This Cilantro Lime Rice is an easy, summery side dish that is bursting with flavour. Pungent and herbal, it makes plain rice a lot more exciting.
If you you’ve been following here for a while, you know rice is one of my main comforts in life. Most of the time, plain and fluffy is just fine for me. But occasionally I like to transform an ordinary pot of white rice into something a little more vibrant and colourful.
Enter this aromatic, bright and citrusy cilantro lime rice. The rice cooks with minced garlic and finely chopped jalapeño peppers then showered with cilantro, scallions, lime zest and lime juice just before serving. A simple, summery side dish that will enliven just about anything you serve it with.
Recently, we have been enjoying it as a base for this grilled chicken fajita bowl – so good!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Bursting with flavour: I didn’t want this to be a rice dish that tasted solely like cilantro and lime and worked well only when tucked into burritos or tacos. The addition of garlic, scallions, and jalapeños makes this side dish delicious enough to enjoy eating it all on its own.
- Versatile: Of course this rice is excellent paired with anything Mexican—tacos, wraps, burrito bowls, etc. But it also makes a great side dish to anything coming off the grill; chicken, veggies, fish, steaks and sausages. You will also want to pair it with any roasted protein or veggie or with stewed beans.
- Easy: Aside from being delicious this cilantro lime rice dish is simple to make for a weeknight meal, and special enough to serve to guests. You’re going to love it.
Ingredients & Substitutions
This simple ingredient list makes an exceptional rice dish that takes very little effort to throw together.
- Rice – I use Jasmine rice but any long-grain rice, such as basmati will work just as well. Depending on the rice you use, however, the liquid and cooking time might have to be adjusted.
- Garlic – Adds lovely flavour and aroma to the rice.
- Jalapeño – Completely optional but when you sauté jalapeños they become mellow and a little sweeter; infusing the rice with delicious flavour and just a hint of spice. I wouldn’t add them raw which could be too overpowering for this dish. Feel free to omit them altogether if they aren’t your thing.
- Olive oil – To sauté and flavour the rice; you can also use coconut or avocado oil.
- Cilantro – Lime and cilantro make great partners and here they perfume the rice deliciously. Because cilantro is not heat-stable, it needs to be added once the rice has cooked. If you aren’t a fan of cilantro, go ahead and use parsley.
- Lime zest and lime juice – Lime zest and lime juice add bright, citrusy flavours to this rice dish.
- Scallions – Optional, but they delicately perfume the rice making it even more delicious.
- Salt – I find it so odd that many recipes say salt is optional when cooking rice. In my opinion, it is not. Without salt, rice can be unpleasantly bland.
- Water or low-sodium chicken stock – Water is the easiest liquid to use here but you can cook the rice in chicken broth rather than water for a bit more flavour. I wouldn’t use vegetable broth which can be stronger in flavour and will overpower the cilantro and lime.
Tips For Cooking Rice
Here are my best tips for cooking perfect, fluffy rice.
Rinse the rice
One of the most important step to fluffy rice is to rinse the grains until the water runs clear. This helps remove extra starch on the outside of the grains and will make rice less sticky when cooked. This post shows a step-by-step on how to rinse rice.
This is the real secret to perfectly cooked rice—cooking it without lifting the lid. Even after you remove the pot of rice from the heat, don’t uncover it for another 10 minutes. Steam builds up in the pot and this moisture is what will continue to cook the rice while it rests. Lift the lid too soon and all that steam will fly out without giving the rice a chance to absorb it. Resist the urge to peek and you will be rewarded with grains of rice that are tender and perfectly cooked.
Use a heavy saucepan
Rice will cook more evenly in a heavy saucepan that isn’t too big or too wide. I recommend a 2 or 3 quart capacity saucepan that is a little taller, rather than wider. If you can, use the same pot for cooking rice every time so you become familiar with how much heat the pot holds and distributes.
Bring liquids to a boil, then cover and simmer
This is the method I use to cook any rice; allow the liquids and rice to come to a boil, then cover and reduce to a low simmer. Covering the pot, then bringing the liquids to a boil before simmering, will result in clumpy rice that could potentially stick to the pot.
How to Make Cilantro Lime Rice
This recipe is a low-effort way to jazz up your rice. Prepared as written, this dish is vibrantly flavourful with just a subtle hint of spice from the jalapeños. Please take a few minutes to read through the tips above to ensure your rice cooks up perfectly fluffy.
- Rinse the rice: Rinse rice under cold running water until the water runs clear. Drain well in a fine-mesh sieve. Set aside.
- Sauté the rice: Before adding the liquid, sauté the rice in hot oil along with salt, garlic and chopped jalapeño (if using). This step will help the grains remain separate, while also imparting lovely aromas on the rice.
- Add liquid and cook rice: Your liquid can be chicken broth or water. See below for liquid:rice ratio I recommend according to the variety of rice you use. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 17 minutes.
- Allow to sit for 10 minutes. Once rice is cooked, remove from heat (without lifting the lid!) and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients: Remove lid and use a fork to fluff up the rice and stir in the cilantro, scallions, lime zest and juice. Serve immediately.
What is the best rice to use to make cilantro lime rice?
Jasmine, Long-grain, and Basmati rice are my favourite for this recipe. They all work great but you will have to adjust the liquid:rice ratio and the cooking time. Here is my tried and true cooking guide for these 3 rice varieties:
- Jasmine: 2 1/4 cups water for 1 1/2 cups of rice. Cook 17 minutes.
- Long grain: 3 cups of water for 1 1/2 cups of rice. Cook 20 minutes.
- Basmati: 2/12 cups of water for 1 1/2 cups of rice. Cook 18 minutes.
Note: Though Jasmine and basmati are considered a long-grain rice, rice that is simply labelled “Long grain” is its own distinct variety.
Can I make cilantro lime rice with brown rice?
Though I haven’t tried it, I am sure brown rice will work for this recipe. Just make sure to follow the cooking instructions on the package.
Full of fresh, tropical flavours, this cilantro lime rice is excellent served with Thai, Mexican, or Latin American dishes. Some curry dishes would also be fabulous with this rice. Here’s a few of our favourite ways to use it:
Mexican dishes: Enjoy it tucked into burritos, as a base for burrito bowls or this taco salad, or alongside enchiladas, tacos and fish tostadas. This cilantro lime rice is also absolutely delicious as a base in burrito bowls such as this grilled chicken fajita bowl.
How to Store and Reheat Rice
Leftover rice can be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 3-4 days. Once refrigerated rice gets pretty hard and dry. Reheating it to get nice and fluffy again can be a bit tricky. Here is how I like to do it:
In the microwave: I don’t use the microwave often but I find it is the best way to reheat rice when you use this method; Place rice in a bowl. Thoroughly wet a piece of parchment paper that is big enough to hug the rice. Squeeze any excess water from the parchment paper and form it over the rice so it is hugging it snuggly. Heat 1-2 minutes on high, depending on how much rice you are reheating. Perfect soft and fluffy rice again!
Stovetop: Add the rice and a few tablespoons of water to a pot. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally until warmed through.
More Rice Recipes To Try
- Coconut Rice
- Moro de Habichuelas Negras (One Pot Rice and Beans)
- One-Pot Rice and Beans
- Arroz con Leche (Rice Pudding)
- Arroz con Pollo (One-Pot Chicken and Rice)
If you give this Cilantro Lime Rice recipe a try, please feel free to leave a comment and/or a star rating below. We appreciate and welcome all your feedback. Thank you!
Cilantro Lime Rice
- 1 1/2 cups Jasmine rice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 fat garlic clove finely minced
- 1 small jalapeño seeded and finely chopped, optional
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 1/4 cups water or low-sodium chicken broth
- ½ cup finely chopped cilantro
- 3 scallions finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- Rinse rice in a fine mesh sieve until water runs clear, drain well, set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add jalapeño and garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat with olive oil. Continue to cook, stirring often, for 1 minute longer.
- Pour in the water and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 17 minutes.
- Remove the pan from heat (do not lift the lid) and let it sit, covered, for another 10 minutes.
- Uncover, fluff rice with a fork and stir in the cilantro, scallions, lime zest and juice. Serve immediately.