This Cranberry-Orange Rice Pilaf combines the flavors of fall to create a tasty holiday side dish.

Cranberry-Orange Rice Pilaf with Toasted Pecans

I’m trying to take in as much of the fall season as I possible can before the bitter cold grey of winter settles in the long haul.

Cranberry-Orange Rice Pilaf with Toasted Pecans

The foliage here in Baltimore is at its height of allure, and I can’t help but to stop and stare at the rich, jewel-colored leaves during my morning walks with the pup. The other day I came across a tree comprised of every single color leaf: green, yellow, orange, and red. It was absolutely stunning. If I hadn’t been speeding down the road, I would have stood there for a bit to relish in its beauty (and probably snapped a few photos, too).

Cranberry-Orange Rice Pilaf with Toasted Pecans

Fall is by far my favorite season. Like every other season–minus winter–I wish it would slow down and stay a while longer. Unfortunately, that’s not how life works. Instead, it zooms by like a massive 18-wheeler on the highway, blowing its horn as it passes as if to say, “See ya later sucka!”

I’ll take what I can get and enjoy the moment while it lasts.

Cranberry-Orange Rice Pilaf with Toasted Pecans

With fall comes Thanksgiving, aka my favorite holiday of all time! A holiday centered around food without all the stress of having to buy gifts is my kind of holiday. I start planning my menu as soon as November 1st rolls around. I take my time planning every single element of the menu, but my main focus is always the side dishes. Let’s be honest, side dishes are where it’s at and why everyone shows up in the first place. I like to daze and confuse my guests when it comes to the side dishes. I include so many side dishes on the buffet, they don’t know where to start, which is why I like to serve my dinner on those compartmentalized plates they use in the school cafeteria–load it up and pile it on!

Cranberry-Orange Rice Pilaf with Toasted Pecans

This Cranberry-Orange Rice Pilaf is everything you want from a fall side dish. Sweet dried cranberries, toasted pecans, and orange zest get folded in to a pot of fluffy white rice that has been cooked in a combination or white wine, chicken stock, and a healthy drizzle of Nielsen-Massey Pure Orange Extract. What, orange extract isn’t just for chocolate dessert? Heck no! Their bright, citrus-y orange extract is perfect in this savory side dish.

Cranberry-Orange Rice Pilaf with Toasted Pecans

Cranberry-Orange Rice Pilaf

This fall-inspired side dish combines fluffy white rice with toasted pecans, sweet cranberries, and zesty orange.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups white long-grain rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Orange Extract
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped toasted pecans
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest


  1. Melt olive oil and butter in a Dutch oven or deep saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent and garlic is fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. 
  2. Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat with the oil and butter. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the rice is toasted and nutty, about 2 minutes. 
  3. Stir in the white wine. Allow the wine to reduce and absorb into the rice, about 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, thyme, orange extract, salt and pepper; stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Cook for 30-35 minutes, or until the rice is tender and has absorbed all of the liquid. 
  4. Fold in the pecans, cranberries, and orange zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
All images and text ©.
Whipping up one of my recipes? I wanna know about it! Snap a photo and tag your post with #onesweetmess on Twitter or Instagram. Seeing your creations come to life makes my day!

Disclosure: This recipe was developed for the lovely folks at Nielsen-Massey. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting my recipes and site while I work with brands I adore.