Upgrade your everyday rice with this Easy Rice Pilaf Recipe. It’s simple, uses fresh ingredients and adds incredible flavor to any plate.
My daughter tried rice pilaf at a restaurant recently and instantly was hooked. I remembered that my mom used to make it all the time and it was amazing, so I asked her to share her recipe with me. I was surprised at how simple it was because the name makes it sound so fancy.
It starts with a mirepoix, which is just a fancy french cooking term for diced carrots, onions and celery. This is the base for the flavor of lots of recipes, like chicken soup and my Creamy Chicken Casserole. You can also add mushrooms and pine nuts but they are both optional depending on your tastes. The rice is sautéd with the vegetables to add some nutty notes and depth of flavor, steams in chicken broth. The whole recipe takes less that 30 minutes and half of that is hands off cooking time.
I love serving this vegetable rice pilaf for dinner and then having leftovers the next day to make rice bowls with shredded chicken.
How to Make the Best Rice Pilaf
There are three basic steps to understand.
- Toast: Cook raw rice in butter or olive oil to toast it. The rice will have a more complex and pronounced flavor. Try using coconut oil or sesame oil for something different.
- Simmer – Add liquid like chicken broth then cover with the lid. The liquid will steam which will cook the rice while seasoning it.
- Rest – This will give your rice a fluffier texture. Let it rest for several minutes, then fluff with a fork or spatula.
What is the best rice to use for rice pilaf?
Use a long-grain white rice when making vegetable rice pilaf. Regular is fine, but Jasmine rice will add a nutty flavor that can’t be beat. I’ve also tried Basmati rice and while it works, the flavor isn’t my favorite. ‘
Can You Make Rice Pilaf in a Rice Cooker?
You absolutely can! Saute the veggies and the rice (steps 1 and 2 in the recipe card below), then add all of the ingredients to your rice cooker and cook. The rice will steam and be perfectly flavorful.
How to Freeze Rice
I always double the rice so I can freeze the leftovers. Cooked rice keeps really well in heavy duty freezer bags for up to 6 months. To reheat, add a couple tablespoons of liquid per cup of rice then microwave or cook in a saucepan on the stove until the rice is heated through.
Use leftover rice for rice bowls or fried rice.
Recipe Tips and Variations
- Resist the urge to peek before the time is up. Rice needs steam to cook and lifting the lid before it’s done will release the steam and your rice won’t cook properly.
- Classic rice pilaf has pine nuts, but you could substitute sliced almonds or omit them completely.
- Add different veggies like peas and corn.
- Use vegetable broth for a vegetarian version. You could even use water but be sure to salt it.
- Easily double this recipe without adjusting the cooking time.
More Rice Recipes
Easy Rice Pilaf
- 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
- 1/4 cup finely chopped carrots
- 1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
- 1 cup long grain white rice Jasmine or basmati rice works too
- 1/4 cup chopped mushrooms optional
- 1/4 cup pine nuts optional
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- ½ teaspoon salt or more to taste
- Heat a 10-inch skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Heat olive oil until shimmering, then add celery, carrots and onion. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms and pine nuts, if using.
- Add 1 cup of rice to the pan and saute for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. As rice begins to brown, you can add another tablespoon of oil if it seems dry.
- Pour in low sodium chicken broth and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in ½ teaspoon salt. Cover, reduce heat to low and steam for 15 minutes.
- Let the rice rest for 5-10 minutes, then fluff and serve.