Lebanese Rice Pilaf With Vermicelli

4.38 stars average

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A staple in Middle Eastern cuisine, Lebanese Rice Pilaf is made with vermicelli noodles toasted in clarified (rendered) butter.

Lebanese rice pilaf.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again. I could eat Lebanese food everyday for the rest of my life. Today I thought I’d share a classic recipe, and one that is eaten often in my household: Lebanese Rice Pilaf with Vermicelli. Extremely simple, but tasty and satisfying, it’s a great entry recipe into the world of Middle Eastern food.


  • White rice: I like to use long-grain, enriched white rice as it cooks to by nice and fluffy and has a low starch content.
  • Clarified butter: Also called ghee, it tastes like butter with with a slightly nutty flavor.
  • Vermicelli: A thin noodle similar to spaghetti, it commonly is browned or toasted before being cooked, and pairs well with rice.
  • Salt & pepper: Simple seasoning that is all you need for this simple dish.
  • Parsley: Freshly minced parsley is the perfect finish for this pilaf, as it’s clean, and somewhat peppery in taste.

How to make Lebanese Rice Pilaf

Rinsing rice

Start your Lebanese Rice Pilaf by rinsing your rice. You want to remove as much of the starch as possible, and rinse till the water runs clear.

Melting ghee in pan

Next, you’ll melt the clarified butter in a large pan over medium high heat.

Browning vermicelli

Then add the broken up pieces of vermicelli to the pan.

browned vermicelli

Cook the dry vermicelli until golden-brown, being careful not to let them burn.

Rice added to vermicelli

Add the dried rice and stir in with the vermicelli, letting the rice toast for a couple minutes.

Seasoning pilaf with salt

Season the rice and vermicelli with salt and pepper.

Adding water to rice and vermicelli

Then add hot water to the pan. Bring to a boil, stir once or twice, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover with a lid. Let cook for about 15 minutes.

Lebanese rice pilaf.

Remove from heat, then fluff with a fork before serving garnished with fresh parsley. Serve and enjoy your Lebanese Rice Pilaf!

Complimentary dishes

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the difference between rice and rice pilaf?

A pilaf usually just means the rice has been toasted in butter before cooking.

What kind of rice should I use for rice pilaf?

I like to use a long-grain white rice, but you could use whatever rice you have on hand, including brown rice.

How can I boost the flavor of this dish?

Cook the rice and vermicelli in chicken broth instead of water!

Lebanese rice pilaf.

More Lebanese Recipes

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Liz eating Lebanese rice pilaf.

Enjoy it on it’s own as a simple lunch or snack, or share it with the family as a part of dinner, either way my Lebanese Rice Pilaf is sure to be a hit.

Your fork is waiting.

Lebanese rice pilaf 2

Lebanese Rice Pilaf With Vermicelli

4.38 stars average
A staple in Middle Eastern cuisine, Lebanese Rice Pilaf is made with vermicelli noodles toasted in clarified (rendered) butter.
PREP: 5 minutes
COOK: 15 minutes
TOTAL: 20 minutes

Recipe Video


  • 1 ½ cups white rice (enriched parboiled long grain)
  • ¼ cup clarified butter (homemade or store-bought ghee)
  • ½ cup vermicelli pasta (broken in 2 inch pieces)
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • minced fresh parsley (optional garnish)


  • Place the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly using your fingers to rub off as much starch as possible. You’ll know the rice is properly rinsed when the water comes out clear from the bottom. Set aside.
  • In a large, deep pan heat the butter over medium heat until melted. Add the broken vermicelli pasta and brown, stirring frequently, until it is golden/dark brown. Be careful to not let burn – don't walk away from the pan. This takes about 4-5 minutes.
  • Add rinsed rice to the pan and stir into the vermicelli and butter. Toast the rice for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Carefully pour boiling water into the pan and stir once. Add salt and pepper then stir again.
  • Bring to a boil, stir once, then reduce heat to low and cover with a lid. Cook for 15 minutes.
  • Remove pan from the heat and fluff rice with a fork before sprinkling with fresh parsley to serve.

Last Step:

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Calories: 309kcalCarbohydrates: 51.5gProtein: 5.6gFat: 8.3gSaturated Fat: 4.9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3.4gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 585mgFiber: 1.5gSugar: 0.7g
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80 responses to “Lebanese Rice Pilaf With Vermicelli”

  1. Sandra Avatar

    I have been challenged to make this for 200 girls at The Kenya Kesho School for Girls. I may be busy for a while! It sounds very similar to Swahili pilau.

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      Wow! That’s a lot of mouths to feed, good luck! I hope they enjoy it!

  2. Karen Avatar

    If you were going to add and brown onions, at what point would you do that (before vermicelli, before rice, after both?).

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      That sounds delicious! I think you could brown the onions with or right after the vermicelli.

  3. Rachel Avatar

    I’d like to serve this rice with the Shish Tawook Chicken but since we keep kosher, can’t use the butter. Will this come out well if the vermicelli is browned in olive oil? Thanks and I’m glad I discovered your site!

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      Yes absolutely! Great idea!!!