This Rice Pilaf with Orzo recipe is your new favorite side dish. Not only is it super simple to make, but it is so easy to customize for any meal or season with my 4 pilaf variations.
Rice Pilaf is a wonderful, classic dish that anyone can make at home –and one that everyone should have in their recipe collection! Not only can my 9-year-old cook this recipe herself, but this is also one of the most-requested side dishes at my house.
4 Pilaf Variations:
All of these variations use the base recipe below, but with just a few minor tweaks and/or additions.
- Mushroom and Thyme: When you cook the onion, add in 3/4 cup (about 3 ounces) of crimini mushrooms that have been chopped fine. Additionally, when you add in the parsley also add in 1 teaspoon of minced fresh thyme.
- Lemon and Almond: When you stir in the broth, also add 2 teaspoons of lemon zest. At the end of the recipe when you stir in the herbs, also stir in 1/3 cup of toasted slivered almonds.
- Curry, Golden Raisins, and Cilantro: When you stir in the broth, also add 1 Tablespoon of curry powder and 1/2 cup of golden raisins. At the end of the recipe, instead of adding in parsley, add in 2 Tablespoons of chopped cilantro instead.
- Jalapeno and Cilantro: In the recipe below, when you add in the garlic, also add in 1 large jalapeno pepper that has been seeded and minced. After the pilaf has been fluffed, add in in 2 Tablespoons of chopped cilantro instead of chopped parsley.
Recipe Questions Answered:
What is rice pilaf?
Pilaf is a rice dish which is cooked in chicken stock or broth and usually has something in it.
What is rice pilaf made of?
Rice Pilaf is a flexible recipe. You can add different ingredients to it each time. However, the main ingredients for a classic pilaf recipe are olive oil, onion, rice, orzo, garlic, chicken broth, parsley, and salt and pepper.
Why do they call it rice pilaf?
It’s called rice pilaf for the same reason many English words are what they are! We have the English word because we were able to borrow it from another language. Perfect, right? Why reinvent the wheel, right? Pilaf comes from the Turkish word pilau which means rice cooked in broth.
What do you eat with rice pilaf?
I love to serve pilaf with my Baked Salmon with Lemon Vinaigrette (see picture below). The flaky fish served with rice pilaf with orzo is simply amazing. These roasted Greek chicken drumsticks would be another great option to serve alongside this dish. The drumsticks are full of oregano, lemon, and garlic.
Cook’s Note – Rice Pilaf with Orzo:
- If you don’t have orzo on hand, you can use an extra ½ cup of rice (so a total of 1 ½ cups of rice), or you can use 1/2 cup of quinoa.
- Additionally, Instead of rice, you can use quinoa.
- Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
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Rice Pilaf with Orzo
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion chopped fine
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup long-grain white rice
- ½ cup orzo
- 2 large garlic cloves minced
- 2 ¼ cups chicken broth
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large pan with a lid, preheat the pan over medium-high heat and add in the olive oil, onion, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Cook the onion until it just begins to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the rice and orzo and cook while stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 60 seconds.
- Pour in the broth, give everything a good stir, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan with the lid. Cook until the rice and orzo are tender, about 20-22 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and let the pilaf sit, covered, for 8 minutes. Fluff the pilaf with a fork, and stir in the parsley. Season with salt and pepper and serve.