Best Rice for Pilaf: For Fluffy and Separate Grains

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Whenever I want a stress-free one-pot meal that ensures an easy kitchen cleanup…

Pilaf is my go-to dish to whip up.

The first reason: it’s rice-based. Of course, that’s always a win for us Asians.

Plus, it’s very hard to mess up!

Well, except for that one time when I made the worst pilaf in history by using short-grain white rice. 

Instead of a fluffy, comforting rice meal, I got a sticky and clumpy mess that was a nightmare to salvage.

Don’t want this to happen to you?

Make sure to use only suitable rice varieties for pilaf. I’ll share them with you below! 

Crowned Rice Variety for Pilaf: Basmati Rice 

Basmati rice in full image with wooden spoon.

Basmati rice is my go-to rice variety for pilaf.

Apart from suiting this dish incredibly well from an objective standpoint… 

It’s actually the preferred rice used for pilaf in traditional Iranian cuisine! 

Another layer of good news: it’s so easy to find in supermarkets and Asian grocery stores. 

And, once cooked, it fills every inch of your kitchen with a delightful nutty aroma.

Reasons to Use Basmati Rice for Pilaf

Pilaf in a bowl on the black table.

Texture: Basmati rice has a long, slender grain structure that gives it an airy, fluffy texture when cooked. Due to its low starch content, it’s also one of the least sticky rice varieties. In other words, you can say bye to any form of clumping issues.

Absorbs Flavors Well: Basmati absorbs flavor well without compromising its texture, which is why it’s often used in dishes where rice is cooked in flavorful stock, like pilaf. 

Light Fragrance: Honestly, Basmati’s aromatic properties sometimes conflict with certain recipes. But, for pilaf, its fragrant smell contributes to enhancing the flavor and aroma of the dish! 

Rice Runner-Ups for Pilaf

As home cooks, we always gotta have substitutions in mind in case the preferred ingredient for the meal of the day isn’t available. 

In pilaf’s case, I always use the two varieties below if Basmati rice isn’t on the shelves! 

Jasmine Rice 

Jasmine rice in full image.

This might be a personal preference, but I really love using aromatic rice for pilaf (it just adds another layer of complexity to the dish really well).

Hence, I use Jasmine rice whenever I can’t find Basmati rice.

Apart from being aromatic, it also has long grains, absorbs flavors well, and cooks just as quickly as Basmati rice.

I have to say, though, some people (like my dad) aren’t fond of Jasmine rice’s sweet, floral-like aroma for savory dishes.

So, it really just comes down to your personal preference.

American Long-Grain Rice

If you don’t like using rice with a distinct aroma, American long-grain rice is the best option for pilaf.

It’s the most common white rice in supermarkets, so availability will rarely be a problem when using this rice.

As a long-grain rice variety, it also produces fluffy and light pilaf that’s enjoyable to eat.

Long-grain white rice doesn’t really have its own flavor, though, so you may need to slightly modify the seasonings for pilaf if you opt for this rice.

Rice: The Key to Pilaf Perfection

Pilaf isn’t one of those dishes that would be horrendous if you don’t use certain rice varieties.

But why settle for mediocre rice delicacies when you can aim for perfection, right?

So, when you wish to elevate your pilaf, try to use Basmati, Jasmine, or American long-grain rice.

With these types of rice, you’re guaranteed to have irresistible pilaf that you can bring from the kitchen to the table in less than an hour! 

Yield: 6

Easiest One-pan Chicken Pilaf

Frying pan with pilaf in light blue background.

Incredibly easy chicken pilaf that you can whip up in under an hour!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 1 cup of basmati rice (uncooked)
  • 1 cup of frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of pepper
  • ¾ pound of pre-cooked chicken (diced)
  • 2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon of parsley (for garnish)


  1. Prepare and measure the ingredients.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. 
  3. Sauté the chopped onion until it’s translucent, for about 2 minutes. 
  4. Add the basmati rice to the skillet. Stir until it’s coated in oil and lightly roasted. 
  5. Season the rice mixture using salt and pepper. Make sure to stir well. 
  6. Incorporate the diced, pre-cooked chicken into the skillet. Mix thoroughly. 
  7. Pour the low-sodium chicken broth into the skillet and let it boil. 
  8. Once it boils, bring the heat to low, cover the skillet, and let it simmer for 10 minutes. 
  9. Stir in the frozen mixed vegetables into the skillet. Cover and continue cooking for 10 more minutes until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid. 
  10. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving. Garnish with parsley. 

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