Authentic Armenian Rice Pilaf Recipe

Authentic Armenian Rice Pilaf Recipe

Embark on a culinary adventure with this traditional Armenian-style rice pilaf. This dish combines tender rice and golden pasta, toasted to perfection in butter and simmered in rich chicken stock. It’s the ideal accompaniment to any meal, bringing a touch of Armenia to your table.

Rice pilaf holds a special place in Armenian diaspora cuisine. While rice wasn’t common in Eastern Armenia (now the Armenian Republic), it became a staple for Western Armenian emigrants. This dish is so beloved that it often appears at gatherings regardless of the main course. Whether it’s a holiday feast or a simple family dinner, Armenian rice pilaf adds warmth and comfort to any occasion.

You might be familiar with boxed rice pilaf mixes, but nothing compares to the homemade version. This recipe delivers superior flavor and texture, and it’s surprisingly simple to prepare. In just over 30 minutes, you’ll have a sumptuous side dish that far outshines its humble ingredients.

The magic of this pilaf lies in its preparation. We start by rinsing the rice to remove excess starch. Then, butter is melted in a saucepan, and pasta is added to toast until golden brown. This crucial step, along with browning the butter solids, creates the dish’s signature nutty, toasty flavor. The rice joins the party, getting a brief butter bath before chicken stock, salt, and pepper are added. After a short simmer and a steaming period (aided by a towel to absorb excess moisture), you’re left with fluffy, flavorful pilaf that’s sure to impress.

This recipe includes a few refinements to ensure perfect results every time. We use a 2:1 ratio of stock to rice for ideal consistency, and a quick hot water soak for the rice ensures even cooking. While some recipes suggest pre-toasting the pasta, we find the stovetop method delivers the best flavor with minimal extra effort.

Mastering the Art of Armenian Rice Pilaf

While this recipe focuses on rice, it’s worth noting that Armenians also enjoy making pilaf with bulgur. The good news is that you can easily swap bulgur for rice in this recipe, volume for volume. Unlike rice, bulgur doesn’t need pre-soaking – just a quick rinse will do. Medium or coarse bulgur works best and is often easier to find in supermarkets.

Authentic Armenian Rice Pilaf


  • 1 cup (185g) long-grain white rice
  • 3 tablespoons (42g) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup (2 ounces; 57g) thin pasta (such as vermicelli or fine spaghetti), broken into 1-inch pieces, or 1/2 cup of small, non-tubular pasta, like orzo
  • 2 cups (480ml) homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon (3g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; if using table salt use half as much by volume or same weight
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley or dill (or a combination), optional, divided


  1. Begin by placing the rice in a medium bowl. Rinse it with hot tap water, stirring gently, until the water runs clear (about 30 seconds). Cover the rice with fresh hot tap water and let it soak for 10 minutes. After soaking, drain the rice thoroughly using a fine-mesh strainer and discard the soaking water.
  2. In a 3-quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the pasta and cook, stirring frequently, until it reaches a beautiful golden brown color (4 to 6 minutes). Now, add the drained rice and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the edges of the rice grains become translucent. Pour in the chicken stock, salt, and pepper, then increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and let it simmer until all the liquid is absorbed (about 10 minutes).
  3. After cooking, remove the pan from the heat. Take off the lid and place a folded dish towel over the pot, then put the lid back on. Let the pilaf rest for 10 minutes – this allows the towel to absorb excess steam, resulting in perfectly fluffy rice. Using a fork, gently fluff the rice and stir in half of the parsley or dill (if using). Transfer your aromatic pilaf to a serving dish, garnish with the remaining herbs, and serve your delicious creation.


Feel free to double the recipe if you’re serving a larger crowd or want leftovers.

For a bulgur variation, substitute 1 cup (175g) of rinsed and drained bulgur for the rice. Skip the soaking step and add the bulgur directly to the toasted pasta. Cook until the sizzling subsides (about 3 minutes) before adding the remaining ingredients.

Make-Ahead and Storage

Both rice and bulgur pilaf can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
132 Calories
6g Fat
16g Carbs
3g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 132
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 15mg 5%
Sodium 381mg 17%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 1mg 7%
Calcium 15mg 1%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 109mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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