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How to Make Rice Pilaf

Susan has been sharing recipes online since 2006. She specializes in simple, delicious, family-friendly recipes that everyone loves.

Rice pilaf goes great with this pork shish kabob.

Rice pilaf goes great with this pork shish kabob.

What Is Rice Pilaf, Anyway?

Rice pilaf is a delicious way to make a plain rice side dish better. It's really just rice cooked in broth and embellished with a few vegetables and spices. Rice pilaf is very easy to make, especially with the help of a rice cooker/steamer, and it goes well with many types of foods, from shish kabobs to chicken, fish, shrimp and beyond.

You can dress up your rice pilaf for company or tone it down for a family meal—and we bet the kids will love it!

Read on to learn how to make rice pilaf and for an illustrated version of my own rice pilaf recipe, guaranteed to be easy since I am essentially a very lazy cook. But lazy doesn't mean the flavor's been left out, so never fear!

Enjoy!

P.S. Rice pilaf is delicious any time of year, but especially when the cooler weather brings out the desire for more seasoning and warm, wonderful comfort food. Yes, I'd say rice is most definitely a comfort food, and I hope you agree!

Rice pilaf is a tasty, comforting side dish.

Rice pilaf is a tasty, comforting side dish.

Rice Pilaf Recipe

Rice pilaf is really a method as much as it is a recipe. Here's what you need and what to do.

Ingredients

  • rice (white rice or brown rice or converted rice—your choice)
  • chicken or vegetable broth or the broth of your choice (I usually use Swanson's chicken broth)
  • butter (or olive oil if you prefer)
  • diced onion (green or white or yellow or red—choose your favorite)
  • chopped or diced vegetables, 2 or 3 types (celery, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini etc.)
  • spices (I love spice blends and use Mrs. Dash more than any other—garlic and herb is my favorite)
  • pine nuts or peanuts or almonds or raisins or bits of apple (optional)

Instructions

  1. Prepare the rice to cook it the way you usually cook rice. I prefer a rice cooker (the one I use is recommended further down the page). You might cook yours on top of the stove or in the microwave. If you've never cooked rice before, I'd recommend the rice cooker. Truly, I love mine because it's easy and requires less attention than the other options. For now, we'll assume you're using a rice cooker, so measure the rice, rinse and add it to the cooker, then add the broth of your choice in place of the water you'd otherwise be using. Cover and start it cooking.
  2. Dice the onion of your choice, as much as you want depending on how much rice you're cooking. When I cook for two, I use maybe 1/8 of an onion. Dice or chop (small pieces are preferred, but a few chunky pieces are okay, too) the vegetables. Celery is highly recommended. Carrots add pretty color and a nice flavor. Mushrooms add color and that mushroom texture. Just choose two or three or maybe four of your favorites.
  3. Heat a teaspoon to a tablespoon or more of butter (depends on how many you're cooking for) in a small skillet over low to medium heat. Add the onions and vegetables and cook until just soft and beginning to change color. Stir in your choice of complementary spices.
  4. By now, the rice cooker should be good and hot, and the rice should be starting to cook. Uncover and stir in the contents of the skillet, then re-cover and finish cooking the rice.
  5. If using nuts or fruit, wait until the rice is just done to stir those in. Let them heat up a minute, then the pilaf is ready to serve.
  6. If you're cooking the rice on top of the stove or in the microwave, prepare the add-ins the same way as above, but either add them along with the rice and broth, or stir the add-ins into the rice at the end. (Look below for pictures of rice pilaf in progress.)

Photo Tutorial

Heat butter in a small skillet over medium to low heat.  Brown your choice of onions and vegetables just until soft and golden brown.

Heat butter in a small skillet over medium to low heat. Brown your choice of onions and vegetables just until soft and golden brown.

Use plenty of fresh butter, heated in a small skillet over medium to low heat. Choose from diced green onions, red onions, yellow onions, or white onions. Add chopped celery, carrot, mushrooms, even zucchini. Stir in spices, if you like, when the vegetables are ready to add to the rice. (I love to use Mrs. Dash seasonings—garlic and herb is my favorite).

Serving middle Eastern cuisine or curry? Add raisins or apples, peanuts, or pine nuts to the mixture. The choice is yours.

Stir the browned vegetables and spices into the rice as it cooks in the rice cooker.

Stir the browned vegetables and spices into the rice as it cooks in the rice cooker.

Not using a rice cooker? Stir yours into the rice and water before you begin cooking rice in the microwave or on the stove, or stir into the completed rice before serving.

Serve the completed rice pilaf with the main dish.

Serve the completed rice pilaf with the main dish.

Serve your rice pilaf alongside the main dish, or rest the meat on top of the rice to make it pretty and blend the flavors even more.

This is toasted sesame fish fillets with rice pilaf (along with coleslaw) on the side. Whether you're serving fish, shrimp, pork, beef, or any other main dish, you'll add a lot of interest as well as flavor by embellishing the rice with vegetables and spices chosen to complement the meal.

Try serving shish kabobs on rice pilaf.

Try serving shish kabobs on rice pilaf.

Video Tutorials on Making Rice Pilaf

Here you'll find a variety of recipes and methods for making rice pilaf. The first video is for an amazing white and wild rice pilaf cooked on top of the stove. The directions and ingredients are clear, and you can just about smell the finished product. Mmmmm, delicious!

Rice Cooker Recommendation

Simply, I bought a rice cooker to simplify cooking rice. We enjoy rice, but even making it in the microwave was often messy and really wasn't any faster than making it on top of the stove, which required careful observation.

Enter the Rival RC61, perfect for our small family.

Add a comment: Did you know how to make rice pilaf before you read this page? Anyone can leave a comment, and I'd love to read yours!

Susan Deppner (author) from Arkansas USA on September 13, 2016:

I think this probably would work with quinoa, BarbRad. Essentially you'd be mixing in flavoring and seasoning. I hope you like it with your brown rice!

Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on September 13, 2016:

I'm about to cook another batch of brown rice, and I believe I'll try this for at least half the batch. My husband like to eat rice with his meat every day. I wonder if this would also work with quinoa.

Susan Deppner (author) from Arkansas USA on January 15, 2014:

@acreativethinker: Love those colorful veggies!

acreativethinker on January 15, 2014:

It is such a wonderful dish and very colorful too. :)

tok2gman on May 07, 2013:

Very nice. Love pilaf. I have even created my own recipes for the dish, pushing it a little into fusion category.

Susan Deppner (author) from Arkansas USA on April 29, 2013:

@Magda2012: I hope you do try some rice pilaf and let me know what you think. Thanks for the visit and the comment!

Magda2012 on April 29, 2013:

I never heard about rice pilaf before. Sounds very delicious, and I would love to try your recipe :)

Onethindime LM on February 06, 2013:

Looks delish. I'll have to try it.

Susan Deppner (author) from Arkansas USA on January 29, 2013:

@Gloriousconfusion: I need to return that kindness!

Diana Grant from United Kingdom on January 29, 2013:

Sounds great, and I will now feature it in my How to Make Mushroom Risotto web page

Susan Deppner (author) from Arkansas USA on October 12, 2012:

@senditondown: Indeed it is simple!

Senditondown from US on October 11, 2012:

Didn't know how to make it before, but it looks simple enough to try.

TheBLU26 on October 09, 2012:

Looks and sounds delicious! Will definitely have a try! Thanks!

Susan Deppner (author) from Arkansas USA on October 09, 2012:

@TreasuresBrenda: Glad you learned something new today! LOL

Treasures By Brenda from Canada on October 09, 2012:

I guess I knew but I didn't know it was rice pilaf I was making, LOL.

Susan Deppner (author) from Arkansas USA on October 08, 2012:

@ohcaroline: Thanks! Hope you'll try it!

ohcaroline on October 08, 2012:

I enjoy it but don't get to eat it very often. Your recipe looks good.

Susan Deppner (author) from Arkansas USA on October 08, 2012:

@moonlitta: Plain rice doesn't do much for me either. We eat rice a lot more now that I know how to doctor it up a bit. Very tasty!

moonlitta on October 08, 2012:

Excellent idea for cooking rice which I generally don't like. This might convert me in a way:)

Susan Deppner (author) from Arkansas USA on October 05, 2012:

@AnimalHouse: You are quite welcome! Enjoy!

AnimalHouse on October 04, 2012:

Its my first time to hear rice pilaf. It looks so delicious! I really like what you've done. Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe!

Susan Deppner (author) from Arkansas USA on October 04, 2012:

@aliciamaggie54: Hope you try it this way, which is almost as easy as using a box mix!

aliciamaggie54 on October 04, 2012:

I did not know how to make it this way. Like the previous commenter, I fixed mine by using the kind that comes in a box. Thanks for sharing.

Susan Deppner (author) from Arkansas USA on September 30, 2012:

@Joan4: A rice steamer would be a great gift!

Susan Deppner (author) from Arkansas USA on September 30, 2012:

@blessedmomto7: Glad you like my pictures! You know, it's almost as fast to fix rice pilaf myself as it is to find and read the directions on the box! :)

blessedmomto7 on September 30, 2012:

Before this, my rice pilaf came from a box mix. I think I may try your recipe. And I love the pictures you included on your lens by the way.

Joan4 on September 30, 2012:

Your rice pilaf sounds so good. I have never tried that! I think a rice steamer is on my Christmas list!

Susan Deppner (author) from Arkansas USA on September 30, 2012:

@Sylvestermouse: Thanks! Hope your daughter likes the idea, too!

Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on September 30, 2012:

Looks and sounds delicious! Couldn't help but note Claudia's comment below. Always nice to have a new vegan recipe now that my daughter is vegan.

Susan Deppner (author) from Arkansas USA on September 30, 2012:

@happynutritionist: Ah, great vegan recipe idea, Claudia! Thanks for pointing that out!

happynutritionist on September 29, 2012:

We love rice and with hubby eating vegan now, this will be a perfect recipe.

Susan Deppner (author) from Arkansas USA on September 29, 2012:

@DecoratingEvents: It truly is simple. The name sounds fancy and difficult, doesn't it?

DecoratingEvents on September 29, 2012:

I've never made rice pilaf either but seems simple and sounds delicious!

Susan Deppner (author) from Arkansas USA on September 29, 2012:

@Dianne Loomos: Great! I sure hope you like it!

Dianne Loomos on September 29, 2012:

I've never made rice pilaf but you make it sound so easy and delicious, I'm going to try it!

Susan Deppner (author) from Arkansas USA on September 29, 2012:

@Holley Web: Hope you enjoy yours!

Holley Web on September 29, 2012:

This looks amazingly good! Now I'm really hungry. Time to make Rice Pilaf!