The Best Easy Rice Pilaf

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The best easy rice pilaf recipe – no fail rice pilaf, just mix, cook, and ready to serve in under 20 minutes for light, fluffy rice pilaf that is packed with flavor!

rice pilaf with parsley on it
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Delicious Easy Best Rice Pilaf

Rice pilaf – a rich, delicious, fluffy rice side dish with chicken stock and sautéed onions, is one of my all time favorite side dishes.

Rice pilaf is gluten free, cooks quickly, and goes with just about everything – it is great alongside grilled dinners like chicken, pork tenderloin, lobster tails – and even mixed into salads or with shrimp and spicy sauce served on top!

This easy rice pilaf is great for beginner cooks – just a little sautéing, boiling, and stirring to get to this versatile side dish.

rice pilaf with parsley on it in a white bowl with towel around it

Tips and Tricks for Making Rice Pilaf

Use the Right Rice: Basmati or jasmine rice are ideal for pilaf because of their long grains and aromatic flavor. Ensure you rinse the rice thoroughly to remove excess starch and achieve a fluffier texture.

Toast the Rice: Before adding liquid, toast the rice in a bit of butter or oil until it’s slightly golden. This step enhances the nutty flavor of the rice and keeps the grains separate.

Sauté Aromatics: Begin by sautéing onions, garlic, or shallots in butter or oil until they are soft and fragrant. This foundational step adds depth to the pilaf’s flavor.

Use Broth Instead of Water: Cooking the rice in chicken, vegetable, or beef broth instead of water infuses it with extra flavor. For a vegetarian option, vegetable broth works perfectly.

Add Spices and Herbs: Incorporate spices like cumin, cardamom, turmeric, or cinnamon for warmth and color, and finish with fresh herbs such as parsley, cilantro, or dill for freshness.

Maintain the Liquid Ratio: Typically, the ratio of liquid to rice is about 1.5 to 1 or 2 to 1, depending on the rice type. Too much liquid can make the pilaf mushy, while too little can leave it undercooked.

Keep the Lid On: After bringing the liquid to a boil and adding the rice, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, and let it simmer. This method ensures even cooking without stirring, which can break the rice grains.

Let It Rest: Once the rice is cooked, turn off the heat and let the pilaf sit covered for 5-10 minutes. This allows the rice to steam further and become fluffier.

Fluff with a Fork: Use a fork to fluff the rice gently before serving. This separates the grains without mashing them, preserving the pilaf’s ideal texture.

Experiment with Add-Ins: Customize your pilaf by adding vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, or cooked proteins like chicken, lamb, or shrimp toward the end of cooking for a one-pot meal.

Use a Wide Pan: Cooking pilaf in a wide, shallow pan can help the liquid evaporate more evenly and prevent the rice from becoming too sticky.

Adjust Seasoning at the End: Taste your pilaf before serving and adjust the salt and pepper as needed to ensure the flavors are balanced.


Can I make this in an Instant Pot?

Yes, you will want to use the sauté function of an instant pot to sauté the veggies in the oil (or do it in a separate pan if you are using a classic pressure cooker). Once they are sauteed add the broth and spices. Use Manual mode to cook at high pressure for 3 minutes. Allow the pressure to come down naturally which could take about 15 minutes. Enjoy

rice pilaf with parsley on it

What To Serve with Rice Pilaf

Rice pilaf is one of the most versatile side dishes – it goes with just about everything! Some of my favorite dishes to serve with rice pilaf are my baked pork tenderloin, ribeye steaks with mushrooms, and thai chili scallops!

Try these other favorite recipes:

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rice pilaf with parsley on it

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A bowl of creamy risotto, an easy rice side dish, garnished with fresh herbs.

The Best Easy Rice Pilaf

The best easy rice pilaf is a fragrant and fluffy side dish, enriched with buttery onions, aromatic spices, and toasted nuts, bringing a simple elegance to any meal with its perfect balance of flavors and textures.
Course Side dishes
Cuisine American
Keyword best rice pilaf, best rice recipe, easy rice pilaf, how to cook rice, rice, rice pilaf
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 227kcal
Author Courtney O’Dell


  • 2 cups long grain white rice
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh garlic minced
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ cup finely diced celery
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley


  • In a medium sized pot, heat olive oil on medium.
  • When olive oil is shiny, add onion and celery.
  • Cook onion, celery, and garlic on medium until soft and very lightly browned, stirring occasionally to prevent burning – about 6 minutes.
  • Stir in salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne.
  • Add rice and heat until shiny and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  • Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  • Cover and reduce heat to low, let simmer 15-20 minutes, until stock is soaked up.
  • Turn off heat and let sit, covered, for five minutes.
  • Remove cover and fluff with a fork.
  • Top with parsley and serve.


Calories: 227kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 1417mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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Recipe Rating


  1. Sue says:

    The ingredients only include garlic powder but you say to sauté the onion, celery and garlic and then add garlic powder later.

    1. Katherine says:

      Woops, thanks for pointing that out, I updated the recipe card with the fresh garlic. If you don’t have fresh garlic you can use just 1 tsp garlic powder instead.