This Cranberry Rice Pilaf is an easy side dish that’s perfect for the holiday season! The rice mixture combined with deliciously tart cranberries and fresh herbs is packed with so much flavor.
Cranberry Rice Pilaf Recipe
This is one of my favorite easy rice recipes. With fluffy cooked rice, sweet cranberries, and a nutty flavor from the pistachios, it’s perfect for any holiday menu. Delicious on its own or as a festive side dish, this homemade rice pilaf is one of those great recipes I rely on when I need to switch things up a little bit. It calls for simple ingredients you can pick up at the grocery store, and yet its flavor is unmatched. Inspired by Persian cuisine, this holiday meal is a good idea for any family gathering or Thanksgiving table. You can even make the rice in a rice cooker in a pinch!
How to Make Cranberry Rice Pilaf
Meanwhile, add two tablespoons of butter or ghee to a large skillet and turn on medium heat. Add six sliced shallots and one chopped yellow onion and sautée for 2-4 minutes or until softening. Add three cloves of minced garlic, ½ a teaspoon of ground turmeric, two teaspoons of sumac powder, 1 ½ cups of dried cranberries, and ½ a teaspoon of salt and mix well. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then add 3-4 tablespoons of water and ¼ cup of granulated sugar. Mix and continue to cook until the dried cranberries have absorbed all of the water (about 2-3 minutes). Turn off the heat and set that pan aside.
Next, boil water in a large saucepan or pot. Add your well-soaked rice, reduce heat to medium, and cook until soft but firm (this should take about six minutes). Drain the rice, rinse under cold water, and drain again.
Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pot, and add your drained rice back in with it.
Soak ¼ teaspoon of saffron in two tablespoons of hot water for about 10 minutes, and add the saffron water to the pot as well. Finally, add your cranberry/onion mixture. Cover the pot with a kitchen towel, then put the lid on top. Turn on high heat and cook for 3-4 minutes, then reduce to low heat and cook for another 10 minutes.
Finally, remove the pot from the heat, stir, and top with ⅓ cup of pistachios. Add salt to taste. Scoop each serving into a small bowl and dig in!
How to Serve
You can serve your cranberry rice pilaf immediately while it’s hot. Enjoy it as an easy side dish with your favorite protein or as a stand-alone meal. It’s a welcome addition to any Thanksgiving menu or other holiday dinner– its festive colors and flavors are perfect for that special time of year!
Storage and Freezing
Store this cranberry rice pilaf in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You may also freeze it for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating in the microwave or on the stovetop.
More Rice Dish Recipes
- Easy Red Beans and Rice
- Dirty Rice (Cajun Rice)
- Spanish Paella
- Easy Instant Pot Risotto with Butternut Squash
If you try making this Cranberry Rice Pilaf Recipe, please leave me a comment below! I always love to read your thoughts and feedback!
Cranberry Rice Pilaf
- 2 cups Basmati rice - rinsed well
- 2 tablespoon butter or ghee
- 6 shallots - sliced
- 1 yellow onion - chopped
- 3 cloves garlic - minced
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 teaspoon sumac powder
- 1.5 cups dried cranberries
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon saffron - soaked in 2 tablespoons hot water for 10 minutes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ⅓ cup salted pistachios - I forgot to add until halfway through eating. Add the nuts!
- Wash rice thoroughly in several changes of water and soak for at least 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add shallots and onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until they turn translucent and start to soften. Add the garlic, ground turmeric, sumac powder, cranberries and salt and mix well. Allow the cranberries to cook for a minute or two, then add the sugar and 3-4 tablespoons of water. Mix. Continue to cook the cranberries over medium heat until they have soaked up all the liquid, approximately 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the rice and cook over medium heat for approximately 6 minutes, or until rice is soft, but firm (you can test it by squishing a grain between your fingers). Drain the rice and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Drain again.
- Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into the base of the pot and add the rice. Pour the saffron water evenly over the rice. Top with the onion/cranberry mixture and wrap the lid of the pot with a thin kitchen towel and cover the pot.Turn the heat on high and cook for approximately 3-4 minutes, then turn the heat as low as it will go and continue to cook for an additional 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat, mix and stir in the pistachios. Add additional salt to taste. Serve warm.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)