Rice Pilaf

My mother's rice pilaf recipe, made with long grain white rice, onion, celery, stock, seasoned salt, pepper, and cayenne.

  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8.


  • 2 cups white rice (preferably long grain)
  • 2 teaspoons of chicken fat or olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion - green onion (scallions) or yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • Up to 4 cups of stock (amount depends on the type of rice you are using), either chicken stock or vegetable stock for vegetarian option, or a mix of water and stock*
  • 2 teaspoons of seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

*For gluten-free version, use gluten-free stock.


1 Look at the cooking instructions for your rice. If your rice calls for 2 cups of water for every cup of rice then you will need a total of 4 cups of liquid. If your rice calls for 1 2/3 cups of water for every cup of rice, you will need a total of 3 1/3 cups of liquid.

You want to cook the rice in a liquid that is primarily stock - chicken stock or vegetable stock. Up to half of the liquid can be plain water, but at least half of the needed liquid should be stock. Homemade stock is the best, of course, and will make a big difference in the quality of the resulting pilaf.

Heat the measured amount of stock needed in a saucepan, at least 2-qt sized.

rice-pilaf-1.jpg rice-pilaf-2.jpg
2 While the stock is heating, heat a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the chicken fat (or oil), melting it so it coats the bottom of the pan. Add the uncooked rice and brown the rice, stirring occasionally, for a couple of minutes. Add the onions and celery and cook a few minutes longer, until the onions begin to soften.

3 If you are using canned or boxed broth, be careful of how much seasoning you add. We usually use homemade, unsalted chicken stock, so we add 2 teaspoons of Vegesal (can use plain salt or other seasoned salt) along with ground pepper and a dash of cayenne. If you are starting with seasoned broth, you may only need to add a teaspoon of Vegesal or salt. Taste test the broth/stock. It can be a little on the salty side because the rice will absorb a lot of the salt.

rice-pilaf-3.jpg4 Carefully empty the slightly browned rice into the saucepan with the stock. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover, and cook for as long as the instructions say on your package of rice. Usually between 15 to 25 minutes. Use a timer. After the set amount of cooking time, remove the pan from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes, covered. At no point during the cooking of the rice should you uncover the pan.

Note that you could also pour the stock into the pan with the rice, cover and cook. This is the more usual way to make pilaf. We have found however more consistent results by pouring the rice into the saucepan of stock.

Fluff with a fork to serve. Stir in chopped parsley. You can also mix in heated peas, toasted almonds, or raisins to the pilaf to make it more interesting.

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  • mira aries

    your mom sounds like me. my son always say “whatever is in the kitchen” dish.
    aometimea we are lacking of 1 or 2 ingredients and it’s cumbersome to walk 20 mins to the shop to get that. so I improvised or use alternative ingredients closest.
    thanks for this recipe !
    Ummi from Singapore.

  • Gaby

    I was also skeptical of the celery but it was so perfect! 1st time making pilaf. I used a Mixed Rice package (brown & wild combo) and it worked brilliantly. I also used olive oil/ butter combo and yellow onion. Thanks for sharing this method and thanks to your momma!

  • Holly

    The rice was so fluffy and FLAVOURSOME! I made this to pair with a Moroccan chicken recipe (on this website) and it was perfect. I think my partner loved the rice more.. ha ha.

  • Bill

    For stock, I often use the liquid from canned mushrooms, which I save in a container in the freezer until I have enough for batch. Sometimes I also include the mushrooms, sometimes I don’t.

  • Neil Pragnell

    Well done Mom! This pilaf is a ripper! I make a lot of rice dishes and was a little skeptical of the celery but it works brilliantly. I made it for friends 2 nights ago and I loved it. When something you make yourself tastes outstanding it must be good. Thank you so much.

  • Melissa

    I’ve made this before and its absolutly delicous, just so goood. I’m so excited for making it again for christmas eve. Thank you so much for posting this. I bet it’ll please everyone :)

  • ramoncito yacab

    It’s quite a simple recipe, but with a lot of taste.

  • Lisa

    Hi Elise:

    I’m making this as we speak!! I just want to say a big thanks to you and your mom! Seriously, I’ve made SO many meals from your site (not to mention that blending in a mason jar is my new most very favorite thing in the world). My stomach thanks you.


  • Sheila Colson-Pope

    I tried this recipe and it was absolutely delicous.

  • Bee

    I make a variation on this that uses the rice and onions (same way of cooking, etc.), but then substitutes canned tomatoes (and their liquid) for the chicken stock. I flavor it with cumin, chili, etc. It’s a great side dish for a lot of things, but I find it works really well with enchiladas.

  • Lisa

    When I moved away from home at age 19, this was one of the first recipes I learned to make from my brand-new Betty Crocker cookbook. After two or three times, I got a little overconfident and learned that rice will catch fire if overheated! Some things about cooking can only be learned the hard way…

  • Beverly

    My Armenian grandmother taught me how to make pilaf when I was only 5. She didn’t use a recipe either. She used butter as her fat to brown broken, coiled vermicelli, then put the rice in and stirred until it turned white. Added chicken stock and simmered 20 minutes. It turned out perfect every time. On special occasions, like holidays, she would add slivered almonds or peas. At 40, I’m more like my grandmother than ever. I rarely use a recipe for anything anymore. Everything is a pinch of this and a dash of that. My grandmother was obviously where I got my love of cooking!

  • Nicole

    This recipe was AMAZING! My parents and fiance LOVED it! I added broken bits of multi-grain spaghetti and it was a wonderful contrast. Delicious! Your mom is a cooking genius! ^_^

  • Glutton Cat

    I haven’t tried the rice with celery or green onion. I usually use noodle, vermicelli or baby carrots. Sometimes I add cooked chickpeas.

    I will use the cellery and green onion next time I cook rice.

  • sqrl

    My Grandmom is the same way. And of course she is an amazing cook. One day I’ll be like her. Always loving new vegatarian recipes. Thanks

  • Rebecca

    Toasted almonds sounds nice, I always added toasted chopped pine nuts. The pine nuts add a very nice nutty, sweet taste to the rice.

  • Michelle

    Toasted slivered almonds (small slivers) make a good addition. FROZEN baby peas added near the end of cooking time (just to heat them through) are also great (better texture than boiled mushy peas). As you said, pilaf can be dressed up many ways, and is good to use up small amounts of leftover veggies or even meat chopped fine. I adjust the seasonings by adding a little of whatever was put in my main dish.

  • Lady Amalthea

    This sounds very good and simple! My mom cooks the same way most of the time–no recipe, just throwing together what she knows intuitively will work. I wish I could do the same.