Rice Pilaf Recipe with Orzo

Easy to make, delicious for your guests

Our Rice Pilaf Recipe is fairly fool-proof, simple to prepare ahead of time and can be served with so many foods.

Light, fluffy, nicely seasoned rice and orzo pasta, baked with vegetable – easy to offer to your guests.

The procedure will allow you to do the preparation ahead, then bake and serve the easy way.

Very inexpensive, Rice Pilaf is a good way to contain your costs and still offer something really special.

We’re showing you our most popular Pilaf, but there are lots of cool things to add in – read on and see how well these ideas will work for you.


This recipe will feed 50 people if you are you are serving appetizers, dinners, salads, etc. Remember that your guests are going to eat a little over a pound of food per person for dinner. Read about Party Food Quantities and how to plan for the right amounts.

Shopping List for 50 People:

___5 pounds (80 ounces) of rice. We use a mixture of white rice, brown rice and wild rice and black wild rice, which gives color, texture and taste.

___1 small box (usually 1 pound) of Orzo pasta

___1 stick of margarine (not butter)

___4 – soup size cans of chicken stock. We use either chicken stock or vegetable stock. Never use bullion cubes. Ever.

___Small amount of oil for frying.

___2 small yellow onions

___2 small carrots

___2 disposable aluminum pans 12 ¾” x 10” x 2 ½”


___1 bunch of fresh curly parsley


On the Day of the Party:

Peel and cut the onion into very small pieces, same with the carrot.

In a large frying pan, add a couple of tablespoons of oil. Fry the onions and carrots until browned. Remove from frying pan and set aside.

Wipe the hot frying pan with a paper towel and return it to the stove. Add 1 stick (1/4 pound) of margarine and get it hot on high heat.

Then pour in the Orzo pasta, as much of the box as you can fit – all is fine. On high heat, stir frequently and cook until the Orzo is a golden brown color. Remove from heat and set aside.

Lay out your aluminum disposable pans, spray them very well with vegetable oil spray – bottom and especially the sides.

OK- so we’re going to bake the rice, not boil. Why?, it’s nearly fool-proof if you follow our method and it’s easy to make. No need to mess with it. In fact, we bet you’ll never cook it on the stove again. Too hard. Use the Ask-a-Caterer form below and to get our simple method for four people. So easy!

IMPORTANT: Careful here – you want one part solids to two parts liquids. Read the next TIP carefully:

TIP: The secret to baking perfect rice pilaf is having the correct amount of solids (rice, orzo and veggies) to the amount of liquids (water, oil) - which is two parts water to one part rice, by volume not weight.

We use a bowl to measure the dry rice, cooked orzo pasta and cooked vegetables. Whatever that measures, we double it with stock and water.

Pour the uncooked rice, half the sautéed vegetables and the browned orzo pasta (including the margarine it cooked in) into a bowl. Stir it all together. Level it off so it is flat, then make a mark on the bowl so you know just how much you have.

The orzo pasta is shown in this pic below. We fried it first, (before it was baked with the rice,) for color and for taste. It highlights the dish and adds a distinctive flavor. TIP: If you are adding vegetables, fruits or nuts to your Rice Pilaf, add them now. Consider them a part of your solids.

Now pour the rice mixture into one of your disposable pans, being very careful to put the same amount of the dry mix into each pan. Use a scale of you have one, or measure the amount in another bowl to make sure the amount is the same. Both pans need to have the same amounts.

Using your marked pitcher or bowl, add two cans of your chicken stock. Add enough water to equal your mark. Pour this liquid into one of the disposable pans. Then, do it again, the same way, adding it to the other pan.

TIP: If you want a more seasoned rice, use all stock instead of water. If you are using fruit, such as apple, use apple juice with the stock, or orange juice with oranges, peanut oil with nuts, etc. You can add many flavorful things with rice, as long as you keep the water to rice (liquid to solid) ratio at 2:1.

Cover each pans with two layers of aluminum foil shiny side up and set aside. You can let them stand, waiting to go into the oven, for up to three hours.

Preheat your oven to 400^F. Keep the rice tightly covered with aluminum foil and bake for 1.5 hours. The actual time might be more or less depending on your oven, the type of rice, what else is in the oven, and more. Rice is done when the water is completely absorbed.

When you remove the rice from the oven, keep it covered tightly with foil and place into your chafing dish.

Presentation: Your Eyes Eat First

Once the Rice Pilaf is in the Chafing Dish, give it a good stir and “fluff it up.”

Check out our section on Chafing Dishes and Food Warmers


Garnish the rice some bunches of fresh parsley. You may also want to garnish it with what it contains. For example, lay out some decorative walnut halves on your Walnut Rice Pilaf, or spread some orange slices on your Mandarin Orange Rice Pilaf. These beautiful garnishes also give your guests clue of what the rice contains.


Rice does not freeze very well. However it will last in the fridge for several days. Enjoy as you can!

How about some more Veggies?

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Questions about Rice Pilaf? Have an idea for some other ingredients and wanna run them by us? Or do you need another idea for your party? Use the form below to ask us about quantities, substitutions, whatever. We're here to help. Ask a Caterer is free:

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