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Egyptian Orzo Pasta aka Lesan El Asfour

This recipe is a twist on a classic Egyptian orzo pasta recipe, called Lesan El Asfour.

The term “Lesan El Asfour,” in Arabic translates to “birds tongue.”  We did research the history behind the name, and really couldn’t come up with a solid answer. Our dad say’s it’s because orzo pasta resembles a birds tongue :). We grew up eating it and we never thought twice about the name! We highly recommend that you give it a try!

Other ways of using orzo pasta-

Lesan el asfour really is just orzo pasta. It is commonly made in chicken soup across the Middle East. The soup version is called Shorbat Lesan el Asfour, it’s delicious!

Recommended sides-

Salad or vegetables.

Another method of cooking-

You can make this over the stove top, for a quicker version.  Bring it to a boil, cover and reduce heat on medium-low for 12-14 minutes or until paster is tender. It’s easy and saves time.

Egyptian Orzo Pasta aka Lesan el Asfour

This orzo pasta is so good and a popular Egyptian dish, made with a tomato spiced ground beef.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course dinner
Cuisine arab food, egyptian, middle eastern
Servings 6
  • 16 oz Orzo pasta
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 diced onion
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red pepper
  • 3 tsp sea salt (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 cup chicken broth (or choice of broth)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In an enameled pot on medium high heat, melt butter. Add orzo pasta. Stir for a 4-5 minutes or until it is lightly golden brown and has toasted. Remove from pot and set aside.
  • Place the pot back on the cooktop on medium heat. Add olive oil, onion, and garlic. Sauté until onions are translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add ground beef and red pepper and cook. Drain the excess fat.
  • Add salt, pepper, tomato paste and cinnamon. Stir until the tomato paste has coated all the beef. Add the toasted orzo pasta, and broth. Stir, and cover.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes or until pasta is cooked. Garnish with fresh parsley!



Note: If you are not a fan of a strong cinnamon flavor, reduce the cinnamon to 1/4 tsp or 1/2 a tsp!
Keyword easy pasta recipe, egyptian food recipes, middle eastern, middle eastern food, orzo pasta
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Why toast the Orzo pasta? 

If you don’t like mushy pasta, then you have to toast it. It is key! It enhances the flavor by giving it a nutty flavor too.

We used a 4.5 qt Le Creuset enameled dutch oven, find it here


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Recipe Rating


  1. We love this recipe in my house! I usually substitute garam masala for the cinnamon and it’s fabulous!

  2. 5 stars
    Great dish. I found on Pinterest and searched my pantry and found all the ingredients. I used the stovetop method, which worked great. Delicious recipe, Food Dolls!

    1. Hi Ally,

      We love that you tried this using the stovetop method, glad it was a hit too!

      Alia & Radwa

  3. 5 stars
    Every single member of my family adored this dish! We were seriously talking about it two days later. Thanks for adding some zip to my recipe book and I am definitely a fan.

  4. After reading all the reviews. I think I will change my dinner plans and make this. All the reviews were good except for one. I like the fact that there is no cheese in the recipe. My daughter is a picky eater and does not like food with cheese in it.

  5. 5 stars
    My family loved this. I will definitely make again. I need to figure out how to do it in the Instant Pot.

  6. 5 stars
    Made this tonight and it was so tasty. I made it as written. The only thing I changed was I only used 1/8 tsp of cinnamon because I’m not a fan. I was worried because it smells vary cinnamonie but it wasn’t. The taste was so delicious and flavorful. I didn’t have a Dutch oven so I used the inside of my crockpot and covered it with tin foil. It worked great but I had to add an extra 10 minutes because of the thickness of the vessel. Thank you for the great meal. I can’t wait to try another one.

  7. 5 stars
    Yum! Super easy to make even when you’re exhausted with two small kids, and quite cost effective. The family ate it all up. Little 7mo had 2 (small) bowls 😂 so we’ll definitely be having it again.
    Delicious ✔️
    Family approved ✔️
    Tired mum approved ✔️
    These girls do good stuff. Keep up the good work because we’re all very much enjoying it. ☺️

  8. 2 stars
    I followed the recipe exactly (except I only did 1/4 tsp of cinnamon – I like cinnamon but it just seemed like way too much). Pasta was overcooked, dry, and flavorless, and I used plenty of salt, and 4 cups of chicken broth (the only broth I had on hand), 4 tbsp of tomato paste and so on. Ground beef from the whole foods – 90/10. Left it in the oven for 35 mins at 350. Will not be making again.

  9. 5 stars
    This is the third fooddolls meal I’ve made and they all have been delicious! I just started trying to make home cooked meals ( I have a newborn and want to one day have some go to recipes ) and it’s been quite intimidating but these recipes have been so satisfying and so easy to make. My husband has loved all of them. Thank you for sharing these great recipes! Please keep them coming!

  10. In the oven right now–smells so good. The directions above don’t mention what to do with the olive oil.

    Also I’m assuming if you are making this dairy free, you can use something other than butter to toast the orzo?

    1. Ohh good catch, we adjusted the instructions. Add the olive oil before you sauté the onions. Yes, you can definitely make it dairy-free by using olive oil to toast the orzo or even toast it in a dry pan without butter or olive oil!
      How did its turn out for you? Let us know how it turned out!

  11. 5 stars
    This was easy to make and the whole family loved it. Thank you for this recipe. I can’t wait to eat some leftovers tomorrow.

    1. We haven’t tried it. I’m sure it’ll work if you do all the steps except for the baking in the oven part!