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Moroccan Rice Pilaf

Moroccan Rice Pilaf: Fragrant, Fluffy and Delicious: Super easy to make with fall harvest flavors and impressive enough your guests will love it as a side dish for any holiday party!

Rice Pilaf with fall harvest flavors ion a grey plate

Moroccan Rice Pilaf is a fragrant rice dish that is excellent for any entertaining.  Its very filling so its ideal for serving guests so they walk away completely full and content.  It’s also a nicely seasoned rice recipe that provides a tasty option for your friends that are GF, DF, and V.  To top it all off it’s easy to make which is always a winner in my book!

There is a LOT of information in this post so you can make some substitutions successfully and how to make it completely your own but if you just want the recipe as listed by all means scroll down directly to the recipe below!

There are several things that go into making a rice pilaf successful.  It starts with how fragrant everything is and how you go about each step in your preparation.

The best part is this recipe is completely flexible.  You can use the rice, berries, dried fruits, nuts and flavor additions that you enjoy.

Serving table with Moroccan Rice pilaf

What is the difference in all the varieties of rice and what works best for rice pilaf recipes

While there are many kinds of rice in the market there are 8 common, recognizable rice varieties. They tend to be classified by their length of grain and the finished texture, bite and whether it sticks together or is stays more individual.

I know 8 is a lot, but I promise you’ve probably had most of them and nothing is totally weird.

White Rice – all-purpose long grain rice cooked in liquid in a rice maker, stovetop or in the oven. When cooked it tends to be tender, not stick together and fluffy. Ideal uses:  plain, seasoned rice or for a pilaf.

Brown Rice– same rice as white rice but the whole grain version.  Bran and germ left on for a nuttier flavor. Cooked in boiling liquid mostly, sometimes using more water than necessary and drained off for perfect consistency in all grains. Ideal uses: on its own, in pilaf’s, healthier choice recipes and when you want a nuttier flavor to your rice.

Basmati Rice- long grain rice with a nutty flavor, doesn’t stick together, firmer texture than white rice. Soaking rice before cooking removes starch and allows even cooking. Ideal uses: pilaf, curry rice, often used in Indian recipes.

Jasmine Rice– originally long grain rice grown in Thailand, floral like flavor, soft stickier texture.  Very starchy so it needs to be rinsed before cooking in a pot. Ideal uses: Southeast Asian recipes, great for fried rice.

Japanese Rice– medium grain sticky rice used most often in sushi.  (Not to be confused with sticky rice that has rice vinegar in it to make it stickier) Ideal uses: Sushi, under poke bowls and with Japanese foods.

Paella Rice– Medium grain rice that absorbs lots of liquid yet doesn’t get sticky.  Great for getting very flavorful rice. Ideal uses: Spanish Paella dishes.

Arborio Rice- Short grain rice used in Italian risotto’s. Squat fat grains have a starch called Amyplpectin that gives risotto its very recognizable creamy texture.  Its cooked by adding boiling liquid in small amounts at a time to get a firm, al dente texture. Ideal uses: risotto.

Wild Rice– Technically wild rice is NOT a rice.  It’s actually a seed of grass that’s deep dark color and finishes chewy and tastes very nutty. It takes longer to cook than other rices. Most wild rice today in stores isn’t really grown wild, although in some places like northern MN you can find true rice grown in the wild for sale.  Ideal uses: Great on its own, in mixed blends and pilafs.

Check out all of our EASY SIDE DISHES here!

What can go into a rice pilaf?

Use your imagination. You can mix your rice, use your favorite vegetables the possibilities are endless.  I love the Moroccan rice pilaf flavors with the subtle heat and underlying sweetness but you can easily customize your rice pilaf recipe.

  • rice
    • white rice
    • brown rice
    • wild rice
    • basmati
    • medley of rices mixed together
  • butternut squash
  • kale
  • apples
  • dried fruits
  • dried cranberries
  • dried blueberries
  • raisins
  • currents
  • figs
  • walnuts
  • almonds
  • carrots
  • aromatics
    • cinnamon
    • cardamom
    • sage
    • nutmeg

Tips for Making Successful Fluffy Fragrant Rice Pilaf:

  • Sauté the veggies to get some color and begin the caramelization process.
  • Once the veggies are softened and colored, you add in the spices to really add another layer of flavor to the vegetables.
  • You then add the rice and stir it frequently to do two things.  Coating the rice with oil prevents it from sticking together when it’s cooking (fluffier) and as you are cooking it you are bringing out the nuttiness of the rice.  (Yes, another flavor layer.)
close up of moist, moroccan rice pilaf with carrots, almonds and cranberries

More Rice Side Dish Recipes  

More Easy Side Dishes you might enjoy:

Fluffy, fragrant with crunchy edges make this Mushroom Rice Pilaf recipe a great weeknight side dish or fancy enough for a dinner party side dish.  

Earthy Wild Mushroom Risotto

This Simple Parmesan Mushroom Risotto Recipe is a simple comfort food dish that will please everyone.  Just a few ingredients but packed full of earthy mushroom and tangy parmesan cheese flavors. #risotto #comfortfood #vegetarian

Parmesan Mushroom Risotto

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Moroccan Rice Pilaf: Fragrant,  Fluffy and Delicious: Super easy to make and impressive enough your guests will love it as a side dish for any holiday party! GF, DF, V
Yield: 8

Moroccan Rice Pilaf

Moroccan Rice Pilaf: Fragrant,  Fluffy and Delicious: Super easy to make and impressive enough your guests will love it as a side dish for any holiday party!

Moroccan Rice Pilaf: Fragrant, Fluffy and Delicious: Super easy to make and impressive enough your guests will love it as a side dish for any holiday party!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup blanched almonds, slivered
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cup long grain rice , medley is fine!
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest of a whole orange
  • juice of one orange
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon fresh chives, minced


  1. Preheat Oven to 375°.  Lightly oil a shallow baking dish (1 1/2 quart)
  2. In a large pan heat the pan to medium high, add olive oil and swirl to coat the pan.  Then add the almonds, carrots and onions and cook until caramelized.  About 5 minutes.  
  3. Add the cinnamon and stir for 1 minute.  Add rice and toast until translucent about 1 minute.
  4. Stir in broth, salt, orange juice, zest, cranberries and cayenne pepper.  Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes.  Then remove from the heat.
  5. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and bake uncovered about 45 -55 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed.  Sprinkle with chives garnish and serve.  
  6. This rice is also fantastic server warm, or at room temperature.  You can make this the day ahead and warm in the oven if you wish.


This recipe is adapted from the New Basics cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins (1989 edition.)

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

8 Servings

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 244Sodium: 512mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 3gSugar: 9gProtein: 4g

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char Marino

Sunday 11th of February 2024

looks delicious and so different...can I omit the cinnamon ? My husband can't eat much of it .

Thanks !!


Wednesday 31st of January 2024

I love moroccan food, so I'm always looking for suggestions to inspire my creativity. I used what I had in the fridge/cupboard, which consisted of dried apricots, carrots, sun-dried tomatoes, sliced almonds, parsley, a combination of white and brown rice and baharat spice blend, in substitution or addition to the other ingredients. To cook, I chose to do the traditional stove-top method for pilaf. I added the brown rice first followed by the white rice later in the process. Delish!


Wednesday 13th of September 2023

Did you used to make this recipe on the stovetop only? That’s the way I do it but I love the ingredients list. I add chicken. It’s delicious!

Lucy Miller

Thursday 21st of April 2022

Made this tonight. I think it should be baked covered. The top of rice didn't cook. Scraped off uncooked rice. Very tasty!


Sunday 5th of August 2018

This looks amazing, I love the flavors and colors, I literally love everything about this recipe!

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