This cranberry almond rice pilaf recipe is an easy side dish that is perfect for the holidays! Made with shallots, garlic, carrots, thyme, the wild rice blend infuses with so much flavor while it cooks. This recipe is gluten-free and vegetarian.
Prepping side dishes ahead of time is such a great way to save time and reduce stress during the holidays. This cranberry almond rice pilaf is the perfect side dish to make ahead, just like this Instant Pot wild rice pilaf, or this Instant Pot mashed cauliflower!
Loaded with delicious veggies, tart cranberries, and topped with slivered almonds - this recipe is simple to prepare, but you are rewarded with big flavor! Serve this elegant side dish for Sunday night dinner, or for special occasions like Thanksgiving or Christmas.
While rice pilaf recipe may sound fancy, it only requires 10 minutes of prep time. The result is a savory rice dish that is full of garlic, onions, herbs, and cooked in broth to infuse even more flavor into the rice.
- Rice - we used a brown basmati and wild rice blend for this recipe, as it provides a nice mixture of textures and nutty flavor from the different types of rice. You can swap the type of rice for any long-grain white or brown rice, but make sure to adjust the amount of stock and the cooking time according to the package.
- Veggies - finly chopped carrots, shallots, and celery cook up nicely in this recipe. Shallots can be swapped for a white onion if you have trouble finding them.
- Slivered almonds - add nutty flavor that compliments the wild rice! The almonds can be toasted (if you have time), but you don't have to toast them. Toasting brings out the nutty flavor, and adds extra crunch.
- Cranberries - dried cranberries add a sweet, tart flavor to this recipe. You could swap for dried cherries, or dried blueberries if you prefer. Fresh pomegranates would also be great!
- Thyme - fresh thyme adds the best flavor; if you can’t get your hands on fresh thyme, try adding ½ teaspoon of dried thyme.
- Stock - you can use either chicken or vegetable stock for this recipe. If you happen to have homemade turkey stock stored away in the freezer, that would be delicious as well!
Step by step directions
Melt butter in a large 4-quart pot. Add the shallots and cook for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add the rice and cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until lightly golden and toasted.
Tip - check out my secrets for perfect, fluffy rice here!
Add carrots, celery, stock, salt, and thyme sprigs. Stir, then cover and cook for 45 minutes (or according to the package directions).
Allow to sit (covered) for another 10 minutes. If serving immediately, add the sliced almonds, cranberries, and parsley to garnish.
You could, but we highly recommend taking the extra step of sautéing the garlic and shallot in the butter, which is just easier in a pot.
Unfortunately, we found that the celery and carrot were overcooked when cooking this in the Instant Pot. If this doesn't bother you, go for it! Reduce the liquid: rice ratio to 1:1 and cook using the directions from this Instant Pot wild rice pilaf.
Absolutely! We would recommend a long-grain white or brown rice. Adjust the cooking liquid and cook time according to what the package says.
YES! We know how crazy things can get when you're preparing a full Thanksgiving meal, which is why we love that you can make recipes ahead of time, and reheat before serving! See storage and reheating section below for how to reheat.
Storage + reheating
Fridge - Allow to cool completely, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Reheat - Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Add pilaf to a casserole dish with a lid. Bake (covered) for 30 minutes, or until heated through. Stir in the almonds and parsley just before serving.
- rice- swap for any long grain rice, but adjust the cooking liquid and cook time according to the package
- cranberries- swap for pomegranates, chopped apple, dried cranberries or dried blueberries
- almonds- swap for walnuts, pecans, or sunflower seeds
- shallots- swap for regular brown or white onion
- stock- we recommend using stock because it really helps infuse flavor; feel free to swap for vegetable, chicken, or turkey stock
- butter- swap for olive oil or vegan butter
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 shallots finely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups brown & wild rice blend * see note 1
- 1 cup carrots chopped small
- 1 cup celery chopped small
- 3 cups stock chicken or vegetable
- ¾ teaspoons salt
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- ½ cup sliced almonds toasted if you have time
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley to garnish
- Sauté - Melt butter in a large 4-quart pot. Add the shallots and cook for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Toast rice - Add the rice and cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until lightly golden and toasted.
- Combine - Add carrots, celery, stock, salt, and thyme sprigs. Stir, then cover and cook for 45 minutes (or according to the package directions).
- Rest - Allow to sit (covered) for another 10 minutes. If serving immediately, add the sliced almonds, cranberries, and parsley to garnish.
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