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Lemon rice pilaf and chicken piccata on a platter.

Lemon Rice Pilaf

Lemon Rice Pilaf is so fluffy, flavorful, and delicious. This easy recipe simmers white rice with onions, broth, and lots of lemon for a perfect foundation under juicy chicken kabobs, gyros, or shrimp skewers.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Greek
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 servings (1-cup each)
Calories 256kcal



  • In a medium saucepan, heat clarified butter or olive oil until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. 
  • Stir in rice and cook, stirring frequently, until rice is lightly browned, about 7 to 10 minutes.  
  • Stir in garlic and lemon zest until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add lemon juice, broth, bay leaf, and salt, and bring to boil. 
  • Cover, reduce heat, and cook until rice is tender and all the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 to 17 minutes. Remove bay leaf and fluff with a fork.



  1. Rice: Any long grain rice works. I love using a fragrant white rice, like basmati or jasmine. Stay away from short grain rice, which can get too glutinous and stick together. If you'd rather make a brown rice pilaf, just adjust your cooking time according to the cooking instructions for the variety of rice you're using. Brown rice takes considerably longer to cook.
  2. Lemon juice and zest: The key to the lovely brightness in this dish. Zest your lemon first, then juice it.
  3. Yield: This recipe makes 4 cups of Lemon Rice Pilaf.
  4. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  5. Freezer: Cooked rice freezes like a dream! Cool, divide into portions, and add to freezer-safe containers. Label, date, and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or defrost in the microwave.


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 256kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 510mg | Potassium: 159mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 1mg