Lebanese rice with vermicelli is a classic Middle Eastern side dish made with only three ingredients. This is a simple and easy recipe that goes well with many dishes!
We have many easy rice recipes for you to enjoy and this Lebanese vermicelli rice is definitely one of our top favorites. Just like mujadara (lentil rice) and Turkish rice pilaf with orzo, this is a vegetarian rice recipe (with a vegan option) that's packed with amazing flavors and is so easy to make!
Table Of Contents:
What is Lebanese rice?
Lebanese rice , also known as Arabic rice or Middle Eastern rice is a staple side dish of the region which is very simple to make and has a nutty flavor that pairs well with almost any main dish.
This recipe is made with only 3 ingredients and the only seasoning is salt. Sometimes, vermicelli rice is topped with toasted pine nuts or almond slivers for a bit of a nutty flavor.
- Rice: Long grain rice such as basmati works best for this recipe. It's important to rinse the rice a few times to remove the excess starch.
- Vermicelli: Short broken thin pasta that's the star of this dish. You can find vermicelli in many Middle Eastern or Mediterranean shops as well as online.
- Fat: You can use butter, ghee or olive oil for this recipe. I used ghee since I love the flavor, but if you're looking for the dish to be vegan, then you can use olive oil.
How to make Lebanese rice
- Prepare the rice: Rinse the rice a few times until the water runs clear. Then soak it in cold water for 20 to 30 minutes. This will speed up the cooking process and will also prevent the rice from becoming sticky.
- Melt the ghee or butter in a pot over medium heat and toast the vermicelli until brown but not burnt, stirring constantly. This will take about 5 minutes. Drain the rice and add it to the vermicelli with salt and cook for two minutes.
- Pour in the water and bring it to simmer. Simmer on medium low until the water is almost gone.
- Place a lid on the pot and let it cook on low for another 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the rice and vermicelli sit for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice using a fork and top with toasted pine nuts and parsley.
Tips to make the best Lebanese rice
- Soak the rice: Vermicelli rice is supposed to be fluffy and not sticky at all. To have such rice, we need to remove all the excess starch from the rice by soaking it in cold water.
- Stir frequently: To make sure that the vermicelli is toasted and browned evenly, stir it frequently.
- Fluff the rice: Once the rice is cooked completely, fluff it with a fork for a nice texture.
Rice pilaf with vermicelli is a tasty side dish for Middle Eastern dishes. Here are a few suggestions:
- Beef and lamb: kofta kebab, braised lamb shanks, ground beef stew, Greek meatballs, beef shish kabob or even doner kebab.
- Chicken: shish tawook, chicken stew, grilled chicken kabobs, grilled zaatar chicken or chicken shawarma.
Storage and freezing
Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. You can either use a microwave to reheat the leftovers or place them in a saucepan with 1 tablespoon water over medium heat for about 15 minutes.
To freeze Lebanese rice, let it cool completely then transfer it in a freezer-safe bag and freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat.
Frequently asked questions
Use olive oil instead of ghee or butter to make vegan Lebanese rice.
Vermicelli is a one of kind pasta and there isn't much of a substitute out there for it. You can probably use very thin spaghetti and break it into smaller pieces, but it won't be exactly the same.
This rice is typically made with long grain rice and short grain rice won't give the same results.
You can toast slivered almonds or simply leave it out.
More delicious rice recipes
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Easy Lebanese Rice and Vermicelli
- 1 ½ cup basmati rice
- 2 tablespoon ghee or clarified butter see notes
- ½ cup vermicelli
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups water
- toasted pine nuts
- chopped fresh parsley
- Rinse the rice a few times until the water runs clear. Then soak it in cold water for 30 minutes.
- Heat the ghee in a pot and toast the vermicelli until it's brown, stirring occasionally. This would take about 5 minutes. Discard the water and add the rice to the vermicelli. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the salt and 3 cups of water. Bring the rice to simmer. Let it simmer over medium heat until most of the water is evaporated. Then cover and turn the heat to low. Cook for another 10 minutes.
- Turn the heat off and let it sit covered for 10 more minutes.
- Fluff the rice and serve with your favorite main dish.
- You can use olive oil instead of ghee or butter to make this dish vegan.
- To make toasted pine nuts, heat a small pan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and stir frequently for 2-4 minutes until golden on all sides.
- Store the leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave on in a saucepan with 1 tablespoon water over medium heat.
- Serve Lebanese rice with braised lamb shanks, kofta kebab, shish tawook or zaatar chicken.