Make your next pot of rice extra special with this Almond Rice Pilaf recipe! It’s fluffy, flavorful and cooks up perfectly every time. This is a versatile, easy side dish that pairs well with anything you’re serving, and it’s ready in under 30 minutes!

Bowl of almond rice pilaf with fork and linen

**This recipe was originally published in November 2012. I’ve updated the recipe, added step by step photos and made the text more informative.

Rice was on my dinner table a few times a week when I was growing up. I always loved it, and it takes me back to my childhood whenever I eat it today.

I incorporate it into comforting one pot dinners like my Instant Pot chicken and rice and Mexican rice casserole, but I love its versatility as a side dish as well. It pairs so well with almost anything!

Coconut rice and cilantro lime rice are dishes that I make often, but this Almond Rice Pilaf recipe will always be my favorite as it was my grandmother’s special family recipe.

My grandmother made this recipe for every holiday and family gathering, and we simply devoured it. I asked her how to make it before she passed away, and of course she didn’t have a written recipe to give me. She told me what she used and how she did it, and I went from there.

To my surprise, she told me that she used an entire stick of butter, and I almost fell over! I’ve lightened it up by using half of that amount, and it still tastes like my grandma’s rice pilaf. 🙂

Wooden spoon in a pot of rice pilaf

Why you’ll love this recipe:

  • This almond rice pilaf is perfectly fluffy with the flavor of brown butter and the goodness of crunchy almonds and vermicelli or orzo pasta.
  • It’s a versatile, easy side dish that the entire family will love, and it’s perfect with everything from oven baked pork chops to lemon dijon salmon.
  • It cooks up in about 30 minutes from start to finish.
  • Recipe may be customized to suit dairy-free and vegan diets.

Recipe ingredients

This easy rice pilaf includes (4) ingredients, some of which may be customized with what you have on hand. See the ingredient notes below for the best substitutions.

Almond Rice Pilaf Recipe ingredients

Ingredient notes

  • Rice. Long grain white rice is the only type of rice that I recommend in this recipe. Short grain rice contains too much starch, which makes it sticky, and quick cooking rice and brown rice have different cooking times than the vermicelli or orzo.
  • Vermicelli. This is very thin spaghetti, and I’ve found that it’s hard to locate. I’ve made this rice pilaf with orzo, angel hair pasta and regular thin spaghetti and they all work perfectly.
  • Butter. The butter may be substituted with the oil of your choice, but unless you’re following a dairy free or vegan diet, I highly recommend that you use it. The butter browns while the almonds and vermicelli are toasted, which adds a toasted, nutty flavor to this rice. That flavor makes it extra special!
  • Water. If you substitute the butter with oil, I highly recommend using chicken or vegetable stock to add flavor.

How to make this recipe

This rice pilaf recipe is very easy to make, but it is a bit different than traditional rice. In this recipe, the almonds and vermicelli or orzo are toasted in butter until golden brown. This adds a toasted, nutty flavor to the rice that makes it truly special.

How to make rice pilaf collage
  1. Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the vermicelli or orzo and sliced almonds, and stir until coated with the butter. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta and almonds are brown and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  2. Stir in the rice and cook one minute longer.
  3. Add the water and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Do not lift the lid for a least 15 minutes to check for doneness. When done, cover and let stand for 10 minutes to steam.
  4. Fluff with a fork and add seasoning as necessary. Serve and enjoy!

FAQs

What is rice pilaf?

Rice pilaf is a rice dish that includes ingredients such as meats, nuts, pasta, vegetables or even fruits. The cooking method is different from regular rice as it is sautéed or toasted with aromatics and seasonings, then cooked in liquid afterward.

What type of rice is used for pilaf?

Long grain white rice is the best type of rice to use for rice pilaf as it has the perfect fluffy texture. Short grain rice contains too much starch, which yields a sticky texture, and quick cooking or brown rice do not have the same cooking times as the vermicelli or orzo pasta.

How to make rice pilaf

Toast the almonds and vermicelli or orzo in butter until golden. Add the rice and cook, stirring until well coated with the butter for 1 minute longer. Add the water and kosher salt, and bring to a boil. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, then check for doneness (the rice is done when all of the liquid has been absorbed). Remove from heat and let stand covered for 10 minutes to steam, then fluffy gently with a fork and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Is rice pilaf gluten free?

Rice pilaf is not gluten free as it contains wheat pasta such as vermicelli, orzo or thin spaghetti.

Recipe notes

  • Pro tip:  Be sure to use regular long grain white rice in this recipe as short grain rice is too sticky, and quick cooking rice and brown rice have different cooking times than the pasta.
  • It’s essential to give the rice 10 minutes of resting time with the lid on when it’s done cooking.  This steams the rice and gives it the perfect fluffy texture.
  • I’ve tested this rice pilaf recipe using vermicelli, orzo, thin spaghetti and angel hair pasta, and all have worked fine.
  • Either butter or oil works well in this recipe, but butter adds more flavor.  If you decide to use oil, adding chicken or vegetable stock instead of water is a great way to add more flavor.
Fork nestled into a bowl of rice pilaf

More side dish recipes you’ll love:

If you make this recipe I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment and rating below, or snap a photo and tag me @flavorthemoments on Instagram!

Bowl of almond rice pilaf with fork and linen

Almond Rice Pilaf

Almond Rice Pilaf is fluffy, flavorful and a delicious way to upgrade your next pot of rice! It's a special family recipe that everyone will love, and it cooks up in about 30 minutes!
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Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter substitute with oil for dairy free
  • 1/3 cup broken vermicelli or orzo pasta thin spaghetti also works in a pinch!
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup long grain white rice do not use quick cooking or brown rice
  • 2 1/4 cups water or chicken stock for more flavor
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt if not using kosher salt, use 1/2 teaspoon and adjust the seasoning as necessary when fluffing the rice with a fork.

Instructions 

  • Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the vermicelli or orzo and sliced almonds, and stir until coated with the butter. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta and almonds are brown and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the rice and cook one minute longer.
    Toasted almonds, vermicelli and rice in pot collage
  • Add the water and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Do not lift the lid for a least 15 minutes to check for doneness. When done, cover and let stand for 10 minutes to steam.
  • Fluff with a fork and add seasoning as necessary. Serve and enjoy!
    Rice pilaf in pot before and after fluffing collage

Notes

  • Pro tip:  Be sure to use regular long grain white rice in this recipe as short grain rice is too sticky, and quick cooking rice and brown rice have different cooking times than the pasta.
  • It’s essential to give the rice 10 minutes of resting time with the lid on when it’s done cooking.  This steams the rice and gives it the perfect fluffy texture.
  • I’ve tested this recipe using vermicelli, orzo, thin spaghetti and angel hair pasta, and all have worked fine.
  • Either butter or oil works well in this recipe, but butter adds more flavor.  If you decide to use oil, adding chicken or vegetable stock instead of water is a great way to add more flavor.

Nutrition

Calories: 256kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 15mg, Sodium: 314mg, Potassium: 136mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 175IU, Calcium: 51mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.

Tried this recipe?Mention @flavorthemoments or tag #flavorthemoments!

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