Let’s all agree to set aside boring white rice or boxed rice mixes because this homemade Rice Pilaf recipe is EASY, flavorful and so versatile it can be served with almost anything! 

I’ve got all the tips and tricks for PERFECT rice pilaf that can be served with almost any main dish!  For a simple 30 minute meal, I love chicken tenders, with rice pilaf and roasted vegetables!

Rice pilaf in an oval serving dish with a spoon.
Rice pilaf is best toasted in butter and cooked in broth.

There are so many instances where I’m serving something that could really use a side of rice, but I want rice that’s tastier than regular white or brown rice. If I’m serving Mexican food, then my Authentic Mexican Rice is the obvious choice. But when I’m serving something like Pork Chops or Roast Chicken and Vegetables, this simple Rice Pilaf is always my go-to.

The difference between regular rice and rice pilaf is in the flavor. Regular rice is usually cooked with plain water, but rice pilaf is toasted in butter, giving it a nutty flavor, and then cooked in broth with additional spices.

How to Make Rice Pilaf:

  1. Add rice to a fine mesh strainer or colander and rinse really well, until the water runs clear. Set aside to drain. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring often, until lightly golden.
  2.  Add onion, garlic, salt, and pepper and cook until onion has softened.
  3. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover pot with a tight fitting lid and reduce heat to a simmer. (Do not ever remove the lid from the pot during cooking!) Cook for 15-18 minutes. Remove pot from heat and allow to rest, with the lid still on, for 10 minutes.
  4.  Remove lid and gently fluff the rice with a fork. Gently stir in chopped parsley.
Three process photos for cooking rice pilaf in a sauce pan.
1) Toast the rice in butter, 2) Add onion, garlic, salt and pepper, 3) Cook in broth and let rest.

The mild and delicious flavors of this rice make it the perfect side for almost any meal! Try serving it with roast chicken, salmon, curry, steak, or anything you’d normally serve rice with!

The Key to Perfect Rice Pilaf:

  • Toast the rice– this is the first step to perfect rice pilaf and it’s very important!  Toasting your rice in a small amount of butter (or oil) until it’s golden brown extracts some of the earthy flavors from the rice and adds to the overall depth of flavor in your rice pilaf.
  • Add Flavor– For additional flavor, the rice is cooked in chicken broth with diced onion, fresh minced garlic, and salt and pepper.  You can also add a variety of seasonings and vegetables (listed below).
  • Let rest– Never lift the lid off of the rice immediately after cooking.  Take it off the burner and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.  Then use a fork to gently fluff (avoiding stirring) to separate the rice grains and avoid mashed rice.

Instant Pot Rice Pilaf:

Rinse rice. Turn Instant Pot to saute setting. Add butter and rice and cook until golden. Add onion garlic, salt and pepper and cook until onion has softened. Add 1 ½ cups of chicken broth. Close with the lid and move the valve to sealed. Cook for 4 minutes on manual/high pressure, with a 10 minutes natural release. Remove lid, Add parsley and fluff with a fork.

Add-ins and substitutions:

  • Peas
  • Onion
  • Raisins
  • Dried apricots
  • Slivered almonds
  • Diced carrots
  • Chopped celery
  • Chopped peppers

Brown rice pilaf: Add an additional ½ cup of broth, and cook for about 40 minutes, instead of 15.

Orzo rice pilaf: Reduce rice to 1 cup and add ½ cup of orzo.

Vegan rice pilaf: Use vegan friendly butter and substitute vegetable broth.

Vegetable rice pilaf: Add additional vegetables with the onion, like diced celery, bell pepper, carrots, and peas and substitute vegetable broth.

Storing and Reheating: 

Rice pilaf is best served fresh.  It will gradually become dry the longer it sits. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

To reheat, add a small amount of water to the rice, cover the dish with plastic wrap (allowing a little ventilation) and  microwave until warm.

With leftover rice: 

There are so many recipes that are perfect for using your leftover rice including:

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Recipe

Rice pilaf in an oval serving dish with a spoon.
Prep 5 d
Cook 25 mins
Total 30 mins
Add to Meal Plan

Ingredients
 
 

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 3 cups chicken broth , or vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Instructions
 

  • Add rice to a fine mesh strainer or colander and rinse really well, until the water runs clear. Set aside to drain.
  • Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring often, until lightly golden. Add onion, garlic, salt, and pepper and cook until onion has softened.
  • Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover pot with a tight fitting lid and reduce heat to a simmer. (Do not ever remove the lid from the pot during cooking!) Cook for 15-18 minutes. Remove pot from heat and allow to rest, with the lid still on, for 10 minutes.,
  • Remove lid and gently fluff the rice with a fork. Gently stir in chopped parsley.

Video

Notes

Instant Pot: Rinse rice. Turn Instant Pot to saute setting. Add butter and rice and cook until golden. Add onion garlic, salt and pepper and cook until onion has softened. Add 1 ½ cups of chicken broth. Close with the lid and move the valve to sealed. Cook for 4 minutes on manual/high pressure, with a 10 minutes natural release. Remove lid, Add parsley and fluff with a fork.  
Add-in ideas: 
  • Peas
  • Raisins
  • Chopped celery
  • Mushrooms
Brown rice pilaf: Add an additional ½ cup of broth, and cook for about 40-45 minutes, instead of 20.
Orzo rice pilaf: Reduce rice to 1 cup and add ½ cup of orzo.
Vegan rice pilaf: Use vegan friendly butter and substitute vegetable broth.
Vegetable rice pilaf: Add additional vegetables with the onion, like diced celery, bell pepper, carrots, and peas and substitute vegetable broth.
Storing and reheating: Rice pilaf is best served fresh.  It will gradually become dry the longer it sits. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. 
To reheat, add a small amount of water to the rice, cover the dish with plastic wrap (allowing a little ventilation) and  microwave until warm.

Nutrition

Calories: 260kcalCarbohydrates: 47gProtein: 5gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 987mgPotassium: 224mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 393IUVitamin C: 16mgCalcium: 35mgIron: 1mg

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Delicious. I have cooked onions first, then add garlic, then the rice and then the broth, salt etc. So perfect. Also the same using jasmine rice. Next time i will try it browning rice and doing opposite order of browning. Either way, it will be amazing ! Don’t cut back on the garlic. Much to my surprise, it really needs it if not 4 cloves and if minced, does not over power!

  2. 5 stars
    Lauren, thank you. I followed your recipe exception:. Used 3 boulions of chicken and 1 beef to 3 cups of water and added some red sweet pepper I had from my own garden. Thru in some smoked paprika, just a dash. Guys Loved. Great guidance on the cook. I highly recommend….