Rice Pilaf Recipes

What makes a pilaf a pilaf? One might say the onions.  Sauté raw rice in butter and onions until the rice takes on a little color.  This step distinguishes rice pilaf from other rice preparations methods such as risotto or fried rice. 

Add your favorite flavors like curry powder, fresh herbs, toasted almonds or mushrooms and sauteed or blanched veggies.

Serve rice pilaf alongside: Skillet Chicken Breast, Chicken Satay or New York Strip Steak

Basic Rice Pilaf Recipe
Serves 6

2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup uncooked white rice
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Prepare a 1 quart baking dish with butter.  Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the onion in the butter until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the rice; cook until the rice is slightly golden. Pour in the chicken broth. Season with the salt.

Simmer another 5 minutes. Transfer to the prepared dish. Bake in the preheated oven until the broth is completely absorbed, 35 to 40 minutes. Fluff with a fork to serve

Curried Rice Pilaf Recipe
Serves 4

3 tablespoons butter, olive oil or a mixture
1 small onion, finely diced
1 cup long-grain white rice
2 cups simmering water or chicken broth or stock
1 small bay leaf
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/3 cup golden raisins
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley and cilantro, mixed
¼ cup slivered almonds or pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil (optional)
Salt and ground black pepper

Heat the butter, onion, curry powder and raisins in a 2-3 quart saucepan and cook over medium heat until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add the rice, stir to coat and cook until rice is lightly golden, about 2 minutes.  Add the water or broth, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a little ground pepper. Cover, lower the heat and cook until rice is done, about 20 minutes. 

Remove saucepan from heat and let stand 5-10 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf, add the herbs and toasted nuts and separate the grains of rice with a fork

Asian Rice Pilaf
Serves 6

1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 3/4 cups beef broth
1 cup uncooked rice
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/3 cup diced red pepper
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Cook onion and garlic in sesame oil in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan over medium heat until onion is tender. Add broth, rice, soy sauce and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil; stir once or twice.  

Cover and simmer 15 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Stir green onions, red pepper and sesame seeds into cooked rice; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with fork.

Pea and Mushroom Pilaf
Serves 6

1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot; minced
1/2 cup mushrooms; sliced
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1 cup long-grain rice
2 tablespoon white wine
1-1/2 cup chicken/vegetable stock
Salt or pepper to taste
2 green onions; chopped (optional)

In a medium-size non-stick saucepan, heat butter and saute shallot until softened. Add mushrooms and saute about 3 minutes. Mix in peas and add rice, stirring to coat. Cook about 2 minutes. Stir in wine and broth; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 25 minutes, until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Season with salt and pepper. Top with sliced green onions

NOTE: Try this recipe with other vegetables such as red peppers, radicchio, radishes, green beans, asparagus, etc.

Zucchini and Red Pepper Pilaf
Serves 4-6

This colorful rice can be made 1 day in advance. Keep well covered in the refrigerator.  Moisten rice with a small amount of stock, broth or water and reheat in the microwave briefly.

1 1/2 cups basmati rice
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 small zucchini, diced
1 small red pepper, diced 
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 3/4 cups hot chicken stock or broth
Salt to taste

Melt butter in a medium heavy pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the zucchini and bell pepper and cook another 5 minutes.

Add the zucchini and red pepper and cook another 5 minutes.  Stir in the turmeric and ground red pepper and stir until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.

Add the rice and stir until the rice grains are coated with the butter and spices.  Add the hot stock and bring to a boil.  Add salt and reduce the heat to low.  Cover and cook until rice is tender and liquid absorbed, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand for 10-15 minutes.  Fluff with fork and serve


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