Learn how to make the Best cilantro lime rice – better than Chipotle’s and better than Cafe Rio!
This Cilantro Lime Rice recipe is easy to make and the perfect side to all your Mexican dishes. You can make it either on the stove top or in the rice cooker so you can use white or brown rice! I’ve also included instructions so you can make this Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe with black beans at the same time (two sides in one!). This Cilantro Lime Rice is simmered with jalapenos, green chilies and red onions spiked with cilantro and lime for the most satisfying Mexican rice you will want to serve with everything. Or with nothing because its ts cravilicious all by itself.
Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe
Although Mexican Rice is more common at Mexican Restaurants, Cilantro Lime Rice has a special place in my heart and a staple at my house. It’s the same rice in my beloved Honey Lime Chipotle Chicken Fajita Bowls and I serve it along all my Mexican meats such as my Carnitas, Smothered Chicken Burritos, Beef Barbacoa, Baja Fish Tacos and on and on, so I thought it was long past time for its very own post even though there are many versions all over the internet but none quite like this...
This Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe is elevated by the addition of black beans that cook directly with the rice along with sauteed red onions, jalapenos, green chilies, garlic and a healthy dash of cumin.
Even with the encore cast, this Cilantro Lime Rice recipe is flavorful without being overwhelming so it pairs perfectly with any tacos, enchiladas, burritos, etc. you are serving up and also makes the ideal side because it requires so little hands-on prep time, but adds a lot to the meal.
And if you are feeling a little crazy, you can stir in some sour cream, avocados, salsa, and/or cheese. Lots of cheese. I must feel crazy a lot.
Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe Ingredients
This Cilantro Lime Rice recipe is packed full of fresh, vibrant aromatic ingredients. You will need:
- rice: use white long grain rice for the stovetop version or you may use brown rice for the rice cooker version.
- cilantro: adds a fresh, zippy, zesty flair. Use more or less to taste.
- Lime juice: fresh is always best but you may also used bottled as it is super convenient.
- chicken broth: please use low sodium broth so we can control the salt.
- olive oil: use quality olive oil for the best flavor.
- red onion: 1/2 medium red onion will do the trick. Red onions are sweeter than yellow onions so they beautifully complement the lime in the recipe but if you only have a yellow onion on hand, you may use that.
- garlic: 3 minced garlic cloves. Use more or less depending on your garlic love.
- jalapenos: use 1-2 minced jalapenos depending on how spicy you want it. If you want it even spicier, reserve some of the jalapeno seeds and add them in after you taste the finished Cilantro Lime Rice.
- canned mild diced green chilies: make sure you purchase mild green chiles – I have accidentally used the hot chilies before and they are HOT! Mild green chiles, however are more tangy than hot so you don’t have to worry about them making your soup spicy.
- seasonings: ground cumin, salt and pepper round out the flavor profile.
- butter: use unsalted butter so we an control the salt.
Do I have to use chicken broth?
Cooking the Cilantro Lime Rice in chicken broth instead of water adds SO much flavor as the rice actually soaks up the broth as it cooks. You can also use a water/chicken bouillon substitute by replacing the chicken broth with 3 cups water and 1 tablespoon chicken 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 red onion with 1 teaspoon onion powder.
DO I HAVE TO ADD JALAPENOS?
Just one jalapeno will add flavor but will not make your Cilantro Lime Rice spicy so I don’t suggest omitting. You may, however, substitute the jalapeños with some cayenne pepper or chipotle chile powder to taste.
DO I HAVE TO ADD BUTTER?
Butter is an optional add-in to the Cilantro Lime Rice after it is cooked but it elevates it to restaurant delicious. I would definitely add it if serving guests.
How to Make Cilantro Lime Rice
- Rinse and drain rice thoroughly. To rinse, place rice in a fine mesh sieve and thoroughly rinse rice under cool running water until the water runs clear.
- Sauté Aromatics. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add rice, red onions and jalapenos saute 3-5 minutes or until tender. Toasting the rice with the onions and jalapenos not only infuses it with those flavors but helps develop the wonderfully nutty flavor. More importantly, toasting the rice helps the grains keep some of their texture after they are cooked. After toasting your rice, don’t worry that the rice doesn’t look like it’s toasted evenly, we are just looking for some of the rice to be toasted indicating that that the flavor is developed.
- Add chicken broth and seasonings. Add beans, green chilies and chicken broth.
- Simmer until render. Next, bring the contents to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to LOW. and simmer, covered, for approximately 15- 20 minutes or until rice is tender. Once the water is evaporated, the rice still might seem “wet” but this will take care of itself when we replace the lid and let it sit for 5 minutes..
- Let rice rest. Remove the rice from heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes. This will allow the rice to absorb extra liquid and helps it firm up and become fluffier.
- Add cilantro and lime. Stir in butter to melt (optional) and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in lime juice and cilantro. You can add additional butter, lime and cilantro to taste.
NO CHOPPING CILANTRO LIME RICE ALTERNATIVE
I am often lazy when it comes to sides, so if you want to eliminate all chopping and make this Cilantro 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 minced jalapenos with pinch-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
How to Cook Cilantro Lime Rice in the Rice Cooker
I am often super lazy when it comes to making Cilantro Lime Rice, so I’ve included rice cooker instructions as well for a couldn’t-be-easier dump and run recipe.
I love my rice cooker because you don’t have to spend any time over the stove or babysit the rice while it’s cooking and it comes out perfectly every single time. The only difference in Rice Cooker Version is we sub garlic cloves for garlic powder and red onion for onion powder, It also means you can use brown rice s well.
Cilantro Lime Rice tips
Cilantro Lime Rice is easy to make but here are some tips for successful rice every time:
- Rinse and drain rice thoroughly: rice contains a lot of starch which will cause the rice to stick together and can even make it mushy once cooked. To eliminate the mushy problem, it is crucial to remove the extra starch from the rice by rinsing it with cool water in a fine mesh sieve until the water runs clear – don’t shortcut this process!
- Use a nonstick pan. It is essential your pan is nonstick because the rice will soak up all the liquid, evaporating the protective barrier between the rice and the pan.
- Sauté rice: toasting the rice adds another dimension of rich, complex, nutty flavor. It also coats the rice in a protective toasted shell which helps them remain individual grains and not clump.
- 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.
- If rice is still wet: don’t worry, it will continue to absorb the 10 minutes while it is steaming. When you remove the lid after 10 minutes, you can let the rice sit an additional 5-10 minutes to dry out.
- Let it steam: don’t shortcut the 10-minute steaming process as it gives the rice time to finish cooking and firm up which in turn, makes it fluffier.
- Use a fork to fluff the rice: instead of a spoon or a spatula because the tines help separate the rice grains whereas a spoon can mash or break the grains.
- Salt and pepper to taste: if your Cilantro Lime Rice tastes like it’s missing something – it is probably salt. I add a decent dose of freshly cracked salt and pepper to my rice before serving – just make sure you taste your rice as you season.
Looking for more Mexican Sides Recipes?
- Corn Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing
- Grilled Corn on the Cob with Chipotle Lime Butter
- Southwest Salad with Creamy Avocado Salsa Dressing
- Southwest Orzo Salad with Chipotle Honey Lime Vinaigrette
- Pina Colada Fruit Salad
- Grilled Pineapple with Brown Sugar Orange Glaze
- Mexican Street Fries with Salsa Ketchup
How Customize Cilantro Lime Rice
- Add avocado. I made a creamy avocado sauce in my Avocado Cilantro Lime Rice – gah – so good!
- Add Pico de Gallo , Homemade Salsa, or Salsa Verde. These not only add flavor but extra “sauciness.”
- Mix in cheese. You can do a little for a taste or a lo so it’s cheeeesy.
- Stir in sour cream. Sour cream makes it decadently creamy. I like to stir in cheese and sour cream. Gah, so good!
- Add protein. You can instantly transform your Cilantro Lime Rice recipe into a meal-in-one by adding protein such as ground turkey, ground beef, shredded rotisserie chicken, chopped chicken, carne asada. pork, shrimp, salmon/other fish.
- Add other veggies. Corn, carrots, red bell peppers or zucchini would all be fabulous.
- Bell Peppers or zucchini: add to pot with chicken broth.
- Carrots: if using fresh carrots, dice them and add to the pot when you add the jalapenos.
- Corn: if using canned corn, rinse, drain and add to pot with chicken broth.
- Peas: use thawed, frozen, petite peas (never canned!) and stir them into your rice after it has cooked but before you recover and let sit 10 minutes.
- Mixed Vegetables: like the peas, if you use frozen, corn or carrots, stir them into your rice after it has cooked but before you recover and let the pot sit 10 minutes. You can even buy frozen mixed vegetables with corn, peas and carrots for the easiest option.
CAN I PREP CILANTRO LIME RICE AHEAD?
Yes! While this Cilantro Lime 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 red onions, garlic, jalapenos and cilantro and store in separate airtight containers in the fridge.
- 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 CILANTRO LIME RICE RECIPE
This Cilantro Lime Rice recipe stores beautifully!
- Refrigerate: Let Cilantro Lime 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 Cilantro Lime 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 CILANTRO LIME RICE RECIPE
This easy Cilantro Lime Rice 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.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH CILANTRO LIME RICE?
There are so many main dish Mexican staples that all need this easy Cilantro Lime Rice recipe! I could list everything in my Mexican Recipes Section, but I’ll spare you and let you look at the photo index yourself. Here are just a few of my favs that pair beautifully with this Mexican Rice:
- Enchiladas. Enchiladas always need a side of rice! This Cilantro Lime Rice is ideal because it compliments and doesn’t compete with the enchilada flavor. Some of our favorite enchilada recipes are red chicken enchiladas, ground beef enchiladas, creamy green chili chicken enchiladas, enchiladas verdes and honey lime chicken enchiladas.
- Burritos. Burritos and rice are a match made in heaven. Serve Wet Burritos, California Burritos, Smothered Chicken Burritos or Ground Beef, Bean and Cheese Burritos with Cilantro Lime Rice and drool.
- Tacos. Tacos might be the most popular Mexican food and so they need the BEST rice as a side. Some of our favorite taco recipes to serve with Cilantro Lime Rice include Carne Asada Street Tacos, Easy Shredded Chicken Tacos, Ground Beef Tacos, Ground Turkey Tacos, Shrimp Tacos, Baja Fish Tacos, Blackened Fish Tacos and Tacos Al Pastor.
- Favorites! Of course, there are so many other Mexican dishes in addition to enchiladas, tostadas, burritos and tacos. Serve Cilantro Lime Rice with all your favorites such chicken fajitas, taquitos, fiesta lime chicken, beef barbacoa and carnitas.
CREATIVE WAYS TO SERVE CILANTRO LIME RICE
This Cilantro Lime Rice recipe can be served as a simple side or added to all sorts of dishes/ingredients. Let your imagination run wild! Here are a few serving:
- Main dish side. Serve Cilantro Lime Rice alongside your favorite Mexican protein and let it be the talk of the plate.
- Burritos: Layer a burrito size tortilla with Cilantro Lime Rice, protein, guacamole, sour cream and lettuce. Serve with additional sour cream and either pico de gallo or homemade salsa.
- Wet Burritos: Layer each burrito size tortilla with 1/4 cup Cilantro Lime Rice, 1/4 cup black beans (if using refried beans, layer first), 1 tablespoon sour cream, 1/3 cup chicken/meat, and 2 tablespoons cheese (more or less of each to taste) down the center of the burrito. Roll up tortillas burrito style, and place on lightly greased foil on a baking sheet then lightly brush burritos all over with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes or until lightly golden then remove from oven. Fold sides of foil up around burritos (to keep sauce from escaping) and evenly pour red or green enchilada sauce over burritos then evenly top with one cup cheese. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. To serve, top burritos with desired toppings.
- Burrito Bowls: Layer Cilantro Lime Rice with cheese, chicken/beef/pork chopped lettuce, and your favorite toppings including crushed tortilla chips and either sour cream/Greek yogurt. For extra YUM, serve with avocado crema, cilantro lime dressing or tomatillo avocado ranch.
- Stuffed Peppers: Slice the tops off of 6-8 bell peppers and remove the core/seeds inside. Rub the outsides with olive oil and line in a 9×13 baking dish. Combine seasoned ground beef with cooked Cilantro Lime Rice and spoon into each pepper. Top with sharp cheddar then tent with foil. Bake until peppers are tender, about 35 minutes. Uncover and bake until cheese is bubbly, 10 minutes more. Serve with sour cream or Mexican crema, cilantro, cotija, etc.
HELPFUL TOOLS TO MAKE CILANTRO LIME RICE RECIPE
- Nonstick Skillet: This skillet is my favorite pan in the WORLD! I have both the 10 and 12-in and use them for practically everything. I’ve had this pan for forever and they’re still as good as new. I love giving this nonstick skillet for wedding gifts because it sets you up for cooking success! It is on the pricier side but it’s practically the only pan you’ll ever need! If you’re looking for a more economical nonstick skillet, this one also has good reviews – but I can’t guarantee it will last as long!
- Garlic press: I use this every single day! It is the ultimate garlic press- it is easy-to-use, easy-to-clean and minces garlic with one squeeze. Unlike other presses, this garlic press has beveled holes that finely cut the clove rather than bruising it, bringing out the best flavor.
- Onion chopper: onions make me cry like crazy so I LOVE this onion chopper! It’s made with stainless steel discs for chopping/dicing the hardest vegetables/cheeses with 1 easy motion. It’s also backed by a lifetime warranty– and I can guarantee way less tears!
Looking for more Rice Recipes?
- Mexican Style Rice
- Coconut Ginger Rice with Black Beans
- Cranberry Apple Pecan Wild Rice
- Greek Lemon Rice
- Parmesan Risotto
- Coconut Rice with Pineapple and Cashews
Carlsbad Cravings© Original