Cilantro Lime Rice

There’s no denying that lime and cilantro are an iconic flavor duo. These bold, bright aromatics are fully responsible for all the added yumminess in this simple rice dish.

Vertical image of a black plate topped with white grains with herbs, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

They’re found front and center in many classic Mexican recipes like juicy, onion-studded pico de gallo and our version of elote antojitos.

And these are the only fresh ingredients you’ll need to wake up that plain long-grain rice that I know is hiding in your pantry.

The nutty aroma that wafts through the house as the grains simmers away on the stovetop has become somewhat of a comfort to me recently, though I’m usually more of a noodle gal.

Vertical image of a black plate with herbed rice on a colorful towel.

It’s similar to the scent of popcorn kernels bursting into fluffy morsels, and there’s not much that makes me happier than that.

Jasmine and basmati are two of the most popular varieties, but an American long-grain white variety also does the trick. These separate after cooking and have a firm, dry texture which isn’t sticky, so they’re ready to soak in all of that citrusy goodness.

Vertical top-down image of a black plate and a metal bowl filled with a seasoned herbed rice next to a colorful towel.

My go-to method for cooking long-grain varieties is on the stovetop, but plenty of people swear by pressure cooking. If it’s rice cooker or bust for you but you’re in need of a new one, give our review of the best models on the market a once-over to help you choose the right appliance.

Any cooking method of your choosing will work to prepare this recipe, so do what’s best for you. You have options!

Vertical close-up image of a black plate topped with a mound of rice mixed with citrus zest and herbs on a wooden table.

Stirred into the cooked rice just before serving to preserve the fresh flavor and color, the cilantro and lime zest awaken the grains with a zingy, fragrant pop, and the citrus juice invigorates each and every grain.

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Horizontal image of a metal bowl filled with white grains mixed with zest and herbs next to seasonings.

Cilantro Lime Rice

  • Author: Fanny Slater
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 3 cups (6 servings) 1x


Tart lime zest and bright, fresh cilantro transform this simple rice dish into a mouthwatering side you’ll want to pair with everything.


  • 1 cup long-grain white rice, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest (from 1 lime)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (from 1 lime)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Add the rice, water, salt, and oil or butter to a medium saucepot and stir to combine. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the water has been absorbed, or according to package instructions.
  2. Remove from heat and set aside for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork. Stir in the lime zest and juice, and the cilantro. Season to taste with additional salt and serve.
  • Prep Time: 5 mintues
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Grains
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Side Dish

Keywords: cilantro, lime, rice

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep the Rice

Measure and rinse the grains to remove excess starch. I find the best way to do this is in a fine mesh sieve under running water.

Horizontal image of measured ingredients in bowls, cups, and a teaspoon.

For stovetop cooking, choose a pot that will hold at least twice the volume of the uncooked rice and water, or at least 5 cups minimum.

Measure the water and olive oil or butter. I think butter adds a rich, popcorny flavor, but feel free to use whichever you like. Measure the salt and keep it nearby if you need to add seasoning just before serving.

Step 2 – Cook

Add the washed grains, water, salt, and oil or butter in the saucepot, if you haven’t opted for an alternative cooking method. Place over high heat and give everything a quick stir to combine.

Horizontal image of water, a pat of butter, and grains in a large pot.

When the liquid comes to a full boil, cover the pot with a lid and reduce the heat to medium-low. A clear lid comes in handy, so you can see what’s going on in the pot.

Allow it to simmer until all of the water has been absorbed. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes.

Don’t lift the lid to check on things during the cooking process. Letting the heat escape can result in uneven cooking.

Horizontal image of fluffing cooked white grains with a fork in a pot.

Remove the pot from the heat and set it aside for 5 minutes, with the lid on. The steam trapped inside will finish the cooking process.

Take off the lid and use a fork to gently fluff and separate the grains.

Step 3 – Prep Cilantro and Lime

To save time, prep the flavorful ingredients that are added just before serving while the rice is cooking.

Horizontal image of juiced limes and chopped cilantro on a wooden cutting board.

To do so, you’ll need to get out a sturdy cutting board, microplane or zester, citrus juicer, and a chef’s knife.

Wash and dry all of your produce.

Zest and juice the lime. If you don’t have a juicing tool, you can use a fork inserted in the fruit when you squeeze to help extract the juice.

Remove the stems and chop the cilantro.

Step 4 – Add Cilantro and Lime

Horizontal top-down image of a black plate and a metal bowl filled with a seasoned herbed rice next to a colorful towel.

Stir in the lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro. Season to taste with additional salt if necessary, and serve warm.

You’ll Want to Play this Rice on Repeat

If you whipped up this recipe as a delicious last-minute side to pair with a weeknight dinner, great job! Grab a fork and enjoy.

Not sure what to serve it with? I’ve got your back.

Horizontal image of a metal bowl filled with white grains mixed with zest and herbs next to seasonings.

Serving it alongside tacos or enchiladas is a tasty idea, though it’s hard to beat tucking it directly into a tortilla – try these vegetarian breakfast burritos for a delicious meal to start your day.

You could also use it to create the base of a burrito bowl, or make a cozy bed on a serving platter and nestle a batch of grilled balsamic lamb kabobs on top.

Poultry will also do the trick, and it’s almost as if this particular recipe was made for our jalapeno-lime marinated chicken.

How will you make the most of this simple, flavor-packed side dish? Share your ideas in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.

Don’t just put the lime in this rice – or in the coconut! Try these recipes that harness the power of the tangy green citrus next:

Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on October 11, 2013. Last updated on October 18, 2022.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Fanny Slater

Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”

31 thoughts on “Cilantro Lime Rice”

  1. These types of recipes are right up my alley. I have never tried this with rotisserie chicken but will give it a whirl, I have a hard time hearing cilantro and not wanting to add some salsa or throw the rice into a burrito. I always serve this time of rice with some sort of Mexican inspired meal. Occasionally, since it isn’t that healthy, I will throw a little bit of sour cream in with the rice. Since the rice is hot the sour cream gets a little creamy and gives the rice a thick consistency. Not something I do often but a nice little treat!

  2. This sounds so easy and delicious! I probably would need to leave some plain for my son, but my daughter likes sour flavors. I hadn’t thought about pairing lime rice with roast chicken, but it sounds like a great match, and so easy! I think I may have to try this with brown rice for a Sunday dinner soon. It also inspires me to perhaps try making this rice with a vegetarian dish with roasted mushrooms and peppers.

  3. I saw something like this on youtube maybe two weeks ago. I don’t think it was brown rice though. This is worth a try. Lately I haven’t really been cooking like I used to so I am glad I found this blog. It is really inspiring me to get back on it.

  4. I really like sour flavors, but I’ve never heard of lemon flavoured rice. Needless to say, I’m going to try this one sometime soon. I can imagine it would go well with a lot of different foods.

  5. We eat a *ton* of rice each week and I’m always looking for ways to make it a little differently. This is perfect! I cook my rice in a rice cooker more often than not, and it can act unexpectedly when trying to add things to the rice before cooking. This will work like a charm, because everything is added to already cooked rice. I can’t wait to try it!

    As usual, thanks so much for a new recipe for my binder 🙂

  6. This looks simple and delicious. I bet it would go great in a california style burrito or as a side to enchiladas. I find plain rice boring so I don’t cook it often but I do like rice sides like this with their own flavor. Lime adds such a nice note to just about anything. Thanks for the recipe 🙂

    • Adding this to a burrito or to enchiladas sounds amazing. I’m not a fan of plain rice either. It’s too boring and does nothing to add more flavor to a meal. I love the idea of adding lime to give it a strong flavor. Can’t wait to give this a try!

  7. This looks interesting and easy to make. Being Asian, we eat rice practically with every meal. However, I’m always on the look out for interesting rice recipes. After all, one can get bored of steamed rice.

    This reminds me a little bit of the rice Chipotle used in their dishes, which I really love. I do agree with the other posters that it seems to be a great rice dish to combine with Mexican food. I love sour dishes so I think this will be a hit in my household.

    Thank you for sharing.

  8. Mmm, looks tasty. I think that amount of lime would be too much for my kids, too, but they might go for a watered down version, so I will give it a try. Lime and cilantro go so well together, one of my favourite combinations, and this seems like such a simple way to jazz up rice. I’m also a fan of brown rice but because it takes much longer to cook than white I don’t eat it as much as I’d like.

  9. This recipe provides an avenue for getting rid of brown rice’s organic aftertaste. I love brown, but the aftertaste really stands out, sometimes overriding a weaker flavor. Adding the lime will generate a different kind of appeal to the taste buds, no doubt. I have yet to try this one out. Nice take on the brown rice.

  10. A nice simple recipe and that would be a good basis for using to stuff mushrooms and peppers, especially with brown rice to make it extra healthy. Using lime adds some natural seasoning and an extra kick.

  11. I started cooking brown rice a few months ago. It’s been hard to transition myself to the taste and texture of it. My family, except for my mom, does not like it. So, it’ll definitely be staying off the Thanksgiving menu. 😉 Anyway, thanks for the long grain tip. I didn’t know that. I’m also going to try this recipe. Maybe they’ll like it now with the extra flavor.

  12. Oh I could see me enjoying this dish! Lots of my favourite flavours in there and it would go well with a lot of the food I enjoy. Doing it with brown rice would make it even more interesting with those nutty flavours coming through – sprinkling chopped nuts on this would make it a nice meal in itself actually!

    I would also skip the salt and could see making this with lemon as well as lemons tend to be more abundant and cheaper. Good thing I have recently planted some coriander outside my back door if I’m going to add another coriander recipe to my favourites!

  13. Ah lime! I love the zest lime brings. We stocked up brown rice recently. I may give this one a go. This looks tempting enough to eat though I wouldn’t really be surprised if kids didn’t like it. It may be a taste that needs to be acquired when they’re older. I have a feeling I would love this.

  14. I have tried making cilantro lime rice but added the cilantro and lime during the cooking process. The flavors were very subtle. This may be good for children who don’t want a strong flavor, but I want something a little more noticeable. I am going to try this recipe, adding the cilantro and lime once the rice is already cooked. Thanks!

    • That’s a good tip. I think the more subtle flavor would be better received by my family.

      I recently made roasted pork with cumin, garlic, cilantro, and just a hint of lime. This sounds like it might just be the perfect side dish for that recipe. I think I will try this with less lime though.

      Now, I just need to figure out the perfect vegetable to go with this. All suggestions appreciated.

  15. I am not a huge fan of the lime taste in general but in a rice it might not be to bad and I don’t mind some tartness flavor to some foods as long as it is not overpowering to the point that it entirely takes it over. I want to try this mainly because the recipe is very simple! Thanks for sharing.

  16. Yum! This rice would go really well with all of those Indian and Thai curries I love making. There is something so perfectly wonderful about lime and cilantro, or corriander as we call it here in the UK. I add these two things to my lentil dishes, and to other curries at the end of cooking to just finish off and really bring out the other flavours in the dish.

    I keep a steady supply of cilantro growing in my garden – I only wish I had the climate for growing limes too!!

  17. Rice is my favorite meal at the dinner table…i can eat rice from Monday to Monday and not tire/get bored…now Cilantro Lime Rice…yay!!…the page has been bookmarked for a peak at the recipe..i have to ace this. Question, is brown rice arsenic?…i read that somewhere and i got scared hence crossed off buying brown rice…any positive feedback in this regard will be appreciated 😉

  18. Looks like a quick and cheap way to jazz up plain old white rice. I imagine it would go just great with rotisserie chicken too.

  19. I’m always a fan of rice so I always try to mix it up a little by getting as many rice-related recipes as I can. Rice is just so versatile; you can do almost anything with it. This particular recipe looks amazing, and while I personally won’t be omitting salt anytime soon, I definitely think this dish will taste very good.

  20. Yes, this is an easy recipe, but it’s not a combination I had thought of, to dress up my plain boiled rice. I tend to make a lot of quick Mexican dishes, and I think I will try this out with them. I just added the ingredients to my shopping list, and will even add this to tostadas, with grilled chicken or beef and pico de gallo on top.

  21. Sounds amazing. I too have recently converted to brown rice. It just tastes so much better than white, and I googled the health benefits and was amazed. I can’t wait to try this dish. It sounds super simple! I can’t help but think about putting this on a corn tortilla with some avocado!!

  22. I’m half Mexican and Mexicans love rice, and so do I. I’m always looking for ways to give it that extra touch and this is an easy recipe that looks pretty good. Every time I make rice I try to prepare it in a different way. But up until now my repertoire included red rice, green rice, yellow rice, white rice with veggies and wild rice. Now I’ve found this one and think my family will like it because they love cilantro.

  23. Coming from a Latino family, rice is usually the order of the day. This leads you to become creative when it comes time to putting the rice on the table. Let me tell you though, I have seen rice in many ways, but never like this. It must taste sooo good! I imagine a natural Pico de Gallo like flavoring to it. Yumm, I can’t wait to give it a try!

  24. This recipe sounds easy. I would have to try it with a small amount of rice just to ensure I would like the citrus taste of the rice.

  25. We had a similar dish at a restaurant. I couldn’t quite duplicate it, but this sounds very similar. I will definitely try this one out. It may not match the restaurant dish, but we might just like this even better.

    These ingredients just work so well together.

  26. This looks really tasty but I would have to use white rice; I’ve tried brown rice numerous times, and I just cannot get to like it. For some reason it never tastes cooked to me – I know that it does have a ‘nutty’ texture, but it’s just not for me. The lime flavour would make this a great accompaniment for a Mexican dish.

  27. How I love rice so much! And I’m surely loving this new twist to it. With the Cilantro Lime, it should be extra hummy…Great article. Thanks!

  28. I actually didn’t expect a recipe that would include all these ingredients at once, but now that you mentioned this is actually a pretty good idea, especially since it’s spring already and the weather, it’s getting hotter, I have the feeling that this is a really refreshing one :). I can definitely picture eating this with some chicken, yum!
    Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂

  29. Thanks for positing this! I can see this as going really well with both Thai and Mexican/ Latin American food. It would be a nice side dish with some black bean street tacos (on corn tortillas, of course!), or with some enchiladas or fajitas, or even a nice veggie quesadilla. I can also see this as a side with some fried tofu and sweet chili or peanut sauce. I’m also thinking that this would be beautiful with a red pumpkin curry.


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