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Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe


Cilantro lime rice is a delicious and eye-catching recipe that can brighten up any dinner. You can serve it as a side dish with seafood or as the base for a tasty chicken burrito bowl. This dish is really simple to prepare, has readily available ingredients, and makes rice cooking a bit more enjoyable. In terms of nutrition, calories in this recipe are only at 114, making lime-cilantro rice ideal for people trying to cut down their calorie intake.

If you’ve ever come across cilantro rice at a restaurant or want your own homemade version of Chipotle’s rice, now’s your chance! Read below to learn how to make your very own copycat recipe.

Best Rice Variety to Use in Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe

In this cilantro lime rice recipe, the perfect rice to use is basmati rice or any long-grain white rice. Aside from basmati, you can also use jasmine rice for a more fragrant cilantro rice dish. Brown basmati rice is also a good substitute. Note that you’ll have to adjust the cooking time accordingly to properly cook brown rice.

If you wish to experiment, you can also try using short-grain rice varieties. However, that isn’t recommended if you’re planning on using the cooked cilantro lime rice for another recipe, like burrito bowls or tacos.

How to Make Cilantro Lime Rice

With simple ingredients, plain rice is transformed into a vibrant cilantro-lime side dish that goes well with most Mexican recipes. In this rice dish recipe, cilantro, lime, rice, and other ingredients are very much accessible and easy to find in your local grocery stores.

There are three variations you can choose from below:

Basic Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe

This copycat of the Chipotle cilantro lime rice can add a touch of summer to any meal.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 3-4 servings


  • 1 cup basmati rice or any long-grain rice
  • 2 cups water or chicken broth/stock
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 pcs bay leaf
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp green onion, chopped
  • 1 pinch salt
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)


  1. Add rice and chicken stock or broth to the pot and cook on the stove. Add bay leaf as the rice cooks.
  2. While the rice is still hot, combine it with minced garlic, chopped onion, and lime zest.
  3. Allow the rice to cool before adding butter, cilantro, lime juice, and salt. Add red pepper flakes, if desired. Fluff with a fork or rice scooper.
  4. Serve it hot and enjoy!

Browned Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe

In this version of the cilantro lime rice, the grains used are first browned to add more flavor to the entire dish.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4-5 servings


  • 1 1/2 cups basmati/jasmine rice or other long-grain rice
  • 1 tbsp lime zest, finely grated
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 1/4 cups water or chicken broth
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped


  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil. Stir in the raw rice and stir until all grains are coated. Cook until the rice begins to brown, stirring constantly. Add garlic.
  2. Cook for another minute until garlic is cooked. Add water or broth, salt, and lime zest. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to low heat.
  3. Simmer for 15 minutes without stirring, then remove from the heat. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  4. Fluff the rice with a fork or a rice scooper.
  5. Place the rice in a serving bowl. Toss the rice with lime juice and chopped cilantro. Serve and enjoy.

Instant Pot Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe

Cooking rice in an Instant Pot is super easy, and so is making this cilantro rice.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 3-4 servings


  • 1 cup basmati rice or any long-grain white rice
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 1/4 cups water or chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 pc bay leaf


  1. Add and stir together the rice, water or broth, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon of oil, and salt in the pressure cooker pot.
  2. Cover and cook for 3 minutes on high pressure. When the timer goes off, naturally release pressure for 10 minutes.
  3. After 10 minutes, quickly release the pressure. Fluff the rice with a fork or rice scooper.
  4. Combine chopped cilantro, lime juice, and the remaining oil in a medium bowl. Toss in the rice until well combined. Serve and enjoy cilantro rice as a side dish.

Cooking Notes

  • If you want to cut on the carbs, you can use half rice and half cauliflower rice.
  • If you’ve ever eaten Chipotle cilantro lime rice, you’d notice how the fresh cilantro and lime juice adds a bit of tangy flavor to the rice grains. It’s important to use fresh herbs and fruits in any recipe, so ensure you have fresh limes and cilantro before making this dish/cuisine.
  • You can add more lime if you want a more intense lime flavor. Add fresh lime juice according to your taste preference.
  • Instant rice can be used in place of Basmati rice. Just make sure to boil the instant rice according to the water to rice ratio listed in the package instructions.
  • For a more filling meal, you can add chopped chicken breasts or shrimps to the recipe. Boil them along with the rice. Black beans are also a great option if you want a vegetarian version.
  • If you love cilantro, you can add more fresh cilantro leaves to the recipe.
  • Coconut oil is a great substitute for butter or olive oil. If all options are unavailable, you can use vegetable oil instead.
  • Serve with fresh cilantro and half a lime on top for a more visually appealing presentation.
  • While this great recipe calls for fresh ingredients, you can substitute the raw ingredients with anything available, like lime extract for limes, etc. Just be aware that this might not produce the result.
  • This cilantro lime rice may be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave for approximately a minute or fry on the stovetop for a few minutes. You may also add a squeeze of lime for added lime flavor.

Final Word

This absolutely delicious and easy-to-make recipe can be prepared in advance or served hot. Unlike the more robust Mexican green rice, the cilantro lime rice is the ideal light meal. It can pair well with a lot of delicious recipes, making it perfect for any gathering and holiday.

For other free recipes like Spanish rice, you can read our blog.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What to serve with Cilantro Lime Rice?

This lime-cilantro rice recipe would pair nicely with fish tacos or shrimp tacos and would fit in nicely at your taco night. Chicken curry and burrito bowls are also ideal main dishes. You can make the lime-cilantro rice as a base for your Mexican meal or simply serve it as a side dish along with other Mexican food. Slow cooker recipes like stews and pulled pork can also be paired with this great recipe.

How do I store the leftover cooked rice?

If you have any leftover lime cilantro rice, place them in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. If you wish to freeze it, put it in freezer-safe containers and keep it for up to three months. When you’re ready to eat, microwave on high for 2 minutes and stir before serving.

Tell me the difference between brown rice and white rice?

Although both brown and white rice are heavy in carbohydrates, brown rice has less carbs overall and more fiber than white rice. Brown rice has a lower calorie content than white rice per serving. Because white rice is a refined grain, it naturally contains less vitamins and minerals than brown rice. However, most white rice varieties are supplemented with vitamins and minerals, which means the plain rice has been given extra nutrients during processing.

If you prefer a more substantial meal packed with nutrients, you can use brown rice in this cilantro lime rice dish.

Can I use a rice cooker to make Cilantro Lime Rice recipe?

Definitely! When using a rice cooker, you can cook the cilantro lime rice the same way you’d cook it in an Instant Pot. A measuring cup comes with every rice cooker, so be sure to use it as you’re adding the rice to the inner pot to ensure you won’t exceed the unit’s capacity. Note, however, that cooking cilantro lime rice in a rice cooker might more or less have the same cooking time as the stovetop method.

Can I use lemon juice instead of lime juice?

As the name suggests, lime is a main ingredient in cilantro lime rice. However, while lime juice is necessary to bring that citrus flavor in the cooked rice, you can use lemon juice instead if the former is unavailable.

Should I rinse my rice?

If the rice isn’t rinsed, the lime-cilantro rice would have a stickier consistency. Regardless of the long-grain rice variety, you need to rinse it first to remove excess starch.  Place the rice in a fine-mesh sieve or rice washer and rinse it under cool water until the water runs clear. Add rice to the pot afterward. Alternatively, you may soak the rice for up to 30 minutes in a big bowl. This step is particularly ideal if you’re using brown rice.


Hailing from California, USA. Ji-hyun is a Korean American 🇰🇷🇺🇸 with two growing boys who eat their weight in rice each week. After graduating UCLA & becoming a mom she started We Know Rice as a guide for all the students and moms out there looking to cook healthy and filling meals.

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