Bowl of rice pilaf

This is one of the most special recipes I will ever share.  It is near and dear to my heart because this rice was something I grew up eating and could never get enough of.  It wasn’t just me, it was everyone.  Granny always had to double the recipe when she made it, because everyone always wanted seconds.  My Granny was Armenian, and this rice is one of her family recipes.  She passed away four years ago, so when I eat this rice, I feel like she’s still here.  If I don’t make it for a family holiday, my brother does.  It’s just not the same without it. Because this recipe is so special to me, I’m going to share a lot more.  Bear with me.

Over the years, many of us would try to make rice pilaf like Granny and it just never came out right.  Hers had a nutty, toasted flavor that we couldn’t replicate.  We could never figure out how she did it.  When we asked for the recipe, she would say, “Oh, I don’t have a recipe, I just toss everything in the pot.”  Isn’t that a typical response from most mothers and grandmothers when they talk about a traditional family recipe?  Ugh!  I knew I had to get the recipe if I had to look over her shoulder and take notes while she made it.  Years ago, I was sitting in the kitchen with Granny trying to get the recipe for this rice.  I finally got it, but I was stunned.    She said she put oil or butter in with the rice.  “How much?” I asked.  “A stick of butter,” she replied.  “If I double it, I use two sticks.”  I almost fell over! I couldn’t believe something we ate so much of was so bad for us, and I doubted I could ever make it taste good unless I did it the same way.  It took some doing, but I finally got it right without all the fat.  I achieved the toasted, nutty flavor with only two tablespoons of butter, and used reduced sodium chicken broth instead of water, which added tons more flavor.

how to make rice pilaf

As for the recipe, just grab a small handful of vermicelli (a little less or a little more won’t hurt), and break it up into thirds into the saucepan with the melted butter.  Add the sliced almonds and stir.

rice pilaf process shot 2

Toast the vermicelli and almonds in the butter for 2 minutes or until nicely browned.  This is the key to getting the toasted flavor that makes this rice special.

rice pilaf process shot 3

Add the rice, and saute about one minute longer.  Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, and simmer, covered, for 15 – 20 minutes.  Now, the rice just needs to be left alone.  I know how hard it is not to lift the lid, and maybe even stir it, but you must refrain.  The rice will be gluey if you stir it.

rice pilaf process shot 5

Here is the finished product.  Doesn’t it look good?  It only took 15 minutes for the rice to absorb the chicken broth.  Now fluff with a fork and serve!  I hope Granny’s Rice Pilaf will become a favorite of yours, just as it is for me.

Yield: 6 servings

Granny’s Rice Pilaf

Granny’s Rice Pilaf

This rice pilaf has a terrific toasty, nutty flavor that makes it extra special. It's very addicting, and it's kid-friendly too.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup broken vermicelli or orzo pasta
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until slightly browned and fragrant.
  2. Add the vermicellii 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.
  3. Add the rice and stir until combined, then add the water and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until all the chicken broth is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Do not lift the lid for a least 15 minutes to check for doneness. When done, fluff with a fork and place the lid back on and allow to steam for 10 minutes. Enjoy!


  • My grandmother used to add an entire stick of butter or 1/2 cup oil to this rice, but I've reduced the amount of fat. Add less fat to make this rice pilaf healthier, and add vegetable or chicken stock in place of water to add flavor.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 190Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 269mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 4g

Nutrition information is mean to be an estimate only. The numbers will vary based on the quantity consumed, brands used and substitutions that are made.

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