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Instant Pot Rice Pilaf

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Treat your taste buds with the Instant Pot Rice Pilaf, which will delight you and your guests with aromatic spices, enhancing the perfection of the cooked rice.

Instant pot rice pilaf in a bowl, garnished with cilantro with Limes and instant pot on the side.

This recipe is perfect for intimate family dinner gatherings and makes a great addition to the table any day of the year. Make your meal a hearty one by serving this rice along with Meatballs and Gravy and an eye-catching Air Fryer Blooming Onion.

Rice is always a staple side dish in Asian cuisine, and no doubt, this variation is one of the best recipes to make!

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Do I need a rice cooker to cook the perfect rice?

Although a rice cooker is an appliance you’ll almost always find in Asian households, you don’t necessarily need it to cook perfect rice. The instant pot has long been proven to cook rice just as efficiently as rice cookers do, with the added benefit of cooking faster.

Not to mention, while rice cookers are specifically just designed for cooking rice, instant pots are highly versatile cooking tools that can be used for cooking stews, pasta, meat, and plenty of one-pot meals on top of rice.


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❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe

With its zesty, aromatic, and teeming flavors, you’ll easily fall in love with this instant pot rice pilaf recipe. Be ready, though, as there are more reasons to love this easy side dish!

  • It’s so easy to prepare. Thanks to the super simple and convenient instant pot, you only need to do a few steps, and your dish will be cooked in minutes.
  • This easy recipe is always dependable. By using an instant pot that cooks uniformly every single time, you don’t ever need to worry about serving undercooked rice! 
  • This recipe can be paired with almost anything. It’s an incredibly versatile side dish that pairs beautifully with a wide range of main courses, from grilled meats to seafood, making for a hearty and fulfilling meal.

If you love Instant Pot rice recipes that make for an easy dinner, you may want to try this Instant Pot Jambalaya the next time you’re having a meal.

🥘 Ingredients

A list of ingredients for Instant Pot Rice Pilaf.

Here are the necessary ingredients you need to prepare your very own rice pilaf in the instant pot.

  • Parboiled rice: This star ingredient is known for being partially cooked before milling. You can pick any rice variant you prefer for this recipe.
  • Cilantro: This famous herb delivers a burst of color and a fragrant aroma to the pilaf. 
  • Limes: This kitchen staple will deliver a citrus burst to the pilaf, balancing the richness of the rice and enhancing the overall flavor profile. 
  • Garlic powder: Garlic powder provides depth and a gentle savory note to the rice.

See recipe card for complete list of ingredients and quantities.

🔀 Substitutions

Rice: If you don’t have long-grain white rice, you may use brown rice, basmati rice, or jasmine rice. Pick whatever suits your palate but be aware that they have varying cooking times.

Fresh Cilantro: If you prefer to cook rice pilaf with a milder herb flavor, switch out cilantro with parsley or basil.

Limes: If you’ve run out of limes, switch them out with lemons or key limes to add that citrus burst. Use a 1:1 amount when switching limes out since they have the same citrus flavor level.

🌈 Variations / Options / Add-Ins

Prepare your mouth for some indulgent variations of this pressure cooker rice pilaf recipe.

  • Protein Packed: Switch out the water with chicken broth to make instant pot rice that’s meatier in flavor. You may also add cooked diced chicken, shrimp, or chickpeas to ensure you get that daily dose of protein in this meal.
  • Vegetable Variety: Turn the instant pot recipe into something more nutritious by adding in more veggies. Switch out the water with some vegetable broth, and add sauteed vegetables like carrots and peas into the rice before cooking.
  • Spicy Kick: This easy and delicious twist adds a kick by just adding finely chopped jalapeños to the rice in the instant pot before cooking. The heat will complement the zesty lime and aromatic cilantro.

Do you love recipes that elevate plain white rice into something more healthy and enjoyable? Then, you definitely would like this Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice.

🥄 Equipment Needed / Helpful Tools

All of the equipment you need to cook the perfect rice pilaf are common cooking tools. Just bring these specific ones out so you can cook faster later.

  • Measuring cups and spoons: Accurate measurements will ensure that you’ll get perfectly cooked rice every time without the dish being soggy or undercooked.
  • Fork or spatula: A big fork or spatula is handy for stirring the ingredients in the instant pot. You’ll also need them to fluff the rice once it’s done cooking.
  • Citrus juicer or reamer: This will come in handy when extracting the juice from the limes without wasting a drop.

🔪 How to Make Instant Pot Rice Pilaf

Although this recipe requires several steps, trust me, the pressure cooker will do the heavy cooking, and you’ll only need several minutes of direct participation.

Step 1: Prepare the cilantro

Fold 5-7 pieces of cilantro sprig into themselves to make a clump. Chop the stems and leaves together finely.

A cutting board with a knife and fresh cilantro.

Step 2: Mix the ingredients

Gather all the remaining ingredients needed for instant pot rice pilaf. Add the rice, two lime wedges, two tablespoons of chopped cilantro, water, and spices into the pot. Stir them all together so the flavor is evenly distributed. 

An Instant Pot filled with rice and other ingredients creating a tasty rice dish.

Reminder: Parboiled rice needs a 1:1 water ratio.

Step 3: Pressure cook

Place the lid on the instant pot and seal the pressure valve. Cook the rice on high pressure for 12 minutes or use the rice setting. Once done, press the quick-release button.

Step 4: Add additional flavors

Remove the lid and add more lime juice. Fluff the rice to release the trapped heat and aroma inside.

Cooked rice pilaf in an instant pot on a wooden table.

Step 5: Don’t forget the final touches

Place the rice pilaf on your plate with lime wedges and garnish it with chopped cilantro. Serve and enjoy.

A delicious Instant Pot Rice Pilaf served in a bowl.

❓ Recipe FAQs

Can I make Instant Pot Rice Pilar healthier by adding protein?

Absolutely! You can easily turn this recipe into a complete meal by adding protein. A convenient option that I recommend is using store-bought rotisserie chicken. You can chop and stir it into the rice at the end. Surely, you’ll make this recipe a more hearty meal.

Are there other vegetables I can add to this recipe?

Yes, you can add various vegetables that aren’t mentioned in this recipe. Some excellent choices include broccoli, corn, peas, yellow onion, zucchini, and more. Don’t hesitate to get creative with your vegetable choices to suit your taste!

Can I freeze Instant Pot Rice Pilaf for later use?

Certainly! You can freeze this recipe for later use by placing your leftover Rice Pilaf in freezer bags. Just remember to remove any excess air to avoid freezer burn and keep the bag sealed tightly. When frozen, this rice recipe will remain good for up to 2 months.

🙏 Pairing

These are my favorite dishes to serve with Instant Pot Rice Pilaf:

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📋 Recipe

Mexican rice with Instant Pot Rice Pilaf, served in a white bowl garnished with limes and cilantro.

Instant Pot Rice Pilaf

Corinne Schmitt
Savor the rich flavor of Instant Pot Rice Pilaf, an effortless side dish recipe that will enhance your dinner on a busy weeknight.
5 from 62 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 17 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Calories 237 kcal


  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Fork or spatula
  • Citrus juicer or reamer


  • 2 cups parboiled rice
  • 2 cups water
  • fresh cilantro
  • 2 limes
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


  • Prepare 5-7 sprigs of cilantro. Fold them to make a clump and chop finely. The stems and leaves should be chopped altogether, as most of the flavor is in the stems.
  • Add the rice, two wedges of lime, water, 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro, and spices to the instant pot. For parboiled rice, the ratio of water is 1:1. Stir the ingredients.
  • Carefully seal the lid and pressure valve. Cook on high for 12 minutes or use the rice setting.
  • Quick release when the time is up.
  • Squeeze the juice of the remaining lime on top of the cooked rice and fluff it.
  • Serve this rice pilaf with chopped cilantro and some lime wedges as a garnish.


Calories: 237kcalCarbohydrates: 53gProtein: 5gFat: 0.5gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 202mgPotassium: 112mgFiber: 2gSugar: 0.5gVitamin A: 12IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 29mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

🛑 Food safety

We sometimes take for granted that we have years (or decades) of cooking experience, that the average visitor may not. So, here are some safety tips when using an instant pot.

  • Move your body away from the escaping steam. Make sure that you’re not directly above the Instant Pot when it’s releasing Steam, especially when it’s set to quick release.
  • Never leave your pressure cooker unsupervised. It’s tempting to leave the house while it’s cooking, but it’s safer to be there to deal with any malfunctions.

See more guidelines at USDA.gov.

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