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Basmati Rice Pilaf with Almonds

Basmati rice pilaf is a fluffy, aromatic dish made with long-grain basmati rice and toasted almonds. Middle Eastern spices give this dish its characteristic flavor, making it perfect for special occasions or dinner parties. Serve basmati rice pilaf with your favorite protein for a complete meal.

A bowl of basmati rice pilaf with almonds mixed in.

Why You Will Love Basmati Pilaf:

Basmati rice pilaf is a nice switch from your regular rice side dish, spices of cumin and cinnamon give the rice a wonderful fragrance and taste.  A generous measure of toasted almonds adds crunch to the dish. This side dish is wonderful served with moist, tender Oven Roasted Chicken Thighs or with our quick and easy Pan Fried Cod with Lemon-Garlic Sauce.

Rice is a great way to add healthy grains and fiber to your diet. And…if you have an instant pot, you will also enjoy our rice recipes for Instant Pot Wild Rice Blend and Instant Pot Basil Lime Rice which is wonderful served with a taco Tuesday theme. And for a real treat make a batch of Instant Pot Black Rice to serve with Salmon and Yellow Curry

A bowl of Middle Easter rice with almonds.

Ingredients for Basmati Rice with Almonds:

Basmati rice is more fragrant than plain rice and cooks up fluffy. The grains expand more than twice during cooking and only expand lengthwise, which allows them to stay long and slender when cooked.  Here is all you need for this easy side dish.

  • Butter
  • Onion
  • Basmati rice
  • Chicken broth
  • Salt
  • Cumin powder
  • Cinnamon powder
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Toasted slivered almonds
Ingredients to make basmati rice pilaf.

How to Make Basmati Rice Pilaf:

Just a quick sauté on the stove-top and the oven does the rest. You will love this fluffy rice with its unique spice blend and crunchy almonds. This is a brief how-to of the process, please scroll to the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post for the full measurements and instructions:

  1. Sauté the butter and onions in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the rice and stir until the grains are well coated with butter.
  2. Boil the broth and pour over the rice. 
  3. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven.
  4. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with cumin, cinnamon, lemon zest and almonds. 
  5. Fluff the rice with a fork, recover the pot and let rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Serve with cedar plank salmon or halibut Provencal for an amazing meal.
Making basmati rice pilaf in a skillet.

Tips for Success:

  • There is no need to rinse the rice before cooking.  
  • The correct proportion of rice-to-broth is 1-1/2 cups of broth/water to 1 cup of rice. 
  • Sauté the rice before you add the hot broth.  Toasting the grains of rice will add extra flavor to the dish and bring out the nutty, floral flavors.
  • Remove the broth from the heat as soon as it boils.  If you let it continue to boil then some of the liquid will evaporate.
  • Let the basmati rice pilaf rest before you serve it.  The resting time will make the rice fluffier.

Pouring chicken broth into a skillet with basmati rice.

What to Serve with Basmati Pilaf

Basmati rice pairs well with many different flavors, making it a versatile side dish. Here are some recipes to help you get started.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is so special about basmati rice?

Basmati rice is a long slender grain that expands lengthwise when it cooks. That feature lets it retain its shape and stay soft and fluffy. Basmati is also uniquely aromatic with a slight floral scent. It has a sweet nutty flavor and chewy texture.

What is rice pilaf?

Rice pilaf is a dish made from rice, vegetables, and spices instead of simply plain rice.

A bowl of rice pilaf with almonds.

Initially, we made this rice pilaf for Don’s 80th birthday. We served it with a prime rib roast, a spinach salad, steamed green beans, and eggless tiramisu. We also made a wine barrel cake for the birthday boy.

Some Other Recipes We Are Sure You Will Love:

Coconut cream gives a delicious flavor to this Yellow Thai Chicken Curry one-pot meal. Serve the curry over a mound of steaming hot black rice and enjoy!

Our Pan-Seared Salmon with Hollandaise Sauce is a rich, elegant dinner that you can have on the table in 30 minutes! The creamy dill hollandaise sauce is made in a blender in just five minutes and tops the tender salmon for a delicious treat!

For a little Southern comfort food, we suggest this delicious recipe of Cheesy Shrimp and Grits. Large, tender grilled shrimp adorn a mound of creamy, white cheddar grits in a spice Creole sauce and andouille sausages.

This twist on chicken cordon blue has a creamy Dijon sauce. Tarragon complements the flavor of the chicken and gooey Gruyere cheese oozes out when you slice into this masterpiece.

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A bowl of basmati rice pilaf with almonds mixed in.

Basmati Rice Pilaf with Almonds

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

A fragrant rice pilaf with crunchy toasted almonds and a touch of cinnamon, cumin and lemon zest.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup basmati rice or long-grain white rice
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Optional: For a fluffier texture, rinse the rice under cold water for a few minutes. Drain the water from the rice but don't worry about drying the rice.
  3. Heat a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, then add the butter and chopped onions. When the onions are just soft and translucent add the uncooked rice and sauté, stirring constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes or until the rice is slightly toasted and you can smell a nutty aroma.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the broth and salt to a boil and pour into the rice, bring it back to a boil, then cover with a lid or foil and place the entire pot in the oven.
  5. Cook the rice pilaf in the oven for 20 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. If after 20 minutes there's still liquid in the pot or the rice is still too moist, re-cover and return the pot to the oven for another 2 to 4 minutes.
  6. Remove the pot from the oven sprinkle the cumin, cinnamon, lemon zest and the toasted almonds on top and gently fluff the rice pilaf with a fork. Then place a paper towel across the top of the pot, replace the lid and let the rice pilaf stand for 10 minutes. To serve, transfer the rice to a serving bowl and sprinkle with additional reserved almonds.

Notes

  • Remove the broth from the heat as soon as it boils. If you let it continue boiling then some of the liquid will evaporate.
  • Use a tightly fitting lid. If the lid does not fit snuggly on the saucepan, cover the saucepan with aluminum foil then place the lid on top. The foil will help seal the lid better.
  • Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 223Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 526mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 6g

    Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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    This recipe was originally published on June 27, 2014. We updated the post with new photos and added some helpful tips.

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    John / Kitchen Riffs

    Wednesday 16th of March 2022

    It's been a LONG time since I've made a pilaf. Or used basmati rice, for that matter. This looks excellent. Neat side, or for us could easily be the entire dinner. Thanks!

    Pat Nyswonger

    Wednesday 16th of March 2022

    Thanks, John....It is so easy and so good. I have a bag of brown basmati rice that I will give it a try although I imagine it will take a longer cook time.

    Al

    Sunday 22nd of October 2017

    I'd like to try this recipe but I notice there is no indication as to when to add the ½ cup of slivered almonds. Can you please clarify at which step the almonds are introduced? Thank you!

    Pat

    Sunday 22nd of October 2017

    Hi, Al....So happy that you found our recipe for Basmati Rice Pilaf with Toasted Almonds. I corrected the recipe card, the almonds should be added with the cinnamon and cumin. Thanks for that good catch! This is an amazingly delicious side dish, you will love it! :)

    Cora

    Monday 30th of June 2014

    I love the extra crunch of the almonds!

    Pat

    Monday 30th of June 2014

    Hi, Cora, I am so happy you liked this rice dish! :) Thanks for your comment.

    Shelley @ Two Healthy Kitchens

    Monday 30th of June 2014

    Wow! That birthday feast sounds beyond-fantastic! What a delicious party! :D I love the addition of cumin and cinnamon to this rice pilaf - such lovely flavors! BTW - I'm new to your blog and so happy to have found it! As someone who blogs with my bestie, I know how fun and rewarding it is to work on a project like this with a friend. Even better - I just love that the two of you blog together as mom and daughter - so wonderful, so special!

    Pat

    Monday 30th of June 2014

    Hello, Shelly...I am so happy that we have met here on cyber-blogs and thank you for your nice comments. Yes, this is a fun mother/daughter project and it gives us another avenue to create good memories. :)

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