Better Than Chipotle’s Cilantro Lime Rice
I’m a huge fan of Chipotle’s cilantro lime rice, but my homemade version might actually be a bit better! Loaded with tons of fresh lime zest and punchy cilantro and mingling with fluffy, delicious garlic-scented rice! Perfect for burritos, bowls, and so much more!
We’ve all had Chipotle’s cilantro lime rice before. It’s the perfect side dish to grilled meats, veggies, and stews. Loaded and wrapped up in a giant burrito or topped with all your favorite meat, veggies, and toppings.
But can I be honest?
I’ve always found homemade cilantro lime rice to taste slightly better than Chipotle’s, mainly because I control the amount of fresh lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro that I add. Okay; you got me! It’s all about the garlic!
Ingredients you’ll need:
- Butter: I like to use a knob of butter to sauté the rice before letting it simmer to oomph it up! It’s elevated in the sense that it becomes a pilaf when you saute the rice in butter (or oil) before simmering.
- Rice: Make sure to rinse the rice under cold running water for several minutes to remove any excess starch. It’s crucial to do this because excess starch will cause the rice grains to stick together.
- Garlic: I use my garlic press to press the garlic cloves. We’ll add them in once the rice is sauteed.
- Seasonings: You’ll certainly need a big pinch of salt. I also like to add in a hint of chicken bouillon here. This helps give the rice a wonderful depth of flavor. We’re not using enough to where the rice is cooked in chicken broth. We’re using just a hint so that it enhances the flavor without overpowering the delicate taste of fresh cilantro. You can also use vegetable bouillon here if you want to keep the recipe vegetarian-friendly.
- Lime Zest + Juice: Fresh lime zest and juice are the backbone of this recipe! I use my fine zester to remove the zest before juicing the limes on my favorite citrus juicer.
- Cilantro: You’ll want to use all the fresh cilantro for this recipe! I like to store my cilantro unwashed in the fridge. When you’re ready to use, wash and dry on a piece of paper towel. You don’t try to chop the cilantro before wiping it dry; it’s a hot mess!
It’s so easy to make Chipotle’s cilantro lime rice at home
- Sauté the rice. Place the rice in a fine mesh sieve and run the rice under cold running water. Use your hands to help loosen the starch. Keep rinsing until the water runs completely clear. Leave the rice in the sieve and just let it drip any excess moisture in a bowl or the sink. Meanwhile, you want to start heating the butter in a saucepan or saute pan. When the butter is melted, add the rice and saute it until it crackles and pops. Then, add the garlic and give it a quick 30 seconds to heat through.
- Simmer the rice until tender. Once the garlic is fragrant and warmed through, add the water, crumbled bouillon, and salt. Stir just once. You don’t want to stir too much as it’ll cause more of the starch to release from the rice and causing it to be starchy and more like risotto than pilaf! Then allow the mixture to reach a rolling boil, cover, and let the rice cook until tender. Once the water had been absorbed, turn off the heat and, without lifting the lid, let the rice sit covered for a few minutes.
- Fluff and finish. Once the rice has had a chance to rest, add the lime juice, zest, and cilantro and stir to combine. Give the rice another 5 minutes so that it soaks up all the lime juice, and then you’re ready to serve!
FAQs about Chipotle’s copycat cilantro lime rice recipe:
- What kind of rice works best for this? I like this recipe best with parboiled rice. You can also use long-grain white rice here. Unfortunately, I haven’t tested the recipe with brown rice. Though I’m confident it would work, you’ll definitely need more water and closer to 30 minutes of cooking time.
- Do you use just the cilantro leaves or the stems as well? Tender stems from the cilantro are perfect to use because they provide so much flavor and aroma! You want to avoid using the larger, more firm stems here.
- Can you use more garlic? Absolutely! You can cut the garlic back to 1 clove if you aren’t a fan or double it up if you want more of a garlic cilantro lime rice!
Serving suggestions for cilantro lime rice
There are so many ways to serve this cilantro lime rice.
- Use it as the base in Chicken Tinga bowls
- Perfect to serve alongside ropa vieja with my Cuban-inspired black beans
- Steak fajitas or chicken fajitas in a burrito bowl would be divine
- It would work well as a side for Shrimp Enchiladas in Poblano Cream Sauce
- Yummy as a side for Mexican Shrimp Salad
- I love making chicken carnitas bowls
- If you’re looking for other burrito bowl toppings, here’s how you make pico de Gallo, homemade salsa, the best green sauce, salsa verde, homemade flour tortilla, and pickled onions!
- 2 tablespoons butter (ghee or oil)
- 1 ½ cups parboiled or long-grain rice
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed
- 3 cups water
- ½ teaspoon crumbled bouillon cube (optional, see notes)
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
- ¼ cup lime juice
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- SAUTE: Rinse the rice in a fine mesh sieve under cold running water until the water runs completely clear; about 2-3 minutes. Leave rice in mesh sieve, and set aside. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once melted, add the rice and stir to coat in the butter. Cook, stirring the rice for 1 ½ minutes or until the rice starts to pop and turn translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds.
- SIMMER: Add the water, crumbled bouillon, and kosher salt. Stir just once. Then, kick the heat to high, bring to a full rolling boil, cover, and lower heat to low; simmer for 15 minutes (if parboiled) or 18 minutes if long-grain. Remove from heat. Let sit 5 minutes for parboiled; 10 minutes for long-grain.
- FLUFFY AND FINISH: Add the lime zest, juice and cilantro and fluff with a fork for a few seconds so the ingredients all combine evenly. Allow the rice to sit for 5 minutes so it soaks up any remaining lime juice. Serve with crispy chicken carnitas, steak fajitas, or grilled shrimp!
- vegetarians: swap the chicken bouillon for vegetable bouillon. You can also use a veggie/chicken bouillon paste concentrate instead.