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

white bowl with cooked rice and pilaf

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. I love having a go-to rice pilaf recipe because it is the perfect accompaniment to so many entrees. Here are a few we serve this classic rice pilaf with:

Grilled Island Chicken
Rosemary Chicken
Grilled Teriyaki Chicken
Honey Roast Chicken
Baked Southwest Egg Rolls
Chicken or Beef Kebabs
Chicken Fajitas
Classic Chicken Cordon Bleu or the Easy Version
Chicken Pillows
Glazed Mini Meatloaves (when I’m not in the mood for potatoes)
Brown Sugar Spiced Pork Loin
Chili Rubbed Pork with Apricot Glaze
Grilled Pork Chops
Oven Baked Ribs
Smothered Pork Chops

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

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes


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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Follow @melskitchencafe on Instagram and show me the recipes you are making from my blog using the hashtag #melskitchencafe. I love seeing all the goodness you are whipping up in your kitchens!

Recipe Source: adapted from the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook

Other Recipes Like This: