This simple autumn rice pilaf is a delicious gluten-free alternative to traditional stuffing, made with homemade dried cranberries and Instant pot brown rice. Simple & ready in 20 minutes so you can enjoy the flavor of the season!
Do you ever find a new recipe that you love so much, you just want to make it over and over again?
That’s how I feel about this autumn rice pilaf. Although the calendar is just now turning November, we’ve been eating this dish for weeks. The smell of cinnamon, the tang of cranberry and the lovely, healthy green factor… not to mention that it’s all mixed up in the ever so frugal whole grain rice? Yum! It’s like Thanksgiving in a bowl!
We’ve had this dish more times than I have fingers on one hand, I kid you not. Partly to make sure my measurements are right – a true struggle since I rarely measure anything anymore. Then if I do happen to remember to measure, I forget to write it down. And if I happen to remember to write it down, I can’t find the paper I wrote it on.
Am I the only one this happens to?
So that accounts for two of the batches. The other three (or more?) were because this dish is easy. And because I already had everything in the pantry. And it’s really, really good!
What is rice pilaf?
This is a question I had to ask myself when I saw this dish. The original recipe called for barley and isn’t a pilaf. But when I substituted rice because I didn’t have any barley in the pantry, the name “pilaf” came to mind.
My #1 tip to saving money on groceries is to use the food you already have! Use this Master Substitution Guide to start saving today!
Basically a pilaf is a rice dish or grain dish where the grain is cooked in broth and then vegetables or meat is added in. Using some of the elements of the above recipe, and thinking of all things “fall flavored”, this autumn rice pilaf was born.
Lo and behold, the dish turned out pretty good and Mr. Crumbs gave the go-ahead to make it again. So I did! After more tweaking, it became what you see here.
Autumn Rice Pilaf Ingredients
- Rice. You can use long-grain white rice like jasmine or basmati rice. Or brown rice. (Here’s how I make Instant Pot Brown Rice.)
- Chicken Broth. Use chicken broth instead of water to cook your rice. This adds a unique flavor and brings out great depth! (Here’s how I make chicken stock from kitchen scraps.)
- Vegetables. I used onions, mushrooms, and kale. You can use just those or sub other veggies you have on hand. Vegetable pilaf is flexible!
- Sunflower seeds. I thought the taste of sunflower seeds worked great with this autumn rice pilaf. Other options for crunch include pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds), chopped pecans, walnuts or almonds.
- Dried Cranberries. If you don’t stock dried cranberries in your pantry, raisins would make an excellent substitute. (Here’s how to dry your own cranberries.)
- Spices. Here’s where the magic happens. A touch of cinnamon, garlic, salt, and pepper brings this dish to life!
How to Make Autumn Rice Pilaf Recipe
As written, this recipe serves 4 without much leftover. However, I make 1 1/2 times the recipe to allow ample for dinner plus a few lunches leftover too.
- To cook your rice on the stove-top: Add chicken stock and rice, bring to a boil, cook until the liquid has been absorbed, and fluff with a fork.
- Or cook your rice in a rice cooker or Instant Pot. Here’s my Instant Pot Brown Rice recipe. White rice typically takes 15 minutes to be done and 25 minutes for brown rice.
- As your rice cooks, heat up butter or olive oil in a large skillet. Saute your vegetables until the onions are translucent. Add your greens and cook until wilted. Turn the heat to medium or low if you’re still waiting on the rice.
- Add your spices and nuts and cranberries. Mix well and then fold in your cooked rice. Serve warm!
You COULD even use up leftover rice to make this dish. The flavor won’t be quite as full if you didn’t cook your rice in the chicken stock, but it would still be a great side dish to use up leftover rice!
More Rice Side Dishes:
- Instant Pot Spanish Rice
- Vegetable Fried Rice
- Instant Pot Brown Rice
- How to Make Cauliflower Rice
- Our Favorite Beans and Rice Meal
- 1 cup jasmine rice, uncooked
- 1½ cups chicken stock (how to make homemade)
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
- ½ large onion, diced
- 1 cup mushrooms, diced (about 2oz)
- 2-3 loosely packed cups spinach or baby kale
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- salt & pepper to taste
- Prepare one cup of rice according to the directions on the package, substituting chicken stock for water.
- Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter begins to sizzle, add the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until the onions are nearly translucent. Season with salt & pepper.
- Add spinach. Stir often to cook, reducing heat if rice is not done yet.
- Add cinnamon, garlic powder, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries. Stir well.
- Fold in cooked rice. Take care to stir well, but not to over-stir so rice doesn't become mushy.
- Taste and season with salt & pepper as needed.
Dairy-free Option: Substitute butter with coconut oil.
Inspired by The Organic Kitchen.