Cashew Rice Pilaf

$3.72 recipe / $0.62 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
5 from 22 votes
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Want to make your house smell seriously good? Just make this rice pilaf. 

The scent of jasmine rice alone makes my mouth water, but add a few spices and it’s absolutely intoxicating. This lightly flavored and vibrantly hued rice pilaf is based off of my favorite Yellow Jasmine Rice recipe, but with a slightly more subtle flavor, a few bits of dried fruit for sweetness, and some chopped cashews for texture. I skipped the chicken broth this time around to achieve a slightly lighter flavor and make it vegetarian. If you want to vegan-ize this recipe, simply sub coconut oil for the butter!

Jasmine rice is a major part of the flavor here, so don’t be tempted to use regular white rice. It’s just not the same. To find the best price on jasmine rice, visit an Asian market or check the Asian section of your local grocery store. I often find big 5lb. bags of jasmine rice at the grocery store (even Walmart) for about $6. Sometimes it’s on the bottom shelf in the regular rice aisle or even the bulk food bins.

So what do you eat this pilaf with? It would make a great side for something like Quick Curried Chickpeas, Dal Nirvana, or even some Thai Turkey Meatloaf. NOM.

And yes, yes you CAN freeze this beautiful, delicious rice! :D

Cashew Rice Pilaf

Bowl of Cashew Rice Pilaf

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Cashew Rice Pilaf

5 from 22 votes
This beautiful, fragrant, and delicious Cashew Rice Pilaf makes the perfect side to grilled meats or vegetarian platters. 
Cashew Rice Pilaf
Servings 6 about 7 cups
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 55 minutes
Total 1 hour


  • 2 Tbsp butter ($0.20)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced ($0.08)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric ($0.05)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin ($0.05)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon ($0.03)
  • 2 cups uncooked jasmine rice ($0.88)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cashews ($1.68)
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit raisins, cranberries or chopped apricots ($0.38)
  • 3 cups water ($0.00)
  • 3/4 tsp salt ($0.03)
  • 1 whole bay leaf ($0.15)
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro (optional) ($0.19)


  • Place the butter, minced garlic, turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon in a medium sauce pot. Turn the heat on to medium-low, then stir and cook the butter and spices for about 2 minutes.
  • Add the dry rice, turn the heat up to medium, and cook and stir for about two minutes more. You should hear the rice crackling a little. Finally, add the cashews, dried fruit, water, salt, and bay leaf to the pot. Stir briefly to combine the ingredients.
  • Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to high, and allow the pot to come to a full boil. As soon as the pot reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to low and allow the pot to simmer lightly for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the heat off and allow it to sit for 15 minutes more. Do not remove the lid at all during the cooking process.
  • After the pot has rested with the heat off for 15 minutes, remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork. Roughly chop the cilantro and gently stir it into the rice. Serve hot.

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Serving: 7CupsCalories: 356.52kcalCarbohydrates: 61.5gProtein: 6.28gFat: 9.52gSodium: 350.08mgFiber: 2.6g
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Top view of a bowl of Cashew Rice Pilaf with full skillet of dish on the side

Step by Step Photos

Butter & Spices in pot

Start with the butter, minced garlic, turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon in the bottom of a medium pot. Turn the heat on to medium-low and let the butter melt…

Cooking spice mixture in pot

Stir and cook this mixture for about two minutes.

Dry Jasmine Rice added to pot

Add the dry jasmine rice, kick the heat up to medium, and continue to stir and cook for about two minutes more. You’ll hear the rice crackling a little as it toasts.

Cashews and Cranberries in measuring cups

Measure out 1/2 cup of cashew pieces and 1/4 cup dried fruit. I intended to use raisins for this recipe, but then saw that Ocean Spray “craisins” were on sale for $1.50 per bag (1 cup bag), so I went with that instead. You could also use dried apricots chopped into small pieces. I bought the cashews from the bulk food bins and noticed that the “cashew pieces” were a couple dollars less per pound than the whole cashews, which was perfect because I planned on chopping them up anyway! If you get whole cashews, make sure to chop them so that you get a little piece in every bite instead of one big chunk every now and then.

Water, cashews and cranberries added to pot

Add the cashews, cranberries, water, salt, and bay leaf to the pot. Stir briefly to make sure everything is combined then place a lid on top and turn the heat up to high. As soon as the pot reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer lightly for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the heat off and let it rest undisturbed for another 15 minutes.

Cooked rice in pot

Then it will look like this. Most of the goodies will have floated up to the top, so you’ll want to fluff it up with a fork to mix it up some…

Fluffed Rice in pot


Chopped Cilantro with knife

Roughly chop some cilantro and then gently fold it into the rice.

Cashew Rice Pilaf all finished

All finished!

Top view of a bowl of Cashew Rice Pilaf on a white napkin

So freaking good…

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  1. I will replace half the cilantro with flat leaf parsley next time I make this and use apricots with the the craisons. Yum!

  2. This is THE BEST side dish! Such a perfect and complex flavor combo and so filling. If you’re a little hesitant of dried fruit in rice, you don’t know what you’re missing! Make it exactly as instructed and it’s perfect and fluffy every time, no sticky or crunchy rice. Thank you for coming up with this one, it’s a family favorite! 

  3. I usually don’t leave comment, but this recipe made me. The best rice ever, period. I used half butter, half olive oil, I also added corn and chicken broth instead of water and the result was awesome. I am planning to use peanuts instead of cashew next time. Thank you!

  4. I’ve been making your recipe for almost 5 years and decided it was time to drop a comment. First of all this is an amazing dish and I love how versatile it is. Most of the time I just eat it as a meal but it is definitely a nice side dish as well.
    My favorite thing about it is you can add anything you like to it. Add additional spices or veggies (peas, onions, carrots, chickpeas etc) and it still tastes so good! This one is a keeper. Thank you!

  5. I just made this for the first time, but I adapted it for the Instant Pot and it worked great! Using the saute setting on the IP really makes it a breeze. I cooked it using Manual for 4 Minutes at high pressure, and then did a 10-minute natural pressure release. Super tasty!

    1. Thank you! I’ve been wanting to adapt a bunch of my recipes into instant pot versions but I never know quite how to do it! Will try this tonight!

  6. Oh, drat! I don’t know what happened. I followed the directions exactly, and mine came out bland and gray-colored! I know my spices are kinda old, but could they be THAT old? I will make it again, but I guess I’ll just double all the spices next time. (Luckily, I made it with the Dal Nirvana which is awesome, so no loss at all.)

    1. False alarm (again!). Reheated the rice in some butter and more turmeric, s & p, and it was right where it should be – a new staple!

  7. This is the best thing ever, simple but so flavorful. It’s my go-to rice recipe for my very picky 2 year old who loves picking out the cashews and raisins (I usually use raisins instead of cranberries) and then wolfs down the rice. I usually top with falafels and turkish yogurt and shriracha, or kofta patties or diced chicken. Would definitely recommend not substituting the butter with oil like I once did because I was out of butter — it was nowhere near as good with the oil.

  8. This is great! I made this almost as written the first time, but then the second time I into a meal to last a few days by upping the rice (to around 2.75-3 c, and I used 4 c water) and the spices. Plus I added chopped onion and carrot before boiling. While the pot simmered I roasted chickpeas and added them at the end. Very simple and good. Great for a portable lunch. I really think using jasmine rice + cooking the dry rice in a butter makes a difference in flavor!

  9. Loved it! The main alteration I did was adding 1 tsp ground cardamom, since I loooove cardamom. I used coconut oil in place of butter but I don’t know if that made much of a difference, and butter may have been tastier actually. I did increase the raisins slightly as well, but I consider these minor changes… I ate it with your tandoori chicken kebabs and it was a wonderful meal – I’ll make this combination again for sure.

  10. I just made this and I literally cannot believe that from these hands of mine, this gorgeous, delicious dish emerged… I have been using your blog because I am trying to learn how to cook — I’m seriously helpless in the kitchen! But not anymore! I cannot tell you how many recipes I’ve made from your blog that totally trick people into thinking I’ve some kind of miracle worker… And it’s thanks to you!!! :o)

    6 stars, seriously!

    P.S. I used golden raisins, it was amazing!

  11. Hi Beth! I want to add a couple things to this dish to make it a one pot meal — I’m thinking chickpeas and frozen peas and broccoli — and I’m wondering where in the cooking process you think I should add them?

    1. Hi Grace, I think I’d add the chickpeas and green peas when the cashews and dried fruit are added. The broccoli I’d probably thaw and add in at the end (or if it’s raw, steam it briefly separately, then add at the end) because overcooked broccoli turns brown and mushy. Not to mention the yellow turmeric will also discolor it pretty badly. :P

  12. I made this last night to go along with your curried lentils. I subbed coconut oil for the butter to make it vegan and used a mix of cranberries & golden raisins. So, so good!

  13. What do you make when you find an unopened package of unsalted cashews, cranberries and have Jasmine rice? Cashew Rice Pilaf, and it’s was super yummy. I hesitated with the addition of cilantro, but went ahead with it, as you haven’t been wrong with a recipe yet, and the results? Freaking-awesomeness… Thanks Beth! My husband thinks I can actually cook ;) SO much so that he is bragging to anyone who will listen.

  14. This was absolutely delicious! My family enjoyed it. Thanks for the great recipe! :)