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Better than a Box Rice Pilaf Recipe

by Kari
A white bowl with rice pilaf and a silver spoon and a pink napkin.
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Rice Pilaf: Bring back memories of your favorite box of rice pilaf. Fluffy, flavorful, and none of the chemicals or unnecessary amounts of sodium that you find in a box.

A white bowl with rice pilaf and a silver spoon and red plain napkin.

When I was in college and was still learning to cook, I almost always made boxed foods because they were really easy to cook. (I pretty much lived on Knorr alfredo pasta packages and butter noodles.) I also loved Near East Pilafs and Couscous – I felt so fancy eating “rice pilaf.”

A white bowl with rice pilaf and a silver spoon and a pink napkin.

When I got a bit older and got better at cooking, I became a little more health-conscious. I realized that instant foods probably did not need to have a place in my diet.

This rice pilaf smells just like a Near East pilaf as it is cooking, it brings back so many memories for me.

A white bowl with rice pilaf and a silver spoon and red plain napkin.

Then the taste – this tastes JUST like a box of rice pilaf! (Only a little better 😉 )

Why Make Rice Pilaf from Scratch?

First of all, everything is better from scratch. Rice pilaf is made just as easily as regular rice. The only thing that takes more time than boxed pilaf is the time required to dice some garlic and measure out spices. (This can even be done while your water is boiling, so it takes no more time than boiling water and tearing open a box.)

You also probably already have all the ingredients.

How Do You Make Rice Pilaf?

Begin by melting 1 tablespoon of butter.

Squares of butter melting in a small, white and gray pot.

Once melted, add 1 cup of chicken broth or vegetable broth and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil.

Spices and two measuring spoons on a gray wooden background.

Next, add your rice, orzo, and spices stir until well combined.

A colorful Japanese bowl full of uncooked rice on a wooden gray background.

Rice pilaf simmering in a white and gray pot.

Bring back to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.

How Long Do You Cook Homemade Rice Pilaf?

Cover and cook for 16 – 18 minutes, stirring occasionally. Make sure that the rice is not sticking to the bottom of the pot. If it seems to be cooking too fast and absorbing too much liquid, add half a cup of water and reduce heat.

Rice pilaf simmering in a white and gray pot.

When your 16-18 minutes is up, your rice should be soft, fluffy, and perfectly cooked.

A white bowl with rice pilaf and a pink napkin.

Garnish with parsley and season with extra salt and pepper if desired.

A white bowl with Better than a Box rice pilaf and a pink napkin.

Serve immediately as a side dish. We recently enjoyed it with sauteed sweet bell peppers and crispy chicken thighs.

A white plate with a crispy chicken thigh, sautéed bell peppers, and rice pilaf.

What Variations Can you make?

Rice pilaf has so many variations:

  • add extra garlic
  • add diced red bell peppers, broccoli, or even peas
  • season with poultry seasoning

A white bowl with rice pilaf and a pink napkin.

A white bowl with rice pilaf and a silver spoon and red plain napkin.

Better Than a Box Rice Pilaf

Rice Pilaf: Bring back memories of your favorite box of rice pilaf. Fluffy, flavorful, and none of the chemicals or unnecessary amounts of sodium that you find in a box.
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Course: Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: 30minutemeal, copycat, rice
Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6

Equipment

  • Medium saucepan with a lid

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup chicken broth Bone broth or vegetable broth work well also
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white or long grain rice
  • 1/3 cup orzo Raw or cooked leftover is fine

Spices

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Instructions

  • Add butter, broth, and oil to a small saucepan.
  • Bring to a boil and then stir in rice, orzo, and all spices.
  • Return to a boil, then reduce to simmer.
  • Simmer COVERED for 18 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the liquid starts to cook off too fast, add a little more water and reduce heat.
  • Fluff with a fork to serve.

Notes

There are so many variations that you can make - extra garlic, diced vegetables, peas, garlic and herb, or even a little parmesean cheese. Experiement away!
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernbytes or tag #southernbytes!

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6 comments

Kim July 23, 2019 - 11:52 am

I also ate a lot of boxed foods in college! And this reminds me of one I loved too. 🙂 I will be trying this!

Reply
Angela Greven | Mean Green Chef July 23, 2019 - 5:45 am

A tasty look side dish, great that it comes together so quickly!

Reply
Beth July 22, 2019 - 10:15 pm

Kari, I didn’t see information about the quantities of spices, etc., and would be curious to know, I’ll check back in case you plan to edit your post. Thanks – it looks tasty!

Reply
Kari July 24, 2019 - 10:58 pm

Thanks for pointing that out for me! I didn’t even realize it had not saved the recipe 🙂 It is all there now!

Reply
Erika July 22, 2019 - 8:21 pm

This looks so amazing. It looks so soft and would be a perfect side dish.

Reply
Karla Petersen July 21, 2019 - 12:00 am

I’ve never made rice pilaf, but I love eating it, so it’s now on my to-do list. Thank you!

Reply

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