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 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 coconut 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
Watch How to Make Simple Autumn Rice Pilaf
Simple Autumn Rice Pilaf
This simple autumn rice pilaf is a delicious gluten-free alternative to traditional stuffing. Simple & ready in 20 minutes so you can enjoy the flavor of the season!
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 30 mins
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Sides
- Method: Stove top cook
- Cuisine: American
- 1 cup jasmine rice, uncooked
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock (how to make homemade)
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 large onion, diced
- 1 cup mushrooms, diced (about 2oz)
- 2–3 loosely packed cups spinach or baby kale
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 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 (or coconut oil) 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.
Vegetarian Option: Substitute vegetable stock for chicken stock, and replace butter with coconut oil.
Dairy-free Option: Substitute butter with coconut oil.
Inspired by The Organic Kitchen.
Keywords: Autumn Rice Pilaf
This has become a Thanksgiving Day staple for me and my friends/family. I usually double the recipe though.
Modified to the following:
Rinse the Rice prior to putting in the instant pot. Add all of the ingredients (except butter) on top of the Rice and broth. Cook using the Rice setting on the Instant Pot. Allow for slow pressure release (I’ve found that if I release it too soon the rice tends to be undercooked, but slow pressure release fixes that). Add the appropriate amount of butter and stir all of the ingredients together.
Karen @ Team Crumbs
Thank you so much for sharing, Chris! 🙂
This is delicious! I was looking for a recipe that could replace stuffing at our Thanksgiving meal. I followed it exactly except that I used basmati rice, because I had it on hand for another recipe. It was also my first time cooking basmati rice. It was fluffier than Jasmine, a rice I normally cook with. I totally will double up on the “stuff” as a previous commenter said. It is so yummy. I was thinking next time maybe adding chopped apple. Absolutely delicious! Totally going into my scrap book cookbook so that i can always find it. Thank you for sharing!
Brittany @ Team Crumbs
We’re so glad you enjoyed the recipe! Adding apple is a great idea! Thank you for sharing! 🙂
I have added cubed butternut squash and am going to try cubed eggplant tonight. the squash was really good. I am thinking that the eggplant would be a great sub for people who don’t like mushrooms (which we do but donn’t always have the on hand).
Great ideas all around Charlotte! Thank you for the ideas and inspiration!
I’ve started to cook all of my rice in an Instant Pot, do you have suggestions on how to make this using that?
Yes! Here’s my IP brown rice recipe: https://dontwastethecrumbs.com/instant-pot-brown-rice/
Turned out great!!! Thanks for the recipe!
You’re very welcome!
This was good, but seemed to lack some flavor. I added some lemon zest and squeezed some lemon into it as well. I think it would have been great if I had some dried blueberries to add, so next time I will add them. It was very good this way
Amazing dish, so versitile. I added ground sausage and garnished with scallions. The sweet and savory is over the top delicious!!
I’m so glad you liked this Eleanor!
Amazing!!!! The only thing I did differently was adding chopped spinach instead of adding them as a whole. Soooo good! Thank u for the recipe!
You’re most welcome Diana!
Looking up this recipe to make it again! My favorite fall recipe from last year!
Oh wow! So glad it’s a favorite Amber! And thank you for the reminder to dig it up for myself too. It’s that time of year! 😉
So so very delicious. I served my rice with Moroccan spiced lamb cutlets and sweet potato.
Thanks a bunch! Now added to my faves.
This was SO GOOD! I left out the mushrooms and used toasted pecans and currents. So fantastic. Loved it. Thanks for the recipe. This is a keeper.
So glad you liked it Lily – great substitution ideas too!
We love this recipe and make it at least once a month if not more. I’d like to make it for my family’s Thanksgiving gathering but I would have to make it ahead as we will be rraveling. Any tips for make ahead? We’ve refrigerated leftovers and it’s good, just not as great as “straight out of the skillet.”
I’ve been eyeing this recipe for a while but my husband isn’t too keen on cinnamon in savory dishes. I came across a Moroccan spice called ras el hanout. It has cinnamon in it but it is more savory. I think that might work!
Ooh, I think that would Melissa. Let us know how it turns ut!
Yum! This I think this will be a new favorite. I forgot to cook my rice in chicken broth, so I added a dollop of “better than bouillon” when I was cooking the onions and mushrooms to add a bit of flavor boost. Not as good as homemade broth, which I have a freezer full of lol!
I stopped before I added all the rice, so next time I will bump up all the other ingredients just a bit. I like a high “stuff” ratio 🙂
Can’t wait to try the leftovers stuffed in acorn squash tomorrow night!
I like a high “stuff” ratio too Z. 😉 This is by far one of our favorite “new” recipes. So easy to throw together, plus the substitutions you can make without affecting the overall taste is AWESOME for the fridge!
So I tend to completely ignore any recipes that include mushrooms since they make my husband sick and I can’t tolerate the texture, but the recipe otherwise looks so good that I’m willing to tailor it – without mushrooms. Is there another ingredient you’d recommend that could take the place of the fungus? Or would it be perfectly adequate just leaving them out?
I made it sans mushrooms (because 1) I didn’t have any and 2) I don’t like them) and it was still very, very good!
Thanks for chiming in Amber! Rachel – it’s totally find to omit the mushrooms. I added them just to increase the veggie content, and when they’re diced (1/4″) no one in my family notices them. 🙂 Brussels sprouts might be good in this, if they’re par-boiled first and quartered. Otherwise, just enjoy without the mushrooms!
Yummmmm! I just made this and it is SO good! Of course, my inability to follow directions and the fact that I was missing some ingredients meant I had to substitute some stuff, but still yummy!
I used regular white rice instead of jasmine (though I need to get jasmine sometime soon!), and swiss chard instead of spinach. I totally left the mushrooms out (didn’t have any, not super fond of them).
I think next time I’m wanting something sweet, I’m going to just put butter, water, and rice into the rice cooker, then add cranberries and cinnamon when done!
I will add the extra nuts, seeds & occasionally chicken or bacon and eat as a main.
Many thanks for the recipe Tiff
Yes! That sounds so yum!!