Perfecting Lebanese Vermicelli Rice Pilaf

Lebanese vermicelli rice pilaf is a staple in my kitchen. It’s made with just three ingredients: rice, vermicelli pasta, and olive oil. This side dish makes soft and fluffy rice with great flavor. It’s all about the technique, and I’m excited to show you how to make it perfectly every time!

A place filled with rice.
A place filled with rice.

Lebanese Vermicelli Rice Recipe Snapshot

EASE: Easy!
CUISINE: Lebanese/Middle Eastern
COURSE: Side Dish
TIME: 25 minutes

What Is Lebanese Vermicelli Rice?

Lebanese vermicelli rice pilaf, or riz b sha’riyeh, is a wonderfully simple side dish with three ingredients: rice, vermicelli pasta, and olive oil. It’s a staple in Lebanon and many Middle Eastern households. What sets this rice apart is its unique texture.

Rinsing the rice before cooking ensures it turns out soft and fluffy. Toasting the vermicelli noodles creates a delightful, layered texture in every bite. While it’s incredibly easy to make, following the right steps and techniques is key to making this the best rice dish. Let me show you how to do it perfectly every time!


  • Rice: For this dish, use long-grain white rice or basmati rice.
  • Vermicelli: Vermicelli are short, thin pasta noodles that add texture and flavor to this dish. If you can’t find vermicelli in your grocery store, you can substitute angel hair or any other thin pasta.
  • Olive Oil: Olive oil not only brings out the color and flavor of the vermicelli as it toasts but also helps prevent the rice from clumping together. You can always substitute olive oil with butter for a rich and slightly different flavor.


  • Garbanzo Beans: To add protein, flavor, and texture, add one cup of rinsed and drained garbanzo beans to this recipe.
  • Middle Eastern Spices: Spice it up with a teaspoon of your favorite Middle Eastern spices!
  • Parsley: I like to garnish with finely chopped parsley to add color!
  • Toasted Nuts: Toast 1/4 cup of almond slivers or pine nuts in the same pan after toasting the vermicelli noodles. They add a rich flavor!
Up close picture of rice.
My Best Tips

Pro Tips to Make Perfect Rice

  • Rinse the Rice: Before cooking, rinse the rice thoroughly under cold water to remove excess starch. This is the best way to ensure fluffy rice!
  • Toast the Vermicelli: Toast the vermicelli evenly to a rich golden color. This enhances the flavor and texture!
  • Water to Rice Ratio: Use the correct water ratio to make rice fluffy and perfectly cooked. A common ratio is 1.5 to 2 cups of water for every cup of rice.
  • Let it Steam: After the rice has finished cooking, remove the pot from the heat and let the rice steam off the heat for a few minutes with the lid on. This helps the rice absorb any remaining moisture.
  • Fluff with a fork: Once the rice is cooked and steamed, gently fluff it to separate the grains, release the remaining steam, and prevent clumping.

Frequently Asked Questions

Vermicelli is a thin noodle similar to spaghetti. Given its thinness and light texture, vermicelli can be easily mixed with rice. An alternative is angel hair pasta; the two are very similar.

For each cup of cooked rice, scatter a tablespoon of water over the vermicelli rice and put it in an oven or microwave until warm.

Let the rice cool to room tempature. Store in the refrigerator in a air-tight containter for 3-5 days. You can also freeze it for two months in the freezer.

A place filled with rice.

Perfecting Lebanese Vermicelli Rice Pilaf

Lebanese vermicelli rice pilaf is made with just three ingredients: rice, vermicelli pasta, and olive oil. This side dish makes soft and fluffy rice with great flavor. It's all about the technique, and I'm excited to show you how to make it perfectly every time!
5 from 2 votes
Print Rate
Course: All Day
Cuisine: Lebanese
Servings: 8
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes


  • ½ cup vermicelli broken into one inch pieces
  • 2 cups long grain white rice
  • 4 cups water*
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pinch salt
  • Garnish suggestions – Toasted pine nuts. Toasted almonds. Parsley.


  • Rice Preparation: Soak the rice in cold water for five minutes. After soaking, rinse the rice thoroughly and set it aside.
  • Prepare the Vermicelli: Break the vermicelli into 1-inch pieces. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the vermicelli and stir frequently until it is a dark golden brown color.
  • Cook the Rice: Add the rice to the saucepan and stir to coat with the olive oil. Add the water, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Fluff and Serve: Remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes, covered. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve. Garnish with toasted pine nuts, toasted almonds, and parsley, if desired.


  • Use long-grain rice. Short-grain rice tends to get clumpy, which is not ideal for this dish.
  • Toast the vermicelli carefully. Vermicelli can burn quickly, so be sure to keep an eye on it while it’s toasting. If it does burn, discard the batch and start over.
  • Stir the vermicelli often while toasting. This will help it to toast evenly and prevent it from burning.
  • Cook the rice with the vermicelli for a minute before adding water. This will help to reduce the risk of clumping and give the rice a toasted flavor.
  • Let the rice rest for 10-15 minutes after cooking. This will help the rice to fluff up and absorb any excess water.
  • Fluff the rice with a fork before serving. This will help to separate the grains and give the rice a light and airy texture.
Optional ingredients and substitutions:
  • Butter or olive oil: You can use either butter or olive oil to cook the vermicelli and rice. Olive oil is a more traditional choice, but butter will give the rice a richer flavor.
  • Spices: You can add different herbs and spices to this recipe to customize it to your liking. Some popular options include ground cinnamon, cardamom pods, and cumin.
  • Garnishes: Toasted pine nuts, almonds, and parsley are all popular garnishes for Lebanese vermicelli rice. You can also use other garnishes of your choice, such as chopped green onions or sesame seeds.


Nutrition Facts
Perfecting Lebanese Vermicelli Rice Pilaf
Amount per Serving
Calories from Fat 36
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Ruth holding a whisk to her chin.

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