Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe: A Burst of Zesty Flavor!

Looking for the ultimate cilantro lime rice recipe? You’ve found it! Imagine fluffy basmati or jasmine rice, brightened with zesty lime and aromatic cilantro, with just the right touch of (optional) jalapeño heat to spice things up. This dish is a delightful fusion of flavors that’s sure to be a standout at any meal. Use it for your favorite Mexican dish, or use it as a tangy side dish to your favorite entree.

How to Make the Perfect Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe

Ready to create a zesty and flavorful dish? Follow this simple recipe to make delicious cilantro lime rice at home.

cilantro lime rice topped with cilantro and lemon in a bowl on a table alongside lemon slices and cilantro.


  • Basmati Rice: Known for its fragrant aroma and fluffy texture, it serves as the perfect base for this dish.
  • Olive Oil: Adds a hint of richness and helps coat the rice grains, enhancing their flavor and preventing them from sticking.
  • Garlic: Minced garlic infuses the oil, adding a subtle depth and warmth right from the start.
  • Lime Zest: Brings a bright, citrusy note that complements the rice beautifully.
  • Fresh Lime Juice: Injects a tangy freshness that boosts the overall zest of the dish.
  • Cilantro: Freshly chopped cilantro adds a burst of herbal freshness and color, making the rice vibrant and appetizing.
  • Diced Jalapeño: Optional for those who enjoy a spicy kick, enhancing the dish’s complexity.

Cooking Steps

  • Start with the Oil: Start by heating the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil is warm, add the minced garlic. Cook it just until it becomes fragrant, which usually takes about a minute. This step ensures that the garlic’s aroma infuses the oil, setting the flavor foundation for the rice.
  • Coat the Rice: Add the dry Basmati rice to the saucepan. Stir it well to ensure each grain is nicely coated with the garlic-infused olive oil. This helps to lock in the flavors and prevents the rice from sticking together.
  • Add Water and Zest: Pour in 1 3/4 cups of water along with the lime zest. The zest adds a bright, citrusy note that complements the rice beautifully. Bring the water to a boil, which will begin the cooking process.
  • Simmer: Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan, and allow the rice to simmer gently. Let it cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender, be sure to stir occasionally so the rice does not stick to the pan. Dont feel like cooking rice on the stovetop? Try cilantro rice in a rice cooker or instant pot.
  • Rest: After the rice has cooked, remove the saucepan from the heat but keep it covered. Let it sit for about 5 minutes. This resting period helps to steam the rice, making it fluffier.
  • Fluff and Flavor: Uncover the saucepan and fluff the rice with a fork to separate the grains. Now, stir in the fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro. These add the final touches of zest and freshness to the dish, brightening up the flavors.
  • Serve: Serve the cilantro lime rice warm as a side dish. It pairs wonderfully with a variety of main courses, particularly grilled meats or fish, enhancing the overall flavor profile of your meal.

This method for making cilantro lime rice ensures that each ingredient shines through, contributing to a side dish that’s as tasty as it is beautiful. Enjoy the burst of flavors that this simple yet exquisite recipe brings to your table.

Related Article: Don’t feel like cooking rice on the stovetop? Try our recipes for Cilantro Lime Rice Cooker and Instant Pot Cilantro Lime Rice.

Variations of Cilantro Lime Rice

If you’re looking to add some excitement to your cilantro lime rice, here are some delicious variations to try:

  • Brown Rice: Swap out white rice for nuttier and heartier brown rice. Both long and short-grain brown rice work well in this recipe. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to increase the water measurement to ensure the rice cooks properly.
  • Cauliflower Rice: For a lighter twist, replace half of the regular rice with cauliflower rice. This low-carb option adds extra veggies to your dish while still providing a great texture.
  • Broccoli Rice: Another veggie-packed alternative is to mix in some broccoli rice. This adds a vibrant green color and subtle cruciferous taste to your cilantro lime rice.

Serving Suggestions for Cilantro Lime Rice

Cilantro Lime Rice bowl on table with spoon

Now that you’ve mastered the art of making delicious cilantro lime rice, it’s time to explore the various ways you can serve this versatile side dish. Whether you’re craving Asian flavors or Mexican delights, cilantro lime rice is the perfect companion. Here are some serving suggestions to improve your culinary experience:

1. Asian Inspiration

For an Asian twist, pair your cilantro lime rice with spicy mapo tofu or baked tempeh. The combination of the zesty rice with the savory tofu or tempeh creates a delightful flavor contrast that will leave your taste buds craving for more.

Add a side of stir-fried dish like chop suey and lo mein or enjoy it alongside a bowl of hot and sour soup for a complete Asian-inspired meal.

2. Mexican Fiesta

Cilantro lime rice is a match made in heaven with Mexican food. Serve it alongside enchiladas or taquitos to add a refreshing element to the rich and spicy dishes. Take your taco bar to the next level by offering cilantro lime rice as a filling option.

Your guests will love pairing it with black beans, tofu sofritas, fajita veggies, guacamole, and various salsas for a customizable and mouthwatering taco experience.

Related Article: To deepen your understanding of some of these ingredients, check out our articles on What Is Guacamole and What Are Sofritas, which explore their origins and uses in Mexican cuisine.

3. Burrito Bowls and Sushi Bowls

Use cilantro lime rice as a base for creating flavorful and vibrant burrito bowls. Layer it with grilled chicken, black beans, fresh salsa, and crunchy toppings for a satisfying and well-balanced meal. Alternatively, you can add some sushi-grade fish, avocado, cucumber, and pickled ginger to the cilantro lime rice to create a refreshing sushi bowl.

Burrito bowl with chopped tomatoes and cilantro rice on a table.

4. Creative Combos

Don’t limit yourself to traditional dishes! Get creative and experiment with cilantro lime rice in unexpected ways. Use it as a stuffing for stuffed bell peppers, serve it with chicken salad, or mix it with black beans and corn to create a hearty and colorful healthy salad. The options are endless, so let your imagination run wild and create your own unique cilantro lime rice creations.

Cilantro Lime Rice topped with black beans in a pot with wooden spoon on table.

Storage and Reheating Tips for Cilantro Lime Rice

So, you’ve made a delicious batch of cilantro lime rice, but you couldn’t finish it all in one sitting. Don’t fret! Here are some handy tips to keep your cilantro lime rice fresh and tasty.


When it comes to storing leftover cilantro lime rice, an airtight container is your best friend. The container will keep the rice fresh and prevent any unwanted odors from seeping in. Simply transfer the rice into the container, seal it tightly, and pop it in the fridge. This will extend the shelf life of your cilantro lime rice for up to 2 days.

But wait, can you freeze cilantro lime rice? Absolutely! Freezing your rice is a great option if you won’t be able to consume it within 2 days. Just make sure to place it in a freezer-safe container or resealable bag to prevent freezer burn. Frozen cilantro lime rice can be stored for up to 2 months.


Now, let’s talk about bringing that leftover cilantro lime rice back to life. There are a few ways you can reheat it:

  • Microwave: Place your desired amount of rice in a microwave-safe dish and cover it with a microwave-safe lid or microwave-safe plastic wrap. Heat on high for 1-2 minutes or until heated through.
  • Stovetop: Transfer the rice to a non-stick skillet or saucepan. Add a splash of water or vegetable broth to prevent sticking. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated to your liking.

Remember to give your reheated rice a good stir to distribute the flavors evenly. You can also add a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro to refresh the flavors.

Top view of Cilantro Lime Rice topped with slice of lime in a bowl on a table.


Congratulations! You’ve just mastered the art of making cilantro lime rice, a flavorful and versatile side dish that enhances any meal. The combination of fragrant cilantro, tangy lime, and aromatic rice will surely tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving for more.

But the goodness doesn’t stop there! This cilantro lime rice recipe is incredibly versatile and can be used in various ways. You can enjoy it as a standalone side dish or use it as a base for building delicious burrito bowls. It also pairs perfectly with tacos, grilled meats, and other mouthwatering creations.

And when it comes to leftovers, just store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days, or freeze them to enjoy later. Whether you’re reheating or enjoying it cold, you’ll be able to relish this delightful dish time and time again.

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Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe

Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe on Stovetop


A flavorful side dish featuring fluffy white rice infused with fresh cilantro and zesty lime juice, adding a refreshing and tangy twist to any meal.


  • 1 cup Basmati long-grain white rice
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 diced jalapeño, optional


  • Step 1 – In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant.
  • Step 2 – Add the rice to the saucepan and stir to coat it in the olive oil and garlic.
  • Step 3 – Add 1 3/4 cups of water and the lime zest to the saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Step 4 – Reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan, and let the rice simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the liquid is fully absorbed and the rice is tender.
  • Step 5 – Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it sit, covered, for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Step 6 – Fluff the rice with a fork and stir in the fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro.
  • Step 7 – Serve the cilantro lime rice as a delicious side dish to complement your favorite meals.


What type of rice should I use for cilantro lime rice?

For the best results, use long-grain white jasmine or basmati rice for a fragrant and aromatic cilantro lime rice.

How can I add more protein to this dish?

Consider adding cooked black beans, chickpeas, shrimp, or diced cooked chicken to the rice after it’s cooked for a protein boost.

cilantro lime rice with vegetables and parwn

What dishes does cilantro lime rice pair well with?

It pairs wonderfully with grilled fish, chicken, or vegetables. It also makes a great base for burrito bowls or as a side with tacos and enchiladas.

What can I do if I don’t like cilantro?

If cilantro isn’t to your taste, you can substitute it with parsley or just increase the lime zest for a similar freshness without using cilantro.

Are there any other rice recipes that you recommend?

Yes, if you enjoyed cilantro lime rice, you might also like other rice recipes such as Spanish rice, coconut rice, wild rice pilaf, forbidden black rice, broccoli rice, and cauliflower rice. These recipes offer a variety of flavors and textures to suit different preferences and dietary needs.

Is cilantro lime rice vegan?

Yes, cilantro lime rice is naturally vegan as it doesn’t include any animal products.