Making a Classic Rice Pilaf sounds pretty fancy-pants, but honestly it’s easier than making rice on the stove. Not only that, it’s near impossible to screw up.
What makes a Pilaf and Pilaf?
What makes a Classic Rice Pilaf different than making regular rice on the stove is 3 things.
- The rice is not rinsed and it is lightly sauteed in butter until it is translucent
- Stock is used instead of water
- It is baked in the oven, covered with a tight lid, directly after the stock is add.
Fool Proof Pilaf
Because the pilaf is baked in the oven, surrounded by heat, it cooks evenly. Stovetop rice burns easily because the heat source comes from only one direction. This Classic Rice Pilaf is nearly 100% fool proof. If you’ve never made it this way, give it a shot and then play around with some of the the different variations below.
Classic Rice Pilaf in 5 Easy Steps
- Preheat oven to 350F and melt 4 tablespoons butter in a sauce pot with a tight lid
- Add 1/2 cups diced onions, cook on low until soft
- Add 2 cups rice (don’t rinse the rice), stir to cover with butter
- When rice starts to turn translucent, add 4 cups hot chicken broth, stir & cover
- Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Rice Pilaf Variations
Use the above Classic Rice Pilaf method as a blank canvas and get creative! Here are some of my favorite combinations to get you going.
- Rice Pilaf with Toasted pecans and cranberries: dry roast 2/3 cup pecans and add them and 1/2 cup dried cranberries to the rice after it comes out of the oven.
- Wild Rice Mushroom Pilaf: recipe below
- Asian Citrus Rice Pilaf
- Italian Herb Rice Pilaf: Add 1/2 tablespoon dried Italian herbs to the stock and 1/3 cup fresh chopped herbs after it comes out of the oven.
- Almond Butter Rice Pilaf: Add toasted slivered almonds and 4 tablespoons butter while fluffing rice after it comes out of the oven
- Switch out wild rice with white rice, quinoa, or barley
Can you Freeze Rice Pilaf?
The basic Classic Rice Pilaf and the variations freeze well. Since Jerry and I became empty nesters, I make a double batch and freeze it in several small containers as well as at least 1 large container. The larger portion is really handy when we have all the kids over for a big family meal.
Pilaf freezes better than stovetop rice because it’s fluffier. Regular rice can hold too much moisture and when it’s thawed out it can be a bit gummy.
How to Reheat a Frozen Classic Rice Pilaf
- Take it out of the freezer
- Moisten it with some hot chicken stock
- Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds, stir
- Continue to microwave in 15 second intervals (stirring in between) until desired temperature
This is a wonderful side to have with any meal. I think a Roasted Chicken, Oven Finished Steak, Chicken or Turkey Piccata, Brown Buttered Almond Trout and Pecan Crusted Salmon with Mustard Sauce all go exceptionally well with it. Enjoy!
Wild Rice Mushroom Pilaf
Q: What makes a pilaf a pilaf? A: In your first step, lightly saute the rice in a small amount of oil or butter. Adding a little diced onion, celery, and carrot at this point is a wonderful way to incorporate more flavor!
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large onion chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- black pepper ground
- 2 cups wild rice
- 3 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth hot
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 16 ounces mixed mushrooms button, cremini, and shiitake, chopped or sliced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped chives or scallions
- 1 cup toasted nuts: slivered almonds or chopped pecans optional
Preheat oven to 350F.
Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large, heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and salt and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the wild rice blend and saute, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes.
Add 4 cups of the hot vegetable broth to the rice and onion mixture and bring to a boil.
Cover the pot with a tight lid and place in the oven for 20 minutes.
While the rice is cooking, prepare the mushrooms.
Heat a large skillet and 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until browned, about 8 minutes.
Add the wine and cook until evaporated, about 4-5 minutes.
When the rice is done, fluff with a fork and fold in the mushrooms and chives.
Serve, hot or room temperature. May be made up to 2 days in advance.