This Orzo Rice pilaf recipe takes 15 minutes to cook, and you only need 4 pantry-staple ingredients. Toasted orzo cooked in vegetable broth with fragrant Jasmine rice packs so much flavor into this easy side dish. Use Orzo Rice in place of plain rice, or plain pasta. This combination of pasta and rice is comforting, and versatile.
Pair homemade Orzo Rice with tofu, tempeh, roasted chickpeas, stir-fry veggies, pesto sauce, or use it for making an orzo salad or a tasty rice salad. The possibilities are endless. This dinner side dish might remind you of the boxed version of Rice-A-Roni, except it's not mushy!
- Orzo is a thin, oval, rice-shaped pasta. It is made from semolina, a coarser, golden flour that comes from durum wheat. You can also purchase a whole-wheat version. It has the perfect texture for making a pilaf, and a cooking time of 15 minutes, same as white rice, which is why this combination works so well. It is traditionally used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, especially in Greek and Italian dishes.
- Jasmine rice is a type of long-grain rice. It has a soft, slightly sticky texture when cooked, and a subtle, nutty flavor. It is typically served alongside curries, stir-fries, and other flavorful dishes, and is a popular side dish in Southeast Asian and Thai cuisine.
- Olive oil or vegan butter adds depth of flavor to the toasted orzo. 'Earth Balance' is the brand of vegan butter I typically use. Toasting the orzo is essential to a more tasty pilaf.
- Cook the orzo and rice in broth instead of water to pack in more flavor. Vegetable broth and mushroom broth both work well, or you can use vegan No Chicken or No Beef broth to add a meat-like umami quality.
See recipe card for quantities.
- Jasmine rice - instead of Jasmine, use Basmati or any long-grain slender rice with a similar cooking time (approximately 15 minutes)
- Olive oil - use vegan butter for more flavor, or a combination of the two
- Vegetable broth - use water, mushroom broth, or vegan No Chicken or No Beef broth instead
📖 Instructions: How to Cook Orzo Rice
Step 1. Toast the orzo: Heat olive oil or vegan butter in a sauté pan or saucepan. Add the orzo and cook for about 4 minutes, or until golden. Stir frequently so it toasts evenly and does not burn.
Step 2. Add the rice and cook for one more minute, stirring constantly.
Step 3. Pour in the vegetable broth and bring the liquid to a simmer.
Step 4. Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for 15 minutes.
Step 5. Remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes before removing the lid.
Step 6. Remove the lid and fluff gently with a fork.
💡 Expert Tips
- Olive oil works well for this recipe, but it tastes even better with vegan butter or a combination of the two.
- Let the rice rest for the full 10 minutes when possible before fluffing. This helps to prevent clumping and achieves the best texture for a pilaf. As the rice sits, any remaining liquid is absorbed so that the rice cooks evenly. It also releases any rice on the bottom of the pan. This resting method should be applied when cooking any variety of rice.
- Fluff the cooked orzo and rice gently with a fork. Do not stir it too much as it can activate the starch and make it clump together. This is true when cooking rice in general.
- Storage: Refrigerate any remaining Orzo Rice in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat it in the microwave or add it to a saucepan with heated curries, sauces, stews, or more.
🙋🏽♀️ Recipe FAQs
Microwave or stovetop: To reheat, add 1 to 3 tablespoons water for each cup of leftover pilaf. Stir gently while cold. Reheat in the microwave oven. It can also be reheated over medium-low heat in a saucepan on the stove, stirring occasionally. If adding it to a curry or sauce, heat the curry or sauce first, then mix in the orzo rice and stir until warmed through.
Oven: Spread orzo rice in an even layer over the baking dish, gently breaking up any clumps. Splash with about 2 tablespoons water or broth per cup of pilaf. Use foil to cover the dish tightly. Bake for about 20 minutes or until heated through.
Cooked orzo has a creamier and softer texture than rice. Much like rice, it can double in size when cooked. Orzo is often used in Mediterranean dishes such as pastas and pasta salads. Although orzo is a pasta, it can also be a good substitute in for rice in several dishes. Orzo has a higher concentration of protein, but unlike rice, it is not gluten-free.
The main difference between rice and rice pilaf is the cooking technique. Rice is typically cooked in boiling water without any flavorings added. Alternatively, pilaf (or pilau or pilav) is a cooking technique that involves sautéing rice in oil or butter before adding liquid and simmering. This technique is often used to enhance the flavor and texture of the rice. Pilaf can be made with various grains, including rice, orzo, bulgur wheat or quinoa. The pilaf method typically results in a more fragrant dish with separate and fluffier grains.
Orzo rice pilaf is not gluten-free. Traditional orzo pasta is made with durum wheat semolina. Durum wheat is not gluten-free. Gluten-free varieties of orzo should have a certified gluten-free seal on the label.
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- Drizzle of olive oil or 1 tablespoon vegan butter
- ½ cup dried orzo
- 1 cup Jasmine rice or Basmati, rinsed
- 2 ¼ cups vegetable broth
- Heat a generous drizzle of olive oil in a medium nonstick sauté pan or saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Add the orzo and cook for about 4 minutes, or until golden. Stir frequently so it toasts evenly and does not burn.
- Add the rice and cook for 1 minute more, stirring constantly.
- Pour in the vegetable broth and bring the liquid to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes. Do not remove the lid.
- Remove the lid and fluff with a fork.
- Vegan butter or a combination of olive oil and vegan butter are the most flavorful options for toasting the orzo.
- Let the rice rest for the full 10 minutes when possible before fluffing. This helps to prevent clumping and achieves the best texture for an Orzo Rice Pilaf. As the rice sits, any remaining liquid is absorbed so that the rice cooks evenly. It also releases any rice on the bottom of the pan.
- Fluff the cooked orzo rice gently with a fork. Do not stir it too much as it can activate the starch and make it clump together.
- Storage: Refrigerate any remaining Orzo Rice in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Reheat in the microwave, oven, or saucepan with a little water to break up any clumps. Or add it to a saucepan with previously heated curries, sauces, or stews, and mix until warmed through.
This information is provided as a courtesy and is an ESTIMATE only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased can change the nutritional information in any given recipe.