Full flavored and simple to make, this Cilantro Lime Brown Rice recipe is a perfect side or component for your favorite Mexican food recipes. Better than restaurant cilantro lime rice because it’s homemade! This recipe is vegetarian + vegan and gluten free.
When I first learned about Chipotle, I didn’t understand all the hype. After all, I didn’t get my first taste until years after they first opened their doors. I live on an island after all. None of their restaurants were around where I live. When they finally opened a restaurant nearish me a few years ago, over an hour away, I finally understood the craziness!
Part of Chipotle’s line up is a white or brown cilantro lime rice. I prefer brown rice to white rice in this recipe simply because of its chewy texture and nutty flavor. Plus it offers a bit of fiber and protein. Chipotle’s brown rice inspired this recipe. But in Vanilla And Bean style, I added some flavor builders to make this cilantro lime rice recipe pop with even more flavor!
Ingredients for Cilantro Lime Rice
Simple to make and flavor packed, here’s what you need:
- Olive Oil
- Long Grain Brown Rice – like Basmati
- Fresh Limes – Juice + Zest
Using fresh lime juice, zest and fresh cilantro is key for the best flavor.
How to Make Cilantro Rice
Brown rice can be tricky to cook. I’ve tested this recipe in several pots to tease out why I was getting different results when using different cooking vessels.
Depending on vessel, the amount of water and time needed to cook the rice will vary. A Dutch oven requires a little less time and water simply because a heavy tight-fitting lid does a good job at retaining water. A sauce pot, on the other hand, allows more steam to escape the pot simply because the lid fits more loosely. So naturally a sauce pot requires a bit more water and time to cook.
Here’s how to make fabulous cilantro lime brown rice:
- First, add the oil to the pot and bring it to a shimmer. Toss in the onions and long grain rice. Saute’ on medium heat for 3-6 minutes, until the onions are soft and the rice is toasty golden.
- Second, stir in the garlic and salt and pour in the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and lid.
- Third, cook on low for 45-58 minutes in a Dutch oven or 50-55 minutes in a stock pot, until the rice is tender, but still has a chewy tooth to it.
- Next, stir in the lime juice and lime zest. Lid, remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes.
- Last, fluff cilantro lime with a fork and leave uncovered for 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro just before serving.
Sautéing the rice before adding water gently toasts the rice bringing out its most nutty, earthy flavors.
A Few Recipe Notes
- Dutch oven or saucepan? Water needed and time to cook differ between the two. A Dutch oven has a tight fitting, heavy lid which reduces cook time and water needed when compared to a sauce pot.
- Meal prep ready! Yes please! Make cilantro lime rice at least three days in advance if needed. Stir in the cilantro just after reheating so that it retains its freshness.
- Salt to taste. This lime rice recipe calls for 1/2 tsp of salt. I usually add an additional 1/4 tsp after cooking. Like beans, rice can take on a bit of salt, so adjust to taste.
- Not a fan of cilantro? Leave it out or share it on the side.
- Freezer friendly? Yes please! Although I prefer just cooked rice, this rice freezes with ease. Freeze for up to two weeks in a lidded container in the freezer. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and gently reheat stove top with a splash of water.
RELATED: Build a better burrito bowl! Whip up these Mexican Black Beans and Mexican Corn Salsa recipes to make all your Mexican food veggie bowl dreams come true!
Mexican Recipes to Enjoy with Cilantro Lime Rice
- Homemade Sofritas Recipe – Burrito Bowl Style
- Mexican Inspired Tofu Tacos
- Roasted Cauliflower Tinga Tacos
- Cheesy Tofu Vegetarian Enchiladas
- Sweet Potato Wrapped Black Bean Enchiladas
Cilantro Lime Brown Rice Recipe
- 2 tsp Olive Oil
- 1 C (145g) Long Grain Brown Rice
- 1/2 C (65g) Red or Yellow Onion about 1/2 a large onion
- 2 tsp Garlic minced - about 1 large clove
- 1/2 tsp Fine Sea Salt
- 2 C (475g) Water if cooking in Dutch Oven | add 1/2 Cup (118g) more if cooking in a sauce pot
- Zest of One Large Lime
- 5 tsp Lime Juice from about one large lime
- 1/3 C (15g) Fresh Cilantro finely chopped
- In a medium sauce pan or Dutch oven, add the olive oil and heat on medium high until the oil shimmers. Toss in the rice and onions and stir to coat. Saute, stirring occasionally for 3-6 minutes or until the onions are soft and the rice turns golden toasty. If using a sauce pan, toasting will occur closer to the 3-4 minute mark. Turn heat down if cooking too fast. Keep an eye on it.
- Once the rice is toasty, stir in the garlic and salt. Add the water (2 1/2 C if using a sauce pan OR 2 C if using a Dutch oven) and stir. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low. Lid. A. In a Sauce Pan: cook lidded on low for 50-55 minutesB. In a Dutch Oven: cook lidded on low for 44-48 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice (this will deglaze the pan) and zest. Lid the pot again and let stand off heat for 10 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff with a fork and let stand an additional 5 minutes. Taste for salt adjustment.
- Stir in the cilantro just before sharing
- Store in a lidded container for up to three days or freeze for up to two weeks. Thaw in the refrigerator over night and gently reheat on the stove top with 1 Tbs water on low.
Geraldine | Green Valley Kitchen
The cilantro lime rice is the best at Chipotle! I’ve tried to make it a couple of times but it never turns out as good. I think your idea of toasting the rice for a long time is maybe the trick that I needed! I also don’t think I put in enough lime juice when I tried to make it. Will be trying your version this weekend – just have to get some limes!
Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health
Chipotle is the only fast food I’ll eat! It’s just so good, especially the rice. Love that you can make this version at home and not have to leave the island. ;)
Thinking about it, same here. There’s a few sandwich shops on the island that are fabulous, but I wouldn’t consider them fast food… I’ll wait 30 minutes for a sandwich at these places with no hesitation! Homemade is better anyway, right?