This simple Rice Pilaf is a classic rice side dish recipe with orzo pasta, long grain rice, onion, and garlic that cooks in seasoned chicken broth on the stove top. Simple flavors, easy ingredients, and one skillet pan is all you need.
Rice Pilaf Recipe
Rice seems to always be something that everyone in my family loves, which is probably why this Rice Pilaf is one of those side dish recipes that gets made a lot at my house. Simple to make with simple ingredients and the end result is just fabulous & simple flavors.
This rice pilaf with orzo pasta pairs really nicely with any protein main dish.
- Butter - You can use salted butter or unsalted butter. I always use salted butter for all my cooking and baking.
- Finely Diced Onion - It's best to use a white onion or yellow onion.
- Orzo Pasta - This is a very small shaped pasta that you will find with the other pasta varieties at the grocery store. It's usually on the top shelf by the other small pastas like ditalini and acini di Pepe. It looks like seeds.
- Long Grain White Rice
- Garlic - Use fresh garlic that you have mined or pressed. Use garlic paste from a tube. Or use chopped garlic from a jar. Any kind will work.
- Chicken Broth - For a stronger, more robust flavor try using chicken stock. Full-salt chicken broth is the best to use in this recipe.
- Kosher Salt
- Italian Seasoning
How To Make Rice Pilaf With Orzo
Learn how to make rice pilaf in your own kitchen with this easy-to-follow recipe. Be sure and read below for the full recipe card with all the detailed ingredients and instructions. There is also a printable recipe card and a pin it button so you can save it to your Pinterest board.
- Butter : Melt the butter in a large skillet pan (with a lid) over medium-high heat.
- Onion : Stir in the diced onion and let it cook until it's translucent, about 4-5 minutes.
- Toast Orzo Pasta : Add in the orzo pasta and let it cook for a few minutes or until it has a nice golden brown color to it.
- Rice & Garlic : Add in the rice and garlic and let it cook for about 30 seconds.
- Broth + Seasonings : Add chicken broth and seasonings. Bring it to a boil. Once boiling, cover the skillet pan with the lid.
- Simmer : Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the rice cook for 20-25 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.
- Rest Time : Take the skillet pan off the heat and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork and serving.
Rice Pilaf FAQ's
What Is Rice Pilaf?
- Pilaf is the method of cooking rice + orzo pasta with aromatic ingredients like onions and garlic. The traditional method of cooking pilaf is with a large skillet pan so there is plenty of surface area to brown the rice and coat it in the aromatics.
Can I Make Rice Pilaf Vegetarian?
- Yes, you can. To make this a vegetarian option simply switch out the chicken stock to vegetable stock.
Is There a Substitute for Orzo pasta?
- Personally, I say no there is not as orzo pasta is rice pilaf. I've never had a rice pilaf without the orzo pasta. But, if you absolutely cannot find any, then try using another really small shape of pasta that is roughly the same size/shape as rice. There really is not another great option. The only one I can think of is to spaghetti noodles and crush them into small pieces.
What's The Best Rice to Use For Rice Pilaf?
- It's best to use long grain white rice when making this recipe. Jasmine rice and basmati rice are also long grain varieties but they are a stickier rice, and wetter rice that will end up too sticky for rice pilaf.
- Rice pilaf is smooth & fluffy when cooked with the appropriate rice; long grain white rice.
Can I Make This in a Pot Instead of a Skillet Pan?
- I highly recommend using a large skillet pan. A skillet pan has more surface in the bottom and the sides are not as high as a pot. The key to a really good rice pilaf is to have a larger surface area so that everything gets cooked evenly when you are cooking your aromatics and browning the rice & orzo.
- If using a pot, instead of the rice and orzo browning, you will end up just steaming and softening it because a pot only has a small surface area in the bottom.
How To Store Leftovers
- Store any leftover rice in an airtight container, in the fridge, for up to 5 days.
Can I Freeze Rice Pilaf?
- Yes, you can freeze pilaf. Allow the rice to cool completely after finishing cooking. Then store it in a freezer safe container or bag for up to three months. Let thaw in the fridge overnight before warming up for serving.
Can I Make Rice Pilaf with Brown Rice?
- No. I do not recommend using brown rice. Brown rice has a significantly longer cook time and it needs more water to cook properly, which means the orzo pasta will be mushy and very soft at the end of the longer cook time. This recipe has been specifically tested for white long grain rice.
Here are a few of my helpful tips so that you can have success recreating this recipe in your own kitchen.
- Use Long Grain White Rice : This is the best rice, and the only rice I recommend using, when making rice pilaf. There are other varieties of long grain rice, like jasmine and basmati rice, but they yield a stickier and wetter rice which is not what we want in pilaf. I do not recommend using brown rice. It needs a much longer cook time, and more water, which means that the orzo will get soft and mushy during a longer cook time.
- Don't Substitute The Orzo Pasta : This is an easily found product in the pasta section at the grocery store. There really is not a great substitute for it as rice pilaf is traditionally made with orzo pasta. It's usually on the top shelf of the pasta section alongside the ditalini pasta and acini de Pepe pasta.
- Use a Skillet Pan : It's important to use the right pan when making this recipe. The key to a really good rice pilaf is toasting the rice and orzo in the garlic and onion. You want to make sure you get a light golden browned toasted exterior before adding the broth in. A skillet pan is a larger round pan that has more surface area in the bottom of the pan, which means there is lots of space to toast the rice. If you use something like a pot, where the surface area is smaller, you end up steaming and softening the rice instead of toasting it all.
- 5 Minute Sit Time : This is a very important step when making this recipe. Be sure you allow time, and set a timer, for 5 minutes so the rice can sit after it has been cooked. This is what gets the rice fluffy and really soft.
- Serving Suggestions : I love making rice pilaf as a side dish whenever I make some baked chicken like this Garlic Parmesan Chicken or my Crispy Baked Lemon Parmesan Chicken. It goes great with any protein like steak, pork, or even seafood.
More Rice Side Dish Recipes You'll Love
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup finely chopped onion
- ½ cup orzo pasta
- ½ cup long grain white rice
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 cups chicken broth
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the butter and allow it to melt completely. Stir in the onion and cook until translucent and softer, about 4-5 minutes.
- Stir in the orzo pasta and let it cook, while stirring constantly, until it starts getting a nice golden brown color.
- Stir in the long grain rice and garlic, and let it cook for 30 seconds, while stirring constantly.
- Add the chicken broth, salt, and Italian seasoning. Bring it to a boil over high heat.
- Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the skillet with a lid. Allow the rice to simmer for 20-25 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
- Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to rest, with the lid on, for 5 minutes.
- Fluff the rice with a fork before serving.