Perfect Basmati Rice Pilaf

  • Author: Dana
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 45
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6 or more servings 1x


  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter or vegan butter
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional:
    • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, almonds or pecans
    • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
    • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley or mint


  1. In a heavy stockpot with a lid, bring 8 cups of water to boil. Stir in rice, salt and return to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes (stirring a few times), then drain rice into a fine mesh colander.
  2. Return the same pot to stove and melt butter over medium heat. Carefully add drained rice to the pot. Cover pot with a clean kitchen towel, then put on the lid. Fold towel over edges of the lid and secure with a rubber band or clip so it doesn’t burn.
  3. Cook rice over lowest possible heat for 30-35 minutes until rice is tender and forms a golden brown crust on the bottom of pot. 
  4. Off heat, use a rubber spatula to carefully stir the crusty bits into the cooked rice. Taste, add in additional salt if you like and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. 
  5. You can make this rice a day or two before you want to serve it.  Reserve some plain rice for other uses, like in meatballs, a casserole or a cold salad. Reheat plain rice (covered, with a little water added, over medium heat), then add in toasted pine nuts and defrosted peas. Off heat and just before serving, sprinkle rice with optional chopped parsley or mint.


Adapted from Ina Garten’s Crusty Basmati Rice in Foolproof: Recipes You can Trust.