Turkish Rice Pilaf with Orzo Recipe (2024)

Published: · Modified: by Shadi HasanzadeNemati · This post may contain affiliate links .

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Turkish rice pilaf with orzo is a simple side dish you can serve with almost anything. It calls for only 4 ingredients and is ready in 30 minutes.

Turkish Rice Pilaf with Orzo Recipe (1)

I'm a rice lover and can have rice in any shape or form. From Persian rice and tahdig and Mujadara to Lebanese rice with vermicelli, I love serving rice as a side dish. This Turkish rice pilaf recipe is one of my favorites that I had many times when I was living in Istanbul. It calls for only 4 ingredients and with the addition of toasted orzo, this is one special recipe! I love orzo in general, it's very versatile and you can use it in different dishes such as Greek lemon chicken orzo soup. This rice pilaf recipe is super simple, yet unbelievably satisfying.

Table Of Contents:
  • What is rice pilaf?
  • Why this recipe works
  • Ingredients
  • Instructions
  • Serving suggestions
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Notes and tips
  • More Turkish recipes
  • Step-by-Step Recipe

What is rice pilaf?

Rice pilaf, also know as pilav, polao, pilau and polo in basically rice cooked in liquid (usually water or broth) that has a fluffy texture and served as a side or a main dish. Pilaf can be made with simple white rice or with additions of spices and flavorful broth.

Many cuisines including Persian, Middle Eastern, Turkish, Cypriot, Greek and Spanish offer some kind of pilaf that are delicious and specific to the region and flavors of that cuisine. Today I'm going to show you how to make Turkish rice pilaf with orzo, also known as Arpa Şehriyeli Pirinç Pilavı, an easy recipe with so much flavor and perfect side to many dishes.

Turkish Rice Pilaf with Orzo Recipe (2)

Why this recipe works

If you've never tried cooking rice with orzo, then you're in for a treat. The orzo is toasted until golden brown and then will cook with the rice until fluffy and nice. This is a one pot dish that's so easy to make and takes about 30 minutes to put together. Best part is that you can serve it with many dishes including stews and kebabs. We'll talk more about that below!

Ingredients

Rice

I use short grain rice such as jasmine rice for this recipe. If you have access to a Mediterranean or Turkish shop, opt forbaldorice as it has the perfect texture. If using short grain rice such as baldo or jasmine, it's best to soak it in water for one hour to get rid of excess starch.

Orzo

Also known as arpa in Turkish, orzo is basically a kind of pasta that resembles the shape of a rice grain. When toasted, orzo adds a nice nutty flavor to the rice.

Extra virgin olive oil

Nothing beats high quality olive oil when it comes to cooking Mediterranean dishes. Some suggest using butter for this recipe, but I think olive oil adds so much more flavor.

Water and salt

In the classic rice pilaf with orzo, the only spice used is salt because this dish is usually served on the side of very flavorful mains. As for the water, make sure you're not using too much or your rice will turn out to be mushy and not fluffy.

Instructions

  • Soak the rice in water for one hour before you start cooking. Rinse the rice a few times, drain the and set it aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat and sauté the orzo until toasted and golden brown.
Turkish Rice Pilaf with Orzo Recipe (3)
  • Drain the rice and add it to the orzo. Sauté for another 5 minutes.
  • Add salt and water, bring to boil and lower the heat. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  • Uncover and wrap the lid in a clean kitchen towel. Place it back on the pot and cook for another 10 minutes.
  • Turn the heat off.Do not take the lid off.Let the rice sit for 10 minutes.
  • Uncover and fluff using a fork.
Turkish Rice Pilaf with Orzo Recipe (4)

Serving suggestions

There are so many dishes you can serve with this Turkish rice pilaf with orzo. Some of my favorites are Turkish chicken stew, ground beef stew, Karniyarik (Turkish stuffed eggplant), Turkish style baked cod and soutzoukakia.

You can also serve it along side sumac onions with grilled dishes such as zaatar chicken, beef shish kabob or spatchco*ck chicken.

Frequently asked questions

Can I double this recipe?

You can easily double and triple this recipe. Simply keep in mind that you need to multiply all the ingredients including water and the cooking time might be longer.

Why is my rice pilaf sticky?

Turkish rice pilaf with orzo will be a little sticky however you should still be able to fluff it. If the rice is too sticky, it could be that too much water is used or the rice had too much starch.

Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

Yes, you can make this dish up to 24 hours in advance in simply heat it when you're ready to serve.

What type of cookware should I use for this recipe?

A non stick shallow pan works well for this recipe however I've tried this recipe with a Dutch oven and have gotten very good results.

Can I use other types of rice to make pilaf?

For Turkish pilaf you need short or medium grain rice. Baldo rice is widely used in Turkey however if you cannot find it, you can use jasmine, alborio or calrose.

Notes and tips

  • Give it more flavor:Use chicken or vegetable stock instead of water if you like your rice pilaf to be richer.
  • Add vegetables:You can add diced carrots, peas or corn to the rice with water and cook.
  • Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  • Spice it up:Add allspice, nutmeg, paprika and black pepper for extra flavor.
  • Squeezing fresh lemon on the rice pilaf before serving gives it such bright flavor.
Turkish Rice Pilaf with Orzo Recipe (5)

More Turkish recipes

  • Turkish Delight Recipe (Lokum)
  • Creamy Cucumber Salad With Yogurt
  • Mahalabia - Middle Eastern Milk Pudding
  • Baklava Recipe

Did you make this recipe? I'd love to hear about it! Please comment and leave a 5-star🌟 rating below. You can also follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or subscribe to our newsletter to get a free e-Cookbook!

Step-by-Step Recipe

Turkish Rice Pilaf with Orzo Recipe (10)

Turkish Rice Pilaf with Orzo Recipe

Shadi HasanzadeNemati

Turkish rice pilaf with orzo is a simple side dish you can serve with almost anything. It calls for only 4 ingredients and is ready in 30 minutes.

4.79 from 14 votes

Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Prep Time 5 minutes mins

Cook Time 30 minutes mins

Total Time 35 minutes mins

Course Side Dish

Cuisine Turkish

Servings 4

Calories 469 kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Jasmine rice
  • ½ cup orzo
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups water

Instructions

  • Soak the rice in water for one hour before you start cooking to get rid of the excess starch.

  • When you're ready to cook, rinse the rice a few times, drain and set aside.

  • Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the orzo and cook over medium heat for a few minutes until golden brown and toasted.

  • Add the rice and sauté for a few minutes, there is not need for the rice to change color.

  • Add in the salt and water. Increase the heat to medium high and bring it to a boil.

  • Lower the heat to medium low, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

  • Uncover, wrap the lid in a kitchen towel and place it back on the pot. Cook for another 10 minutes.

  • Turn the heat off and let it sit for 15 minutes.

  • Fluff rice pilaf with orzo using a fork and serve with your favorite main dish.

Notes

  • Use chicken or vegetable stock instead of water if you like your rice pilaf to be richer.
  • You can add diced carrots, peas or corn to the rice with the water and cook.
  • Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  • Add allspice, nutmeg, paprika and black pepper for extra flavor.
  • Squeezing fresh lemon on the rice pilaf before serving gives it such bright flavor.

Nutrition

Calories: 469kcalCarbohydrates: 88gProtein: 9gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 599mgPotassium: 148mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gCalcium: 37mgIron: 1mg

Did you make this recipe? Let us know how it was by leaving a comment and a 5-star review!

More Turkish Recipes

  • Turkish Sauteed Spinach Recipe
  • Turkish Braised Leeks Recipe (Zeytinyağlı Pırasa)
  • Turkish Smoky Eggplant Salad Recipe
  • Revani Cake (Turkish Semolina Cake)

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Rygen B Navarro

    Turkish Rice Pilaf with Orzo Recipe (15)
    Thanks for the recipe on how to cook pilaf I wanna try to cook it!

    Reply

  2. Shireen

    Is there another name for orzo. What is it. I've never heard of it. Please forgive my ignorance. Thank you for sharing this recipe

    Reply

    • Shadi HasanzadeNemati

      Some stores might sell it under the name "Arpa Sehriye" but you should be able to find orzo in the pasta section.

      Reply

  3. Danni

    Turkish Rice Pilaf with Orzo Recipe (16)
    I am always looking for new ways to use orzo and this looks delicious. I can't wait to give it a try.

    Reply

    • Shadi HasanzadeNemati

      Hope you enjoy it!

      Reply

  4. rika

    Turkish Rice Pilaf with Orzo Recipe (17)
    I love Jasmine rice and pilaf! This would the perfect addition to my curry.

    Reply

    • Shadi HasanzadeNemati

      Yes! So easy to make!

      Reply

  5. Heather Johnson

    Turkish Rice Pilaf with Orzo Recipe (18)
    i love orzo! how did you get it in that shape?

    Reply

    • Shadi HasanzadeNemati

      It filled a bowl with the rice pilaf and flipped it on a plate! So fun!

      Reply

      • Zahraa

        Delicious! Do know how big that bowl is or how much fills it?

      • Shadi HasanzadeNemati

        It's about 1 to 1 1/2 cup 🙂

  6. Jo

    Turkish Rice Pilaf with Orzo Recipe (19)
    This Turkish Rice is so good I made it for lunch 2 days in a row!

    Reply

  7. Beth

    Turkish Rice Pilaf with Orzo Recipe (20)
    Rice pilaf is a favorite of mine so this could be a meal for me and not just a side dish! Yum!

    Reply

  8. Eva

    Turkish Rice Pilaf with Orzo Recipe (21)
    This is the first time i could make this dish work! I don't know where it went wrong with other recipes i tried, but yours made it taste just like the Persian restaurant were love. Thank you! 🙏

    Reply

    • Shadi HasanzadeNemati

      Hi Eva! Thank you for your comment, happy to know you like this recipe!

      Reply

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Turkish Rice Pilaf with Orzo Recipe (2024)

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