23 Best Saudi Arabian Dishes and Foods

Saudi Arabian dishes are a rich blend of flavors and spices, deeply rooted in cultural heritage.

Lastest Updated April 19, 2024
Home » Dishes A-Z » 23 Best Saudi Arabian Dishes and Foods
Basic Information

Saudi Food: Basic Overview

Common Ingredients

Rice, chicken, lamb, beef, wheat, all-purpose flour, nuts, dates, vegetables

Common Cooking Methods

Boiling, Roasting, Simmering, Stewing, Frying, Baking, Pan-frying, Assembling


Main course, Appetizer, Dessert


Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Key Taste

Savory, neutral, sweet

Eating Etiquette

Meals are often communal, eaten with the right hand. Sharing is common with traditional seating on the floor around a large platter

Meal Presentation

Large platters for communal eating, with rice dishes often forming the centerpiece, accompanied by various sides

Culinary Festivals

Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha

Influence and Fusion

Middle Eastern, Asian, and African cuisines
Origin and Region

Saudi Food: Origin and Region


Saudi Arabia

Cuisine’s Geographical Territory

Middle East
Saudi Map
Ingredients and Preparation

Popular Types of Saudi Food

  • Rice Dishes

    In Saudi Arabian cuisine, rice dishes are central to the culinary experience and often serve as the main course.

    They typically feature basmati rice cooked with a variety of spices, meats, and vegetables.

  • Desserts

    Saudi Arabian desserts are rich and often sweet, featuring ingredients like dates, nuts, honey, and wheat.

    They are an essential part of Saudi culture, especially during festivals and celebrations.

  • Snacks

    Saudi Arabian snacks range from simple to elaborate and are often enjoyed with tea or coffee.

    These snacks can be sweet or savory and are a staple in Saudi hospitality.

Saudi Arabian dishes are traditional or widely consumed culinary creations in Saudi Arabia, a West Asian country whose official name is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

While dishes in Saudi Arabia vary among regions, they often use staple ingredients like wheat, rice, lamb, and chicken. Once you know them better, you’ll see a bigger picture of the dishes commonly enjoyed in the Middle East.

Get ready to discover 23 superb specialties in Saudi Arabia. To add to that, allow me to give you a few suggestions for dishes and beverages that often go together in Saudi Arabia.

Traditional Saudi Arabian food offers a cuisine rich in flavors and traditions, often revolving around these factors:

  • Diverse Regional Influences: Saudi Arabian cuisine varies significantly across its different regions, from the Central, Eastern, Southern, and Western parts, each offering unique dishes.
  • Staple Ingredients: Common ingredients include wheat, dates, ghee, meat (especially mutton), fish, and locally sourced vegetables, forming the basis of many traditional dishes.
  • Coffee Tradition: Serving Gahwah (Arabic coffee) is a sign of hospitality and generosity, and it is traditionally prepared in front of guests, although modern practices may differ.
  • Halal Dietary Laws: Islamic dietary laws, which forbid the consumption of pork and alcohol, are strictly followed, influencing the cuisine significantly.

Later on, you should see the popularity of Saudi Arabian food around the world to have a better overview of the cuisine.

Saudi Arabian food’s global popularity is evident in its presence across the Middle East, Western countries, and Asia, particularly in areas with large Arab and Muslim communities.

In the West, the increasing number of Saudi and Middle Eastern restaurants showcases the growing interest. Similarly, in Asian countries with significant Muslim populations, such as Indonesia and Malaysia, Saudi dishes have a noticeable appreciation.

Next, let’s uncover some features that help Saudi Arabian food be considered to be healthy.

To comprehend the healthy aspect of Saudia Arabian food, you need to get a grip on these factors:

  • Use of Fresh Ingredients: Saudi Arabian cuisine emphasizes the use of fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs, which are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  • Lean Proteins: The cuisine includes a variety of lean protein sources, such as chicken, fish, and lamb, which are often grilled or baked rather than fried.
  • Whole Grains: Dishes often incorporate whole grains like wheat and rice, providing fiber and essential nutrients.
  • Dates and Nuts: Commonly consumed for their nutritional value, dates, and nuts are integral to the diet, offering healthy fats, fiber, and energy.

Without further ado, let me introduce you to the flavorful dishes of Saudi Arabia.

23 Popular Saudi Arabian Dishes with Filters

Discover 23 popular culinary creations of Saudi Arabia while also using the filter system to check out these dishes in alphabetical order, dish types, ingredients, cooking methods, tastes, and worldwide popularity.

Then, get to know some styles of Saudi Arabian cuisine with options like the most popular, national, traditional, and street food:

  • Enjoyed by both locals and visitors, offering rich flavors and diverse options.
  • Often found in local eateries, reflecting the everyday culinary culture of Saudi Arabia.
  • Symbolize Saudi Arabian identity and heritage, often associated with the country’s history and traditions.
  • Served nationwide and during national celebrations, embodying the unity and pride of Saudi culture.
  • Incorporating ingredients and cooking methods unique to the region.
  • Passed down through generations, preserving the culinary heritage of Saudi Arabia.
  • Feature traditional cooking methods and locally sourced ingredients.
  • Often prepared during religious and cultural festivals.
  • Includes a variety of quick and affordable dishes that reflect the local palate and culinary traditions.
  • Street food vendors play a vital role in the urban food scene, serving as popular gathering spots for quick meals and social interaction.


  • National
  • Traditional

Kabsa is a national dish of Saudi Arabia and other Arabian Peninsula countries that consists of basmati rice, meat, and vegetables. The meat is usually beef, camel, chicken, fish, goat, lamb, or shrimp.

When served, kabsa often goes with daqqūs (Arabic tomato sauce). The ancient way from the Ottoman period involves barbecuing the meat in an earth oven on the ground.

Meanwhile, modern techniques include cooking meat in a pressure cooker or grilling it on flat stones over burning embers.



  • Street Food

Shawarma is a dish widely eaten in Saudi Arabia, and other countries in the greater Middle East, including Egypt, Israel, Iraq, and Syria. The dish includes thinly sliced meat layering on each other in an inverted cone and slowly roasted over a rotisserie or spit.

Shawarma originally used only lamb or mutton, but street vendors utilize beef, chicken, turkey, or veal today. The seller will shave off the meat from the cooked surface when served.



  • Traditional

Saleeg is a national white rice dish originating in the Hejaz region, Western Saudi Arabia. The popularity of Saleeg has spread to Taif city and throughout the Arab world, often accompanied by daggus salad and salata hara.

Saleeg traditionally consists of long-grain rice cooked in meat broth and milk. The rice dish has broth from beef, chicken, or lamb, resulting in a flavor similar to Italian risotto.

When served, the rice is placed on a tabasi (a traditional large plate) and topped with roasted meat and ghee. You often find saleeg during traditional festivals like Shabana.



  • Traditional

Mandi is a common Saudi Arabian dish of meat and rice in many Arabian Peninsula regions. The meat and rice are mixed with hawaij (Yemeni spice blend) and cooked in a tannour (primitive clay oven).

Regular meat choices are camel, chicken, goat, or lamb. The meat is first boiled with spices to get a meat broth before being used to cook the rice later, which can last up to 8 hours.



  • Traditional

Harees is a favorite food in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, and other Arab states of the Persian Gulf during the Ramadan month. The specialty primarily consists of boiled and crushed wheat mixed with meat.

However, the preparation varies depending on the country. For example, Saudi Arabia adds cardamom pods for more aroma and flavor.

Traditionally, harees were only homemade by the wealthy during Eid, Ramadan, and weddings to share with their neighbors.



  • Traditional

Tharid, also known by Taghrib, tashreeb, thareed, and trid, is a bread soup in Saudi Arabia. Consisting of bread and broth, tharid is a must-have during Ramadan.

The basic way to eat tharid is to dip the bread into the stock and eat it with meat. Today, this bread soup even has a dry version that involves stacking bread and meat in layers.

Ruz Al Bukhari

Ruz Al Bukhari

  • Traditional

Ruz al bukhari is a popular dish in the Hejaz district, Saudi Arabia, consisting of chicken flavored with black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, fennel seeds, nutmeg, and star anise.

Some versions replace chicken with lamb or mutton. The chicken is then served with long-grain rice cooked in the meat broth.

Ful Medames

Ful Medames

  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Ful medames, or ful, is a famous stew made with cooked fava beans in Saudi Arabia, with roots in Egypt. Arabian-Christian communities often cook this fava bean stew during the Lent diet.

Ful is traditionally cooked and served in a large metal jug with cumin and olive oil. Other optional companions are chili pepper, garlic, lemon juice, onion, and parsley.

Ful medames even has a hearty salad form consisting of fava beans, diced tomatoes, lemon juice, olive oil, onion, parsley, pepper, and salt. This ful medames salad is a favorite local mezze (small appetizer) for breakfast.

Mutabbaq Samak

Mutabbaq Samak

  • Traditional

Mutabbaq samak, or mutabbak, is a rice-based dish well-loved in Saudi Arabia and other Arab states of the Persian Gulf.

Mutabbak consists of rice cooked in flavored fish stock and topped with spiced fried fish and caramelized onions.

Some places garnish mutabbak with chopped parsley and nuts and serve it with an Arab salad. Today, local residents even make mutabbak with chicken and other types of meat.



  • Traditional

Asida is one of the most famous desserts in Saudi Arabia, made by stirring wheat flour into boiling water to form a lump of dough. It is sometimes enhanced with added butter or honey.

The rich dish is often eaten on its own without the need for side dishes. Asida often appears in religious holidays or traditional ceremonies, like Eid, Mawlid, and aqiqah (the first haircutting).

Asida is also a breakfast item or a nutritious dish for women in labor.



  • Traditional

Ma’amoul, or maamoul, is a butter cookie filled with dried fruits or nuts famous in Saudi Arabia. With semolina flour as the main ingredient, ma’amoul is highly versatile.

These filled butter cookies either use dried fruits like dates, figs, or nuts like almonds, pistachios, or walnuts. Maamoul’s shape also varies, from balls to domed or flattened shapes.

Maamoul is associated with various holidays: Eid Al-Fitr, Easter, Purim, etc. These days, this filled butter cookie is served with chocolate and Arabic coffee for any visitor.



  • Street Food

Murtabak, or motabbaq, is a pan-fried bread or stuffed pancake notably famous in Saudi Arabia. This stuffed pancake consists of pan-fried crepes stuffed with minced meat, beaten eggs, leeks, chives, or scallions.

When cooked, motabbaq is folded and cut into square pieces. Arab streets feature many vegetarian, chicken, and other murtabak versions.



  • Traditional

Ka’ak refers to biscuits and other baked goods produced throughout Saudi Arabia and the Arab world. Usually, ka’ak is a semolina-based biscuit or cookie with different fillings, like ground dates, pistachios, or walnuts.

Arab Christians often make ka’ak in a wreath shape during Easter to symbolize the thorn crown.



  • Traditional

Knafeh is a traditional dessert popular in Saudi Arabia, containing kataifi (spun pastry) soaked in attar (sweet syrup) and stacked with cheese, clotted cream, nuts, or pistachios.

Still, modern knafeh has evolved into many variations, such as khishnah with a crust made of noodle threads, nāʿimah using semolina dough, and mabruma with noodles.

When cooked, knafeh is poured with a thick syrup of sugar, water, and orange blossom or rose water.



  • Exotic
  • Traditional

Baklava is a common layered pastry sweet in modern Saudi Arabian and other Arab cuisines. This layered pastry consists of filo pastry filled with chopped nut filling and flavored with honey or syrup.

This layered pastry has become a trendy dessert in Iran, Turkey, Greece, and other countries. In Saudi Arabia, the sweet treat is a favorite street food item.



  • Traditional

Shakshuka is a famous food in Saudi Arabia, comprising poached eggs in tomato sauce flavored with cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic, olive oil, onion, paprika, and peppers.

Shakshuka is a popular main dish for the evening besides hummus and falafel. These poached eggs in tomato sauce often accompany pickled vegetables, merguez (red, spicy sausage), bread, or mint tea.



  • Traditional

Kleicha, or kolucheh, is a cookie that Saudi Arabian people often make for Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, and other special celebrations like weddings.

Kleicha has many fillings and shapes, like disc or crescent. As for the filling, the usual option is cardamom, sometimes flavored with rose water or saffron.

Other choices include coconuts, dates, dried figs, pistachios, sesame seeds, Turkish delight, and walnuts.



  • Traditional

Markook is a common unleavened flatbread in Saudi Arabia. This unleavened flatbread is made with flour, salt, and water before letting the dough rest and baking it over on a saj (metal cooking utensil) or in a tannour.

The result is a thin, unleavened flatbread similar to pita bread, only thinner and larger. Markook has different names in other Arab countries, like khamir, maluj, and saluf.



  • Traditional

Masoob is a banana-based pudding popular in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with roots in Yemen. This banana pudding mainly includes overripe banana, cheese, cream, dates, honey, and ground flatbread.



  • Traditional

Muhallebi is a milk pudding that appeared in Saudi Arabia in the late 8th century through a Persian cook. Originally, muhallebi had 3 versions: one thickens milk with ground rice, one uses chicken, milk, and rice grains, and the last is egg custard.

Today, the muhallebi with chicken is less common, and this milk pudding often contains milk, rice, sugar, and a type of starch, like rice flour or semolina.

Local residents cook these ingredients until thickened and flavor this milk pudding with jasmine or rose extract.



  • Traditional

Khabees is a regular sweet of flour and oil in Saudi Arabia and other countries, like Bahrain, Qatar, and the UAE.

The dish is also flavored with cardamom and saffron for more flavor. Natives often make khabees for breakfast during Eid days.



  • Traditional

Mansaf is a traditional lamb dish in Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Kuwait. Besides lamb, mansaf requires jameed, a hard dry yogurt made of goat or sheep’s milk, to make the broth.

Then, the lamb is cooked in this jameed broth until done. Local residents use a large platter lined with a layer of markook to serve mansaf.

The lamb meat is placed on a bed of bulgur or rice and garnished with almond and pine nuts. The last step is pouring the jameed sauce over.



  • Traditional

Quzi is a rice dish called “madfoon” in Saudi Arabia. The dish traditionally begins by stuffing a whole lamb with rice, nuts, spices, and vegetables.

Then, the locals wrap the lamb in aluminum foil and cook it over an open heat source. When finished, the stuffed rice is taken out and served with the lamb, roast nuts, and raisins.

What Is Saudi Arabian Food Culture?

Saudi Arabian food culture is rich and diverse, reflecting this West Asian country’s history, geography, and Islamic traditions. Here’s a closer look at some key aspects:

  • Foreign Influences: Various cultures have influenced Saudi Arabian cuisine due to its historical role in trade routes and pilgrimage. Traders from Egypt and Persia have left their mark, introducing cinnamon, cloves, saffron, and other spices.
    Ottoman Turkish influence is also evident in dishes like Kabsa. Western fast food has entered KSA recently, but traditional dishes remain popular.
  • Islamic Dietary Laws: Islamic dietary laws, or halal, have significantly shaped Saudi Arabian food culture. For example, alcohol is prohibited in KSA due to Islamic law.
    Pork is another strictly forbidden ingredient, and only meat processed in a certain way is considered halal.

Remember to spend your time going through a few combos of dishes and beverages coming from Saudi Arabia to give you a better picture of the cuisine.

What Saudi Arabian Dishes to Have with Beverages?

Savor more flavors from these dishes by pairing them with the right drink options of Saudi Arabia, allowing you to create unique combos of fascinating tastes:

  • Kabsa: This rich and flavorful rice dish pairs well with a cooling yogurt drink like laban to balance its spices.
  • Shawarma: Thinly sliced meat wrapped in bread, shawarma goes well with tangy beverages such as tamarind juice or lemon mint juice.
  • Saleeg: A creamy rice dish such as saleeg is served with chicken to complement herbal teas or light, unsweetened beverages.
  • Mandi: This aromatic meat and rice dish goes nicely with gahwah (Arabic coffee) or sobia.
  • Harees: A wheat and meat porridge, often enjoyed during Ramadan, can be paired with date juice or apricot juice.

Due to historical and cultural ties, many drinks that are popular in Saudi Arabia are also beverages widely consumed all over the Middle East. Therefore, it’s quite easy to find suitable beverages for ideal pairings.

Once you’ve learned about the dishes in Saudi Arabia, I suggest sharing them with people you know to spread these flavorful creations even further. Also, you should leave a comment sharing your thoughts.

Jamie Scott

Jamie Scott

Editor in Chief, Senior Content Writer


Home Cooking, Meal Planning, Recipe Development, Baking and Pastry, Food Editor, Cooking-video Maker, Western Food Evaluation Expert


Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts

  • Program: Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts
  • Focus: Gained foundational knowledge in French and European culinary techniques. Participated in workshops and hands-on training sessions under the guidance of seasoned chefs.

Local Community College, New York, NY

  • Program: Associate’s Degree in Nutrition
  • Focus: Acquired basic understanding of nutrition principles, dietary needs, and the importance of balanced diets in daily life.

Jamie Scott is a skilled culinary expert and content creator specializing in Western cuisine. With over 15 years in the culinary field and formal training from Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, Jamie deeply understands how to blend nutrition with delicious flavors. His passion for cooking matches his commitment to making healthy eating accessible and enjoyable.

On Fifteen.net, Jamie brings a fresh perspective to classic dishes and beverages, offering readers insightful recipes, cooking tips, and a fresh view on meal planning that emphasizes taste, health, and simplicity.

Leave a Reply

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