Garlic Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe


Garlic cilantro lime rice, sometimes known as green rice, is a simple side dish that can go with pretty much any Mexican food. A staple in Mexican restaurants like Chipotle, you can serve this recipe any day of the week thanks to how easy it is to whip up.

With cooked rice and a couple of ingredients, this is one of the most effortless recipes you’ll ever make, and you can have a delicious bowl of this in just a couple of minutes. Learn how to cook it here.

How to Make Garlic Cilantro Lime Rice

If you want to add some extra flavor and zest to your burritos with beans, stuffed peppers, or other recipes, this garlic cilantro lime rice is the perfect addition. Basmati rice or long-grain white rice is the way to go for this recipe as it’s more aromatic than plain rice.

The second secret to making this side dish truly delicious is by browning the rice in olive oil as you would in rice pilaf or Spanish rice as it will bring out some great flavor in the rice that you can’t get any other way. Finally, using fresh limes and tossing in some grated lime zest with the water that you add to the rice will infuse it with lime flavor as it cooks so that you get that zest in every bite, while the cilantro garnish gives it that added kick.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients for Garlic Cilantro Lime Rice

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups basmati rice, or other long-grain white rice
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 1 small minced onion
  • 2 ¼ cups water or broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Finely grated zest of one lime
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 cup lightly packed chopped fresh cilantro

Directions for Garlic Cilantro Lime Rice

  1. Rinse the rice with cold water until the water runs clear. Drain with a fine-mesh sieve or rice washer. This will remove excess starch and make the rice fluffy and light.
  2. Heat a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add the oil. When hot, add the rice and onion. Cook, stirring constantly until the rice starts to brown and the onions are soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring it around the pan until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add water or broth, salt, and lime zest to the rice and stir to incorporate. Bring to a rolling boil, then cover and cook over low heat to remove from the boil and maintain a very low simmer. Cook for 15 minutes then remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes with the cover on.
  4. When the rice is done cooking, scatter the lime juice and cilantro on top. Use a fork to gently fluff the rice to incorporate the lime juice into the rice, and garnish with chopped cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately and eat with the protein or vegetables of your choice.

Cooking Tips for Garlic Cilantro Lime Rice

  • While long-grain rice is the best option, you can also use this recipe to add more flavor to any plain white rice, brown rice, or grain of your choice.
  • You can use olive oil or butter interchangeably for this cilantro lime rice recipe.
  • This recipe is typically made with water, but try using chicken or vegetable broth for a more complex taste.
  • If you don’t like cilantro or want to switch up the flavors, garnish with other herbs like parsley, basil, mint, or dill. The lime juice can also be swapped for lemon juice. 
  • If you’re pressed for time, you can cook the long-grain rice in a rice cooker and simply stir in the lime juice and chopped fresh cilantro after it has cooked.
  • Leftovers from this recipe can be kept in the fridge overnight. Simply put the leftover rice in an airtight container then heat it in the microwave or on the stove over low heat. Stir to fluff up the rice and serve.

Final Note on Garlic Cilantro Lime Rice

Cilantro lime rice is one of the simplest recipes to learn but is something we can see ourselves eating several days out of the week. With just a few minutes to stir, simmer, and cook, this rice recipe is all you’ll need to pair with Mexican dishes.

Looking for more rice recipes like this one? Check out our other recipes on our food blog.