Lebanese Rice

5 from 346 votes

This Lebanese Rice is a staple Middle Eastern (Arabic) side dish in my home that I make with only three ingredients: rice, vermicelli noodles and olive oil! 

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Growing up with 100% Lebanese parents, I’m lucky I learned how to make tons of authentic Lebanese recipes. And one of the main recipes that was the most common side dish to most of our food was this classic Lebanese Rice – what we call riz bi sha’riyeh. It’s simple to make, vegan and complements so many Middle Eastern and Arabic dishes.

Plate served of Lebanese Rice topped with pine nuts, almonds and parsley

What is Lebanese Rice

Lebanese rice is basically a rice pilaf that’s made up of three ingredients: long grain white rice, vermicelli noodles and butter or olive oil (or a combination of both). Typically, I only season it with salt. But sometimes, I also like to add a dash of cinnamon either before or after cooking. Then I garnish with fresh parsley, and toasted nuts like almonds and/or pine nuts.

This rice pilaf is commonly called Middle Eastern Rice or Arabic Rice. It’s a standard (and possibly the most popular) side dish in that region. We typically serve it with meat dishes like kafta and shawarma, but we also use it as a base to accompany many of our stews. That’s actually how we mostly eat it in my house. It’s fluffy, nutty and versatile – basically my ultimate carb weakness!

Lebanese rice recipe video


Ingredients for the recipe

  • Rice: Traditionally you’ll use either long grain white rice, parboiled rice or basmati rice. The parboiled rice gets the best texture, but it’s more processed, so I usually opt for long grain or basmati.
  • Vermicelli: This is basically short thin pasta noodles that is iconic of Lebanese rice. In fact, this dish is sometimes called Vermicelli rice because of the important role the vermicelli plays. If you can’t find vermicelli pasta, you can use cappellini (thinner than spaghetti) and just break it up into smaller pieces.
Two ingredients to make the recipe: basmati rice an vermicelli pasta noodles

How do you cook Lebanese rice

Before you begin the cooking process, it’s important to rinse the rice. You want to rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Then soak it in a new batch of water anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, depending on how much time you have. If you must skip the soaking, that’s fine, but don’t skip the rinsing process.

Then drain the rice from the water, and you’re ready to cook the Lebanese rice.

Soaking rice in a bowl with water
  1. Fry the vermicelli pasta. While toasting the vermicelli, stir frequently and keep a close eye on it so that it turns a deep golden brown without burning. The longer you allow it to toast, the more nutty the flavor will be.
  2. Immediately add the rice on top, season with salt and maybe add some cinnamon if you’d like.
  3. Stir all the ingredients together, and then add hot water at a 2:1 ratio. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and allow the rice 15 minutes to cook at the lowest temperature.
  4. Once the rice fully cooked, turn the heat off, but don’t uncover the pot. You’ll want to leave the rice undisturbed for 5 minutes to allow the steam to finish cooking the rice. Then you can uncover the pot and fluff with a fork.
Process shots to show how to make the recipe

When you fluff it with a fork, you’ll notice the fluffy and delicate texture of the Lebanese rice. You’re now ready to serve it with your main dish.

The vermicelli rice after it's cooked

Tips to make the best Lebanese rice:

  1. Soak the rice if you have time. You can use a fine mesh strainer to rinse the rice and rub the grains of rice between your fingers. Then transfer the rice to a large bowl and allow it to soak with water for at least 20 minutes. This helps eliminate excess starch from the rice and allows for even cooking for each grain of rice (on the inside and outside) which all means fluffy non-sticky rice!
  2. Use long grain rice (like basmati), and not short grain rice. The difference in the grain size will ensure that the rice doesn’t get clumpy. I would also recommend cooking the rice with the vermicelli for an extra minute before adding the water. You want to coat the rice with the olive oil, which adds to the toasted flavor and reduces any clump factor.
  3. Stir vermicelli frequently for even toasting. Not only are you looking for a deep golden brown color, but you also want to make sure that all the little noodles are evenly toasted. This helps to even out the flavor and gives it an overall nutty toasted taste. Just make sure to keep a close eye on it it so it doesn’t burn.
  4. Cover the pot with a clean dish towel after it’s done cooking. The towel helps to seal the lid and absorb the steam so that rice stays fluffy and unclumped.

What to serve with Lebanese rice?

This is a staple in my house and I make it literally every week! My kids would be happy eating it plain with just some plain yogurt. But generally I make it to pair with one of my Arabic stews, like my okra beef stew or my peas and carrots stew.

I also love serving it with these classic Lebanese recipes including: Beef Kafta, Shish Tawook, Beef Shawarma, Grilled Chicken Kabob. This is a great alternative to a regular rice dish with a Middle Eastern twist.

Close up shot of Lebanese rice recipe

For more rice and grain dishes, check out:

This Lebanese rice recipe is one that I make for my family 3-4 times a month. It complements so many of our dishes, it completes meals and there’s something so comforting about a bowl of warm rice in general. Using my tips, I hope you can replicate the recipe for your family and enjoy this Mediterranean style rice.

If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feelgood Lebanese Rice recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!

Lebanese Rice

This Lebanese Rice is a staple Middle Eastern (Arabic) side dish in my home that I make with only three ingredients: rice, vermicelli noodles and olive oil! 
5 from 346 votes
Servings 8 servings
Course Side Dish
Calories 251
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 15 mins

Ingredients
  

Instructions

  • Rinse the rice with cold water until the water runs clear. Drain well and set aside.
  • In a medium non-stick pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the vermicelli pasta and cook, stirring frequently until all the vermicelli is a deep golden brown color. Be careful not to burn it. 
  • Transfer the rice over the cooked vermicelli, and stir to combine and coat the rice with the olive oil. Season with salt and a dash of cinnamon, if desired. 
  • Add 4 cups water and bring the mixture to a boil. The water will reduce in the process. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes.
  • When the rice is fully cooked, remove from the heat and allow the rice to steam for 5 minutes. Then uncover and fluff with a fork. 
  • Serve warm with fresh parsley, and toasted nuts, if desired. 

Notes

Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They will last about 5-7 days in the fridge.
Sourcing: You can find the vermicelli pasta at Middle Eastern markets, natural-foods stores or even in large supermarkets, often located with other Middle Eastern ingredients. 
Substitutes: For best results, follow the recipe as is. However if you can’t find vermicelli pasta, you can use capellini pasta (thinner than spaghetti) and just break it into smaller pieces. I would avoid using spaghetti since the size is so much larger. 
Serving Size: Each serving is ¾ cup cooked rice (which is approximately ¼ cup dry rice).

Nutrition

Calories: 251kcal, Carbohydrates: 48g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 3g, Sodium: 173mg, Potassium: 53mg, Calcium: 15mg, Iron: 0.5mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

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Plate served of Lebanese Rice topped with pine nuts, almonds and parsley

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Comments

  1. hey Yomna,
    ya3tiki alf ofye

    so if i want to make 2 cups of rice , how much water using your 2.1 method. im not good at maths

    Thank you
    Regards
    Merray

  2. So much to try, delighted to discover you, super straightforward, tasty, authentic, easy, just what a 72 yr old needs to vary her menus. Cooking for a special friend with your Moroccan Lamb, it smells amazing.xxx

  3. Hi. Yumna
    This looks and sounds fantastic and l was thinking of making it as a side for your kofta recipe but l was wondering if you had an idea on how l could modify it for
    gluten free friend. It seems a shame to just leave out the vermicelli as it adds so much to the appearance and flavour of the dish. Do you think substituting with gluten free pasta would work? Or perhaps toasting some of the rice for longer or, am l in danger of having some partially uncooked rice? Many thanks. Niki.

    1. Thank you so much! That is so exciting! I have yet to try this with gluten-free pasta, but you could try that or rice stick noodles? It seems to be a common gluten-free substitute.

  4. Amazing recipe and so so easy! All the spices and flavours came together so well! I did it with ground beef but also plan to try it vegetarian with chickpeas 🙂

  5. I downloaded some of your recipes. They are similar to how I make my Lebanese food. I was married to a 100% Lebanese man in my first marriage from whom o had 2 beautiful children a girl and boy. Of course they are in their 50’s now but love my Lebanese cooking. My former mother in law was from Balbec and between her, aunt Toni and my x I conquered the art of Lebanese cuisine. We used to make Shish Barak back in the day but I lost my recipe. We always had homemade Labán in the fridge plus starter. I do enjoyed your recipes because they are so close to how I cook mine. Thank you so much, continue your food journey habibi! Sah’tine!

  6. After many years of trying, this recipe turned out perfect! A definite keeper. Thank you so much for the recipe.

  7. Hi Yuma, I have “Parboiled” rice and wondered if I use it/ prepare it exactly as your recipe says. And second, Do you or can you add Fried ground hamburger to this recipe? Thank you in advance

    1. I have yet to try this recipe with parboiled recipe, but I think it would work! You can feel free to add whatever to this recipe (like fried ground hamburger), but it won’t be the authentic Lebanese Rice anymore.

      1. Well, I used the parboiled rice and my platter turned out mushy. It tasted great, but pasty. I even rinsed and soaked the rice, so it must have been the “parboiled”. Maybe this will save someone from what I went through. I will try again with long grain.

  8. Hi I have a pressure cooker. Have you ever made this rice in one before?
    Wasn’t sure if you fry the vermicelli still then pressure cook the rice with it all in?

    1. I haven’t, but yet if you can fry the vermicelli first, that would add so much flavor. If you have an instant pot, you can use the saute function to cook the vermicellie and then add the rice and cook on high pressure.

  9. Love ..love this , I as well used to make it but your way is 💯 % better.
    My first recipe I took off your site was mujadarah .. and it was bang on ! Thats why I’m trying another one of your fabulous dishes ! One small suggestion is can you put the ingredients on top so we can take them out then read through the steps … I love your photos they are great help … nom nom 🤤 all your dishes taste delicious 😋 I did chicken separately as I’m vegetarian so I’ll put it on the side for my family! Keep em coming you are beyond amazing 🤩

  10. This is wonderful. Simple, tasty and a nice change from regular rice. I now make this on a regular basis.

  11. This is the best rice pilaf I have ever had. I halved the recipe and it turned out great. I thought that I had overcooked the vermicelli because they became very dark, but the whole thing turned out delicious. Thank you for sharing this!!

  12. Absolutely loved this one! My whole family enjoyed it last night! So easy too!

    I used my dutch oven and it cooked perfectly! I used Jovial gluten-free brown rice capellini noodles and broke them up as you suggested and it worked great. About how long should each noodle be? Couple more questions… What is the best way to reheat leftovers so they stay soft and fluffy without drying out? How long do you recommend toasting the nuts and at what temperature? Also, what quantity do you recommend as a garnish? How much parsley do you typically use as a garnish? Do you stir it in or just leave on top as a garnish for presentation?

    Thank you so much for all your delicious recipes! XO

    1. That makes me so happy to hear that you all enjoyed it! You could heat it in the microwave or on the stovetop! I would just toast it until it is golden brown, and the garnish amount really comes down to preference!

  13. Hi Yumna, thanks for this recipe. I learnt how to make this rice in 2007 from a friend but I only saw them so it once. It has since become a staple in our house. I love cooking and so slowly, through trial and error I learnt how to make it. I usually add a bit of fresh rosemary and it tastes yummy.

      1. you are amazing .
        Its my first time in my life ever being taught how to make delicious lebanese rice .

        Love my lebanese people .

  14. Do you have a recipe for Hashweh? I am 76 years old and have never gotten it right. I’d very much appreciate your recipe. Thank you.

  15. Hi Yumna,
    I came across this website and was thrilled to find a comment regarding using gluten free vermicelli in your recipe for Lebanese rice. Then more than thrilled when you encouraged Rachel (I think) to try it and her answer that it was great!! I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease 14 years ago but have been cooking Lebanese food for 52 years and my husband and kids can’t go without it. So many dishes are just fine for me, ie: Lubee, Bitinjan Bil Saneeyee, Hashwa, Warak iib mihshee, and others. Many I still make for the family but can’t enjoy myself. I make Fatayer, Kibbeh Bil Sanieh, Fatoosh Salad, etc. with gloves and a mask (after I found I got sick working with flour). My mother-in-law was Syrian, her husband Lebanese. Maybe the names of the dishes are different. I use the Syrian Cookbook she gave me but have bought many Lebanese ones as well. So to my question. All the dishes I make need Rice and I have always made the rice with butter and no noodles. I see you use oil. Now, I am wanting to try your recipe with GF pasta but can’t imagine it made with oil. What kind of oil do you use? Any suggestions. Thank you, Donna

    1. Hi Donna, you can really use any oil for this. I usually use safflower, avocado or olive oil. So sweet of you to still make those recipes for your family even though you can’t enjoy them. Hope you find tweaks and ways to make some of my recipes. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

  16. I’ve made this rice many times but sometimes I do not have the noodles. Is there a way to make without the noodles? How much water to rice should I use? Thank you!

    1. Sure thing! Without the noodles, you can just decrease the water by 1/4 cup but you can even keep the water the same actually and it will work well regardless.

  17. In most non-big city stores vermicelli will be rice sticks. You may want to more explicitly specify that the recipe calls for semolina rice. Will see how this turns out first go without said vermicelli rice.

  18. Yumna, I’m the star this evening in our house hold, I took the chance and made the lebanese rice with the vermicelli pasta and white beam stew,,, it was a hit …

    I usually don’t cook, although I enjoy it ,,, will try to make a family dinner night once a week ,

    It made me feel great when my husband said (I was questioning myself on what to say if it was horrible but it’s really delicious) ,,, thank you Yumna 🌹

    1. Awww, that makes me so happy to hear! It’s the best feeling when you make am meal that everyone loves! Thank you for sharing with me!

    1. Not at all, it’s a very subtle hint of the cinnamon that just adds a light sweetness. If you’d like, experiment with a smaller amount

  19. Hi Yumna! I love your recipes, and you are my favorite instagrammer ❤️ I need to stay gluten free, but would like to try this rice. Is it ok to sub gf vermicelli? Not sure if they would hold up the same – I know gf pasta can be finicky.

  20. This rice came out perfect!! I felt so proud of myself!
    I’m Syrian and you make rice same way. This came out just like my grandmother’s (even had family compliment me and say the same thing!). It can be hard to learn recipes from family, because a lot of it is eye-balling the amounts, but when you’re new to a recipe you need to measurements and exact steps.
    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I feel a lot more confident now knowing that I have this staple side dish under my sleeve.

  21. I made this recipe yesterday with the Kafta, it was perfection! Thank you! I used parboiled rice and added a pinch of onion powder. Truly delicious and will be a permanent part of the repertoire.

    1. Yay, so glad to hear it! Parboiled rice is so yummy to use with it. That’s what my mother in law uses!

    1. I used basmati in these photos, but any long grain white rice works. I also love using Jasmine rice.

  22. Making this as I write this. I have made over 5 different types of “Mediterranean/ Middle Eastern” rice dishes. I’ve been trying to mimic a local kabob place’s rice. I love the combination of pasta and rice. I used orzo because I was out of vermicelli. I am hopeful this is a winner, what made me try it was the dash of cinnamon and healthy pour of olive oil. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Oh I hope you like it! I’m not sure how the orzo will work though! I think it may need more water in that case, but let me know how it is because it’s different from the vermicelli pasta!

      1. Many many thanks dear Yumna for all you wrote here! 👏🤗
        You’ve earned a new follower from Turin in Italy..
        I made today with your precious advices a further step in my cooking experience..Thanks a lot!
        If ever you come to this part of world would be my pleasure to meet you personally..
        Good luck!

  23. I have been making an essentially identical recipe for many years (formerly married into a Lebanese family–that was the best takeaway). Surprisingly, I have not considered something so simple as adding a bit of cinnamon! One of my favorites is this recipe with a nice, rich yakhni.

    1. Oh yes, the little touch of cinnamon at the end is so perfect!! And I have a bunch of yakhneh recipes here under “stew” you’ll have to try them!!

  24. Just made this today and it was easy and delicious! Now I need to find a good recipe for lamb to add to this dish. Thank you! Love your work!

  25. Made this Lebanese Rice today and it was so good! Probably the best my rice has ever come out, and my toddler and hubby (who are not usually rice fans) loved it!

  26. This rice works perfectly with the chicken shawarma. Stop ordering takeout and make this your next meal. Worth it!

  27. Love this rice. The cinnamon definitely adds a lot of depth to the flavor. Thanks for sharing your recipes they never disappoint. So good.

    1. It’s usually found with other Middle Eastern products. But if you can’t find it, you can buy angle hair pasta and just break it up. Hope that helps!

    2. It’s also found in Mexican supermarkets or any other grocery store listed as Fideo which is another name for Vermicelli. My go to is in a yellow box called Q&Q brand with a little chef on it but they also have them in bags in the pasta aisle or Hispanic goods aisle.

  28. I love the sound of this rice, but how does the rice not go ‘smooshy’ being cooked for this long? I should say that I am terrible at cooking rice – it invariably feels overdone!

    1. Hi there! The cooking time is only 15 minutes…that’s very standard for cooking rice so it won’t get mushy. I hope you try it out!

  29. IT’S SO FLUFFY!!!!! Made this for dinner the other night and my husband kept complimenting me on how wonderful the rice was! Honestly, I made it early because I wanted to give it my full attention before I made the other dishes I was serving, as I thought it would be difficult to make however, it was super easy!!! The only draw back was it started to dry out a bit, but re-hydrating it with a small spoonful of water was a cinch…I even heated up leftovers on the stove the next day and re-hydrated it again!!! This is now part of the bi-weekly dinner line up!!! Thank you!!!

    1. Yay! I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed it so much! And glad you were able to re-hydrate it and still enjoy it a couple hours later and even the next day. Thanks so much for the awesome feedback 🙂

    1. It’s cooked dry or actually it’s toasted with the olive oil and then ends up cooking with the rice and the boiling water.

  30. I am thinking of making this for my baby shower (40 people). Would it be okay to store in a aluminum pans and reheat in oven the day of?

  31. This sounds lovely. Do you think it would be possible to follow your method to the point of adding the water but transfer it to a rice cooker at that point? I’m not very mobile and would find it SO much easier to not have to stand in the kitchen and watch the rice. Thanks.