Today I’m going to show you how to make the most delicious rice pilau. It is perfect for busy weeknights and holidays. The combination of rice, spices, vegetables, and herbs makes a fragrant and satisfying blend. Rice pilau is a great starter or main dish for serving your guests and makes a great meal for the entire family.

Additionally, it’s really simple to prepare, everyone can make it. It can be prepared ahead of time, making them great to take to potluck dinners. The dish is usually garnished with fresh herbs such as parsley or cilantro. Rice Pilau is simple but delicious!

See Vegan Brown Rice Recipes, Trinidadian Pilau, and Jamaican Rice And Peas.

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What Is Pilau?

Pilau, also known as pilaf, is a rice dish that is often served all over the world. The name “pilau” comes from the Persian word for “rice”. 

According to Wikipedia, it’s been around for thousands of years, and it’s often served at weddings, New Year celebrations, festivals, and other special events. The recipe varies from region to region, and from home cook to home cook.

Rice Pilau is usually prepared in a flavorful broth with spices and a variety of other ingredients, including vegetables, meat, and fish.

It is often served with curry dishes as a side dish rather than as a rice-based main dish, but it is still a favorite.

Rice Pilau is a dish that is common in the Indian subcontinent. Rice Pilau is also a staple food in some parts of South Asia, and it has widespread usage in India and Pakistan. Indian and South Asian restaurants and takeaways all over the U.S.A and U.K serve it. It’s easy to find.

Pilau Variants

In its simplest form, rice pilau (or “pilaf”) consists of rice that has been cooked in broth with spices. The spices typically used are black pepper and cloves. Other ingredients may include onions, garlic, carrots, green peas, broccoli, cauliflower, and other vegetables.

A more elaborate version of the dish includes meat such as lamb, chicken, beef, or fish. In this case, the meat is typically marinated before being added to the rice.

Some versions may include dried fruit such as raisins or apricots. These ingredients are typically added towards the end of the cooking process so that they do not become mushy.

Variations on this theme are numerous and creative cooks have included everything from saffron to coconut milk in their versions of rice pilau.

Which Rice Is The Best For Pilau?

White basmati rice is the best option for pilau. Long-grain white rice can also be used, but the fragrant, nutty flavor of basmati is preferred.

In either case, use white rice rather than brown rice. Cooking brown rice takes longer, and the color isn’t as vibrant as white rice.

For this recipe, avoid using ‘easy-cook’ rice, short-grain rice, or risotto rice.

How To Make A Rice Pilau Recipe?

Making rice pilau is so simple and quick, you will be needed just the following ingredients:

rice pilau ingredients


  • Oil
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Ginger 
  • Garam masala
  • Turmeric
  • Potato 
  • Carrot
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Cardamom
  • Vegan bouillon cubes
  • Cilantro
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Water
  • Brown Rice


  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, add onion, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in garlic, ginger, garam masala, turmeric and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes.
  3. Add potato, carrot, cinnamon stick, cardamom, bouillon cubes, and water.
  4. Cook for 7 minutes.
  5. Add rice, stir to combine. Bring to a boil, cover the pot and reduce to the lowest heat and simmer until water has evaporated and rice is tender about 50 minutes
cooking pilau rice

What Should I Serve With This Rice Pilau?

It would pair well with slow-cooked salmon or whole chicken cooked in the air fryer. 

There are also many options for vegetable accompaniments, including the air-fried cauliflower, corn and tomato salad, and grilled summer vegetables in romesco sauce.

It would go well with my

BBQ Cauliflower Wings

Instant Pot Pinto Beans

Vegan Crab Cakes

Cajun Tofu Salad Recipe

Instant Pot Southern Vegan Butter Beans

Recipe Notes

This recipe for rice pilau is a simple, delicious way to enjoy rice that is not only easy to make but also very easy to customize.  It’s one of the easiest ways to have a perfect dish on hand at all times—the ingredients can be modified based on what you have in your kitchen.

  • I like to use basmati rice for this recipe because it’s aromatic and light, but any long-grain white rice will work.
  • You can also add vegetables or flavored oils to make the dish your own.
  • Another thing you could do is to add other things like green peas or mushrooms or raisins to the dish.
  • If you make larger batches, keep in mind that the cooking process will need to be adjusted slightly.
  • After cooking, you can remove whole spices or tell people not to eat them. Cutting into a cardamom pod isn’t fun.
  • Certified or labeled gluten-free vegan stock should be used for this recipe, to ensure that this recipe is completely gluten-free (or just use boiling water).

Frequently Asked Questions:

Does The Rice Need To Be Rinsed Before Cooking?

When using store-bought rice, it is usually unnecessary to rinse it prior to cooking. This is because it has almost certainly been cleaned and any debris removed.

Is This A Gluten-Free Recipe?

Rice is a gluten-free ingredient by nature. If you’re using vegan stock, make sure it’s gluten-free, or just use boiling water.

What Diets Can This Pilau Rice Be Used In?

Pilau Rice is suitable for vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, and dairy-free diets if the stock cubes are replaced with suitable substitutes. Stock cubes may contain gluten, so check the packaging.

If you’re cooking for allergy sufferers, double-check your ingredients and take extra precautions when preparing food!

How Long Can You Keep Cooked Rice In The Fridge?

Refrigerate this rice for up to four days in an airtight container. Refrigerate immediately after it has cooled, and do not leave it at room temp for too long. Reheat no more than once.

Is It Possible To Freeze Cooked Rice Pilau?

Yes, cooked rice pilau can be frozen. I’d recommend using it up in a month’s time. Thoroughly defrost and reheat, but avoid reheating more than once.

What Is The Reason For The Name “Rice Pilau”?

There are a lot of different ways to make pilau. You can make it with meat and nuts or with vegetables and fruits. (To be fair, we got the idea for pilau, as well as the word pilau, from Turks, who called plain rice sade pilav.) The texture is very important.

Can I Make The Rice Pilau With Different Vegetables?

Absolutely. Vegetables in the crisper drawer can be used in this rice pilaf recipe as long as they are small enough to be chopped into bite-sized pieces and cooked in the time allotted. You can also use a frozen mixed vegetable bag, canned vegetables, and so on.

You can use whatever vegetables you want as long as the total amount of vegetables remains the same. Sweet potatoes and root vegetables, which take a long time to cook, should be avoided.

Why Is Oil Used In Pilau?

Not only does the oil aid in sautéing the vegetables, but it also toasts the rice, which helps to keep the grains separated in the finished dish!

Is This Pilau Rice Recipe Weight Watchers Friendly?

Weight Watchers’ new PersonalPoints plan works out how many points a person can have based on what foods they like and how much weight they want to lose. The result of this is that we are no longer in a position to provide precise WW point values for our recipes.

The good news is that we’ve kept all of our recipes Weight Watchers friendly! If you have some queries regarding your Points budget or aren’t sure how the recipe will work with your plan, please call Weight Watchers.

Are There Any Special Ingredients Required To Make Rice Pilau?

Nope! Any spices you don’t already have in your pantry can be found in the supermarket’s spice aisle.

Additionally, you’ll need a lidded saucepan, as we’ll be cooking the rice with steam.

Bottom Lines!

My friend, this dish is for you! Now there is no need to go and buy that small packet mix anymore. This rice pilau recipe comes together in about 30 minutes and tastes SO much better than those boxed rice mixes. Rice pilau is a simple but very tasty recipe you should try out sometime. Enjoy!

You can leave your thoughts in the comments section if you tried this recipe and liked it, or if you made it differently and want to share your thoughts.

Other One-Pot Rice Dishes

  1. Turmeric Coconut Rice
  2. Vegan Dirty Rice
  3. Vegan Red Beans And Rice
  4. Jollof Rice
  5. Jamaican Seasoned Rice
close up of brown rice pilau

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(Per serving)
  • Energy: 232 kcal / 970 kJ
  • Fat: 4.4 g
  • Protein: 4.1 g
  • Carbs: 42.8 g

Cook Time

  • Preparation: 15 min
  • Ready in: 15 min
  • For: 8 Servings



  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, add onion, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in garlic, ginger, garam masala, turmeric and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes.
  3. Add potato, carrot, cinnamon stick, cardamom, bouillon cubes, and water.
  4. Cook for 7 minutes.
  5. Add rice, stir to combine. Bring to a boil, cover the pot and reduce to the lowest heat and simmer until water has evaporated and rice is tender, about 50-60 minutes.
Recipe author's Gravatar image

Michelle Blackwood, RN

Hi, I’m Michelle, I’m the voice, content creator and photographer behind Healthier Steps. I share vegan and gluten-free recipes because of past health issues. My goal is to help you make healthier choices and show you how healthy eating is easy and delicious.