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Healthy Brown Rice and Quinoa Pilaf 

My Healthy Brown Rice and Quinoa Pilaf is the perfect side dish for your next dinner. Made with long grain brown rice and tricolored quinoa, this combination is blended with cinnamon, nutmeg, maple and a hint of orange to give it a holiday touch. Like other quinoa recipes, you can also serve this as a main course.

This recipe is a great idea when January – February roll around and you only want healthy food to eat!

What Makes This Brown Rice and Quinoa Pilaf Healthy

In traditional pilaf, the rice is normally sauteed in butter. In my recipe, you will use olive oil and minimal salt. 

healthy brown rice and quinoa pilaf in a muffin tin with parsley on top
Holiday Inspired Pilaf.

Is This Quinoa Pilaf Recipe Vegan

The recipe calls for chicken broth. However to make it vegan, swap that out for vegetable broth instead.

Can I Use White Rice

I use long grain brown rice and also tricolored quinoa. You can substitute with a wild rice blend or a brown rice blend or use a white quinoa. 

close up pic of rice pilaf isatin gin a muffin tin
Carrots pair well with the maple and cinnamon.

Are There Other Vegetables in This Rice Dish

Yes, carrots and sweet onion. Sweet onion just happens to be my onion of choice lately but you can use red or white onions just as well. 

Also you can add mushrooms or other vegetables like celery or bell pepper. 

The carrots pair well with the maple. If you’re looking to substitute the carrots, you can use butternut squash or sweet potato.

Tricolored Quinoa gives this dish an elegant touch.

Other Types of Pilaf

A notable thing about a traditional rice pilaf is that it can be tailored to different occasions and versatile in the ingredients used.

My recipe is holiday inspired but other ideas are you can add in toasted almonds or pine nuts, dried fruit such craisins, go for a little kick and add red pepper flakes and a bay leaf. You can also use fresh sprigs of parsley or other herbs.

Rice Pilaf Cooking Method

You will want to start by browning the rice along with the carrots and onions. Heat oil over medium-high heat and then saute for 5-7 min then add the quinoa in and give it a quick stir , then add the salt, black pepper and the broth. Turn down to low heat and cover pot.

After it is done cooking , as you fluff quinoa and rice together then you will add the maple syrup at room temperature and finish with orange zest and fresh parsley on top.

Upgrade Your Meal Prep with Brown Rice and Quinoa Pilaf

This is a great change from having boring brown rice or plain quinoa every day for lunch. Rice cooked in broth and herbs is a game changer especially if you are looking for meal prep variety.

Can I Use My Rice Cooker

This dish can be made on the stove top in one pan. I use a Dutch Oven but a large skillet or a large stockpot can work as well.

Healthy Brown Rice and Quinoa Pilaf with fresh parsley on top

What is the Cooking Time for Healthy Brown Rice and Quinoa Pilaf

The cooking time will vary but will be done between 35-45 minutes or until the rice is tender. Brown rice usually takes a little longer to cook, especially on the stove top.

Let’s Get Cooking!

Are you looking for more healthy side dish ideas? Be sure to make my Roasted Murasaki Sweet Potato Salad and my Cumin Sweet Potatoes.

healthy brown rice and quinoa pilaf

Healthy Brown Rice and Quinoa Pilaf

A holiday inspired pilaf featuring maple, cinnamon, nutmeg and a hint of orange. This healthy rice and quinoa dish is a perfect way to change up your meal preps.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 276 kcal


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
  • 1/2 cup brown rice long grain
  • 1/2 cup quinoa I use tri-colored but any kind will work
  • 2 cups chicken broth to make this vegan, use vegetable broth instead
  • 1/2 sweet onion small diced
  • 2 medium carrots peeled and small diced
  • salt as needed
  • black pepper as needed
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest about a 1/4 of small orange
  • 1/4 cup italian parsley washed thoroughly and chopped


  • In a large dutch oven pan, heat oil on medium heat. Add the brown rice, carrots and onion. Let cook for 7 minutes until onions start to sweat and rice starts to get toasted. Add a dash of salt, pepper and add the spices.
  • Add the quinoa and broth. Cover pot and let simmer for about 30- 40 minutes or until rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed.
  • Remove from the heat. Stir in the maple syrup and add additional salt and pepper if needed. Then add the orange zest.
  • Top with fresh parsley. Enjoy!


Kitchen Tips: 
To make this recipe healthy I used olive instead of butter which is used in traditional pilafs. If you’d like to use butter, sub out for the same amount. 
This rice will pair well with roasted poultry, beef or white fish. 
To make this rice vegan, use vegetable broth instead of chicken.


Calories: 276kcalCarbohydrates: 42gProtein: 6gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 465mgPotassium: 386mgFiber: 4gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 5420IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 57mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Brown Rice and Quinoa Recipes, Healthy Rice Pilaf, Healthy Side Dishes, Holiday Pilaf
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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