Al Kabsa (Baked Middle Eastern Chicken and Rice)

Kabsa is a comforting, one-pan chicken and rice dish with layers of flavorful Middle Eastern spices. I hope you’ll make this recipe for Saudi’s national dish; it’s fantastic!

When you’re in the Middle East, there are some wonderful foods to be enjoyed. Because rice was traded often in those parts of the Silk Road, it is incorporated into many of the dishes, including this Arabic chicken and rice dish.

How to Make Kabsa

Al Kabsa

SERVINGS: 6PREP: 20 minutes
COOK: 1 hour 15 minutesTOTAL: 1 hour 35 minutes


  • 4 tbsp butter or ghee
  • 3 lbs bone-in chicken (See Note 1)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup tomato puree
  • 14 oz chopped tomatoes canned with liquid or fresh
  • 3 carrots grated
  • 1/2 tsp crushed saffron
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 1 chicken broth cube (See Note 2)
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 1 dried lime poke several holes in it with the tip of a knife


  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter or ghee
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds


  • shatta sauce (or any chile paste)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Salt and pepper the chicken pieces.
  2. Melt butter in a large roasting pan, large stock pot, or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  3. Brown the chicken, skin side first, for 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the chicken over and then scatter the onion and garlic all around the chicken and sauté. Cook until onion is tender and chicken is browned on both sides. Remove chicken from pan, cover, and keep warm.
  4. Stir in tomato puree, tomatoes, carrots, all the spices, water, chicken bouillon cube, and rice.
  5. Top with browned chicken (skin side up), add dried lime, and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 45 minutes.
  6. Remove the foil, lift the chicken pieces out to stir the rice mixture, and then place the chicken back on top. Bake another 15 minutes uncovered until rice is tender and chicken has browned more and reaches an internal temp of 165°F.
  7. In a small saute pan, melt the butter and cook the almonds and raisins until golden brown (several minutes). Set aside.
  8. Place the rice on a large serving dish, top with chicken pieces, and garnish with chopped parsley, raisins, and almonds.
  9. Serve with pita and Shatta Sauce (red chile sauce or paste of choice – optional).


  1. You can use any bone-in pieces you prefer. 1 whole fryer, cut into 8-10 pieces, half chicken pieces, quarters, etc. Nutrition shown in this recipe card is based on using a 3lb bone-in fryer, cut into 8 pieces.
  2. If you prefer, 4 cups of chicken broth or stock may be substituted in place of the water and chicken broth cube.


  • Chicken– Although you can use any chicken pieces you’d like, you’ll save the most money by purchasing a whole chicken to cut up yourself. Packages of pre-cut pieces are always more expensive.

If you aren’t comfortable breaking down a chicken yourself, no worries! Most grocery stores and meat market butchers are happy to do this for you at no extra charge.

  • Spices– Please don’t be intimidated by the long list of spices that are in kabsa. If you have most of the individual spices already on hand, that’s fantastic. Otherwise, there are a few brands of premade kabsa spice blends available. One by Zamouri is sold under the name Baharat spice blend.
  • Dried Persian Limes – Also sold under the names brown limes or black limes, this ingredient adds a lot of tart flavor beyond what the fresh fruit offers. If you can find fresh Persian limes in your area, you can even make dried Persian limes yourself.
  • Basmati Rice – Although many Middle Eastern recipes use short-grain rice, this recipe is an exception. Long-grain basmati cooks up beautifully in an oven, with less chance of clumping like shorter grain rice often do.
  • Broth – You’ll notice that this recipe calls for 4 cups of hot water and a chicken bouillon cube. I can’t think of any reason why you couldn’t use 4 cups of chicken stock or broth instead.

One benefit to using a broth cube is, unless you already have homemade chicken stock on hand, cubes are less expensive to buy than 4 cups of chicken stock would be.
Shatta Sauce– I may be biased, but I think my recipe for shatta sauce is better than any Middle Eastern chile paste you can buy in a bottle!

If you don’t want to make it and you don’t have any on hand, feel free to use any hot chile paste or sauce of your choice.
The remaining ingredients for making chicken kabsa are common vegetables and pantry staples like canned tomatoes, onions, fresh garlic, butter, etc.


Serving: 5oz | Calories: 549kcal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 76mg | Sodium: 766mg | Potassium: 632mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 5738IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 3mg

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About the Author: Julia Azedae

Food is my passion, and I'm grateful every day that I get to share that passion with others through my blog. I hope to continue exploring the world of food and sharing my experiences with my readers for many years to come.

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