Having a go-to simple rice pilaf recipe is essential because it is the perfect accompaniment to so many entrees!

Truth be told, I wish every recipe I post could be as awe-inspiring as this or this or this.

But quite simply, sometimes, while the every day side dishes of the world (like this rice pilaf) aren’t drool-worthy or even comment-worthy, they sure find their place in dinnertime rotations and are even more essential than the crazy popular dishes that go viral.

White bowl with cooked rice and pilaf.

I love having a go-to rice pilaf recipe because it is the perfect accompaniment to so many entrees.

Phew! After a list like that, it should be pretty obvious that this delicious, flavorful and easy rice pilaf most definitely has its place in the world.

White plate with cooked rice pilaf next to cooked shrimp.

One Year Ago: Sparkling Orange Jello {Homemade}
Two Years Ago: Italian Meatball Subs
Three Years Ago: Classic Baked Ziti


Simple Rice Pilaf

4.84 stars (6 ratings)


  • 1 ½ cups basmati or long-grain rice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • 4 ounces spaghetti or vermicelli, broken into 1-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 3 ¼ cups water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons table salt
  • Ground black pepper


  • Place the rice in a medium bowl and add enough water to cover by 2 inches; using your hands, gently swish grains to release excess starch. Carefully pour off the water, leaving rice in bowl. Repeat four to five times, until water runs almost clear. Using a colander or fine mesh strainer, drain water from rice and set aside.
  • In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion and saute for 3-4 minutes, until softened but not browned. Add the garlic, cumin and coriander and cook for another 30 seconds.
  • Add the rinsed and drained rice and the broken, uncooked noodles. Cook, stirring, for another 2-3 minutes until lightly browned. Stir in the water and salt and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, about 16-18 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, take off the lid and place a kitchen towel folded in half over saucepan; replace the lid.
  • Let the rice stand 10 minutes; fluff with a fork and serve.
Serving: 1 Serving, Calories: 419kcal, Carbohydrates: 79g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 15mg, Sodium: 938mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g

Recipe Source: adapted from the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook