Cranberry Almond Rice Pilaf Recipe -- Vegan, Gluten Free, and Allergy Friendly

I made this dish for the first time quite a few years ago, I think for a potluck Thanksgiving dinner, but I could be wrong. Ever since I made it the first time, I had a decent recollection of certain steps in the recipe, and fond memories of just how good it tasted, but never really made it again. Recently, though, I was craving something like it, but since it had been so long, I searched google for recipes for craisin almond rice, and came up with a bunch of recipes with the name pilaf in them, but all those recipes seemed wrong. You see, I very clearly remembered adding sugar to my onions and craisins, but all the recipes I saw were savory. And so, I put together this dish again, from memory, and it was just as good as I remembered. But I'm just going to stick the word pilaf in the title because that is what people seem to be using and I want this to come up when people search google. But I hope you'll forgive me because this doesn't strictly follow the definition of pilaf (though it does have a decent amount of similarity to the Afghan national dish, kabuli palaw, which is considered a pilaf). This is reminiscent of a dish they generally serve locally at weddings and other catered affairs.

I brought this craisin almond rice dish to a potluck Thanksgiving meal this year and it was devoured. Though it has sugar in it, it isn't very sweet, it is just the right combination of sweet with the rest being savory. The onions and craisins get carmelized, almost candied. I maybe am being a bit extreme, but I would happily say that this is one of my favorite rice dishes ever. My daughters aren't the hugest fans, unfortunately, so I don't know how often I'll be making it. But I definitely suggest giving this one a try. It is worth it.

Unlike most of the recipes I saw when googling to refresh my memory of how I made this dish, this one doesn't use any broth or stock in it, so it is completely vegetarian and vegan. Other than the almonds this is also free from the most common allergens, such as gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, etc... If you are nut free feel free to leave out the almonds, and maybe replace them with pumpkin seeds, if not totally leaving them out.

This is also a great way to use up leftover rice, but if you don't have leftovers, it is worth it to cook up some for this recipe.  

Cranberry Almond Rice Pilaf Recipe -- Vegan, Gluten Free, and Allergy Friendly

1/2-3/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1/4 cup oil
1 large onion
1 cup craisins
1/4 cup sugar
9 cups cooked rice
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
3 scallions

1. Heat up your almonds in a frying pan and lightly toast them. Mix them constantly so that they don't burn, and remove them as soon as they get to be some golden to brownish color. (Note, if using a cast iron pan, remove immediately from the pan instead of leaving them in there, as the pot remains hot and the almonds will turn darker than intended. Speaking from experience. It was still great, but just keep that in mind.)

2. Slice your onion and cook in oil, on a medium heat, mixing frequently, until they become a golden brown. 

3. Add craisins to your cooked onions and then add your sugar. Mix constantly on a low heat until all the sugar is melted.

4. Add this mixture to your cooked rice, along with your almonds, and mix thoroughly.

5. Add salt as needed.

6. Chop up your scallions and add them to your dish.

7. Try not to devour all at once.


Have you ever made or had a dish like this before? Does this look like a recipe you'd try? And would you consider this dish a pilaf or not?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. looks delicious! do you recall how many cups of uncooked rice it was (to make the 9 c cooked rice)? thanks!

    1. Google tells me that its 1 cup raw rice to 3 cups cooked. That sounds about right. So this would be 3 cups raw rice.

  2. What would you recommend as a replacement for the onions? I'm allergic to alliums.

    1. I dont particularly have a suggestion, just leave it out?

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