Rice Pilaf

To save time, my mother heats the stock separately, at the same time that the rice is browning. This way the stock doesn't take as long to come to a boil when you go to cook the rice. But, you don't have to do it that way. You can easily add cold stock to the rice to cook it, it will just take longer to come to a simmer.

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8


  • 2 cups white rice (preferably long grain)
  • 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil (or chicken fat)
  • 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 salt or seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley


1 Heat stock in saucepan: 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.

2 Brown the rice, add onions and celery: While the stock is heating, heat a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the olive oil (or chicken fat if you have it) to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot, add the uncooked rice and brown the rice, stirring occasionally, for a couple of minutes.

rice-pilaf-method-1 rice-pilaf-method-2

When the rice has browned, add the onions and celery and cook a few minutes longer, until the onions begin to soften.

3 Add salt, pepper, cayenne: 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 salt or 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 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.

4 Add stock, cook the rice: Pour the heated stock into the pan with the rice (or pour the rice mixture into the stock, depending on which pan has a lid).


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.

5 Fluff with fork, stir in parsley: 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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  • Jenn

    Loved! I was really happy it didn’t have butter as many others do. This turned out to be an excellent side. 5 stars!


  • Gaynell

    lol that’s what my hubby says about me. He says I never make the same thing twice!! I beg to differ, but then again, ya know. Your mom sounds like someone I’d get along with. :)

  • Yvonne

    Delicious! Fluffy and full of flavor. I used a bit less onion.


  • Colt

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. Sooooo delicious!!!


  • Lou the cook

    Fantastic!!! Made it for a dinner party, everyone loved it


  • Rex

    YUM!!!! I halved the recipe (except fot the onion) and baked it in an 8×8 baking dish. This came out PERFECT!. I can’t believe the flavor that came out of just those few ingredients…sooo good! I will def be making this delicious rice again! Thanks for sharing. :)

  • Misty Bastoni

    This was delicious and my entire family loved it! I used half olive oil and half butter and the yellow onion. I did not have any cayenne on hand so I used smoked paprika, which added a nice mild smokey flavor. This one will become a regular. Thanks for sharing.

  • 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.

    • Rose Milhoan

      Thank you for sharing this recipe. I mixed long grain and brown rice, added half a cup of orzo. I used organic low sodium chicken broth, reduced the salt to 1 1/2 tsp, and followed the rest. Delicious!!!

  • 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.

  • 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.