Cilantro lime rice, brightly flavored with freshly chopped cilantro and lime juice, is the perfect accompaniment to tacos, burritos, salads, and more. A Chipotle copycat recipe!
Why you’ll love it: Just a couple of easy additions make ordinary white rice into something special.
How long it takes: 25 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: saucepan or rice cooker
This recipe is SO simple and so good. Fresh cilantro and slightly tart citrusy lime make plain rice fresh and interesting, and pretty, too!
If you enjoy the food at Chipotle restaurants, this rice may sound familiar. It is a copycat of their delicious rice (did you know they also have brown rice now?). This version probably has much less sodium, oil and fat than their version and tastes just as great. It’s way more economical to make your own, too.
About this Recipe
Choose your favorite cooking method. There are various methods for cooking rice: on the stovetop, with a rice cooker, or in your Instant Pot. Use the cooking method you’re most comfortable with.
I’ll get you started on the recipe here and give you some helpful tips. As always, look for the printable recipe card near the end of the post. It has complete instructions, measurements, and nutrition information.
What You’ll Need
- Long Grain White Rice: The recipe calls for two cups of rice but it’s easy to halve or double the recipe, depending on how much rice you need.
- Water: Use a ratio of 2 cups water to 1 cup rice.
- Salt: Salt is needed to season the rice. Without it, the rice will taste bland.
- Olive Oil: Olive oil has great flavor and is heart-healthy but it’s fine to substitute a different oil if you like.
- Lime Zest and Lime Juice: You’ll need two fresh limes. Using both the zest and juice ensures that the rice will have plenty of lime flavor. Zest the limes before you halve them and squeeze the juice. It’s way easier that way, trust me.
- Fresh Cilantro: Wash this fresh herb thoroughly in cold water. It’s surprising how much dirt can cling to the leaves and stems. Dry it in your salad spinner or with a clean lint-free cloth or paper towels.
Why rinse rice before cooking it? Rinsing long grain white rice removes excess starch which coats the dry grains. By removing some of the starch, the cooked rice will be less sticky or gummy. Note: Enriched white rice may lose some of the added nutrients by rinsing.
How to rinse rice: Simply put the rice in a fine mesh strainer and run cool water over it until the water runs clear, 1-3 minutes. Cook as directed.
How To Make “Chipotle Rice”
So whichever method and type of rice you choose, get the rice cooking.
In the meantime, zest and juice the lime and chop fresh cilantro. Don’t worry about throwing in a few stems as well as the leaves, as long as they’re pretty finely chopped.
Mix the lime zest, juice and cilantro with olive oil in a small bowl. Sometimes I just stir them together right in the serving bowl but then you do have to be careful to get it all up from the bottom of the bowl when you add the rice. You can also just add the mixture to the top of the rice and mix it in.
When the rice is finished cooking, spoon it into the serving bowl and mix with the lime/cilantro mixture. Isn’t that easy? If you want, garnish with more cilantro or lime zest. A few turns of coarsely ground black pepper is good, too!
Cilantro lime rice is very versatile. It is a great alternative to plain white rice and can dress up any meal.
Add cilantro lime rice as a side dish with a Mexican meal. Its bright flavors are a perfect foil to what can be a rich and spicy meal. Add it to your burritos, or burrito bowls. It’s great as a side with tacos or chili. Try serving cilantro lime rice with taco chicken tenders or BBQ salmon.
Cilantro lime rice also goes great with stir fries or this Instant Pot honey Sriracha chicken. Serve this easy meal with steamed broccoli and you have a delicious and well-balanced dinner.
I can’t 100% say this with all certainty, but I believe Chipotle rice is basmati rice, a long grain white rice. They also offer brown rice.
Make It Your Own
Since this is such a simple recipe with only a few ingredients, any changes you make will have a pretty dramatic effect on the finished product.
- Not a cilantro fan? Substitute chopped Italian flat leaf parsley.
- If you prefer, substitute brown rice. It’s more nutritious and has a nutty, more wholesome flavor. Keep in mind that brown rice takes quite a bit longer to cook.
- No limes available? Use lemons instead. Obviously, the flavor will be somewhat different but that isn’t a bad thing.
- Want to add protein? Make the rice with black beans added. They add protein, nutrients, fiber, and visual appeal.
- It’s easy to halve or double this recipe. Just keep the same ratio of rice to water, and increase the rest of the ingredients accordingly.
Storage & Reheating Tips
Refrigerate: Store leftover rice in a tightly covered container for up 4 days in the refrigerator.
Freeze: Leftover cilantro lime rice can be stored in the freezer for a couple of months. It’s not necessary to thaw frozen rice ahead of time although you can if you think of it. Frozen rice thaws quickly as it’s reheated especially if you can break it into small-sized chunks
Reheat: Individual portions can be reheated in the microwave in a covered microwave safe dish. Rice can also be reheated in a covered skillet on the stove over medium low heat or in the oven in a covered casserole dish.
Interested in a weekly meal plan (it’s free!) that includes this cilantro lime rice recipe? Take a look at my Meal Plan #18. You’ll find a wholesome recipe for each weekday plus a categorized grocery list. Let me do the planning for you this week!
We’ll be adding a new meal plan weekly. If you’re interested, browse all of our meal plans.
More Southwestern Style Sides
If you like this cilantro lime rice, you may want to try:
- Easy Mexican Rice
- Black Bean and Avocado Salad (great with chips!)
- Frijoles Borrachos (Drunken beans)
- Instant Pot Pinto Beans
- Slow Cooker Refried Beans
- Instant Pot Cilantro Lime Quinoa
- Roasted Cauliflower with chili powder
- Oven Roasted Southwestern Sweet Potatoes
- Pickled Red Onions
- 2 cups long grain white rice, rinsed if desired (see note)
- 4 cups water
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, canola, or vegetable oil, divided
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (about 2 small limes)
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest (zest the lime before squeezing the juice)
- 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Cook rice with 4 cups water, salt, and 1 tablespoon oil, according to package directions.
- Fluff rice with fork; transfer to large bowl.
- Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, lime juice, lime zest, and cilantro. Toss lightly until combined.
- Serve immediately.
- To rinse rice before cooking, put it in a fine mesh strainer and run cool water over it until the water runs clear, 2-3 minutes. Rinsing will reduce stickiness but this step is optional.
- Substitute brown rice, cooking it according to package directions.
- 1 cup uncooked rice makes 3 cups of cooked rice.
- Instant Pot Instructions: Add 2 cups rice, 2 cups water, 1 tablespoon oil, and 2 teaspoons salt to Instant Pot and stir. Secure lid. Set to Pressure Cook for 4 minutes. It will take 8 minutes to come to full pressure. After the timer goes off, let the pressure naturally release (i.e. leave the lid on and don’t release the pressure) for 10 minutes more. Continue with recipe as directed.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.