Za'atar Rice Pilaf Recipe

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Za'atar is a great last-minute seasoning on all sorts of starchy foods, such as rice. I like to make a pilaf using za'atar in two stages: First, it's toasted with the rice in olive oil, and then more is added right before serving. Since za'atar has deep notes improved by cooking as well as lighter, delicate flavors best untouched by heat, this dual-application approach lets the za'atar really shine. This recipe is more about pilaf technique and showcasing za'atar than other ingredients, so feel free to make substitutions as needed. I wouldn't recommend a different type of sausage though; the chicken and the za'atar play well together and don't overwhelm the dish.

Recipe Details

Za'atar Rice Pilaf Recipe

Prep 5 mins
Cook 55 mins
Total 60 mins
Serves 4 servings


  • 2 cups long-grain rice

  • 1/2 pound chicken sausage, sliced thin

  • 2 large yellow onions, sliced into half-moons

  • 1 large carrot, shredded fine

  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced

  • 6 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 heaping tablespoons za’atar, divided

  • 2 cups chicken stock, vegetable broth, or water

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • Olive oil


  1. Rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Then set it in a bowl to soak while prepping your other ingredients.

  2. Heat a large sautée pan on very high heat, then add a thin film of olive oil, followed by the sausage. Sear the sausage well, then set it aside.

  3. Let the pan regain its heat, then add some more olive oil, followed by the carrot. Let the carrot caramelize, about 5 minutes, till it smells intensely sweet and the oil has turned orange. Set the carrot aside with the sausage. Add some more olive oil to the pan if it looks dry.

  4. Add the onions, bell pepper, and garlic, along with some salt. Reduce the heat to medium. Scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan and let the vegetables soften for ten to fifteen minutes. Then remove them and set aside with the carrots and sausage.

  5. Drain the rice and add it to the pan, increasing the heat to high. Stir well and make sure each grain of rice is coated with oil. Then add the first half of the za’atar. When the rice has turned tan and smells fragrant, add in the sausage, vegetables, and chicken stock, as well as more salt to taste. Stir to combine, cover, and cook on medium heat for fifteen to twenty minutes, until the rice is softened (though still with a little bite) and the liquid has evaporated. If the rice is looking done but is still too wet, let it cook uncovered for a couple minutes.

  6. Just before serving, stir in the remaining za’atar and the lemon juice.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
364 Calories
11g Fat
47g Carbs
22g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 364
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 59mg 20%
Sodium 538mg 23%
Total Carbohydrate 47g 17%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 22g
Vitamin C 74mg 369%
Calcium 103mg 8%
Iron 3mg 15%
Potassium 678mg 14%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)