Easy Vegetable Rice Pilaf
With jasmine or basmati rice & frozen vegetables, you can make an easy vegetable rice pilaf in just 30 minutes! Starting with toasted rice and a bit of butter, it’s loaded with rich, comforting flavor. The perfect savory side to serve with lemon butter salmon, roasted chicken, or any main dish you like! Learn how to make rice pilaf with vegetables on the stove.
For more easy veggie rice recipes, try my One Pot Hamburger Rice Pilaf or Garlic Chicken Rice Bowl!
How to Make an Easy Rice Pilaf from Scratch
Though the dish may sound fancy, making rice pilaf from scratch is as simple as cooking rice on the stove. Just saute onion and rice in butter, add broth and seasonings, then boil and simmer. In around 20 minutes, your satisfying side dish is ready! Stir in some thawed frozen vegetables while the rice is still warm, and you’ve got a flavorful, nourishing vegetable rice pilaf.
Rice Pilaf FAQs
- What is rice pilaf? A pilaf (also known as pilau or pelau) is typically a seasoned rice dish that’s cooked in broth, sometimes with additions like vegetables or meat. In some regions, pilaf is made with other grains like bulgur wheat.
- What is the difference between rice pilaf and regular rice? Homemade rice pilaf has a richer, nuttier, more savory flavor than regular rice. Whereas regular rice is just cooked in plain water, rice pilaf is toasted in butter and cooked in broth.
- What makes a pilaf a pilaf? The defining characteristic of a pilaf is how it’s cooked: saute the grains first, then add liquid to boil and simmer. The word “pilaf” comes from a Sanskrit word meaning “to stand on end”—perhaps describing the texture of the dish, in which the cooked grains are separate and don’t stick to each other. (Unlike a creamy risotto.)
- What is rice pilaf made of? Put it all together, and you can make an easy rice pilaf with basmati rice (or jasmine rice), melted butter, chopped onion, broth, and seasonings. Plus, any desired additions like veggies or meat.
What is the best type of rice for pilaf?
Since the rice grains in a pilaf are meant to stay separate, long-grain white rice is the best rice for pilaf. The grains are long, slender, and starchy—perfect for the “stand on end” texture of a pilaf. A basmati rice pilaf is my personal favorite, or you can use jasmine rice. You’re also welcome to try this recipe with other varieties, like long-grain wild rice or long-grain brown rice.
Confetti Veggie Rice Pilaf Ingredients
- Basmati Rice. Jasmine and basmati rice are two of the most common varieties used in a pilaf. If you’d like to change up the type of rice, go for it! Just use a long-grain rice for the best result.
- Butter. Just a bit of butter makes this vegetable rice pilaf so incredibly rich, toasty, and comforting! You can also use your choice of cooking oil instead, it just won’t add the same nutty, aromatic flavor as butter.
- Onion. Saute some onion with the rice for an ultra-savory, satisfying dish. Feel free to substitute with shallot for a stronger kick, or add minced garlic to pump up the flavors.
- Broth. This is the key cooking liquid for any homemade rice pilaf recipe! You’re welcome to use vegetable broth or chicken broth—or whichever broth you like.
- Salt. I recommend adding a dash of salt, particularly if you’re using a low sodium broth. If you’re concerned about the sodium content in your broth, you can omit the salt and add it later if needed.
- Citrus Juice & Zest. To jazz up this simple rice pilaf, I included orange juice and orange zest for a dash of bright, sweet flavor! You can also substitute with any citrus you like to make a lime or lemon rice pilaf instead.
- Frozen Mixed Vegetables. A convenient bag of frozen veggies keeps this healthy rice pilaf ultra-easy and colorful, like confetti rice! No need to prep or cook the vegetables in any way—just let them thaw at room temperature, then stir into your warm cooked rice.
What is the pilaf method of cooking rice?
The pilaf method for cooking rice involves 2 key steps to make the dish extra-flavorful. (1) Saute rice in butter until it’s deliciously toasted, fragrant, and browned. (2) Add broth and spices, then bring to a boil and simmer until cooked. Really, cooking rice pilaf on the stove is just as fast & simple as cooking regular rice—a pilaf just starts with a quick saute before boiling!
How to Make Rice Pilaf with Vegetables
- Thaw frozen vegetables. To make the easiest rice pilaf with vegetables, use frozen vegetables and just let them thaw for ~30 minutes.
- Saute rice & onion in butter. First, melt the butter in a saucepan, then cook onion and toast rice for 4-5 minutes—until browned and fragrant.
- Add broth & bring to a boil. Once the rice is toasted, add your broth along with salt, citrus zest, and citrus juice (or your desired flavorings). Bring it all to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Cover & simmer for 15 minutes. Once your homemade rice pilaf is boiling, turn the heat down to low, cover the pan, and let it simmer without removing the lid.
- Check the rice for doneness. The rice will be tender when it’s done, and all the liquid will be absorbed. If it’s not, cover and cook 2-3 additional minutes.
- Stir in vegetables. Add thawed frozen veggies into cooked rice while it’s warm. Then, remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let it sit 5-10 more minutes.
Watch how to make rice pilaf from scratch in my Crispy Salmon & Rice Pilaf video!
Why is my rice pilaf mushy?
If your vegetable rice pilaf turns out mushy, your rice likely absorbed too much liquid. It’s possible you used too much liquid (or too little rice) in the recipe, or too much liquid for the particular type of rice you were cooking. For a classic pilaf where the grains stay separate, the ratio of rice to liquid needs to be just right. (1 cup long-grain white rice : 1¾ cups broth.)
What goes well with rice pilaf?
- Seafood—like lemon butter salmon, halibut, crusted tilapia, sea bass, shrimp, or seared scallops.
- Poultry—like roasted chicken, roasted turkey, or butter chicken.
- Meat—like pulled pork, pork loin, pork chops, or steak.
- Veggies & Soups—like chana masala, sauteed spinach, creamy soup or chowder.
Vegetable Rice Pilaf
- 1 cup basmati rice, or jasmine rice
- 1 Tbsp butter, or oil
- ⅓ cup diced onion
- 1¾ cups broth, (vegetable or chicken)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp citrus zest, (orange, lemon, or lime)
- 1 Tbsp citrus juice, (orange, lemon, or lime)
- 12 oz frozen mixed vegetables, thawed 30 minutes
- fresh parsley, for garnish
- Remove frozen mixed vegetables from freezer and thaw at room temperature ~30 minutes.
- Melt butter or heat oil in saucepan over medium heat.
- Add onion and rice and cook 4-5 minutes—until onion is softened, and rice is fragrant and toasted/browned.
- Add broth, salt, citrus zest & juice to saucepan and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cover pan. Allow to cook for 15 minutes without removing lid.
- After 15 minutes, check to ensure rice is tender and liquid is absorbed; if not, cover and cook 2-3 more minutes.
- When rice is cooked, stir in thawed frozen veggies.
- Remove pan from heat and allow to sit, covered, for another 5-10 minutes.
- Serve garnished with fresh parsley and additional citrus juice/zest!