Lebanese rice pilaf is a fragrant side dish with fluffy basmati rice and vermicelli. Make this recipe for Arabic rice in just 20 minutes!
Rice is a staple ingredient all over the world, but especially throughout Asia, Northern Africa, and the Middle East. This is primarily due to its affordability and accessibility, especially because Thailand and India are currently the world’s largest rice-exporting countries (source).
Rice can be prepared in many different ways and it freezes beautifully, too, making it fantastic to incorporate into make-ahead meals.
Lebanese Rice Pilaf
Cuisine: Middle Eastern / Lebanese
Course: Side Dish
Preparation: Stove Top
Recipe difficulty: Easy 🥄
Unlike hashweh, which is rice with vermicelli and meat, this Lebanese dish is a basic vermicelli rice pilaf that cooks up quickly on the stove top.
Ingredient Notes + Substitutions
- Basmati- Like any other pilaf recipe, Lebanese rice pilaf is best made with long grain rice. Short grain varieties have more starch, which can cause the grains to clump together. If you don’t want to use Basmati, Jasmine is a good substitute.
- Ghee- This ingredient is butter that is cooked to the point where the water evaporates and the milk solids are caramelized. It’s similar to clarified butter, except that it’s cooked a bit longer.
Ghee has become more popular in the United States in recent years, so you can typically find it at the grocery store near the cooking oils. Otherwise, look for it in the ethnic food aisle.
- Vermicelli- This is a long, thin rice pasta, also known as rice stick noodles. Most brands are packaged with the noodles already broken into small pieces, but if you can’t find it packaged that way, simply break thin rice noodles into 2-inch pieces.
- Pine nuts- Lightly toasted pine nuts have a fantastic nutty flavor that makes a perfect garnish for Lebanese rice pilaf. Depending on where you live, pine nuts can be a little pricey, so feel free to use slivered almonds instead.
Video: Making the Arabic Rice Dish
Watch the video in the recipe card at the bottom of this post to see how to make rice pilaf from start to finish.
- Rinse the rice well.
As mentioned earlier, to prevent the grains from clumping together, you want to rinse away as much starch as possible. Place the grains into a fine mesh colander and rinse with tap water until it runs clear.
- Stir the vermicelli often to prevent burning.
To prevent it from burning, be sure to stir the pasta often. You’ll only cook it for a couple of minutes, just until it’s golden brown in color. It will be very fragrant at this point; the aroma is intoxicating.
Lebanese Rice Pilaf FAQ
Yes, rice pilaf freezes well for up to 4 months. However, to prevent rapid growth of bacteria, be sure to place leftovers in the refrigerator while they are still warm, and allow them to cool completely before transferring to a freezer-safe container.
Frozen rice or rice pilaf can be added directly to soups or casseroles. To serve as a side dish, you’ll need to add a bit of water over the rice to replace the moisture it lost in the freezer.
Frozen rice can be microwaved on high power for 2-3 minutes. To reheat in the oven, spread the grains onto a sheet pan and bake in a 350°F for 20-25 minutes, or reheat in a pan on the stove top over medium-high heat.
Lebanese Rice Pilaf + Video
- ¼ cup ghee or butter
- ½ cup vermicelli pasta broken in 2 inch pieces
- 1 ½ cups basmati rice
- 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ⅛ tsp ground cinnamon
- 3 cups boiling water
- 1 tbsp ghee or butter
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 3 tbsp fresh parsley minced
- Place the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly until water runs clear. Set aside.
- In a large, deep pan melt ¼ cup ghee (or butter) over medium heat. Add the broken vermicelli pasta and brown, stirring often, until they are a deep golden brown. Be careful to not let the pasta burn!
- Add rinsed rice, salt, pepper and cinnamon to the pan and stir to combine with the vermicelli. Toast the mixture for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
- Carefully pour boiling water into the pan and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover with a lid. Cook for 15 minutes.
- In a small saute pan melt 1 tbsp ghee (or butter) over medium heat and saute pine nuts until golden brown. Set aside.
- Remove pan from the heat and rest 5 minutes covered. Fluff rice with a fork before sprinkling with fresh minced parsley and pine nuts, then serve.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.