Instant Pot Rice Pilaf

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This easy Instant Pot rice pilaf is the perfect Rice-a-Roni copycat side dish for serving with baked chicken or fish. Elegant enough for a holiday dinner but easy enough for a busy weeknight, you can prep it ahead and reheat it in the microwave.

The buttery rice pilaf is in a white bowl with a spoon.

One of my all-time favorite comfort foods in the world is chicken flavored Rice-a-Roni. Go ahead and ask my mom how many of my birthday dinners she used to make it for!

This easy buttery Instant Pot rice pilaf is just about as close as you can get but is made from whole ingredients I feel much better about feeding to my family.

The orzo turns a gorgeous golden brown when sauteed in the salted butter and the rice plumps up to the perfect texture inside the Instant Pot.

I love how much more budget-friendly this from scratch recipe is when I'm feeding my extended family for a holiday meal!

Why This is the Best Recipe

I have a life-long love affair with chicken flavored Rice-a-Roni but I think this is the very best Instant Pot rice pilaf recipe because:

  1. From Scratch: Using white jasmine rice and Italian orzo pasta with a few pantry ingredients, you can have a Rice-a-Roni copy cat that is so much healthier and even more delicious.
  2. Perfect Instant Pot Texture: I love using my Instant Pot to make rice because you press a button and the appliance does all the rest. The rice will keep warm until the rest of the dinner is ready to serve.
  3. Buttery Goodness: This delicious buttery rice side dish is the perfect partner for baked chicken or fish.
  4. Easy to Scale: My recipe makes 6 servings but with the right sized Instant Pot you could make a lot more to feed a crowd during the holiday season.


The ingredients to make the rice pilaf in the Instant Pot are on the counter.

All you need to make this homemade rice pilaf is:

  • Rice: White rice is the base for this recipe, I always use jasmine rice.
  • Orzo: This Italian pasta is similar in shape to pieces of rice but browns when sauteed in butter to give the pilaf more color.
  • Butter
  • Chicken Stock: You can use boxed chicken stock or broth or make your own from bouillon.
  • Garlic: I used minced garlic but you could substitute garlic powder or garlic salt.
  • Onion Powder
  • Paprika
  • Parsley: I just used dried but for a holiday fresh parsley would be an excellent choice.

The Right Instant Pot Size

Since you only use 1 cup of rice to make this recipe, I strongly recommend cooking the dish in the 3 quart Instant Pot mini.

If you have a larger Instant Pot like the 6 quart or the 7 quart, I would recommend doubling the recipe so that you don't risk burned rice on the bottom of the pot.

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Saute the Orzo

Press the SAUTE button on the Instant Pot and add the butter.

Once it has completely melted, add the orzo and stir.

Continue to cook until the orzo has turned a golden brown, about 3 minutes.

The butter has been melted in the Instant Pot and now the orzo is being stirred in.

Add the Rice and Seasonings

Add the rice to the Instant Pot and stir it into the orzo.

Continue to cook until the rice turns bright white like this:

The rice has now been stirred into the orzo.

I recommend adding the minced garlic, salt and pepper, paprika, onion powder, and parsley TO THE RICE before you add the chicken stock.

Stir it in and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.

THEN pour in the chicken stock.

When I tried to add the spices after the stock, they didn't mix in as well as they do when I tested it again and added it to the rice first.

They sort of just floated around on top like this:

The chicken stock and seasonings have been added to the Instant Pot.

Instant Pot Settings

Turn the SAUTE function off.

Add the lid to the Instant Pot and seal it.

Set the Instant Pot to cook on High Pressure for 3 minutes.

It is helpful to do a natural release and let the rice sit for 10 minutes before venting the Instant Pot. This is usually the time I use to keep the rice warm while I finish up the rest of the dinner.

The rice pilaf has finished cooking in the Instant Pot and has more than doubled in size.


This buttery, chicken-y flavored rice pilaf is so delicious just as is, but there are some easy variations you could make:

Rice Pilaf with Almonds: Add slivered almonds to the Instant Pot along with the chicken stock or stir them into the hot rice and let them warm through just before serving.

Rice Pilaf with Dried Fruit: Stir in golden raisins, regular raisins, or dried cranberries.

Rice Pilaf with Peas: Stir in frozen peas and let the heat from the cooked rice warm them through.

Wild Rice Pilaf: My favorite wild rice pilaf is also made in the Instant Pot and has diced carrots and celery in the mix.

Make Ahead Tips

I made this easy rice pilaf side dish for a very special family dinner when hosting my parents for a little dinner party.

To keep things easy, I made the rice earlier in the day and then stored it in the fridge in an airtight container.

I just reheated the rice in the microwave before serving and it came out just as delicious as when I made it fresh.

You could make the rice up to 2 - 3 days in advance which would save so much time during your holiday prep for Easter or Christmas.

Meal Prep Tips

Instant Pot rice pilaf would be an easy meal prep recipe to make over the weekend and store in individual meal prep containers for easy dinners all week long.

Spoon the pilaf into microwave-safe containers along with your entree and you simply need to reheat it in the microwave for a minute before serving.

Serving Suggestions

The finished rice pilaf is being served in a white bowl at the table.

When I made this buttery rice pilaf, I served it alongside my oven baked salmon and parmesan roasted asparagus for a Valentine's Day dinner on Ash Wednesday in Lent when we needed a meatless meal that still felt special.

It was a huge hit with everyone at the table.

Next time I make my macadamia crusted halibut, this will be the first side dish I think of.

It would also pair really well with a simple baked fish with breadcrumbs or several of these easy baked chicken breast recipes.

More Easy Instant Pot Rice Recipes

Once you've tried making rice in your Instant Pot, you'll be sold with just how easy it is and how perfectly it turns out. Don't miss these other easy rice side dishes for your Instant Pot:

📖 Recipe

The buttery rice pilaf is in a white bowl with a spoon.

Instant Pot Rice Pilaf

5 from 1 vote
You can make ahead this easy Instant Pot rice pilaf and simply reheat it in the microwave for an easy side dish for a busy holiday meal or weeknight dinner. Pairs well with chicken or seafood and your favorite vegetables.
PREP TIME 10 minutes
COOK TIME 3 minutes
YIELD 6 servings


  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup orzo
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 tsp minced garlic or 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • Sprinkle of black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dried onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken broth


  • Turn the Instant Pot onto SAUTE setting and add the butter to the pot. Once the butter has melted completely, add the orzo and stir to combine. Cook until the orzo has browned slightly, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the rice to the pot, stir to combine with the orzo, and cook for another 3 - 4 minutes or until it has turned bright white.
  • Add the minced garlic, salt and pepper, onion powder, paprika and parsley to the rice and stir it together. Cook for 30 seconds or until just fragrant.
  • Pour in the chicken stock and stir. Be sure to scrape up everything from the bottom of the pot to help prevent burning.
  • Turn the SAUTE function off. Place the lid on the Instant Pot and set to sealing. Cook on High Pressure for 3 minutes. Let the rice rest inside the sealed Instant Pot for 10 minutes before venting and serving.
  • Fluff the rice and stir in any seasonings that may have floated to the top while cooking. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can reheat the rice pilaf in the microwave in a covered microwave-safe container.
COURSESide Dishes

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The photo collage shows the rice pilaf cooking in the Instant pot and in a serving bowl.


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