Cilantro rice just like the recipe from your favorite fast casual taco spot. Butter and lime combine to take plain rice to taco’s, burritos and enchiladas best side dish.

overheard shot of white rice with cilantro and lime and a spoon with a wooden handle

You know what a sleeper is? That one quiet little bebe that at first you don’t notice but then it gobsmacks you with its flavor – its natural ability to make everything around it better? This Chipotle Cilantro Rice is the sleeper side dish that your burritos (especially this crispy beef burrito), tacos, bowls and more didn’t know they needed.

And a recipe you didn’t know you needed.

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Back-pocket recipe

I call recipes like this zhuzhed up rice “back pocket” recipes. A back pocket recipe is:

  • so easy you can make it by heart
  • one with minimal ingredients
  • fast prep and cooking time.
cutting board with fresh cilantro, a knife and measuring cup

Cilantro lime rice without cilantro

So you happen to strongly dislike cilantro? You’re not alone. Cilantro is a very polarizing ingredient. People either love it or hate it. It’s kind of like coconut. Love or hate! (I happen to love both…especially in this coconut cake).

Good news…you certainly can make this rice without cilantro! No one is going to report you to the cilantro board or anything.

You can even add other things like:

  • some canned (rinsed and drained) black beans
  • shredded chihuahua cheese
  • minced jalapeno
  • cooked (fresh or frozen)
  • corn
white linen with cut limes, a bowl of uncooked white rice and a metal scoop

Rice options

With this recipe, you have a couple of choices when it comes to the rice. You love choices, right?

Frozen. Many times, especially when there are only 2 or 3 of us, I go the frozen route. Trader Joe’s has boxes of organic jasmine rice that are perfect for this recipe. Each box has 3 bags in it and I typically make 1 or 2.

Type of rice. My favorite is basmati but brown, classic white, brown…they all work. Please just don’t use a quick cooking or instant rice. It’s not the same.

Homemade. If making the perfect pot of rice scares you, I’ve got you!

The rice to water ratio that works for me everytime is 1 part rice to 2 parts water. Put water, rice, 1 teaspoon of salt and a little butter in the pot, bring to a low boil, cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes. After the time has passed, turn off the heat, leave the cover on and let the rice sit for 5 minutes. Fluff and you’re done!

cutting board with chopped cilantro, bowl of melted butter, a knife and citrus ream

The process

After you’ve made your rice, all you need is:

  • melted butter
  • fresh lime juice
  • chopped cilantro

Add it all to the rice. And guess what?

You’ve just earned major brownie points with your Chipotle-lovin’ teenager because you’ve got the Golden Ticket. This easy rice recipe goes with food that teens love.

hand squeezing fresh lime over a white bowl of rice with cilantro

What goes with cilantro lime rice

Can I freeze this rice recipe?

If you make it as is (without cheese), you can freeze this rice. However, there is a chance that the cilantro might turn dark. Defrost in the microwave lightly covered, stirring even 30 seconds until heated.

bowl of white rice sprinkled with cilantro, a black salt and pepper shaker, a partial stick of butter


For a few. Trader Joe’s frozen rice is a great option for servings fewer than 3.

For a crew. Double a pot of perfect rice following the pointers above or the recipe below.

overheard shot of white rice with cilantro and lime and a spoon with a wooden handle.
5 from 1 vote

Cilantro Lime Rice

The best rice to fill burritos or complete your Taco Tuesday menu.
Prep Time:5 minutes
Cook Time:20 minutes
Total Time:25 minutes
Servings 6 cups


  • 2 cups basmati rice, rinsed in a fine mesh colander
  • 4 cups water
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted (plus more to cook rice, optional)
  • 5 limes, juiced, about ⅓ cup
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro


  • After rinsing rice, combine water and rice to a medium saucepan along with 1 Tablespoon solid butter (or olive oil) and 1 teaspoon of salt.
  • Bring rice to a boil and then cover the pan and reduce to a low simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes, turn off the heat and let the rice rest for about 5 minutes.
  • Fluff with a fork.
  • While rice is cooking, juice the limes and finely chop the cilantro.
  • To the rice, add the lime juice and butter along with the chopped cilantro. Season with 2 teaspoons of remaining salt and some black pepper, if desired. If you prefer a zippier lime flavor, add more lime juice.
  • Garnish with more chopped cilantro and lime wedges.


For a few. Trader Joe’s frozen rice is a great option for servings fewer than 3.
For a crew. Double a pot of perfect rice following the pointers above.
  • Serve as the base of your favorite bowl or as a filling for football burritos.
  • Add additional lime juice when eating as a leftover. 
Make ahead. Prepare as above and store in an airtight container until ready to serve/use. Can be made ahead up to 2 days ahead of time.
Reheating. Reheat in 30 second increments in a microwave until heated through.
Course: Bowls, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican, Southwest; Tex-Mex
Author: Lori Murphy
Did you make this recipe? Tag @josieandnina or tag #josieandnina!
5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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  1. Hmmm…. do you think I should attempt this recipe with riced cauliflower??? What is your thought on that???

    1. I love that idea!! Yes do it!! I’d prob saute the cauli so get the water out and then add the lime and butter. Let me know if you try it Teresa!🤗