Traditional Lebanese Rice

lebanese rice
Garrett Ziegler / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 35 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
208 Calories
12g Fat
23g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 208
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 15%
Saturated Fat 7g 36%
Cholesterol 31mg 10%
Sodium 86mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 23g 8%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 17mg 1%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 40mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

If you grew up in the United States, chances are you have seen those boxes of Rice-A-Roni with the combination of rice and noodles. It came with a mysterious sauce/flavor packet, was easy to make, and was totally irresistible. And even those mothers who were not big fans of box mixes often found themselves giving in to childhood requests for this side dish and serving it with some baked or broiled chicken. Well, this American classic is really a Middle Eastern standard. Most commonly referred to as Lebanese rice, it's probably the most common rice side dish throughout the Middle East.

While the typical side dish does not usually combine two different kinds of starches, the hallmark of this rice dish is, in fact, the toasted broken bits of vermicelli pasta. To toast it, some use olive oil, others use butter or clarified butter (ghee) but, either way, it's very important to get the pasta crispy but not burned. It's a fine line and you need to watch your noodles carefully. But the deeper the color, the nuttier the flavor. And when the dish is done, some of the harder, more brown bits at the bottom of the pot are considered the cook's treat.

The biggest question when it comes to this recipe is whether or not to soak the rice ahead of time. Purists will tell you that soaking it is a must and that you also need to massage the grains of rice between your fingers to get some of the starch off and ensure a fluffier finished product. Whether or not you actually go to these lengths is up to you but be assured that you will get a delicious side dish either way.

In any event, once done the combination of fluffy rice and crispy pasta provides a perfect canvas to add some additional flavors. Herbs such as chopped parsley add a nice freshness and toasted pine nuts add a great crunch. Just serve alongside your favorite protein for a meal everyone will love.


  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup vermicelli pasta, broken into small pieces

  • 1 1/2 cups medium-grain rice (not quick-cooking)

  • 2 1/4 cups water

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Pepper, to taste

  • Chopped parsley and/or toasted pine nuts, optional

  • Fish, chicken, or beef, for serving

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Add the unsalted butter and the vermicelli to a large sauté pan or pot that has a tight-fitting lid. Brown the noodles on medium-high heat, stirring often, and be careful not to burn them.

  3. Once the noodles are browned, add the rice and water to the pot, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat down to low, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender.

  4. Fluff with a fork, season with salt and pepper, and add in chopped parsley and/or toasted pine nuts, if using. Serve as a side dish to fish, chicken, or beef.


  • When cooking the vermicelli, make sure to stir frequently so you can get all them evenly toasted and watch carefully so as not to burn them.
  • Leftover rice will last up to five days in the fridge. Just store in an airtight container.