Homemade Rice Pilaf (copycat)

homemade rice a roni
Homemade Rice Pilaf (copycat)

I don’t know about your household, but when we try and plan meals, it’s so easy to get caught up in the main dish / meat option and suddenly you think “What are we going to have WITH this?”

Back in the day, when hubby and I were first married, we often had pre-packaged rice and pasta dishes (and even a few of those “helper” boxed meals). Now that we’ve gotten use to eating a little healthier, we have a tough time eating them. They are loaded with way too much sodium! Not to mention that in the case of the rice dish I’m copying today, it also contains MSG (monosodium glutamate). We have a close family member who has issues with this substance and I’m also aware that eating it is said stimulates nerve cells, so eating it really isn’t good for anyone!

Does this take longer than the pre-packaged mix? Not really. The whole process takes about 5 minutes of prep and 20 minutes of cooking time.

With the pouch, you still are toasting the rice/pasta mixture so the only time you might be saving is in gathering the spice ingredients!

There are only 7 ingredients in the recipe (not counting the water) and they are all items that our household typically has on-hand, with the possible exception being the chicken broth.

So isn’t it worth it to try and make this yourself so you know what’s in it?

This is also a great starter recipe – one that you could add all sorts of additional ingredients to, maybe even to “sneak” some veggies in. One time I know we added diced carrots (add right away so they have time to cook!). This would also be fantastic with peas or broccoli for some color. And if you look carefully at the pictures for this recipe, this time we added pre-cooked and shredded chicken. Great for using up leftovers and taking for lunch the next day (if there are leftovers!).

Did you grow up eating Rice-a-Roni or other packaged side dishes? Any others that you would like me to “copy” into a homemade / healthier version? Comment below or send me a message!

Homemade Rice Pilaf

a "copycat" version of the Rice a Roni side dish
Course: Side Dish
Keyword: copycat


  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 oz dry spaghetti or vermicelli approx a small handful
  • 1 cup long grain rice not instant
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 1/2 cups water


  • Break the dry spaghetti into small into 1/2″ pieces; this should amount to approximately 1/2 cup. Place the spaghetti and butter in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until the pasta starts to turn a golden brown, stirring frequently. Watch carefully as this can burn quickly!
  • Place the rest of the ingredients in the saucepan and stir to combine. Reduce heat, cover and let cook for 15 minutes. You may want to check in the last minute in case all the liquid has cooked off.
  • Remove from heat, stir and fluff the rice mixture; serve immediately.

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