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Almond Cranberry Rice Pilaf Recipe


One of the best side dishes to have for lunch or dinner is homemade rice pilaf. This almond and cranberry rice pilaf is easy enough to make every day but also, it’s fancy enough for holidays and other special occasions.

It has the crunchiness of almonds, the sweet-tangy flavor of cranberries, and fluffy rice. Its delicious blend of sweet and savory flavors will certainly keep you coming back for more.

What is a Rice Pilaf?

Pilaf is a rice dish that uses the method of cooking rice together with aromatics such as garlic and onion and finishing it in a cooking liquid such as water or stock. Rice cooked together with aromatics and liquid gives the dish so much flavor.

A rice pilaf also employs the technique of getting a fluffy texture where the rice doesn’t clump or stick together. Some regions cook rice pilaf with meat and some without. Other regions cook rice pilaf with dried fruits such as cranberries, raising, or dates.

Almond Cranberry Rice Pilaf Recipe Ingredients

An easy and delicious rice pilaf recipe is made up of 5 components: rice, aromatics, spices, liquid, and a garnish. All the ingredients for this perfect side dish can be found at your neighborhood grocery.

  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups water

How to Make Cranberry Almond Rice Pilaf

  1. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add the slivered almonds and cook, stirring constantly until golden and nutty smelling. Transfer to a small bowl.
  2. In the same skillet, add the remaining butter and add the diced onion. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally until tender or about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the 1/2 cup dried cranberries and the rice into the onion. Stir until the rice and cranberries are well coated.
  4. Pour chicken broth into the pan, 1 1/2 cups water, and a teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste. 
  5. Increase the heat to medium-high heat. Bring the rice pilaf mixture to a boil. 
  6. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until rice is tender and all the liquid has been absorbed, or cook for about 22 to 25 minutes.
  7. Remove the rice pilaf from the heat. Stir in the sliced almonds and green onion, and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh parsley or with more toasted almonds if desired. 

Cranberry Almond Rice Pilaf Recipe Tips

  • You may use olive oil instead of butter. At the beginning of the recipe, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir the onion in the hot oil, and then follow the rest of the recipe, replacing the butter with oil.
  • It’s recommended to use long-grain white rice for this recipe but you may also use brown rice or wild rice. If you are using wild rice or brown rice, make sure to adjust the amount of chicken broth and the cooking time according to the package.
  • You may also use toasted orzo instead of rice. 
  • Using toasted sliced almonds is the best for this side dish. You may toast the almonds yourself or buy them already toasted.
  • If almonds aren’t your thing, you may swap them out with different nuts such as pine nuts or chopped walnuts.
  • If you can’t find chicken broth, chicken stock is a good alternative. Remember, any rice pilaf recipe needs some sort of liquid for it to work.
  • If using liquid stock that has been stored in the fridge, take it out beforehand and warm it to room temperature. Using cold stock will add to the time it takes to bring the cranberry rice pilaf to a boil.
  • If you are trying to reduce your sodium intake, you may use low-sodium stock. You can also skip adding more salt and pepper at the end of the recipe.
  • To make this cranberry rice dish recipe vegan, you may use vegetable stock.
  • If cranberries aren’t something you aren’t fond of, you can leave them out.
  • Alternatively, you can also swap the dried cranberries with dried cherries instead.
  • In place of parsley as a garnish, cilantro may also be used.

Final Note

The colorful mixture and delicious flavor of rice, almonds, cranberries, and parsley make this cranberry rice pilaf recipe the ideal side dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners. It’s also perfect enough for weeknight get togethers or family meals. 

Looking for other rice recipes? Have a look at our collection.

Hui Yin

Hui Yin moved from Hong Kong 🇭🇰 to the USA 🇺🇸 when she was just 8 years old. Now in her late 20's she enjoys writing and taking long walks in the park to burn off the copious amounts of rice she eats for dinner.

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