The authentic recipe for the famous Greek rice. Delicious to eat on its own or as a side. This Greek lemon rice is cooked with sauteed onion in olive oil, vegetable broth and finished with plenty of fresh lemon.
Rice is such a comfort food. In Greek cuisine, rice is often cooked with plenty of vegetables or greens for a complete meal. Great examples of this is the famous Greek Spinach and Rice – Spanakorizo, Greek Leeks and Rice – Prasorizo, Greek Cabbage with Rice . These dishes are a fundamental part of the Greek and Mediterranean diet as they are healthy plant-based dishes that included an abundant amount of vegetables accompanied with moderate amounts of rice. This recipe is a different type of rice recipe, it’s the “fancy” type that was reserved for Sunday lunches and which you can find in Greek restaurants around the world. It’s that rice that you get in restaurants that accompany meat or fish, but is oh so delicious.
Authentic Greek Rice
Both my grandmothers served this type of rice on special occasions, usually with meat and chicken. And yes, my mom would serve it in a little mold. The called it pilafi in Greek (pilaf).
Long grain rice is cooked with onion, vegetable broth and lemon transforming this rice into a dish that is delicious to eat on its own! You can add parsley and lemon zest right before serving, but my mother and grandmothers did not when they were serving it with a meat dish that had its own sauce.
How to make Greek Rice
- Start with sautéing finely chopped onion . This is an important step to impart flavor. In this recipe I sauté with olive oil.
- Then you add the rice and sauté until the rice begins to get some color.
- Then you add broth- I use vegetable broth for a vegetarian version but you can use chicken as well.
- Cook on very low heat, just enough for a low simmer covered until the water is absorbed and rice has softened.
- Leave for a few minutes and the fluff up with a fork. Add lemon juice and freshly ground pepper. Optionally add chopped parsley and lemon zest.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
Greek Lemon Rice Ingredients
- Onion: I use white onion for this recipe, it is slightly milder and will give a sweetness to the rice.
- Rice: For this particular Greek rice recipe you traditionally use plain long grain rice as you don’t want a sticky texture. Also, I recommend plain, not basmati or Jasmine rice which will give out a different flavor.
- Broth: I use vegetable broth, although you can also use chicken broth. Be aware that many ready-made broths include salt, so make sure you take that into account when adding salt for taste.
- Lemon: It is important to use real lemon not bottled lemon juice. Lemon is an important part of this recipe and needs to be fresh.
- Herbs: As I mentioned typically this type of rice is flavored by the broth and whatever sauce is in the accompanying dish. But if you are planning on eating this without some sort of sauce than add the herbs.
- Olive Oil: My choice of fat for this recipe is olive oil for its obvious health benefits and flavor.
What to serve with Greek Lemon Rice
As noted above typically Greek lemon rice is served with some sort of meat like
>> Keftedakia (Greek meatballs)
>> Quick and Easy Authentic Chicken Souvlaki in the Oven
>> 5 Ingredient Glazed Honey Lemon Chicken Legs
>> Quick Sautéed Lemon and Garlic Chicken
And fish of course such as
>> Mediterranean Baked Sole with Greek Ladolemono Dressing
>> Mediterranean Garlic and Herb Crusted Roasted Sardines
It is so flavorful though that you don’t necessarily need meat or fish and I will serve it as an accompaniment to a salad, my favorite with rice is the Classic Greek Green Salad with Feta – Maroulosalata another great combo is with the Summer Spanish Salad – Pipirrana. And my favorite way is just with a dollop of Greek yogurt!
Authentic Greek Lemon Rice-Rizi Lemonato
- 2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small white onion finely chopped
- 1 cup uncooked plain white long grain rice
- 2 cups (500 ml) water or vegetable broth
- 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Lemon zest from half a lemon optional
- 1 ½ tbsp. chopped parsley optional
- Fresh ground pepper for serving
- Salt to taste
- Heat the olive oil over over medium heat. Sauté the onion until soft and translucent for about 5 minutes.
- Add the rice and continue heating stirring the rice until it begins to turn golden about 1 minute.
- Add the broth, cover and lower the heat until you have a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes (this depends on what kind of rice you used), rice should be cooked, and most of the liquid absorbed.
- Turn off the heat and keep the rice covered for 10 minutes.
- Add lemon juice and fresh ground pepper and fluff up with a fork.
- Add salt to taste.
- Optionally add chopped parsley and lemon zest.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
Photos by Elena Paravantes © All Rights Reserved