How to Make Rice Pilaf

Updated on January 6, 2018
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Jan has been cooking and writing about food for over twenty years and has cooked on multiple television stations, including Food Network.

Easy enough for everyday but elegant enough for company, perfect rice pilaf is actually pretty easy. A few ingredients and 20 minutes is all it takes!
Easy enough for everyday but elegant enough for company, perfect rice pilaf is actually pretty easy. A few ingredients and 20 minutes is all it takes!

I'd be hard-pressed to come up with a meal that isn't a little better with rice pilaf on the side. It's just plain delicious, and it's so much easier to make than you might think.

The biggest trick to successful rice pilaf is the pasta portion. The pasta I use is called orzo, and you can find it almost anywhere. I buy it in bulk at the local supermarket, where it comes in bins and you can buy however much you like. You can also find it in boxes on the pasta aisle, and one box makes just around two batches of pilaf. I've even ordered it online from the giant website that sells everything, and the price was competitive. The best price, however, is in the bulk section.

If you just can't find orzo, no sweat. Find some angel hair pasta and stick it in a plastic ziplock bag. Bang it with a mallet until you have very small pieces. Either way, you want the pasta approximately the same size as the rice.

Serve rice pilaf with just about anything - seriously. It goes great with chicken, beef, fish, shellfish, pork roasts - this is really one of the most versatile side dishes you can imagine, and mastering this quick recipe will give you a powerful tool in the kitchen.

You can also use whatever broth you like, and because the broth is such a strong flavor component of the final dish, changing the broth can really change up the finished pilaf. This recipe calls for chicken broth, but use whatever you like depending on how you'll be serving it. So use beef or vegetable broth if you like - it'll all be incredibly delicious. It's your food - make it the way YOU like!

Have you Tried this Recipe?

5 stars from 1 rating of Perfect Rice Pilaf

Cook Time

Cook time: 25 min
Ready in: 25 min
Yields: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the chicken broth and butter to a simmer. Add salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders, and keep warm.
  2. In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Saute the orzo until it's golden brown, about 7-8 minutes. Watch the pasta carefully as it begins to darken - it will burn quickly at the end if you aren't careful.
  3. Add the rice to the toasted orzo and stir in the hot broth. Stir well, cover and simmer for right at 15 minutes, until the liquid is fully absorbed.
  4. Stir in peas and cover, just until the peas are warmed through. Stir in parsley and serve. It's really that easy!

Heat the Broth, Butter and Seasonings

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth, butter and seasonings to a simmer. Keep it warm while you toast the orzo. This will help with the lovely texture of the finished rice pilaf, helping ensure it stays nice and fluffy.
In a medium saucepan, bring the broth, butter and seasonings to a simmer. Keep it warm while you toast the orzo. This will help with the lovely texture of the finished rice pilaf, helping ensure it stays nice and fluffy.

Orzo is Pasta!

I buy orzo in the bulk section of the supermarket, although you can also find it in boxes on the pasta aisle. I've also found it online at a good price. Alternately you can use broken angel hair pasta.
I buy orzo in the bulk section of the supermarket, although you can also find it in boxes on the pasta aisle. I've also found it online at a good price. Alternately you can use broken angel hair pasta.

Toasting the Orzo

Heat the olive oil over medium heat, and toast the orzo. Stir it frequently while it toasts, especially toward the end. Once it starts getting a dark golden brown, add the rice.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat, and toast the orzo. Stir it frequently while it toasts, especially toward the end. Once it starts getting a dark golden brown, add the rice.

Dark Golden Brown is Key

Go as far as you dare with the color on the orzo - this is the key to a deep, nutty flavor. Be careful once it begins to get golden though - too far and you'll get scorched, which isn't nice at all.
Go as far as you dare with the color on the orzo - this is the key to a deep, nutty flavor. Be careful once it begins to get golden though - too far and you'll get scorched, which isn't nice at all.

Add the Rice

Once the orzo is nice and golden, add the rice to the same skillet. Stir it well - try to get every last grain of rice coated with the oil from cooking the orzo. This helps keep the texture beautifully fluffy.
Once the orzo is nice and golden, add the rice to the same skillet. Stir it well - try to get every last grain of rice coated with the oil from cooking the orzo. This helps keep the texture beautifully fluffy.

Add the Hot Broth

Add the hot broth to the rice and orzo. Stir it and then cover. Set a timer for 15 minutes - this is plenty of time to cook the rice and to allow the liquid to fully absorb.
Add the hot broth to the rice and orzo. Stir it and then cover. Set a timer for 15 minutes - this is plenty of time to cook the rice and to allow the liquid to fully absorb.

Cook 15 Minutes

Leave it alone for the 15 minutes it takes for the rice to cook through. It'll be fine - I promise. If you lift the lid you let the heat escape, and it will simply add cooking time. You don't need to.
Leave it alone for the 15 minutes it takes for the rice to cook through. It'll be fine - I promise. If you lift the lid you let the heat escape, and it will simply add cooking time. You don't need to.

Peas and Parsley

I love frozen peas - they're a quick and easy way to add some bright fresh flavor with no effort. No need to defrost them, just toss them in. They'll warm through in just a couple minutes, and stay a gorgeous firm texture.
I love frozen peas - they're a quick and easy way to add some bright fresh flavor with no effort. No need to defrost them, just toss them in. They'll warm through in just a couple minutes, and stay a gorgeous firm texture.

Stir in the Parsley

Final step is adding the fresh parsley. Parsley gives a gorgeous contrast and bright note to the final dish.
Final step is adding the fresh parsley. Parsley gives a gorgeous contrast and bright note to the final dish.

Ready to Eat!

Rice pilaf is the perfect side for any number of main dishes, and it's easy enough for every day, although it's perfect for company too!
Rice pilaf is the perfect side for any number of main dishes, and it's easy enough for every day, although it's perfect for company too!

Check out the Quick Tutorial!

How to Make Your Own Chicken Broth

© 2018 Jan Charles

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