Instant Pot Rice Pilaf with Saffron & Almonds

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Instant Pot Rice Pilaf, made with saffron, chicken broth, toasted almonds, and fluffy white rice, is fragrant, fluffy, and an easy-to-make, healthy side dish. 

saffron rice pilaf with grilled chicken in a white bowl

Rice is one of my favorite dishes to make in the Instant Pot. And while it couldn’t be easier to make simple and perfectly fluffy white rice, brown rice, or even forbidden rice, it’s also just as easy to make a flavorful rice pilaf. 

This recipe elevates white rice with a rich saffron broth, gorgeous color, and crunchy, nutty almonds for garnish. 

Update: My family loves homemade rice pilaf in the Instant Pot with a simple protein for dinner, so I’ve updated this post with tips and tricks so your family can dig in too!

pinterest button for saffron almond rice pilaf in a pressure cooker

How to Make Rice Pilaf in the Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker

This Saffron Almond Rice Pilaf recipe will work in any brand of electric pressure cooker, including the Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi, or Power Pressure Cooker XL

This dish is flavored with a rich saffron chicken broth. When cooking with saffron, it’s important to bloom the spice first. This means simply soaking the dried saffron threads in warm liquid  before adding them to your dish.

For this pilaf recipe, bloom the saffron directly in the warm chicken stock you use to cook your rice. 

In a pinch you can skip the saffron, though it adds a deep, delicious flavor and a beautiful color. We use either coupe grade or superior saffron. We’re currently using this beautiful saffron from Penzey’s

Also, you don’t have to toast the almonds for your pilaf, but I recommend it if you have the time. It takes just a few minutes in a large skillet over medium heat or in a 350°F oven.

The toasted nuts will be much more flavorful, fragrant, and crunchier. They add the perfect textural contrast to the fluffy rice. 

bowl of saffron threads

What Is Rice Pilaf?

Did you know that pilaf is the name of both the dish and the cooking style? To cook in the pilaf style means that you toast the rice in oil or another cooking fat before adding the cooking liquid (in this case chicken broth). 

Pilaf also must cook in a covered pot and is not stirred after the rice and liquid are incorporated. That’s why the Instant Pot / electric pressure cooker is the perfect way to make easy rice pilaf at home. There’s no need to babysit the pot, worry about overflow, or make sure you have the right liquid to rice ratio. 

Often, pilaf has other ingredients mixed into the rice—in this case, saffron, celery, and onions. You’ll also find pilaf made with herbs, mushrooms, or other vegetables. The possibilities are pretty endless when it comes to flavoring homemade rice pilaf. 

bowl of saffron almond irce pilaf with grilled chicken breast and broccoli

What to Serve with Rice Pilaf

This is a hearty and flavorful rice pilaf that I love to serve with simple grilled chicken or pork chops and steamed vegetables for a well rounded and easy weeknight meal. 

Other great pairings for saffron Instant Pot Rice Pilaf include Instant Pot Butter Chicken and Chicken Shawarma.

saffron almond rice pilaf in a  bowl

More Pressure Cooker / Instant Pot Rice Recipes

If you ask me, an Instant Pot is the best way to make perfect Instant Pot rice recipes like these:

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saffron rice pilaf with grilled chicken in a white bowl

Instant Pot Saffron Almond Rice Pilaf

Servings: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 23 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Instant pot saffron almond rice pilaf
Saffron Almond Instant Pot Rice Pilaf is fragrant, fluffy, and easy to make with long-grain white rice, saffron, chicken broth, and toasted almonds.
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  • 1 14- ounce can chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk finely chopped
  • 2 cups long grain white rice rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds toasted


  • Heat broth and water in a small saucepan over moderate heat until hot, then stir in the saffron. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Place the butter in the pressure cooking pot. Select Sauté, and when the butter is melted and sizzling, add the chopped onions and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables are tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until rice becomes opaque, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add saffron broth and salt. Lock the lid in place and select High Pressure and a 3 minute cook time. 
  • When the cook time ends, let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then finish with a quick pressure release. When the valve drops, carefully remove the lid. 
  • Fluff the rice, stir in the almonds, and serve immediately.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 113kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 352mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g


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