Lebanese chicken and rice, aka riz a djej, is a Middle Eastern chicken dish made with shredded chicken, homemade chicken stock, rice, aromatic spices, minced meat, and toasted nuts. This classic dish is often at the center of the table on holidays, special occasions, and celebrations.
What I Love About This Recipe
I am obsessed with how the flavors and textures blend in this chicken and rice recipe. There is something about it that is so full of comfort and warmth. In my family, we make this chicken and rice dish part of a meal planning menu because we can't go too long without having it! Yes, it's that good and I am so excited to share it with you.
- Whole chicken: It's important to use a whole chicken because the homemade chicken stock is used to make the most flavorful rice. Alternatively, you can boil chicken breasts, however the chicken stock won't taste the same as using a whole chicken. I recommend using a chicken between 3 and 4 lbs in size.
- Ground meat: Yes, there are two sources of protein here. Some people prefer to make this with either chicken or meat but this version is my personal favorite. I recommed using ground beef or ground lamb.
- Long grain rice: You can use any kind of long grain rice. However, don't mix long grain rice up with short grain rice because it tends to clump together.
- Onion: Use onion for the meat and rice mixture and for boiling the chicken.
- Blend of spices: A blend of fragrant Lebanese spices including, allspice, seven spice mix, cinnamon, white pepper, and nutmeg.
- Bay leaves: To add to the stock water as you boil the chicken.
- Cinnamon stick: Use a cinnamon stick for the chicken stock.
- Toasted nuts: Choose from using almond slivers, halved almonds, cashew nuts, or pine nuts to top the dish.
- Salt to taste
See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for quantities.
How To Make Lebanese Chicken and Rice
Add a whole chicken, peeled whole onion, salt, pepper, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, and about 10 cups of water to a large stovetop pot. Boil the whole chicken on medium to medium high heat covered for about 1.5 hours or until the chicken meat is tender.
The cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, and onion add fragrance to the stock. While the chicken is boiling, in a large saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter. Toast the nuts until they turn a golden brown.
Wait for the chicken to cool down. Shred the chicken meat and set it aside. Wash the rice and drain it really well.
Add some olive oil to a non-stick pan then sauté the chopped onions and minced meat. Add in the spices, salt, and rinsed rice. Cook everything together for a few minutes.
Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the stove to low heat and cover. Continue cooking on low heat until the rice is done (about 8 to 10 minutes).
Once the rice is done, we're going to start working on serving this dish up.
In a bowl that's not too heavy (because we're going to flip it over), add the chicken and spoon the rice mixture on top. Do this twice so that you get two layers of each.
Once you're done layering, flip the bowl onto a large platter.
Top the shredded chicken with the toasted nuts and serve!
Serve with plain yogurt.
Tips and Tricks
The secret is in the stock: I always use homemade stock to make oriental chicken and rice. Focus on adding fragrance to it by cooking the chicken in water infused with Lebanese spices, a whole onion, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves.
Push the rice/chicken layers down with a spoon before flipping: The most difficult part of this recipe is when you flip it over onto a tray. What helps to get this right is to push down the rice mixture after spooning it into a bowl.
If you're short on time: Cook the chicken on a separate day and save its stock. You can freeze both and take them out a day before making them. The same can be done with the minced meat, onion, and spice mixture.
Variations and Substitutions
- Either/or oriental chicken and rice: In this version, you can opt to do without either the chicken or the meat.
- Veggie chicken: I know a lot of people who make chicken rice with vegetables in it like peas, carrots, and chopped sweet peppers.
- Substitute chicken breast or chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken.
- Use brown rice instead of white rice.
- A large pot to boil the chicken in
- A deep sauté pan to cook the meat, onion, and rice mixture
- A ladle to spoon the stock in
- A bowl to layer the chicken and rice in before flipping
- A tray or serving platter for the mixture to be flipped on
This Lebanese chicken and rice dish freezes well for up to 3 months in an airtight container. Store this dish in the fridge for 3-5 days. Reheat in a microwave-safe dish or plate.
No! Despite the fact that both are rice-based dishes, ouzi is a rice mixture stuffed inside filo dough that is then baked in the oven.
The answer is yes! A lot of people serve this straight from the pot. Spoon the rice mixture on your plate, and then add chicken and nuts on top of the rice. Flipping the dish over is often done when there's an occasion or when you need to place the dish on a dinner table.
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Lebanese Chicken and Rice (Riz a Djej)
- 1 whole chicken about 3 to 4 lbs in size (about 1.5 kg)
- 0.5 lbs minced ground beef or lamb
- 2 medium onions 1 chopped and used in the meat mixture, 1 whole used in boiling the chicken
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 cups long-grain rice washed and drained
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter for the rice
- 1 tablespoon butter for toasting the nuts
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon Lebanese 7 spices
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon white or black pepper
- 1 cup mixed raw nuts almonds, pine nuts, cashews
- Boil the whole chicken in 10 cups of water in a stovetop pot on medium to medium-high heat for about 1.5 hours covered. Add a whole peeled onion, salt, pepper, two cinnamon sticks, and two bay leaves to the boiling chicken.
- While the chicken is cooking, on medium heat add 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan and toast the nuts in a skillet until they turn golden brown.
- Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the heat, wait for it to cool down then shred and set aside (save the stock).
- Wash the rice and make sure you drain it really well.
- Add some oil to a non-stick pan and sauté the chopped onions and minced meat.
- Mix in the allspice, seven spices, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, salt, and rice. Cook everything together for a minute. Add 4 cups of the saved chicken stock to the rice mixture. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook until the rice is done (about 8 to 10 minutes).
- Once the rice is done, add a layer of shredded chicken into a bowl and spoon half the rice mixture on top. Repeat this process once.
- Push the mixture down into the bowl using a spoon.
- Flip over onto a tray and top with the toasted nuts.
- If using long grain rice, add 2 parts chicken broth to 1 part rice. For this recipe, it will be 4 cups chicken broth to 2 cups rice.
- If using medium grain rice, add 1.5 parts chicken broth to 1 part rice. For this recipe, it will be 3 cups chicken broth to 2 cups rice.
- Serve hot with a cup of yogurt.