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How to Make Rice Pilaf

Updated on May 24, 2016
SusanDeppner profile image

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

Serve Shish Kabobs on Rice Pilaf
Serve Shish Kabobs on Rice Pilaf | Source

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 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!

How to Make Rice Pilaf
How to Make Rice Pilaf

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 - celery or carrots or mushrooms or zucchini etc. - Choose two or three .
  • 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 an eighth 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 or 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.
  7. Look below for pictures of rice pilaf in progress.
4.5 stars from 2 ratings of How to Make Rice Pilaf

POLL: What do you think of rice pilaf? - Sound good to you? It sure looks good as a "pillow" under this pork shish-kebab.

Rice Pilaf goes great with this Pork Shish-kebab
Rice Pilaf goes great with this Pork Shish-kebab

POLL: What do you think of rice pilaf?

See results

Here's the Rice Cooker I Use When I Make Rice Pilaf - This rice cooker/steamer is the perfect size for a small family.

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.

Rival RC61 3-Cup uncooked resulting in 6-Cup cooked Rice Cooker, Red
Rival RC61 3-Cup uncooked resulting in 6-Cup cooked Rice Cooker, Red

- Great when cooking for two or three people

- Easy to cook, serve from, and clean

- Includes a steamer basket. Love mine! I steam broccoli or asparagus and have even steamed shrimp over the rice. Love the flavor!

If you have a larger family, I'd definitely recommend investing in a similar but larger rice steamer.

Click on the picture to read the customer reviews, including my own detailed review, and to find alternatives for cooking for a larger family or a crowd.

 

Saute Onion and Vegetables in Butter - Embelish plain rice with your favorites to complement the main dish.

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 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.

Add Spices to the Browned Vegetables Then Pour Into the Rice - I add mine to the rice as it's cooking in the rice cooker.

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 Your Rice Pilaf With the Main Dish. - Serve it alongside or rest the meat on top of the rice to make it pretty and blend the flavors even more.

Serve the Completed Rice Pilaf With the Main Dish
Serve the Completed Rice Pilaf With the Main Dish

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.

What is Rice Pilaf?

I've always heard that "pilaf" means "pillow," which would make rice pilaf a pillow of rice upon which the main dish rests. Wikipedia says that pilaf is a dish in which rice is cooked in a seasoned broth and to which onions, seasonings, or other vegetables may be added.

Watch How to Make Rice Pilaf - Video tutorials to learn how to cook a 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!

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!

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    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 8 months ago from Arkansas USA

      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!

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 8 months ago from Templeton, CA

      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.

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 3 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @acreativethinker: Love those colorful veggies!

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      acreativethinker 3 years ago

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

    • tok2gman profile image

      tok2gman 4 years ago

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

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

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

    • Magda2012 profile image

      Magda2012 4 years ago

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

    • Onethindime LM profile image

      Onethindime LM 4 years ago

      Looks delish. I'll have to try it.

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @Gloriousconfusion: I need to return that kindness!

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 4 years ago from United Kingdom

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

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @senditondown: Indeed it is simple!

    • senditondown profile image

      Senditondown 4 years ago from US

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

    • TheBLU26 profile image

      TheBLU26 4 years ago

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

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 4 years ago from Canada

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

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @TreasuresBrenda: Glad you learned something new today! LOL

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

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

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      ohcaroline 4 years ago

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

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @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!

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      moonlitta 4 years ago

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

    • SusanDeppner profile image
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      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @AnimalHouse: You are quite welcome! Enjoy!

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