Skip to content

Lebanese Rice Pilaf With Vermicelli

    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

    Eat It, Like It, Share It!

    Did you try this Lebanese recipe? The next time you make it, snap a picture and share it to your socials! Tag @thelemonbowl and #thelemonbowl so we can admire and share your dish.

    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

    4.39 stars average
    A staple in Middle Eastern cuisine, Lebanese Rice Pilaf is made with vermicelli noodles toasted in clarified (rendered) butter.
    PREP: 5 mins
    COOK: 15 mins
    TOTAL: 20 mins
    Servings: 6


    • 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.

    Recipe Video


    Calories: 309kcalCarbohydrates: 51.5gProtein: 5.6gFat: 8.3gSaturated Fat: 4.9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3.4gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 585mgFiber: 1.5gSugar: 0.7g

    SHOW AND TELL ON INSTAGRAM!Show me your creation and rate it below! Mention @thelemonbowl or tag #thelemonbowl! I would LOVE to see!

    Liz DellaCroce

    Liz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog. Since 2010, Liz has been sharing delicious recipes that just so happen to be healthy. By using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality, Liz has built a growing audience of loyal readers who crave good food for their families. Click Here To Subscribe to my newsletter:



    2. Brigitte Yeranossian-Ozanian

      We are Armenian but my mom is from Lebanon. This is a staple in our house! But my daughter keeps telling me I need to keep practicing because it’s not quite like grandmas ha! When I was growing up my “American” friends would come over and flip for this pilaf…….thanks for sharing :)

    3. Your recipe brought such wonderful memories! My grandma and my mom use to make it however they use regular butter and it was delicious. I’m going to try with ghee and I’m sure it will be much better. Thanks so much!

        1. My mother in law Mrs. Oscar Metry taught me everything I know, She was born in Lebanon and I can tell you that your rice pilaf is right on. So many cooks books fail to tell you to wash the rice and use boiling water. So grateful to find The Lemon Bowl.

    4. Stumbled across your site while looking for a recipe for Lebanese rice. I made it last night and everyone loved it. The tips on ghee and browning were critical, great photos. “So that is what makes the rice so good at Shawarma restaurants,” said my cousin. Something I did differently was that after washing the rice, I cooked it in a rice steamer while I was browning the vermicelli. Then I stirred in the cooked plain rice and browned it in the ghee and the whole thing maintained its “crunch.” I think this will be a new standard at our place.

    5. “Would this work with brown rice? I’m diabetic, and really have to limit my consumption of refined grains.”

      I’m diabetic also and have to both skip white (“polished”) rice and add as much fiber as possible. Is it possible to modify this recipe for brown rice without ruining the basic quality of the dish?
      Thank you.

    6. Thank you for recipe. Where are the pine nuts snoobar (is that correct)?? Was trying to get correct word(s) and pronunciation for Chicken and Rice in Lebanese. Love your sight.

        1. I made this recipe last night, along with the five ingredient slow cooker beef and eggplant. The ghee made a big difference and added to the unique taste of the rice. Although this recipe doesn’t involve a lot of steps, it’s definitely one, at least for a beginner like me, that requires focus and swiftness. For my first try, this recipe came out pretty good, but will continue to get better with practice. I really enjoyed making (and eating!) this rice pilaf.

        2. OMG, my whole life my mom and all my cousins called pine nuts “snowballs” Is this what my grandparents were saying??? Snooba

    7. I couldn’t imagine being far away from my mom for a long period of time, so I totally get it! Love that you guys have passed on so many family heirloom recipes from generation to generation. They’re all gems!

    8. I married into a Lebanese family over 26 years ago and so much of what you share on your blog I’ve had the good fortune of eating at my mother-in-law’s kitchen table. This recipe looks divine – and what we all especially love is the browned vermicelli! Love your blog! Thank you!

    9. Liz your lebanese rice pilaf looks absolutely perfect!

      I usually make mine in butter but I can definitely see how ghee would bring a more nutty flavor to the rice. Also, love the guide on browning the vermicelli. It took me a while to figure out that I wasn’t browning it enough.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Your feedback is important to us. Rate what you thought of this.

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.