If you’re on the hunt for a simple, inexpensive, and easy-to-make side, look no further than my better-than-Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice recipe. It’s zesty and flavorful but is made with just 6 ingredients and 3 minutes of prepso easy, in fact, that even my teenage daughter loves to make it!

black fluted bowl filled with better-than-Chipotle cilantro lime rice.

What is your staple side dish? Do you eat frijoles with every meal? Are you a pasta kinda person? Is salad more your style? There are so many recipes out there that I can’t possibly pick just one, but this easy recipe for Cilantro Lime Rice definitely makes my top 10 favorites list.

Why I Love This Recipe

Cilantro lime is one of those Mexican flavor combinations I just can’t seem to get enough of. It’s bright and herbaceous, and I don’t think I’ve met a single cilantro and lime-based recipe that I don’t love. This yummy rice recipe is no exception.

Long-grain white rice is cooked to perfection and tossed with tangy lime juice and chopped cilantro for a fresh interpretation of everyone’s go-to grain. This recipe is published in the Muy Bueno cookbook, and because it’s a fan favorite I wanted to be sure to share it here on the blog, too!

As much as I love the arroz I grew up eating, this copycat Chipotle rice recipe is a lovely alternative to the tomato base used in Mexican rice. Now that warmer weather is upon us, I’m craving recipes that are light. This rice side is exactly what I’m looking for.

The best part about this cilantro rice recipe is that it’s simple to make, uses only a few staple ingredients, and is always a hit. Since it is naturally gluten-free and can easily be made vegan, this is a great back-pocket recipe to keep on hand for guests.

Without further ado, I present to you my favorite recipe for better than Chipotle’s cilantro lime rice which pairs exceptionally well with hot and spicy dishes. I especially like it with grilled fish or spicy mole, but it honestly goes with nearly any recipe on this site!

overhead shot of ingredients needed to make cilantro lime rice measured out into bowls on a wooden table.

Ingredients & Substitutions

This easy recipe requires just a few staple ingredients that I’d bet you already have on hand.

  • Salted Butter – For toasting the rice. Feel free to swap in vegan butter if needed.
  • Uncooked Long-Grain White Rice – I prefer deliciously perfumed basmati rice, but jasmine or any style of long-grain white rice will work. You’re also welcome to swap in brown rice if you want some extra nutrients, but note that it will take a bit longer to cook if you do.
  • Granulated Sugar – Just a touch of sugar helps to caramelize the outside of the rice grains and helps to temper the acidity of the limes.
  • Limes – You definitely want to use freshly squeezed lime juice for the best flavor.
  • Water – This is pretty self-explanatory, right? Feel free to swap in chicken or veggie broth for added complexity of flavor.
  • Salt – For seasoning.
  • Cilantro – You can’t have Chipotle-style rice without cilantro!

How to Make Chipotle-Style Cilantro Lime Rice at Home

This copycat recipe for lime cilantro rice comes together with just 3 minutes of prep and 3 easy steps:

Step 1: Toast Rice. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Add the rice and sugar. Mix briefly to coat the rice with the butter and sugar. Add half the lime juice and stir for 1 minute.

Step 2: Simmer. Add water and salt, then stir to combine. Bring the rice to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and simmer until the rice is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Step 3: Fluff & Serve. Remove from heat and sprinkle the rice with the cilantro, the rest of the lime juice, and more salt if needed. Fluff rice with a fork. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

More of a visual learner? Watch this video to see how simple this rice side dish is to make.

Optional Variations & Dietary Adaptations

As much as we love this recipe for lime and cilantro rice as-is, there are a few ways to put your own spin on things:

  • Vegan – Swap in your favorite dairy-free butter alternative.
  • Extra Fiber – Use your favorite long-grain brown rice instead of white, but plan on adding an extra 15-20 minutes of cook time if you do.
  • Grain-Free/Low-Carb – Want the flavor of lime rice without the grains? Use the butter and sugar to pan-fry some cauliflower rice, then omit the water and add the cilantro and lime.
  • Extra Lime – For an extra zesty version, feel free to add a few rasps of the lime zest to the mix at the end.

Expert Tips

  • If you plan to take this cilantro lime rice to a potluck, I would recommend doubling the recipe. Seriously — people just gobble this stuff up!
  • Want to get the most juice out of your limes? Give them a firm roll on the countertop for about 15 seconds before cutting them.
  • Waste not, want not. Did you know that, unlike most other herbs, cilantro stems are just as delicious as the leaves? Remove the woody parts of the stems, then finely slice the stems and add them to the mix for an added boost of bright, herbaceous flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best kind of rice to use for this recipe?

I prefer to use long-grain white basmati rice, but any kind of long-grain rice will do. Jasmine or regular long-grain white rice would be the easiest to sub in, but long-grain brown rice can also be used. Just note that brown rice will take up to 45 minutes to cook all the way through.

Can you freeze cilantro lime rice?

Absolutely! Any leftovers can be packed into zip-top freezer bags. Remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn, then freeze flat. Once frozen, you can store them upright like books. Frozen rice will last for up to three months in the freezer.

To serve, defrost overnight in the fridge, then heat on the stovetop or in the microwave covered with a damp towel and fluff with a fork.

Does this rice taste like Chipotle’s cilantro lime rice?

While I’m not sure why Chipotle rice gets all the fanfare for this traditional Mexican recipe, the answer is yes. This rice recipe tastes a lot like Chipotle’s rice, but you can make it at home for a fraction of the cost.

overhead shot of a serving bowl filled with Chipotle copycat cilantro lime rice on a wooden cutting board with a bunch of cilantro and an antique silver serving spoon on the side.

What To Serve With Cilantro Lime Rice

Wondering what goes well with cilantro rice? Check out any of these favorites for a perfect pairing:

Cilantro Lime Rice (Better Than Chipotle!)

5 (5 ratings)
Cilantro and lime juice transforms plain cooked rice into a lively side that’s an ideal accompaniment for Mexican main dishes.

Ingredients

Instructions 

  • In a saucepan over low-medium heat melt the butter. Add the rice and sugar. Mix briefly to coat the rice with the butter and sugar. Add half the lime juice and stir for 1 minute. Add water and salt.
  • Bring the rice to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and simmer until the rice is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and sprinkle the rice with the cilantro, the rest of the lime juice, and more salt if needed. Fluff rice with a fork. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Video

Notes

  • Roll the limes against your counter helps to burst open some of the individual segments inside the so it’s easier to get at the juice.
  • As much as we love this recipe for lime and cilantro rice as-is, there are a few ways to put your own spin on things:
    • Vegan – Swap in your favorite dairy-free butter alternative.
    • Extra Fiber – Use your favorite long-grain brown rice instead of white, but plan on adding an extra 15-20 minutes of cook time if you do.
    • Grain-Free/Low-Carb – Want the flavor of lime rice without the grains? Use the butter and sugar to pan-fry some cauliflower rice, then omit the water and add the cilantro and lime.
    • Extra Lime – For an extra zesty version, feel free to add a few rasps of the lime zest to the mix at the end.
Calories: 198.72kcal, Carbohydrates: 38.44g, Protein: 3.38g, Fat: 3.15g, Saturated Fat: 1.88g, Cholesterol: 7.53mg, Sodium: 615.29mg, Potassium: 66.35mg, Fiber: 0.6g, Sugar: 0.75g, Vitamin A: 107.71IU, Vitamin C: 3.38mg, Calcium: 16.7mg, Iron: 0.37mg

Photography by Jenna Sparks
Originally published: October 2017. This recipe is also published in the Muy Bueno cookbook.