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Pesto Rice

This delicious pesto rice is a fast weeknight side dish that the whole family will love! Made on the stovetop or in the Instant Pot, this tasty rice dish is great for meal prep.
a white bowl of pesto rice with a fork, parsley, and tomatoes.
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This Pesto Rice is a fast weeknight side dish that the whole family will love! Made on the stovetop or in the Instant Pot, this tasty rice dish is great for meal prep.

a white bowl of pesto rice with a fork, parsley, and tomatoes.

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Rice is one of those sides that goes with almost everything. It’s affordable, filling, and great for meal prep.

This pesto rice is packed with flavor and great as a side to your favorite main dishes or the base of a fantastic rice bowl meal.

Serve it alongside a dry brined chicken, air fryer salmon cakes, air fryer tofu, or French onion pork chops.

Looking for more recipes with pesto? Check out our Creamy Chicken PastaPesto GnocchiPesto Orzo, Creamy Pesto Pasta, and Pesto Mayo.

Pesto Rice Ingredients and Variations

bowls of rice, chicken stock, olive oil, pesto, and salt.

Now, if you want to get fancy or make this a more robust dish, you can add crumbled feta, toasted pine nuts, shredded Parmesan, sliced olives, or tomatoes.

How to Make Pesto Rice

I’ll walk you through it with some tips and tricks and photos, and you’ll find a printable recipe card at the bottom of the post with exact measurements and cooking times. And the printable recipe card will also walk you through how to make this in an Instant Pot.

There are two options with this recipe – the short version and the long(er) version. Both will be delicious, so if you’re pressed for time, go for the short version.

You’re going to start by rinsing the rice in a fine mesh sieve under cool running water until the water runs clear.

Grab a heavy-bottomed saucepan (I used a 4-quart dutch oven) and heat it over medium heat. Add the olive oil and then the rice. Since the rice is still damp, the oil might pop a bit, but that will stop once you start to stir it.

Stir the rice around until it is combined with the olive oil. Let it cook, stirring occasionally until the rice starts to brown/toast. This takes about 5-10 minutes (see the top left photo in the grid below). I always know it’s ready when it starts to smell like popcorn.

Add the stock and salt to the rice, stir it and let it cook for 1 minute. Then reduce the heat to low, plop a lid on, and set a timer for 15 minutes. Don’t take that lid off; don’t peek!

After the 15 minutes are up, turn off the burner, remove the pan from the heat, and allow it to sit for 10 minutes, still fully covered.

When the 10 minutes are up, carefully take the lid off, add the pesto and fluff the rice with a fork.

4 photos showing the steps on how to make rice with pesto

Pro Tips/Recipe Notes

  • If you choose to not toast the rice, reduce the olive oil to 1 tbsp. Add it with the rice, salt, and stock (see the recipe card below).
  • If you’re pressed for time and use minute/instant rice, skip the toasting step.
  • Store cooked rice in the fridge in an air-tight container for 2-3 days.
  • Reheat in the microwave for 1 minute on medium power.
  • This pesto rice freezes like a dream! Allow it to fully cool and transfer it to freezer-safe containers. I use the 1-cup Souper Cubes and then pop the frozen cubes into reusable freezer bags. They’ll keep in the freezer for 3-4 months.
  • If you have leftover pesto, check out my tutorial on How to Freeze Pesto.
a white textured bowl filled with flavored rice topped with sliced tomatoes.
a white bowl of pesto rice with a fork, parsley, and tomatoes.
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Pesto Rice

Prep Time2 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Toasting {optional}10 minutes
Total Time37 minutes
This delicious pesto rice is a fast weeknight side dish that the whole family will love! Made on the stovetop or in the Instant Pot, this tasty rice dish is great for meal prep.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup long grain rice {jasmine or basmati}
  • 2 tbsp olive oil {see note if not toasting the rice}
  • 2 cups chicken stock {vegetable stock works too}
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup pesto

Instructions

  • Rinse rice in a sieve under cool water until the water runs clear.
    1 1/4 cup long grain rice
  • In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan heat olive oil over medium heat.
    2 tbsp olive oil
  • Add rice and stir to combine with the olive oil.
  • Stir occasionally until the rice is lightly browned and toasted (~5-10 minutes).
  • Add the stock and salt and bring the rice to a boil for 1 minute.
    2 cups chicken stock, 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Stir, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pan with a lid and set a timer for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, remove the pan from the heat, and allow it to sit for 10 minutes, fully covered.
  • Add the pesto and fluff the rice with a fork.
    1/4 cup pesto

Notes

  1. If you choose to not toast the rice, reduce the olive oil to 1 tbsp. Add it with the rice, salt, and stock.
  2. If you’re pressed for time and use minute/instant rice, skip the toasting step.
  3. Store cooked rice in the fridge in an air-tight container for 2-3 days.
Instant Pot Instructions
  1. Set the Instant Pot to sauté. Allow it to get hot and add the oil.
  2. Add the rice and stir to combine with olive oil. Cook on sauté until rice is toasted (~9 minutes).
  3. Press “off/keep warm” to turn the Instant Pot off.
  4. Add chicken stock and salt. Use chicken stock to deglaze the insert if anything stuck to it.
  5. Place the lid on the Instant Pot and set the vent to sealing. Press Manual>High>6 minutes.
  6. Allow for a 5-minute natural release and then do a quick release.
  7. When the vent has dropped, carefully open the lid, add the pesto, and fluff the rice to combine.
Nutrition Facts
Pesto Rice
Amount Per Serving (0.5 cups)
Calories 188 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Fat 7g11%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 2mg1%
Sodium 305mg13%
Potassium 96mg3%
Carbohydrates 26g9%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 158IU3%
Vitamin C 0.1mg0%
Calcium 22mg2%
Iron 0.4mg2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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