Seasoned Rice Pilaf or Rice-a-Roni Without the Box

Boxed rice mixes are a thing of the past, especially when you know how to make a healthier, cheaper, and tastier seasoned rice pilaf yourself. Try this homemade rice-a-roni recipe today.

Seasoned Rice Pilaf or Rice-a-Roni Without the Box

Growing up, I really loved the boxed rice and pasta pilaf known as “the San Francisco treat”. Rice-a-Roni was a staple in our home, my dad stocking up on boxes and boxes of chicken and beef flavor when they went on sale. Without fail, it served as a side dish to our skillet pork chops or baked chicken.

Sometime, in my newlywed years, I learned how to make Rice Pilaf. It was a game changer. Who knew that the boxed rice mixes were really simple pilafs in disguise? And that you could make it yourself?! Madison Avenue guarded this well-kept secret from us unsuspecting children of the 80s whose moms worked and whose home economics funding got cut.

What a revelation!

Seasoned Rice Pilaf or Rice-a-Roni Without the Box

Making seasoned rice pilaf yourself.

I’ve been making Simple Rice Pilaf for years. Adapting it toward the rice and ‘roni style involved upping the seasonings and throwing in some orzo.

That was easy.

Making it cheaper.

I used white rice for this recipe which I buy for 50 cents a pound in the ginormous bags. The homemade chicken broth was “free”. The seasonings, orzo, and butter, were in pretty minimal amounts. I’d say we made three times the amount of a boxed variety for about half the price.

Seasoned Rice Pilaf or Rice-a-Roni Without the Box

Tools I Use to Make This Recipe:

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diy-convenience-150This is part of the DIY Convenience Foods series.

Other easy rice dishes
Simple Rice Pilaf
Lemon and Herb Rice Pilaf
Baked Rice with Lemon and Thyme
Mexican Rice

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  1. Thoughts on using brown rice?

  2. Amanda Yoder says:

    How could you sub out the orzo to make this gluten free?

  3. I’m liking your DIY series. :) Gonna have to try this one out!

  4. I make brown rice with almost dinner. This is a GREAT way to mix it up a bit. I’m prone to burning rice so I used my rice cooker. After sautéing the rice and orzo, I simply added it to my rice cooker. Instead of using chicken broth, I added more water and chicken bullion instead. It turned out GREAT.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  5. another thought on making it gluten free is to just break gluten free spaghetti into small pieces and substitute it for the orzo. At least, that’s what I’m going to try.

  6. Hi Jessica! Do you think it would work to freeze this ride if I doubled the recipe?

  7. Possibly a stupid question…but are the measurements for fresh herbs or dried?

  8. This is the BEST rice ever! I added a little garlic powder and green onions to the original recipe and had to make a second batch. It’s also super easy to adapt a little for different meals (minced garlic and ginger for stir fry and curry powder and peas for Indian, etc.). Thank you so much for posting this!!!

  9. In the very first photo…what did you make to have with the rice? It looks really good!

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