Make delicious Chipotle copycat Cilantro Lime Rice that tastes just like the original in 30 minutes or less with this recipe! White rice is cooked on the stovetop or in an Instant Pot, then mixed with fresh cilantro and lime juice. This quick and easy side goes perfectly with so many different Mexican dishes, including tacos, fajitas, and even burrito bowls!

Easy cilantro lime rice is served for a healthy Mexican dish.

Whenever you go to Chipotle, you can always be assured of a few things… That the food is fresh, the guac is extra, and the cilantro lime rice is to die for.

When we’re on the road, it’s always our go-to fast food spot. It’s absolutely delicious, and doesn’t leave you feeling weighed down or icky afterward.

Yet cravings always seem to hit whenever I’m at home, and nowhere near a Chipotle restaurant. 

So I took on the task of learning how to make it myself – turns out, it’s SUPER easy. Whether made on the stove top or in an Instant Pot, it can be whipped up and ready to eat in less than 30 minutes!

Moreover, it makes for an amazing accompaniment to everything from Steak Fajitas and Barbacoa Tacos, to Chicken Tinga Tostadas. It also serves as a delicious base for Shredded Chicken Burrito Bowls, making for a major upgrade from plain white rice. 

If you’re a lover of Chipotle’s food, then you’ve got to try making this cilantro rice recipe at home. You won’t be disappointed!

Oil, water, rice, salt, cilantro, and lime are the ingredients in this recipe.

Ingredients

To make this easy Cilantro Lime Rice recipe you need:

  • Rice. It is best to use white, long-grain rice to achieve a soft and fluffy texture. Avoid using medium- or short-grain rice, as it has a tendency to turn sticky and mushy. For more nutrition, brown rice may be used, but be wary of extra cooking time and additional liquid needed.
  • Lime. Fresh lime juice is the best option for this recipe. On average, one lime should produce about 2 tablespoons of juice. Bottled lime juice should be avoided, if possible.
  • Cilantro. Similar to parsley, the tangy, almost citrusy flavor of cilantro is crucial to this recipe. Fresh cilantro should be used, because dried won’t have nearly the same flavor or effect. When measuring, pack the chopped leaves down in order to get an accurate measurement. 
  • Oil. This works even better than butter for this recipe. It gives the rice a silky feel, and prevents the grains from clumping together. Either a mildly flavored olive oil or avocado oil are recommended, as neither will clash with a Mexican flavor profile.
Flavorful cilantro lime rice is served with a spoon for a side dish.

How to Make Cilantro Lime Rice

The basic steps for making Chipotle’s Cilantro Lime Rice are simple to follow. Please see the recipe card below for more detailed ingredient amounts.

Rinse the Rice

To achieve the best results, rice should always be rinsed thoroughly before cooking. This helps to remove excess starch from the surface of the grains, which can create clumps and mushiness.

Pour the dried rice into a small fine-mesh strainer and rinse it under cool water for 1-2 minutes. Gently stir and agitate the rice with your fingers to ensure all the starch is knocked loose.

When the water runs clear, drain the rice thoroughly to avoid introducing excess water to the cooking process. 

Dried rice being rinsed in a metal strainer before cooking.

Remove Cilantro Leaves

Remember to gently wash your cilantro in cool water before use, discarding any stems or leaves which look damaged or wilted. The herb should be rinsed thoroughly for at least 20 seconds, and then gently shaken or patted with a paper towel to remove excess water. 

As tempting as it is to take the easy way out and chop the whole bunch of cilantro, don’t do it. The stems are stringy and crunchy in texture, and will disrupt the soft texture of the rice. 

The tender, flavor-packed leaves are the important part for this recipe. They can be removed most easily by running your thumb and pointer finger down the main stem, lightly pulling off the leaves as you go. 

Using a sharp knife, gently chop the cilantro into very fine pieces.

Cilantro leaves are removed from the stem.

Combine and Simmer

Add water to a medium-sized pot, and bring it up to a boil. Once it’s boiling, add 1 tablespoon of oil, the salt, and the rinsed and drained rice, giving it a brief stir.

Bring the mix back up to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot tightly with a lid, and let it simmer for 20-25 minutes, depending on desired level of doneness. 

Twenty minutes will yield rice with a slightly more chewy bite, whereas 25 minutes will give it a softer, more tender texture. Start checking a few grains of rice for doneness around the 20-minute mark, and go from there.

Season and Serve

Remove the cooked rice from the heat, and gently fluff it with a fork to separate the grains from one another. Allowing excess steam to escape at this stage will ensure the rice doesn’t go mushy from residual heat. 

Once it has cooled just slightly, add the remaining oil, lime juice, and chopped cilantro. Mix until the rice is just combined with all the ingredients.

Taste test for seasoning, and add more salt or lime juice as needed. Garnish with a sprinkle of cilantro and black pepper, and serve immediately!

Alternate Cooking Method: Instant Pot

Much like Instant Pot White Rice and Instant Pot Mexican Rice, this recipe can also easily be made in a pressure cooker. 

Combine the rice, water, 1 tablespoon of oil, and salt in a 6-quart Instant Pot. Stir to combine the ingredients, to avoid settling.

Set the Instant Pot to high pressure, and cook for 4 minutes. When the timer goes off, let it sit for 10 minutes to naturally release pressure and finish cooking the rice with residual heat.

Press the steam release button on the lid to quick-release the remaining pressure, and carefully remove the lid.

Stir in the remaining oil, lime juice, and cilantro, then taste test for additional seasoning. Garnish with more cilantro and black pepper, and serve immediately. 

Note: For a more detailed breakdown of the initial cooking stage, see Instant Pot White Rice.

Cilantro lime rice is served with a wooden spoon for dinner.

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep-Ahead: This rice is best when served immediately, but it can be prepared up to 1-2 days in advance. Wait to mix in the cilantro until just before serving, after it has been reheated.
  • To Store: Cilantro Lime Rice can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 3-4 days.
  • To Freeze: The rice can also be frozen in an airtight, freezer-safe container for up to 3-4 months. The rice should be fully defrosted before reheating.
  • To Reheat: Add the rice to a skillet over medium-low heat with a touch of oil. Cook it for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until warmed through.
Cilantro Rice is served from a wooden bowl with fresh limes and cilantro.

FAQs

What goes with cilantro lime rice?

Any Mexican main dish goes extremely well with cilantro lime rice. Popular options are fajitas, tacos, or tostadas. You can also add it to burritos, or use it as a base in burrito bowls!

Do I need to rinse rice before cooking it?

It is not necessary to rinse rice before cooking, but it is highly recommended. Rinsing the rice will make it fluffier and less likely to clump together by removing excess starch.

Are cilantro and coriander the same thing?

Cilantro and coriander come from the same plant. In the United States, cilantro refers to the leaves of the plant, whereas coriander is the dried seeds. In other parts of the world the leaves are called coriander and the seeds are named coriander seeds.

Should you wash cilantro?

Yes, you should always wash cilantro and other produce. Hold the stems and rinse under running water or dunk in a bowl of cool water. Shake off the excess water and let it dry on a towel before using.

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • Rinse the rice. Thoroughly rinsing the excess starch from the surface of the rice helps to ensure that it will turn out fluffy instead of mushy. 
  • Separate the stems. The cilantro leaves pack the most flavor, and should be the only part used, to avoid a crunchy texture.
  • Add some oil. Cooking the rice with a bit of oil prevents clumping, and results in fluffier rice that separates easier. 
  • Always use fresh. Dried cilantro and bottled lime juice don’t taste nearly as good, so always try to get fresh limes and herbs for this recipe.
  • Add the cilantro last. If preparing this cilantro lime rice ahead, wait until it’s ready to serve to mix in the cilantro, to prevent wilting upon reheating.
A side of cilantro lime rice is served with tacos on a plate.

Make it a Meal

Cilantro lime rice makes an incredible side dish for any one of these Mexican main dishes:

More Easy Rice Dishes

This versatile grain can be utilized across loads of different flavor profiles, including these other simple, amazing recipes:

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 12 votes

Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe

Make delicious Chipotle copycat Cilantro Lime Rice that tastes just like the original in 30 minutes or less with this recipe! White rice is cooked on the stovetop or in an Instant Pot, then mixed with fresh cilantro and lime juice.
Yield 6 servings
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 20 minutes
Total 25 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup white rice long grain
  • 1 ¾ cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. oil divided
  • 1 tsp. salt to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice freshly squeezed
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves

Instructions 

  • Rinse Rice: Add rice to a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cool running water for 1-2 minutes, or until the water runs clear. Let drain completely.
    1 cup white rice
  • Boil and Simmer Rice: Add water to a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling add 1 tablespoon of oil, salt, and rinsed and drained rice. Bring the ingredients back to a boil and then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Check on the rice after 20 minutes to see if it is done.*
    1 ¾ cup water, 2 Tbsp. oil, 1 tsp. salt
  • Mix in Cilantro and Lime Juice: Once cooked, turn off heat and add remaining tablespoon of oil, lime juice, and chopped cilantro. Mix until just combined. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of additional cilantro and a sprinkle of black pepper. Enjoy!
    2 Tbsp. lime juice, ¼ cup chopped cilantro

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 12 votes

Notes

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep-Ahead: This rice is best when served immediately, but it can be prepared up to 1-2 days in advance. Wait to mix in the cilantro until just before serving, after it has been reheated.
  • To Store: Cilantro Lime Rice can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 3-4 days.
  • To Freeze: The rice can also be frozen in an airtight, freezer-safe container for up to 3-4 months. The rice should be fully defrosted before reheating.
  • To Reheat: Add the rice to a skillet over medium-low heat with a touch of oil. Cook it for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until warmed through.

Nutrition

Calories: 157kcal, Carbohydrates: 25g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 1g, Sodium: 324mg, Potassium: 45mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 47IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 12mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Comments

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Heidi! Good for you for sharing 😉 Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

    1. Yes! It’s always best to rinse the rice so that it does not clump together while cooking. Hope you enjoy the recipe, Ashley!

        1. You shouldn’t need to adjust the time at all! It should still be ready in the time stated. Hope you enjoy the recipe 🙂