Rice Pilaf Pantry Packs (Near East Copycat)

This is MY version of the popular Near East® Rice Pilaf which, in my opinion, has the best flavor. The problem is that it is so high in sodium that I cannot eat it!

Rice Pilaf is typically a blend of rice, spices, and orzo pasta. Pilafs can also be made into meals as opposed to side dishes with the simple addition of other ingredients such as other grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables, meat, and/or seafood — the variations are as endless as your creativity!

OrzoOrzo is a form of short-cut pasta, shaped like a large grain of rice. It can be served alone, as a soup accompaniment, as part of a salad or pilaf or giouvetsi or baked in a casserole. In fact, “orzo” means “barley” in Italian, even though the pasta most commonly is made from wheat semolina flour, not from barley.

Either way, the results wouldn’t suit someone who has celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity — both wheat and barley are gluten grains, and off-limits on the gluten-free diet. However, they DO make gluten-free orzo usually made from short grain brown rice. If you use the gluten-free orzo, please remember to adjust your cooking times accordingly.


Homemade Rice Pilaf
(Near East Copycat)

Seasoning Mix

Makes 4 batches (12 tablespoons or 3/4 cup)

1/2 cup chicken bouillon granules
3 tablespoons dried, chopped onion or onion flakes
3/4  teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon dried lemon zest or lemon powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


  1. Combine in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Store in an airtight container in a dry, cool, and dark place.
  2. This makes 4 batches of seasoning mix for the rice packets.
  3. If stored properly, this Seasoning Mix will last 1 year. If vacuum sealed, it will be good for up to 5 years.

To Make Pantry Pack

2/3 cup parboiled long grain rice
1/3 cup orzo pasta (macaroni product made from wheat flour)
3 tablespoons Seasoning Mix


  1. You will need 1 container for this Pantry Pack. This easily fits into a pint Mason jar or a 1-pint Food Saver-type bag.
  2. Measure all ingredients into jar or bag making sure to put the seasoning mix in FIRST.
  3. Seal, label, and date your jar/bag with the instructions for use as below.
  4. If stored properly, this Pantry Pack will last 1 year. If vacuum sealed, it will be good for up to 5 years.

To Prepare Rice Pilaf

Rice Pilaf2Makes 4-6 servings

2 cups water
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 Rice Pilaf Pantry Pack
Salt to taste (optional)


  1. Bring broth, water, and butter/olive oil to boil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Add Pantry Pack and return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes, or until water is absorbed.
  3. Fluff with a fork, salt if necessary, and serve.

Microwave Directions

  1. In round 2-quart microwaveable glass casserole, combine Pantry Pack, 2-1/2 cups water and 1-1/2 tablespoons butter or olive oil.
  2. Cover, microwave at HIGH 18 to 21 minutes or until most of water is absorbed.
  3. Let stand about 5 minutes or until all water is absorbed.
  4. Fluff pilaf lightly with fork before serving.

* Microwave ovens may vary. Adjust times as needed.

Lower Fat Rice Pilaf

Follow the above preparation directions, except omit butter/olive oil and add additional 3 tablespoons water.

Gluten-Free Rice Pilaf

Use Gluten-Free Orzo Pasta. Viviano® makes a really nice one and it comes in different flavors too! If you use the gluten-free orzo, please adjust your cooking times accordingly.
Note: If made with brown rice orzo, it will have a shorter shelf life.

Vegan Rice Pilaf

Replace the chicken bouillon granules in the Seasoning Mix with 6 tablespoons of vegetable bouillon and 2 tablespoons of mushroom powder.


Printable Recipe can be found here, Near East Rice Pilaf Copycat.

©2016 21st Century Simple Living www.21stcenturysimpleliving.com