This traditional Lebanese rice with toasted vermicelli is sooo buttery and delicious, you'll have to stop yourself from eating it straight out of the pot. Make a big batch and serve it as a side (or on its own - no judgment) throughout the week.
Rice with toasted vermicelli is a staple in Lebanese cuisine. It is made with long grain white rice, wheat vermicelli noodles, and a generous amount of ghee or clarified butter. It is commonly served with stews, grilled meats, or even just a side of plain yogurt for a simple and filling meal or midday snack.
To make rice with toasted vermicelli, you only need 3 ingredients besides water and salt:
- Rice: Use a long grain rice such as basmati or jasmine rice.
- Vermicelli: These are very short and thin wheat pasta noodles, not to be confused with Asian rice noodles.
- Ghee or clarified butter: This is what my mom taught me to use and it truly gives the most delicious, nutty flavor to the rice.
First, rinse the rice until the water runs clear. While it is straining, melt the ghee in a medium pot and add the vermicelli to toast it, stirring frequently until it develops a deep golden color.
Add the strained rice and mix it with the toasted vermicelli. Continue toasting them together, stirring constantly, for about one minute, then add the water and salt.
Stir everything together then let the water come to a boil. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat, and cook for 18 minutes. Once the time is up, leave the pot covered and let it continue steaming for 10 minutes. Do not be tempted to open the lid for a peek!
Fluff the rice with a fork and serve. The rice should be fluffy, buttery, and delicious.
For extra flavor, texture, and presentation, garnish the rice with toasted almonds or pine nuts and some chopped parsley for a pop of color.
Substitutions and Variations
- Vegan - feel free to use an equal amount of olive oil or a plant-based butter to toast the vermicelli.
- Vermicelli - some vermicelli come pre-cut like the ones I used above, while others come in nests. If you are using vermicelli nests, use your hands to break them up into smaller pieces. If you are unable to find vermicelli, you can use capellini pasta and break it up into small pieces.
- Spices - if you'd like, add a cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, or any other spices that you enjoy.
Tips for Making the Best Rice with Toasted Vermicelli
- Soak the rice: If you have time, soak the rice for 30 minutes before cooking to eliminate excess starch and make fluffier rice. Make sure to rinse the rice until the water runs clear. I like to use a strainer for this.
- Don't skimp on the fat: The fat not only helps toast the vermicelli evenly, but it also coats all the rice so that they don't clump together. Of course, it also adds delicious flavor.
- Toast the vermicelli: Don't be afraid to toast the vermicelli to a deep golden brown. Darker color means more flavor. Once it starts changing color, it gets dark quickly. Don't stop stirring and have the strained rice next to you to add it to the pot before the vermicelli burns.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I use short or medium grain rice? Shorter grain rice varieties are starchier which yields stickier and clumpier rice. You can definitely use them, but know that the end result will not be fluffy like the traditional Lebanese rice pictured in this post.
- How do I reheat the rice without drying it out? For every cup of cooked rice, sprinkle a tablespoon of water over the rice and place in a microwave or oven until warmed through. If using the oven, cover the rice with foil or parchment paper.
- How long is it good for? It will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for about 5 days.
If you’ve tried making this Rice with Toasted Vermicelli recipe or any other recipe on Forks & Foliage, then please don't forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! I would be so happy to hear how it turned out for you. And if you took any photos or videos, please share them with me on Instagram @forksandfoliage so I can see the deliciousness you made!
Rice with Toasted Vermicelli
- Rinse the rice until the water runs clear, then strain it well.
- Melt the ghee or clarified butter in a medium pot over medium high heat and add the vermicelli. Stir frequently, toasting the vermicelli until it becomes a deep golden brown.
- Add the strained rice to the vermicelli and stir together constantly for about one minute, until the rice is fragrant.
- Carefully add the water as it may bubble and splatter a bit. Add the salt then stir to combine.
- Let the water come to a boil, then cover with a lid, reduce the heat to the lowest setting, and let the rice cook for 18 minutes. Once it's done, leave it covered for an additional 10 minutes before serving.
- Fluff the rice with a fork and garnish with toasted nuts and chopped parsley, if desired.
- If you have time, soak the rice for 30 minutes before cooking.
- If using an electric stovetop, after the water comes to a boil, you may need to transfer the pot to a smaller burner to prevent boiling over. And after the time is up, remove the pot off the burner and set it aside to rest.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and may vary.