Lebanese rice pilaf with noodles

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When you're surrounded by amazing cooks from all sides of your family, you spend a lot of time in the kitchen. My mother's family (the Lebanese side) is within a 5 mile radius, which means we get together all the time for Sunday dinners, family birthday parties, holidays (Jewish and Christian) and more.

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People often ask why I would return to Michigan after living in Boston for 9 years, and the answer is simple: family. I moved home so I could go back to the kitchen with my family. I am excited to partner with Bon Appetit and Epicurious to discuss the importance of face-to-face time in the kitchen. To be honest, there is probably nothing more important in the world.

Lebanese Pilaf Rice is probably the second recipe I mastered growing up, shortly after my Aunt Vieve's classic hummus with toasted pine nuts. The reason I waited to share it with you all is beyond me, but please accept my sincere apologies.

I plan to make up for lost time by giving my family secrets to the perfect Lebanese Rice Pilaf: fluffy, nutty, and lightly toasted.

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How to make a perfect Lebanese rice:

  • You must soak the rice. I have vivid memories in the kitchen with my Aunt Paula and my mother watching them soak the rice. Traditionally they would use a bowl, rub the rice, rinse the water, and repeat with fresh water until it came out clear. I think using a fine mesh strainer is easier because you would always lose some rice by replacing the rinse water in the bowl. The secret is to rub the rice between your fingers to remove as much starch as possible. By removing the starch from the surface, you'll end up with a perfectly fluffy rice that doesn't clump.
  • Clarified butter! We call it Syrian butter, but you may know it as butter or butter. It's in vogue with paleo people, but we've been eating it all our lives. My aunt Paula does it for us and you can do it easily. Clarified butter gives noodles and rice that delicious roasted, nutty flavor that you simply can't get using olive oil or regular butter. If you don't want to, you can still find it at your local store or online.
  • Proper browning of the noodles is an absolute must! I will never forget the time when I was making rice with my mother and was about to add the rice when she stopped me cold. Turns out, I hadn't let the noodles brown in the butter long enough. As you can see in the photo above, you are looking for a deep golden brown.

Watch out because it can quickly go from brown to burnt (been there, done that) but I encourage you to wait as long as you can for the noodles to turn dark brown. The more you brown it, the deeper the nutty, buttery flavor develops.

Recipe pairings:

My family's Lebanese pilaf rice is a staple and can really be served with anything. We love Chicken Tawook, Beef Kafta, Chicken Souvlaki, and more.

Recipe substitutions:

  • Don't you have white rice? If you are looking to reduce your consumption of refined grains, use brown rice.
  • Chicken broth can be substituted for water if you are looking to improve the flavor.

Your fork is waiting.

📖 Recipe

Lebanese rice pilaf with noodles

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

Preparation time: 5 minutes Cook time 15 minutes Total time 20 minutes

Servings6 Calories 309kcal


  • 1 1/2 cups white rice (enriched parboiled long grain)
  • 1/4 cup clarified butter (homemade or store-bought butter)
  • 1/2 cup noodle paste (broken into 2-inch pieces)
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • chopped fresh parsley (optional garnish)


  • Put the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse well with your fingers to rub as much starch as possible. You will know that the rice is rinsed properly when the water runs clear from the bottom. Set aside.
  • In a large deep skillet, heat butter over medium heat until melted. Add the broken noodle paste and brown, stirring frequently, until golden / dark brown. Take care not to burn, do not move away from the pan. This takes around 4-5 minutes.
  • Add rinsed rice to the pan and stir with the noodles 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 skillet from heat and fluff rice with fork before sprinkling with fresh parsley to serve.

Chef's Notes:

Does this dish heat up well?

It reheats great !!! No problem to overtake! Sometimes I add a little chicken stock to loosen.

Could you use brown rice instead of white?



Calories: 309kcal | Carbohydrates: 51.5g | Protein: 5.6g | Fat: 8.3g | Saturated Fat: 4.9g | Polyunsaturated fats: 3.4 g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 585mg | Fiber: 1.5g | Sugar: 0.7g

Do you want more traditional Lebanese dishes? Check out my Pinterest board!

RiceWith Lebanese NoodlesPilaf

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