Rice pilaf with orzo is loaded with fresh veggies, sweet cranberries, and plenty of fresh herbs for a holiday-inspired dish that’s so good you’ll be making it all year long! Created with the help of the Instant Pot, it comes together in minutes and can be paired with all your favorite protein sources for a nourishing, gluten free meal that will leave your guests raving. Stovetop option. Vegan Friendly.
New Gluten Free Recipe for Your Holiday Table!
Sponsored by our friends at DeLallo and their gluten free orzo, this Instant Pot rice pilaf with orzo is a lightened-up comfort food perfect to add to the holiday table, whip up for weeknight meals, and everything in between! Thank you for supporting the brands that help us to create delicious gluten free recipes like this one for you! Full disclosure and privacy terms here.
What Is Rice Pilaf?
Often thought of as a dish, pilaf is actually a method of cooking. That said, rice is the grain most commonly used in pilaf recipes. Although, there are versions that use a variety of grains like this rice pilaf with orzo! Today, rice pilaf exists all over the world in endless variations and goes by different names such as Pulao in India and Pilau in England. However, it is believed that the original recipe came from a region of Persia known as modern-day Turkey.
No matter what grains or spices are used, pilaf always begins by toasting the grains with aromatics like garlic and onion and sauteéing them with veggies and seasonings before cooking them with liquid. As a result, the grain pieces do not stick together, and this dish is absolutely bursting with flavor.
Is Orzo the Same As Rice?
Despite their similar appearances, orzo is not the same as rice. In fact, typically made out of semolina wheat, orzo is classified as being pasta or pastina (a category of small-shaped pasta) to be exact. Meanwhile, rice is known as a grain.
Is Orzo Gluten Free?
Given that orzo is typically made with semolina wheat, most varieties are not gluten free. That’s where DeLallo’s gluten free orzo stands apart from the crowd! Produced in Italy, it is made with 70% corn flour and 3-% rice flour. As a result, it is guaranteed gluten free yet looks and tastes identical (if not better) to traditional orzo pasta and cooks to al dente perfection. If that wasn’t enough to make you run to the store, DeLallo’s gluten free orzo is also guaranteed to be dairy free, nut free, soy free, and kosher to fit all your dietary needs.
Gluten Free Ingredients Needed for Rice Pilaf with Orzo
Inspired by Thanksgiving stuffing, this rice pilaf with gluten free orzo features a host of veggies, fruit, and seasonings for a bold and vibrant flavor that won’t leave you feeling weighed down! Here’s what you’ll need:
Budgeting Tip: This recipe is a great way to use up and repurpose those leftover holiday scraps to ensure nothing goes to waste!
- Oil – Used to sauteé the ingredients and add a boost of healthy fats. We use light olive oil, but avocado oil or butter (if you aren’t following a dairy free diet) work well, too. Just make sure to opt for unsalted butter so as not to overpower the dish!
- Veggies – A combination of yellow onions, celery, and carrots packs in tons of vitamins, nutrients, and fiber.
- Herbs and Spices – Garlic, thyme, parsley, salt, and pepper provide an herbaceous taste perfect for the holidays.
- DeLallo Gluten Free Corn & Rice Orzo – Our favorite orzo to ensure a fluffy, filling pilaf with none of the gluten!
- Long-Grain White Rice – Long grain rice like Basmati or Jasmine rice has the fluffiest, most tender texture, and the grains don’t tend to stick together like they would with short grain or sushi rice. Plus, when combined with gluten free orzo, the texture is out-of-this-world delicious!
- Fruit – Cranberries, Granny Smith apples, and optional pomegranate arils add a pop of color and irresistible crunch along with a hint of sweetness to balance out the savory flavors.
- Broth – Vegetable or chicken broth is used to add extra flavor.
- Almonds – Loaded with healthy fats, almonds add a nutty taste and even more texture.
- Lemon Juice – Used to cut through the heaviness of the oil and herbs for a well-balanced dish!
How to Make Rice Pilaf with Gluten Free Orzo (2 Ways!)
We love to make Instant Pot rice pilaf when feeding a crowd! Not only is it so easy to make, but it’s also easy to make a lot and is allergy friendly to fit a wide variety of needs. Don’t worry if you don’t have an Instant Pot, though! We’ve got you covered with a stovetop option, too. Pick your method, and follow the instructions below.
Instant Pot Option
- Sauté: Heat a 4-quart Instant Pot using the SAUTÉ mode. Once warm, coat the bottom of the pot with oil, and sauté the onions, celery, and carrots until they are tender, stirring occasionally.
- Then, add the garlic, orzo, and rice, and continue to sauté until the rice is just slightly toasted and golden brown. Be careful not to burn!
- Add Ingredients: Turn the sauté mode off, and add the cranberries, broth, thyme, and a pinch of salt.
- Cook: Lock the Instant Pot and set the vent to closed. Select the MANUAL mode, and cook on high pressure. Then, natural release.
- Garnish and Serve: Once cooked, discard the thyme sprigs, fluff the Instant Pot rice pilaf with a fork, and mix in the remaining ingredients. Add a sprinkle of lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and enjoy!
- Sauté: Heat a medium-sized saucepan (or dutch oven) over medium heat, and coat the bottom with oil. Sauté the onion, celery, and carrots until tender, stirring occasionally.
Add the garlic, orzo, and rice, and continue to sauté until the rice is toasted. Then, turn off the heat, and stir in the cranberries, broth, thyme, and salt.
- Boil: Bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan with a lid, and band let the ingredients simmer until the liquid is absorbed.
- Garnish and Serve: Remove the saucepan from the heat, discard the thyme sprigs, and fluff the pilaf with a rok. Add in the remaining ingredients, and enjoy!
This rice pilaf with orzo can be served alongside all your favorite side dishes for a tasty meal. However, we love to turn it into a complete course on its own by pairing it with our favorite protein sources like:
How to Store and Reheat
We love to make a big batch of this rice pilaf with orzo to enjoy throughout the week! Leftovers make for a filling packed lunch or an easy weeknight meal. Follow the tips below to keep it fresh.
Refrigerator: Let your rice pilaf with gluten free orzo cool completely. Then, transfer it to an airtight container, and store it in the fridge for 4-5 days.
Freezer: Let your pilaf cool completely before transferring it to a sealable bag or freezer-safe container. Make sure to squeeze out as much air as possible if using a bag! Store your pilaf in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Reheat: When you’re ready to eat, let frozen leftovers thaw in the fridge overnight. Then, pop them in the microwave in 30-second intervals until your desired temperature is reached. Or, toss it back in a saucepan or skillet on the stove until heated through, adding a dash of broth as needed to freshen it back up.
More Ways to Use Gluten Free Orzo
One bite of DeLallo’s gluten free orzo, and you’ll be hooked! Luckily, there are tons of ways to use it in addition to this rice pilaf recipe. Try some more of our favorites like the options below:
- Casseroles – Replace the rice or pasta in all your favorite casseroles with gluten free orzo!
- Easy Broccoli and Cheese Casserole – A wholesome comfort food that’s so tasty even the kids will be excited to eat their veggies.
- Greek Baked Orzo – Swap out the regular orzo with gluten free pasta for a tomato-based comfort food recipe perfect for chilly nights.
Do you have questions, feedback, or tips about this recipe? Leave a comment below with any questions or feedback you’d like to share!