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Sweet-tart dried cranberries and fresh orange zest add delicious, bright flavors to our Cranberry Rice Pilaf.

Cranberry Rice Pilaf

Earlier this week, we shared a delicious chicken recipe that was served over this easy and delicious Cranberry Rice Pilaf.

This flavorful, homemade rice pilaf was served as a side dish at a wedding we attended. But, I think Cranberry Rice Pilaf would be a great addition to a Thanksgiving menu – or the menu of any fall dinner party.


Cranberry Rice Pilaf

If you’ve made this earlier rice pilaf recipe of ours – then you already know that it’s not at all difficult to make a from-scratch rice pilaf. (You’ll never think about buying the boxed rice pilaf again!)

What is rice pilaf?

A pilaf is a rice dish where the rice is cooked in stock or broth along with spices, and other ingredients are typically added such as vegetables or meat. Additionally, the pilaf is also cooked in such a way so that the rice grains don’t stick to one another – and in our recipe, butter and oil prevent the grains from adhering to one another in the cooked dish.

Today’s Cranberry Rice Pilaf follows the same premise: Pan-toasted orzo is combined with long-grain white rice, sautéed vegetables (cooked in that butter and oil mentioned above), herbs and seasonings, and chicken stock – then cooked in a covered pan until the rice and orzo are cooked through.  We also added chopped dried cranberries and fresh orange zest to the mixture – adding bright, sweet flavor to the classic rice pilaf ingredients.


Cranberry Rice Pilaf

Once the rice is cooked, fluff with a fork – then stir in chopped fresh parsley and toasted sliced almonds.

Serve your Cranberry Rice Pilaf as a side dish with just about any meal, or spoon it on a plate as a bed under our Cape Cod Cranberry Stuffed Chicken.  (The rice pilaf will soak up the delicious sauce too!)


Cape Cod Cranberry Stuffed Chicken

You may enjoy these other rice recipes:

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Cranberry Rice Pilaf

Cranberry Rice Pilaf

  • Author: A Family Feast
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 8 servings
  • Category: side dish
  • Method: baked
  • Cuisine: New England


½ cup uncooked orzo pasta

½ cup sliced almonds

3 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

¾ cup onions, diced small

¾ cup celery, diced small

1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced

1 cup long grain white rice *

½ teaspoon dry thyme

¼ teaspoon white pepper

2 teaspoons orange zest

1 cup dried cranberries

3 cups chicken stock

½ cup orange juice

3 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, (save and mince stems)


In a small saute pan over medium heat, add orzo and toss and cook for five minutes until it is nicely browned. Remove to a plate to cool.

Use same pan over medium heat and add almonds and cook for three minutes tossing often until they are lightly browned. Remove to a plate to cool and pick out any that browned too much.

In a 3-quart sauce pan that has a tight-fitting lid, add butter and oil over medium high heat.

Once melted, add onions, celery and garlic and saute for four minutes.

Lower heat to medium, add the raw white rice and stir into the onion celery mixture. Cook for two minutes stirring often then add the thyme, pepper, zest, cranberries and the browned orzo and stir and cook for one minute.

Add the stock, orange juice and minced parsley stems and bring to a boil. Then reduce to low, cover and cook fifteen minutes. (I leave my pan half off the heat to make sure the rice does not stick if the liquid evaporates too quickly)

After 15 minutes, remove cover, fluff with a fork and stir in the chopped parsley leaves and reserved almonds.

Fluff again, taste for seasoning and serve.


*Do not use quick-cook rice.

Keywords: Cranberry Rice Pilaf

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Cranberry Rice Pilaf



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  • Karen Teeling wrote:

    Can this Cranberry Rice Pilaf be “baked”?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Karen – We’ve never tried baking this specific recipe, but we do have a baked rice pilaf recipe on our site so, in theory, it could work.
      I’m not sure if 400 degrees is the right temperature to attempt – our other recipe is baked for 30 minutes at 350 F. (You can see that here:
      Please let us know how it works out for you!

  • Karen Teeling wrote:

    Can this be “baked” in a 400 degree oven?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Karen – We’ve never tried baking this specific recipe, but we do have a baked rice pilaf recipe on our site so, in theory, it could work.
      I’m not sure if 400 degrees is the right temperature to attempt – our other recipe is baked for 30 minutes at 350 F. (You can see that here:
      Please let us know how it works out for you!

  • Noreen Grady wrote:

    This pilaf was absolutely delicious and went very well with Ina Garten’s lemon chicken. Thanks for telling us to put the pan half on the burner because the rice was perfect and not sticky. Love your recipes and your pictures and instructions are very good.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you so much Noreen – so glad you are enjoying the recipes!

  • Kathleen Kat Stanley wrote:

    You have great recipes. However, you have so many pop ups advertising and recipes that it isn’t fun to look on your website! Very annoying!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks for your feedback Kathleen – we actually run fewer ads than most other food blogs and all of our ads are closeable after a few seconds. The alternative to providing you with access to free recipes on a site that runs ads would be to force you to pay and subscribe to get access to our recipes. Is that something you would prefer?

  • Mary Jo wrote:

    I would love to make this for Christmas dinner after church. Any suggestions to make ahead and reheat?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Mary Jo – Yes – this reheats nicely in the microwave or you could put it in the oven in a foil-covered baking dish to warm back up in a warm oven. Hope that helps!

  • Jerry Scalley wrote:

    I made your cranberry rice pilaf for dinner tonight. It was delicious, almost a meal in itself. Knowing how large your portions tend to be, I intend to use
    the leftovers tomorrow when I make the stuffed cranberry chicken. That way I can focus on one new recipe.
    There are only two of us here but we share our leftovers of all your recipes with neighbors and family. I have probably made 20 or more of your recipes with only one failure. I had a tough time with the dough from your pizza recipe that you got from a woman in a dingy bar. Probably me, I’ll try it again some day. Thanks for all your recipes (please don’t go all Keto) I can always find something new on your site like the Mostarda Brie I hope to make this weekend.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you so much Jerry – we’re glad you (all) are enjoying the recipes! (I promise, we won’t be going all keto…) 🙂

  • Doris wrote:

    Hi Martha! Thanks for the prompt reply back to me. I should have realised about the wild rice taking longer to cook . Yes, I could make separately but this is not something I would want to chance on a holiday . I have always thought you and Jack have one of the best recipe sites on the Internet. Your beef stew recipe is still the all time best ever and my son will never miss an opportunity to get me to make it , which by the way, I did two weeks ago. In any case, I will make as originally stated but I may swap out pine nuts for the almonds. Not that we don’t love almonds… we do. Thanks for another keeper. Have an enjoyable fall.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you so much Doris! Your kind words have made our day! <3

  • Doris wrote:

    Hello Martha! I do hope you and Jack are doing well. So happy fall is finally here ! I am making a list and printing off new receipes for Thanksgiving this year and this is just perfect! I will make a trial run on this when I make my BD roast chicken . Coould you use wild rice for this as well? I have all the ingredients in house right now and was happy to see the fresh garlic addition . I KNOW this will be awesome for the holidays!!

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Doris! We’re very happy that Fall is finally here too – it’s my favorite time of the year! 🙂 In general, yes, you can use wild rice – but it does take MUCH longer to cook than the white rice (and orzo), so you’ll have to make some additional recipe adjustments. If you are simply thinking about adding wild rice to the recipe as written, I’d consider cooking the wild rice separately then stirring it in at the end once the rest of the pilaf has finished cooking. If you want to do a full swap with white rice, my concern is that the orzo would get mushy by the time the wild rice is tender – so perhaps you could stir in the orzo part way through the baking process. Hope that helps!

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