$3.45 recipe / $0.58 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.33 from 85 votes
Pin RecipeJump to recipe →

This post contains some affiliate links, which means that we make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.

I discovered Mujaddara probably about ten years ago at this little Lebanese lunch spot in Baton Rouge, called Serop’s Express. I didn’t know what the brown mixture was, but I ordered on a whim and I was instantly in love. The soft grain-like mixture was earthy, flavorful, and had an intoxicating blend of seasoning. I immediately googled the recipe, determined to make it myself. 

Top view of a dish of cooked Mujaddara, wooden spoon on the side

(I added chopped cilantro for garnish and to add color to the photo. Cilantro is not needed for the recipe.)

What is Mujaddara?

Mujaddara is a simple, filling, and flavorful Arabic dish made with rice, lentils, and caramelized onions. There are many ways to make it, with each region and family having their own spin, but the common thread among them all is rice, lentils, and caramelized onions. However it’s made, though, it’s usually extremely delicious, filling, and very inexpensive. So, in other words, it’s definitely a budget byte!

My Interpretation

Despite trying several times over the past ten years, I’ve never been able to replicate Serop’s magic recipe. I’ve even had friends question members of the restaurant’s family about what’s in the dish, only to get the answer “rice and lentils”. *sigh*  I’ve had mujaddara at other Lebanese restaurants, but none of them compare to what Serop’s serves up. I don’t know what kind of magic they put in there, but it’s way more delicious and intoxicating than just rice and lentils.

The version I finally settled on is as close to Serop’s as I can get. It has plenty of caramelized onions to give it a deep, rich flavor, vegetable broth to make the flavor a little more complex, and a healthy dose of aromatic spices to keep things interesting. This recipe makes a big batch of about 6 cups, but this recipe will freeze very well, so any leftovers can be saved for later.

What to Serve with Mujaddara

I’ve been eating mine plain in a bowl, but it goes great with sautéed greens, roasted vegetables, or even topped with a fried egg. It’s kind of one of those all-purpose dishes that can be eaten at almost every meal. No wonder it’s been around so long!

Try the Authentic Version

As you can see, I’ve played around with the basic mujaddara concept quite a bit here, so you may want to try an authentic recipe first. Plus, you’ll probably get to learn a lot about this dish’s rich culture and history while you’re at it. Here are some great authentic mujaddara recipes to try:

Side view of a dish of Mujaddara sitting on a grey and white stripped napkin, wooden spoon on the side
Share this recipe


4.33 from 85 votes
Mujaddara is a simple but flavorful rice and lentil pilaf, topped with sweet caramelized onions. Serve alone or as the base of just about any meal. 
Servings 6 (1 cup each)
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 1 hour 40 minutes
Total 1 hour 50 minutes


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.32)
  • 4 yellow onions ($1.59)
  • 1 tsp cumin ($0.10)
  • 1 tsp allspice ($0.10)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves ($0.03)
  • 2.5 cups vegetable broth ($0.30)
  • 1 cup long grain white rice (or jasmine) ($0.33)
  • 1 cup brown lentils ($0.68)


  • Thinly slice the onions and add them to a large pot with the olive oil. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently for one hour, or until they are deeply golden brown, sticky, and caramelized. Remove half of the onions and set them aside to top the pilaf after cooking
  • Add the cumin, allspice, and cloves to the pot with the remaining onions. Sauté for about one minute to lightly toast the spices. Add the vegetable broth and stir the pot well to dissolve any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the rice and lentils to the pot. Cover the pot with a lid and turn the heat up to high. Allow the contents to come up to a boil. As soon as it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn the heat off and let it rest for 10 minutes without removing the lid. Finally, remove the lid, fluff with a spoon or fork, then top with the reserved caramelized onions. Serve warm.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.


If your vegetable broth is low sodium or sodium free, you’ll likely need to add some salt when cooking the rice and lentils. Taste the broth before setting the pot to boil and add salt as needed.


Serving: 1CupCalories: 304.63kcalCarbohydrates: 54.48gProtein: 11.08gFat: 5.25gSodium: 341.73mgFiber: 5.37g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
Email Me This Recipe
Get this sent to your inbox, plus get new recipes from us every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

How to Make Mujaddara – Step by Step Photos

Sliced Onions in pot on stove top

This recipe starts with caramelized onions, which lend a lot of flavor to the final pilaf. They take a long time to make, but are well worth it. Begin by thinly slicing four yellow onions and adding them to a large pot with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Cook the onions over low heat, stirring frequently for one hour. You can stir less frequently at first, but will need to keep a closer eye towards the end. I did chores around the house during the first part, remembering to walk back into the kitchen every few minutes to stir.

Caramelized Onions in pot, stirred with wooden spoon

After an hour or so, they should be deep golden brown, sticky, and caramelized. If you don’t like the stringy texture of caramelized onions, you can dice them instead. They will probably cook a little faster when diced and will blend into the pilaf a little better.

Spices added tot pot with onions

Remove half of the onions and set them aside to top the pilaf later. Add 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp allspice, and 1/4 tsp ground cloves to the pot. Sauté the spices with the remaining onions for about a minute. This toasts the spices slightly, which enhances their flavor.

vegetable broth added to pot with seasoned onions

Add 2.5 cups of vegetable broth to the pot and stir to dissolve any browned bits off the bottom. All that browned onion sugar will help give a lot of flavor to the Mujaddara.

Once cup of Lentils and one cup of Rice

Add one cup of long-grain white rice and one cup of brown lentils to the pot. I used jasmine rice because it’s my favorite, but you can use plain white rice if desired. You’ll want to use brown lentils and not French or “green” lentils because those take twice as long to cook as brown lentils. If unsure, check the packaging to see the recommended cooking time. It should be 20-30 minutes.

Cooked Mujaddara in pot on stove top

Add the rice and lentils to the pot, place a lid on top, then turn the heat up to high. Let the pot come to a full boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn it down to low heat and let it simmer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn the heat off and let it rest with the lid in place for 10 more minutes. After the ten-minute rest, you’ll have this (see photo above). 

Fluffed Mujaddara in pot on stove top

Fluff it up with a spoon or fork (looks more appetizing now, for sure). The rice and lentils should have absorbed all the broth and be soft and tender all the way through.

Top view of a dish of Mujaddara, wooden spoon on the side

Top the Mujaddara with the reserved caramelized onions and serve! YUM.

Share this recipe

Posted in: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Leave a Comment
  1. I am a FAN of this. In case anyone else botched the onions the first time, too, highly recommend using a double eared pot instead of a fry pan. Also, when onions stick a little, deglazing with a splash of balsamic made me feel worldly and wise. (Also deepened color of onions, WHABAM I was suddenly and irrevocably both a magician and a chef). Loved the spices as written. Thank you for adding to my fancy food that is also vegetarian friendly menu.

  2. I tried this recipe today and I ended up with a burnt layer on the bottom of the pan. Any tips to avoid this?

    1. You can try rinsing your rice thoroughly to remove some of starch, making it less likely to stick to the bottom of the pot. Also, make sure that you’re turning the heat down to low once it comes to a boil!

    1. I don’t suggest red lentils for this because they have a different flavor and tend to break down really easily when cooked, so your final texture will be more of a mush.

  3. Loved this recipe but it makes a lot! I wonder if anyone has tried making it with brown rice?