil or chives would all be great.
  • For lemon rice pilaf, add a little bit of freshly-grated lemon zest to the rice.
  • Instead of the toasted almonds, replace them with other nuts of choice — such as walnuts, pistachios, or pecans. You can also omit the nuts altogether, and garnish the rice with Parmesan cheese for extra flavor.
  • For a touch of sweetness, add dried cranberries, chopped dried apricots, golden raisins, or dried currants to the pilaf.
Side shot of a pan of homemade rice pilaf

Tips for the Best Homemade Rice Pilaf Recipe

  • Use a deep cast iron skillet or braiser with a lid, or opt for a Dutch oven. A shallow skillet will not be roomy enough for all of the liquid and other ingredients.
  • The total amount of salt needed in this recipe will depend on your taste preferences, as well as on the type of broth that you use. For instance, I used a low-sodium chicken broth here, so I only added about ½ teaspoon of kosher salt to the pilaf. If you’re using a salted broth, you will probably need less than that. Similarly, if you’re using an unsalted homemade broth, you might need more. Just taste and adjust as you cook!
  • Dice the vegetables very finely so that they blend easily into the rice without making it too chunky.
  • Rice pilaf gets so much of its flavor from the broth, since it absorbs the broth as it cooks. Pick a high-quality store-bought broth or stock or use homemade broth if time allows.
  • Do not substitute with brown rice, instant rice, orzo pasta, or other varieties of rice, since the amount of liquid and the cooking time in this recipe is specifically tailored for long-grain white rice. Another long grain rice like jasmine rice or basmati rice should work fine.
Overhead shot of a serving spoon in a pan of simple rice pilaf

More Rice Side Dish Recipes to Try

Square overhead shot of a pan of rice pilaf

Rice Pilaf

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 312 kcal
No more boring rice! This simple and easy Rice Pilaf recipe is a flavorful side dish that pairs nicely with just about any entrée!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • ½ cup finely diced onion
  • ½ cup finely diced celery
  • ¼ cup finely diced carrot
  • 2 cups chicken broth (or sub with vegetable broth)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Melt the butter in a large skillet (that has a lid) or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring regularly, until the rice is browned – about 2-3 minutes. Add the onion, celery and carrot; cook, stirring regularly, until the vegetables start to soften – about 4 minutes.
  • Add salt and pepper, to taste. If you’re using salted chicken broth, you probably won’t need too much extra salt. If you’re using low-sodium or homemade unsalted broth, you may need up to ½ – ¾ teaspoon of salt.
  • Add the broth to the skillet with the rice and vegetables. Add the bay leaf; bring the liquid to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet, and let the rice simmer for 18-20 minutes. Once the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender, turn off the heat, discard the bay leaf, fluff the rice with a fork, and stir in the fresh parsley and toasted almonds.

Video

Notes

  • Scale the recipe up or down to suit your needs. For instance, double all of the ingredients to make 8 servings, or cut all of the ingredients in half for just 2 servings.
  • For a vegetarian option, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
  • Use any vegetables that you prefer. Sautéed mushrooms, frozen peas and corn would all be delicious additions to the rice. The peas or corn can be stirred in at the end of the cooking time so that they don’t get brown and mushy.
  • Season the rice with your favorite fresh herbs other than parsley. For instance, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil or chives would all be great.
  • For lemon rice pilaf, add a little bit of freshly-grated lemon zest to the rice.
  • Instead of the toasted almonds, replace them with other nuts of choice — such as walnuts, pistachios or pecans. You can also omit the nuts altogether.
  • For a touch of sweetness, add dried cranberries, chopped dried apricots, golden raisins or dried currants to the pilaf.
  • Do not substitute with brown rice, instant rice, or other varieties of rice, since the amount of liquid and the cooking time in this recipe is specifically tailored for long-grain white rice.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/4 of the recipeCalories: 312kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 9gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 81mgPotassium: 368mgFiber: 3gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 1797IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 75mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: easy rice pilaf, homemade rice pilaf, rice pilaf, simple rice pilaf
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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