The combination of tender rice, toasty orzo, savory chicken broth, and aromatic green onions creates a mouth-watering medley that will have you coming back for seconds (and maybe even thirds!). Trust me, this rice pilaf will become a staple side dish in your kitchen once you give it a try. It’s perfect for pairing with all of your favorite meals!
A good rice dish is the backbone of any hearty meal. This rice pilaf is super delicious and versatile, but if you’re looking to switch things up, try this cheesy zucchini rice, lemon rice, or cranberry pecan sweet potato rice pilaf next!
What is Rice Pilaf?
Rice pilaf is a tasty dish made with rice that’s been cooked in broth and seasoned to perfection. It’s versatile enough to be served alongside many main courses, which makes it one of my go-to side dishes! Rice is great on its own, but even better when it’s packed with flavor. Whether you’re having a family dinner or hosting a big party, rice pilaf is always a hit. It’s warm, comforting, and goes well with just about any protein you can think of. (Try this garlic roasted chicken!) Plus, it’s easy to prepare and can be ready in under 30 minutes. That sounds like a win to me!
In today’s recipe I also add orzo, which is a rice-like pasta. It helps make the pilaf nice and fluffy and soaks up all of the delicious flavors! I use chicken broth as a base for the pilaf and then add in a few other simple ingredients like green onions and salt and pepper to give it a subtle, savory flavor. You can definitely customize yours and add more seasonings if you prefer. (I have some ideas below!) That’s honestly one of the things I love most about rice pilaf, it’s so versatile and you can use it for almost any meal! Let’s get started!
Ingredients You’ll Need
It only takes a handful of simple ingredients to make restaurant-worthy rice pilaf. I wanted something that was subtly savory and not too overpowering so it can go with a variety of main courses, but feel free to season yours however you’d like! Also, check out the recipe card below for measurements of each ingredient.
- Long Grain White Rice: Fluffy, tender, and perfectly cooked in a flavorful broth. If you don’t have long grain rice, you could also use basmati rice or jasmine rice as a substitute.
- Orzo Pasta: Next up is the orzo, also known as “rice-shaped pasta.” It adds a fun and unique texture to the dish that you won’t find in a traditional rice recipe. If you don’t have orzo, you could use small pasta like couscous or even quinoa instead.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil is used for sautéing the rice and orzo until it’s golden brown and fragrant. You could also use butter if you prefer.
- Chopped Green Onions: Added for a fresh burst of flavor and color. They add a subtle onion taste that won’t overpower the other ingredients. Chives work, too!
- Chicken Broth: Chicken broth is the liquid that gives the rice pilaf its signature flavor. It’s important to use a good quality broth to ensure the dish is delicious and not bland. If you don’t have chicken broth, you could use vegetable broth, beef broth, mushroom broth, or even water with a bouillon cube.
- Salt and Pepper: Add as you go and season to taste!
Rice Pilaf Recipe
Now that you have your ingredients ready, here’s how to make this easy rice pilaf recipe! It takes less than 30 minutes to cook up! You’ll have a warm, fluffy side dish in no time. You can make this Instant Pot roasted chicken while it cooks!
- Wash Rice: Wash your rice, in a fine mesh strainer run your rice under cold water until the water runs clear, then set aside and allow the water to drain off.
- Sauté Rice and Orzo: Pour your olive oil into a large pot and heat up over medium heat. Add in your rice and orzo, stirring frequently, toast the rice and pasta until they begin to slightly brown and become fragrant.
- Add in Green Onions: Add in your green onions and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
- Pour in Broth: Pour your broth into the pan and increase the heat to medium high, bring to a boil. Once your broth is boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover your pilaf.
- Simmer: Leave the pilaf to simmer, covered and undisturbed for 18-20 minutes. After 18 minutes, check your pilaf, the rice and pasta should have absorbed all the liquid. Give it a fluff and a stir with a fork. If there is still liquid, cover and allow to continue cooking for an additional 3-5 minutes.
- Serve: When the liquid is all absorbed and your pilaf is tender, add in your salt and pepper to taste. Serve fresh. If your pilaf seems dry you can add 2-3 tablespoons of additional liquid, cover and simmer again until the rice and pasta have fully cooked and there is no remaining liquid.
Tips for Making the Best Rice Pilaf
Rice pilaf is a delicious and versatile side that can be customized to suit any taste preference. Whether you’re looking to add some protein, vegetables, or spices, rice pilaf can be easily adapted. Get creative! With its simple base ingredients and endless variations, rice pilaf is the perfect canvas for experimenting with new flavors. Make it your own!
- Extra Flavor: You can easily modify this recipe to pair well with any main dish, adding lemon and basil will give it a tangy twist. Add cayenne or chili powder for a kick. You could also add a dash of Cajun seasoning, lemon pepper, or seasoning salt to customize it even further! Just be sure to season as you go so the flavors don’t become too overpowering.
- Add Veggies: You can add mushrooms to this dish by cooking the mushrooms in the oil until tender before toasting your rice and pasta. Some other great additions are peas, chopped onions, celery, carrots, and bell peppers.
- Add Protein: To make your rice pilaf a complete meal, try adding shredded chicken, shrimp, scallops, sliced pork chops, or cube steaks! For a vegetarian version, throw in toasted chickpeas or tofu.
- More Mix-Ins: When it comes to rice pilaf, I love adding texture. Try adding chopped nuts like almonds, pistachios, walnuts, or pecans, and maybe some dried fruit like apricots or raisins! It’s the perfect balance of sweet and savory.
- Garnish With Herbs: Fresh herbs make everything better! Adding things like fresh parsley, basil, or mint to your rice pilaf not only gives it a gorgeous presentation, but adds a boost of flavor as well!
It’s so easy to store rice pilaf for later. Just pop it in an airtight container, stick it in the fridge, then it’s ready for whenever you’re craving some fluffy, savory goodness! This recipe is also great for meal prep.
- In the Refrigerator: Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
- Reheating: Reheating leftover rice pilaf is a breeze! Simply place it in a microwave-safe dish, cover with a damp paper towel to add moisture back in, and microwave on high for 1-2 minutes or until heated through. Alternatively, you could reheat it in a large skillet with a splash of water or broth over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through.
Wash your rice, in a fine mesh strainer run your rice under cold water until the water runs clear, set aside and allow the water to drain off.
Pour your olive oil into a large pot and heat up over medium heat. Add in your rice and orzo, stirring frequently, toast the rice and pasta until they begin to slightly brown and become fragrant.
Add in your green onions and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
Pour your broth into the pan and increase the heat to medium high, bring to a boil. Once your broth is boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover your pilaf.
Leave the pilaf to simmer, covered and undisturbed for 18-20 minutes. After 18 minutes, check your pilaf, the rice and pasta should have absorbed all the liquid. Give it a fluff and a stir with a fork. If there is still liquid, cover and allow to continue cooking for an additional 3-5 minutes.
When the liquid is all absorbed and your pilaf is tender, add in your salt and pepper to taste. Serve fresh. If your pilaf seems dry you can add 2-3 tablespoons of additional liquid, cover and simmer again until the rice and pasta have fully cooked and there is no remaining liquid.
Calories185kcal (9%)Carbohydrates35g (12%)Protein5g (10%)Fat2g (3%)Saturated Fat0.3g (2%)Polyunsaturated Fat0.3gMonounsaturated Fat1gCholesterol2mg (1%)Sodium439mg (18%)Potassium91mg (3%)Fiber1g (4%)Sugar1g (1%)Vitamin A34IU (1%)Vitamin C1mg (1%)Calcium19mg (2%)Iron1mg (6%)
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.