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This Vermicelli Rice, also known as Lebanese, Middle Eastern or Arabic Rice, is made with only 3 simple ingredients: rice, vermicelli pasta, and oil/or ghee. This rice pilaf is easy, tasty, and is the perfect side dish to any meal. It comes together in less than 30 minutes. Here’s how to make it!

vermicelli rice served on a plate with toasted almonds and garnished with parsley
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Lebanese rice, which also goes by riz bi sha’riyeh, is an easy and delicious rice side dish. It goes really well with Middle Eastern stew as well as meat dishes like Kabobs, Kafta, Shisk Tawook, and Shawarma. Made with pantry staples, you’ll love this Middle Eastern take on a rice side dish!

If you’d like to try more Lebanese recipes, I’ve got some! My Lentil Soup and Lebanese Spicy Potatoes (Batata Harra) are some of my family’s favorites and I’m excited to be able to share them with you!

What is Vermicelli Rice?

Lebanese/ Arabic rice is a fluffy rice pilaf made with vermicelli noodles. This rice is a key side dish in many Middle Eastern homes, perhaps one that people can’t live without. It’s served with homemade stews, grilled meats and much more. This Arabic rice is mostly topped with fried nuts and soaked raisins. It can be flavored with light shredded coconut, coconut oil, ghee, or different herbs. Depending on where you are from, the flavorings used may vary.

Why You’ll Love This Middles Eastern Rice

  • It’s so customizable. While the base only requires 3 ingredients, it’s super easy to change up with the addition of some extra add ins such as fresh herbs or toasted almonds or pine nuts.
  • Everyone can enjoy it. It’s simple to make, it’s vegan-friendly, there’s no dairy (unless you choose to use butter instead of oil), and it goes with everything!
  • Tastes amazing! It’s toasty, nutty, and super delicious despite the short ingredient list. It’s definitely a great change from plain white rice. 

Vermicelli Rice Ingredients

  • Rice — Traditionally, you’ll want a long grain rice like Jasmine, or basmati rice. You don’t want short grain rice as they’re more sticky.
  • Vermicelli — vermicelli are mini sized thin pasta that’s used to cook Arabic rice or placed in soups.
  • Oil-neutral oil or ghee
top down shot of the ingredients needed for vermicelli rice

How To Cook Vermicelli Rice

  • Rinse: Rinse the rice very well and remove all the starchy residue from the rice.
  • Toast the vermicelli: In your pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat before adding in the vermicelli noodles. Toast the noodles until they are golden brown, stirring constantly. 
vermicelli pasta before and after its toasted
  • Sauté rice then add water: Add in your rice and toast it as well for a couple of minutes. Then add in the water.
vermicelli rice in a pot before and after adding water
  • Simmer: until the liquid is almost gone from the top then cover and cook on low heat for 20 minutes.
vermicelli rice cooked in a pot
  • Cook then fluff: cook the rice and fold only once during the cooking period. When the rice is completely cooked, fluff it up with a wooden spoon of or fork.

Tips to Make Arabic Vermicelli Rice

  • You can swap oil for ghee, or use a mix.
  • If you can’t find vermicelli pasta, you can use angel hair pasta, just be sure to break it up thinly. Unfortunately, spaghetti noodles will be a little too thick.
  • The vermicelli should be a golden yellow color even before you start toasting it. Don’t accidentally use rice vermicelli that’s used in Vietnamese cooking. Those come packaged as well but the noodles itself are white and are also labelled as vermicelli or rice sticks.
  • Keep a close eye on your vermicelli pasta while you toast it as it can quickly go from a beautiful golden brown to burnt! 
  • Be sure you are constantly stirring the vermicelli so you toast them evenly.
  • Do not skip rinsing the rice. You want to remove as much starch as possible so that the grains of rice do not stick together when cooking and you get individual fluffy grains of rice. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make vermicelli rice ahead of time?

Yes you can! This vermicelli rice reheats so well! Be sure to let it cool before storing it in an airtight container in the fridge. If it’s not air tight, you risk the rice drying out and being crunchy, but not in the good way! It should last you 5 days when stored correctly. If you’re worried about the rice being dry when you reheat it, you can add a splash of water to help keep it moist.

How to make Arabic Rice more flavorful?

To add even more flavor to this, you can cook the rice with chicken broth, vegetable broth, or ghee. Also there are times where I use coconut oil to give it a little boost in flavor. You can also season the rice with fresh herbs, whole cloves, bay leaves, etc.

How do I toast nuts as a topping?

Heat up a little bit of oil in a frying pan or skillet until it is hot and carefully add your nuts to the pan. Toast them until it is golden brown and remove from the heat. Be sure to keep an eye on them because they toast up pretty fast.

Can I use brown rice?

You are more than welcome to swap white rice for brown rice but I have never tried it. This rice is really known for it’s flavor and how the white rice and vermicelli go together pretty well.

Is vermicelli rice healthy?

If you are targeting a very strict healthy diet, then this would not be the perfect healthy side option for you. Rice contain a high amount of carbohydrate, which causes weight gain for some people.

What is vermicelli?

Vermicelli is a type of pasta noodle. They may look different at the Asian store from the vermicelli you find at the Arabic. The vermicelli you find at the Arabic stores is made from durum wheat and has a darker color than the white vermicelli you find at the Asian stores, or used in Asian recipes.

top down shot of vermicelli rice served on a plate with toasted almonds on top.

More Lebanese Recipes

I hope you enjoy all the recipes I share with you, including this delicious Lebanese Vermicelli Rice recipe. I hope you try it, enjoy it, rate it and share it with your friends and family!

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5 from 1 vote

Lebanese Vermicelli Rice

This Vermicelli Rice, also known as Lebanese Rice, is made with only 3 simple ingredients: rice, vermicelli pasta, and olive oil. This rice pilaf is easy, tasty, and is the perfect side dish to any meal. Here’s how to make it!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups rice, long grain, I like Jasmine
  • ½ cup vermicelli
  • 1 tbsps. oil, or ghee
  • cups water
  • salt to taste

Instructions 

  • Rinse the rice well and set aside.
  • Bring a medium non stick pot over medium heat and add 1 tbsp. of oil. Add in the vermicelli pasta and toss continuously until golden brown, but do not burn.
  • Add in the rice and sauté for a couple of minutes. Then add in 3½ cups of hot water into the pot, as well as the salt. Adjust the taste.
  • Cook the rice uncovered on medium low heat until the water has halfway dried out, but not completely dry. Then cover and let the rice fully cook on low heat for about 20 more minutes, folding once half way through.
  • When rice it done, fluff it up and serve. You can garnish with some toasted nuts and chopped parsley.

Notes

  • You can swap oil for butter or ghee, or use a mix.
  • If you can’t find vermicelli pasta, you can use angel hair pasta, just be sure to break it up thinly. Unfortunately, spaghetti noodles will be a little too thick.
  • The vermicelli should be a golden yellow color even before you start toasting it. Don’t accidentally use rice vermicelli that’s used in Vietnamese cooking. Those come packaged as well but the noodles itself are white and are also labelled as vermicelli or rice sticks.
  • Keep a close eye on your vermicelli pasta while you toast it as it can quickly go from a beautiful golden brown to burnt! 
  • Be sure you are constantly stirring the vermicelli so you toast them evenly.
  • Do not skip rinsing the rice. You want to remove as much starch as possible so that the grains of rice do not stick together when cooking and you get individual fluffy grains of rice. 

Nutrition

Serving: 8g | Calories: 239kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 34mg | Potassium: 58mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 1mg
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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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