This easy Lebanese Rice (Arabic rice) pilaf is a staple in Middle Eastern cooking. Toasted vermicelli rice noodles, rice, and chicken stock make this such an aromatic side dish! Serve with kabobs, shawarma, stews and so much more!

Lebanese rice on a plate with parsley

Toasty vermicelli!

Honestly, I go a little overboard with the amount of vermicelli I add to my Lebanese rice. In fact, I should probably be calling this Arabic rice as it’s known across so many Middle Eastern countries with various names, like Masri rice etc.

It’s one of my favorite rice dishes of all time right alongside mujadara. It starts with dry vermicelli pasta that we’ll toast in ghee to give it that beautiful golden brown color. Then I add in the rinsed rice and let it cook in the ghee until it’s translucent and starts to pop just a bit. In goes, twice the amount of chicken stock as the rice and we let the rice cook and simmer until the water is absorbed. Then just fluff with a fork and serve it alongside homemade kafta, grilled chicken skewers, in beef shawarma bowls with lots of toum, with lentil or okra stew, hummus, baba ganoush, or with Shirazi salad. Top Lebanese rice with just some chopped parsley or you can add toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds as well.

I almost always have vermicelli rice in my refrigerator because it’s just so delicious and pairs beautifully with so many dishes.

Lebanese rice, kafta kabob, and Shirazi salad in plate with fork

Ingredients for Middle Eastern Rice:

  • Long grain white rice: The first thing you need to know is that for this recipe, we’re going to use a 1:2 ratio of rice to liquid. So if you’re making 1 cup of rice, you’ll use two cups of liquid. The second thing is that you want to rinse your rice under cold running water to get rid of as much starch as possible. Keep in mind that you can use regular long grain rice, basmati rice or parboiled rice for this recipe. The only thing you’ll need to do if you use parboiled rice, is cut the liquid back up 1/4 cup to make sure it all absorbs in the same amount of time. For this recipe, you can skip soaking the rice, there’s no need! I know, I’m usually one that talks about always soaking your basmati rice, but you can get away with it for this recipe.
  • Ghee: I use ghee to toast the vermicelli in for middle eastern rice. You could also use a combination of butter and olive oil if you’d like, or you can use all olive oil if you prefer. Ghee just gives the rice an extra luxurious flavor.
  • Vermicelli Noodles: I find vermicelli pasta very easily in my middle eastern grocery store. Most mainstream grocery stores do carry boxed of broken vermicelli as well. You can also use Fideo pasta in place of vermicelli or simply order it online.
  • Chicken Broth/stock: I like to use chicken stock or broth to boil the rice. I feel it gives the rice a ton more flavor than just using water. I use low sodium chicken stock to ensure the rice isn’t too salty, but feel free to use water or vegetable stock instead to keep this recipe vegetarian-friendly.
  • Kosher salt: Since I use low sodium chicken broth, I like to add 1/4 teaspoon salt to make sure the rice is properly salted.
toasting vermicelli and simmering the rice in stock

How to make Lebanese Rice Recipe:

  1. Rinse that rice. Start by placing the rice in a fine mesh strainer. You want to wash the rice under cold running water for several minutes to help rub off all the excess starch. The way to tell if the rice is ready to use is to check the water that runs through the sieve. If it runs clear, you can stop rinsing and allow the rice to sit while you toast the vermicelli.
  2. Brown the vermicelli. Add 2 tablespoons ghee to a saucepan over medium heat and allow it to melt; same with the butter if you use that. Add the noodles and toast them in the skillet. Stir constantly to avoid the noodles from browning unevenly. You want all the noodles to be roughly the same color and stirring constantly helps achieve that. 
  3. Simmer the rice. Once the noodles are golden, add the rice and continue to toast until the rice is slightly translucent and starts to pop and sizzle in the pan. Add the chicken broth and salt and kick it up to medium-high heat. You want to bring it to a boil before you cover the pot with a lid and allow it to soak up all the liquid.
  4. Fluff and serve. Allow the rice to stand for 5 minutes before you fluff it with a fork and then serve immediately with your choice of protein! I’m telling you, adults and kids alike are going to love this simple rice pilaf!
prepared rice pilaf in saucepan

FAQs about Lebanese Rice:

  1. Is this the same thing as Egyptian Masri Rice? Many Middle Eastern countries make this rice pilaf, Egyptians call this Masri Rice.
  2. Can I use fewer vermicelli noodles if I wanted? Yes, you can cut back to 1/2 a cup if you prefer less vermicelli in your rice.
  3. What kind of nuts can you top this with? Toasted pine nuts or toasted slivered almonds are the most common.
  4. Can I use water instead of chicken stock? Yes, plain water will also work but you will need to add additional salt to make up for the sodium in the stock.

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vermicelli rice on plate topped with parsley
Yield: serves 8

Lebanese Rice Pilaf

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

This easy Lebanese Rice (Arabic rice) pilaf is a staple in Middle Eastern cooking. Toasted vermicelli rice noodles, rice, and chicken stock make this such an aromatic side dish! Serve with kabobs, shawarma, and so much more!

Lebanese Rice Pilaf

Ingredients

  • 2 cups long grain white rice
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (or 50:50 butter and oil)
  • ¾ cup vermicelli pasta
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth (or water)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

    1. RINSE: Add the rice to a fine-mesh strainer. Rinse under cold, running water for 2-3 minutes. Use fingertips to rub the rice in the sieve in a circular motion until the water runs clear. Then set aside.
    2. BROWN: Add the ghee to a large saucepan over medium heat. When the ghee melts, add the vermicelli and cook until a medium golden brown; about 4-5 minutes toggling the heat from medium to low if needed. Keep a close eye on it and stir it frequently.
    3. MAKE RICE: When the vermicelli is golden brown, add the rinsed rice and allow it to toast for 3 minutes stirring often so the vermicelli or rice doesn’t burn. You’ll notice the rice start to pop towards the end. Add the chicken broth and salt. Kick the heat up to high and bring it to a boil. Stir once, then cover with a tight-fitting lid; reduce the heat to low and let cook for 15 minutes or until the water dries up and the rice cooks through.
    4. SERVE: Turn off the stove; allow the rice to stand for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork and serving.

Notes

  • Liquid: If you use water instead of broth/stock, you will need to up the salt in the recipe to make up for the sodium you'd be missing from the stock.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1/8

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 119Total Fat: 4gCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 4g

To get the most accurate information, please input the ingredients you've used into a nutrition calculator.

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