Lemon Rice infused with bright, fresh lemon and zippy dill and the option of butter and feta for an easy, tantalizing side you will want to serve with everything!
This Lemon Rice is the answer to the dreaded question “What should I make?” when it comes to sides. It transforms rice into exotic, delectable, bright Greek Lemon Rice Pilaf with just a few ingredients! It’s wonderfully easy and so good you will be eating straight from the pot. I’ve included directions for stove top or rice cooker and fun ways to customize your Lemon Rice!
Lemon Rice Recipe
I love the Greek restaurant Luna Grill, including their Greek Lemon Rice, so I wanted to create my own Lemon Rice that pairs beautifully with everything Mediterranean including my Chicken Gyros, Greek Chicken, Beef Kabobs, Chicken Shawarma and Greek Chicken Souvlaki. Enter this bright and wonderfully lemony, buttery Greek Rice! It requires very little hands-on prep time, but adds a lot to the meal, so much so, I would just make it my meal.
This Greek Lemon Rice is infused with bright, fresh lemon, aromatic garlic and onions and zippy dill and the option of butter and feta. You can customize the strength of the tangy lemon flavor by adding as much or as little fresh lemon juice after cooking so everyone can enjoy their own perfect Lemon Rice.
What Rice is Best For Lemon Rice?
For this Lemon Rice, you can use any long-grained white rice (or brown rice if you adjust the liquid accordingly), but basmati is my favorite. Not only does basmati boasts a light nutty flavor but basmati grains are longer than traditional white rice and cook up lighter and fluffier. The individual grains remain distinct when cooked instead of sticking together which means no more clumpy or mushy rice!
I also prefer Basmati Rice because it reheats beautiful because of the distinctive grains. In fact, this rice actually tastes better the next day and remains just as fluffy!
Lemon Rice Recipe Ingredients
This Greek Lemon Rice recipe is packed full of fresh, vibrant aromatic ingredients. You will need:
- rice: use basmati rice for the best results.
- lemon juice: fresh is always best and is necessary in this recipe because we will also be using the lemon zest.
- chicken broth: please use low sodium broth so we can control the salt.
- olive oil: use quality olive oil for the best flavor.
- onion: 1/2 medium yellow onion will do the trick. When a recipe doesn’t specify which type of onion, it assumes yellow onion.
- garlic: 3 minced garlic cloves. Use more or less depending on your garlic love.
- seasonings: dill, parsley, ground cumin, dried oregano, salt and pepper round out the flavor profile.
- butter: use unsalted butter so we an control the salt.
- feta: use more or less depending on how subtle or strong you would like the feta flavor – we like more.
DO I HAVE TO USE CHICKEN BROTH?
Cooking the Lemon Rice in chicken broth and lemon juice instead of water adds SO much flavor as the rice actually soaks up the broth and lemon juice as it cooks. You can also use a water/chicken bouillon substitute by replacing the chicken broth with 2 cups water and 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon or better than bouillon.
CAN I USE GARLIC POWDER?
You may substitute the fresh garlic with 1 teaspoon garlic powder.
CAN I USE ONION POWDER?
You may substitute the fresh onion with 1 teaspoon onion powder.
DO I HAVE TO ADD BUTTER?
Butter is an optional add-in to the Greek Lemon Rice after it is cooked but it elevates it to restaurant delicious. I would definitely add it if serving guests.
How to Make Lemon Rice
Lemon Rice is very simple to make. It is like making other rice recipes on the stove but some of the chicken broth is replaced with lemon juice. What really elevates the Lemon Rice is the addition of the seasonings: dill, parsley, oregano and the tangy feta to finish.
To make, you ‘ll start by sautéing the onions, then add the rice, garlic and lemon zest and sauté for another minute to slightly toast the rice. This helps it to retain its structure and not become mushy. Next, stir in chicken broth, water, lemon juice and all seasonings then simmer for 12-15 minutes, or just until water is evaporated and rice is tender.
Let the rice rest for 10 minutes to fluff up and then add additional lemon juice if desired. Finally stir in 1-2 tablespoons butter (or even more if you’re feeling fun and flirty) followed by feta then dig in!
Tips and Tricks to Make Lemon Rice
- Rinse and drain rice thoroughly. Place rice in a fine mesh sieve and thoroughly rinse rice under running water until the water runs clear. This is essential to remove the extra starch that will make the rice stickier.
- Use basmati rice for best results. Other types of rice will likely stick together and can easily get mushy (see above section). Basmati rice also reheats much better.
- Lazy day powder substitute. You can use 1 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon onion powder instead of fresh onions and garlic if you don’t feel like chopping or are out of fresh ingredients.
- If liquid evaporates before rice is done, then add just a little liquid, keeping in mind that the rice will continue to steam for 10 minutes once it’s removed from heat, so it doesn’t need to be 100% cooked once liquid is gone.
- Add lemon to taste. We not only sauté the rice in lemon zest but cook it in chicken broth, water and lemon juice so it sucks up some of the lemony goodness. Still, I suggest tasting the cooked rice and adding additional lemon juice for a fresh, bright lemon pop. I also like adding more lemon juice after the Lemon Rice is cooked because each person can customize their own rice if they prefer.
- Butter is optional but sooooooo good. If you ever wonder why Greek Lemon Rice is so much better at restaurants it’s because they load on the butter. I’ve suggested 2 tablespoons butter in the recipe but if you are feeling wild and/or having company over to impress, then feel free to add more.
- Salt and pepper to taste. Rice soaks up salt so if you feel like your rice is missing something- it is probably salt. I add additional freshly cracked salt and pepper to my rice be sure you taste your rice first before seasoning!
NO CHOPPING LEMON RICE ALTERNATIVE
I am often lazy when it comes to sides, so if you want to eliminate all chopping and make this Lemon Lime Rice strictly “dump and run” you can use the following substitutions:
- Substitute the chopped onion with 1 teaspoon onion powder.
- Substitute minced garlic with 1 teaspoon garlic powder.
- Substitute the fresh dill and parsley with 1 teaspoon each dried.
Can I Make Greek Lemon Rice in My Rice Cooker?
Absolutely! I love my rice cooker so much and is how I usually cook my rice because it is dump and run hands off perfection. It also allows you to easily use brown rice too! The ingredients for Greek Lemon Riced cooked in your rice cooker are going to be the same except we are going to substitute garlic cloves with garlic powder and onion with onion powder.
How to Make Lemon Rice in Rice Cooker
- Add rice (long grain white or brown), chicken broth (amount according to your rice cooker), 1 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon onion powder and all of the remaining ingredients to your rice cooker except for butter and feta.
- Set rice cooker to white or brown rice cook setting according to which rice you are using. Once rice is cooked, stir in butter to melt followed by feta. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Taste and add 1-2 tablespoons additional lemon if desired (I add one tablespoon).
How To Customize Lemon Rice
This Lemon Rice is incredibly versatile. It can be served as a tempting side or it makes a fabulous base to add your protein and veggies for a delectable meal-in-one.
Transform Greek Rice into a meal-in-one by adding any of these cooked proteins:
- Ground turkey
- Ground beef
- Italian sausage
- Shredded rotisserie chicken
- Salmon/other fish
You can add your favorite veggies for two sides-in one!. You’ll want to sauté longer cooking vegetables like carrots and broccoli with the onions, shorter cooking vegetables like zucchini and bell peppers with the garlic and of course add spinach at the very end of cooking.
- bell peppers
- Frozen vegetable medley: Like the frozen peas, you can use a frozen, corn/carrot/pea medley and stir them into your rice after it has cooked but before you recover and let the pot sit 10 minutes.
ADD NUTS OR SEEDS
I love Lemon Rice with sliced almonds but most nuts or seeds will be delicious:
- Slivered or sliced almonds
- Pine nuts
- Sesame seeds
ADD CURRANTS OR POMEGRANATE ARILS
I love sweet pops in my savory sides such as:
- Chopped dried apricots
- Pomegranate seeds
Make it creamy
You can also add additional butter to your Greek Lemon Rice as I’ve discussed above – so good or stir in a dollop of tzatziki or Greek yogurt.
You can also change up the flavor profile of this Lemon Rice from Greek Lemon Rice to Indian Lemon Rice with the omission of dill and parsley and the addition of coriander, curry and/or turmeric – the possibilities are endless!
What to Serve with Lemon Rice?
Lemon Rice Pilaf is not only customizable but the ideal side as-is to any Mediterranean dish (Greek, Spanish, Italian). Here are just a few main dishes that it pairs beautifully with:
- Greek Chicken
- Lemon Garlic Butter Salmon
- Chicken Gyros
- Greek Beef Kabobs
- Roasted Lemon Butter Garlic Shrimp
- Parmesan Pesto chicken
- Lemon Basil Chicken
Now it’s time for this Lemon Rice because it’s so good you’ll want to serve it with everything – or with nothing because its cravilicious all by itself.
CAN I PREP GREEK RICE AHEAD?
Yes! While this Greek Lemon Rice recipe doesn’t require much prep, you can still prep everything in advance so it can come together in minutes.
- Chop aromatics. Chop your onions, garlic and herbs and cilantro and store in separate airtight containers in the fridge.
- Juice lemons. Juice and zest lemons and store in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator.
- Measure seasonings. Measure out all of the seasoning and store in a separate airtight container.
- Rinse rice. Thoroughly rinse rice and leave it in the strainer to dry.
HOW TO STORE & REHEAT LEMON RICE RECIPE
This Lemon Rice recipe stores beautifully!
- Refrigerate: Let Greek Lemon Rice cool to room temperature then transfer to a tightly covered airtight container or to several small containers for meal prep. Store in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.
- Microwave: For small portions, microwave rice in a microwave safe container with a couple teaspoons water for 60-90 seconds or until warmed through.
- Stove: For larger portions, transfer Greek Rice to a nonstick skillet along with a dash of water or chicken broth. Heat over medium heat, stirring often until warmed through.
HOW TO FREEZE LEMON RICE RECIPE
This easy Lemon Rice recipe can also be frozen:
- Let the rice cool completely before transferring to a freezer bag (recommended) or freezer-safe airtight container. If using a bag, squeeze out as much excess air as possible to prevent freezer burn.
- Label and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Let rice defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
- Reheat in the microwave or stove as directed above.
LOOKING FOR MORE SIDE DISH RECIPES?
- Mushroom Orzo
- Butternut Squash Risotto
- Smashed Potatoes
- Glazed Carrots
- Garlic Bread
- Green Bean Salad
- Twice Baked Potatoes
- Macaroni and Cheese
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