This 6-ingredient rice pilaf with orzo is simple, delicious and a great alternative to heavier side dishes. It turns out perfectly fluffy every time, so will definitely become your ultimate side dish.
Rice pilaf with orzo is one of my all-time favorite recipes because of how easy it is to make. On top of that it’s also extremely flexible. With just six ingredients, plus water, the contents of this dish are something I always have at home. In fact, this is my go-to side for dishes like Roasted Chicken with Veggies or Turkish vegetarian dishes like Okra With Tomatoes. I love adding almonds, raisins and mint for a flavorful twist, or experimenting with whatever is in the pantry.
How do you like orzo in general? It is one of the staples in our pantry. We use it quite often not only when making rice pilaf, but we also love it in soups like Tomato Chicken Orzo Soup and salads like Cucumber Lemon Orzo Salad. If you like this pasta as much as we do, I’m sure you will love this Turkish side dish too.
How to Make Rice Pilaf with Orzo
This recipe is so easy with simple ingredients and comes together in about 45 minutes, including soaking and resting time. The first cooking step is to toast the orzo and sauté the rice in olive oil. This helps build flavor and helps with texture before the water is added to cook both ingredients.
Squeeze lemon and sprinkle salt over them, stir well. Pour water and cook it covered over the lowest heat until all water is gone. Please read the full instructions in the recipe card below.
Some Tips for Fluffy Rice Pilaf
I always find cooking rice to be a challenge, but over the years I’ve amassed some great tips for success. First, make sure to soak your rice in hot water. Add a sprinkle of salt, stir and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Next, rinse the rice and drain it well before adding it to the pan. Rinsing the rice removes the starch on the outside of the grain. This will make your pilaf extra fluffy because it prevents the rice from sticking together and getting mushy.
Another great way to stop the rice grains from sticking together is adding a few drops of lemon to the cooking water. It’s also important to cook this dish covered and on the lowest heat. This gives the rice time to absorb the cooking water and develop flavor.
Finally, allow your rice pilaf with orzo to rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. When it’s done cooking, simply place a paper towel over the top of the pan and replace the lid. When you’re ready to eat, remove the lid and paper towel and fluff the pilaf with a fork.
What type of rice for this rice and orzo pilaf recipe?
I recommend long-grain white rice for this recipe, but you can experiment with any type you’d like. If you’re using brown or wild rice, increase the cooking time and add a little bit more water to ensure that it cooks fully.
Alternative Flavors for Rice Pilaf with Orzo Recipe
If you’d like to up the flavor in this rice pilaf with orzo recipe you can use stock instead of water to cook the rice and orzo. Keep it vegan with vegetable or mushroom stock or try chicken or beef stock. Remember that stock usually contains salt, so you can season the pilaf a little less.
You may also want to try adding other flavorings to the pilaf when it’s simmering. Try stirring in raisins or chickpeas. Nuts such as pine nuts or chopped almonds can be added during the simmering process and sprinkled on top for texture. When it’s time to garnish, feel free to try other herbs such as mint or thyme.
Is This Rice Pilaf Vegan?
This recipe is 100% vegan! Since it uses olive oil and water to toast and cook the pilaf there are absolutely no animal products in this rice and orzo pilaf. If you’re not concerned about this being vegan and prefer the flavor of butter, you can use that instead of olive oil to toast the orzo in the recipe.
Vegan or not, I can’t wait to see how you make this recipe your own! Please don’t forget to rate this recipe and leave a comment below if you make it.
Want more side dish recipes for this holiday season? Check the following links out!
Turkish Rice Pilaf with Orzo
A light and fluffy rice pilaf with orzo recipe that comes out fluffy every time.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Side Dish
- Cuisine: Turkish
- 1 cup long-grain white rice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup orzo
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 and ¾ cup water, hot
- Parsley for garnish
- Put the rice in a large bowl. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon salt, pour hot water over it and let it sit at least for 10 minutes. Rinse and drain well.
- Heat olive oil in a large but not deep pan. Add the orzo and cook it over medium heat until brown, stirring continuously.
- Add the rice, lemon juice and salt. Cook stirring occasionally until the rice gets bright white, about 5 minutes.
- Pour the hot water, cover the pan and bring it to boil.
- Bring the heat to the lowest and let it simmer for about 15 minutes, until all the water is absorbed.
- Take it from the heat.
- Remove the cover and line the top of the rice with some paper towel. Cover it again and let it rest for 15 minutes before serving.
- Fluff with a fork, garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
The duration for resting the pilaf after it is cooked is not included in the total time of the recipe.
- Serving Size: 1 portion
- Calories: 172
- Sugar: 0.2g
- Sodium: 584.6mg
- Fat: 10.7g
- Carbohydrates: 17.6g
- Protein: 1.9g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
Keywords: rice pilaf, rice pilaf with orzo