Chipotle Cilantro-Lime Rice (Copycat)

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Learn the secrets to making Chipotle Cilantro-Lime Rice at home. It all starts with the right type of rice cooked in an unusual way. Plus other methods for long-grain rice and even using a rice cooker!

Learn the secrets to making Chipotle Cilantro-Lime Rice at home. It all starts with the right type of rice cooked in an unusual way.

Learn the secrets to making Chipotle Cilantro-Lime Rice at home. It all starts with the right type of rice cooked in an unusual way.

Sometimes in life, it’s the simplest things that are the best.  After all, what is more satisfying than tucking into a huge scoop of Chipotle’s famous Cilantro-Lime Rice?  It’s soft and fluffy with just the right amount of chew and a noticeable absence of stickiness.

It’s friends with all the other ingredients on the menu and can work equally well on a burrito as on a salad.  How do they do it?  Why is the Chipotle Cilantro-Lime Rice so perfect?

Cooking perfect rice, cilantro-lime or otherwise, has been a goal of mine for quite some time.  Over the years I brought my rice from crunchy and bland to properly seasoned and soft, but it was still sticky.  I tried different varieties of rice: Jasmine, Basmati, long-grain, and short-grain.  I never quite found what I was looking for.

Until now.

Make your own Chipotle Chicken recipe at home! This recipe yields 2 cups of marinade, enough for 10 lbs. chicken. Make some now, freeze some for later!

Let me start off by saying: Although Chipotle uses long-grain rice, I found that I was able to most closely mimic their rice by using Basmati. However, I have experimented with other kinds of rice and cooking methods and have outlined those as well.

Method 1: Basmati Rice, Stove-top Method (preferred)

Although I had tried Basmati in the past, I cooked it using the typical method for long-grain rice.  That is, measure a certain ratio of rice to water, boil, cover, and wait until all the water has absorbed.  I’ve read things about soaking rice 30 minutes prior, or rinsing it until the water runs clear, but none of that ever seemed to really make a difference.

For the perfect Basmati rice, it doesn’t actually matter how much water you use as long as it’s A LOT. You’ll need to use at least 4 cups of water for every cup of rice, and leave it uncovered while it boils. I have updated this recipe to include a bay leaf (game changer!), recommended by many of the commenters below.

The final step is rinsing the rice in hot water after it’s been drained.  Stir in lime and lemon juices, salt, and finely chopped cilantro while the rice is still warm. Perfection!

Method 2: Long-Grain Rice, Stove-top Method

Chipotle unquestionably uses long-grain rice, and you can too. To get as close to their results as possible, I recommend rinsing the rice to remove excess starch before cooking it. I honestly don’t know if Chipotle does that (probably not), but it will help reduce your potential for sticky rice.

You could also add a teaspoon of oil to the pot. Chipotle uses Rice Bran Oil, but I always have olive oil on hand and it works very well. Don’t forget to add a bay leaf! Stir in citrus juice, salt, and cilantro when the rice is tender.

Method 3: Long-Grain Rice, Rice-cooker Method

I love my rice cooker! It has similar results to the stove-top but is a little more mindless. Rinse the rice before adding it to your rice cooker (my rice cooker instructions specifically suggest this, and I know from experience that less starch = less sticky rice).

Add a teaspoon of oil and some salt if desired, and of course a bay leaf. Honestly, I will always add a bay leaf to my white rice from now on, no matter what rice or what I’m doing with it! It’s just the best.

Follow your rice cooker manual for exact portions, but mine is something along the lines of 3/4 cup rice to 1 cup water (there is a special “rice” measuring cup that is equivalent to 3/4 cup). Toss with salt, citrus juice, and cilantro at the end.

Chipotle Cilantro-Lime Rice {Copycat Recipe} | Culinary Hill

By the way, this is my current rice cooker. It’s not overly complicated (or overly huge!) and does exactly what it’s supposed to do. My sister Erin and my sister Meredith each have the same one, too. We all love it! It’s about $30 on Amazon with over 3,500 positive reviews. That’s a lot of rice!

Chipotle Secret Menu Tip: Stop me if you’ve heard this already. If you are one of the millions of people who despise cilantro, you can ask for rice without cilantro at Chipotle. That’s right! They have a bowl of it around. All you have to do is ask. And of course, you can make this version at home without it, too.

Complete Your Chipotle Feast

Your batch of Cilantro-Lime Rice is delicious when served with a host of other Chipotle Copycat recipes. Try my chicken, grilled veggies, black beans, guacamole, tomato salsa, corn salsa, and even the chipotle honey vinaigrette!

That smoky-sweet Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette you love and crave, now made in your own kitchen with easy pantry ingredients. Your new favorite salad dressing!

Chipotle Cilantro-Lime Rice (Copycat)

Yield: 6 to 8 servings servings

Prep Time: 5 min

Cook Time: 20 min

Total Time: 25 min

Learn the secrets to making Chipotle Cilantro-Lime Rice at home. It all starts with the right type of rice cooked in an unusual way.


  • 2 cups basmati or long-grain rice, rinsed (see notes)
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil or rice bran oil, optional
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice


  1. To cook basmati rice on the stove top, bring 8 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Add rice, 2 teaspoons salt, and the bay leaf. Stir and return to a boil. Boil uncovered for 12 minutes.
  2. Remove bay leaf. Using a fine mesh strainer, drain rice and rinse with hot water. Pour into a large bowl. Stir in cilantro, lime juice, and lemon juice. Add remaining ¼ tsp. salt or additional salt to taste. Serve hot or at room temperature.
  3. To cook long-grain rice on the stove top, bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Add rice, 2 teaspoons salt, bay leaf, and oil if using. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove bay leaf. Stir in cilantro, lime juice, and lemon juice. Add remaining ¼ tsp. salt or additional salt to taste. Serve hot or at room temperature.
  5. To cook long-grain rice in a rice-cooker, add rinsed rice (see notes), water (according to manufacturer's instructions, see notes), salt, bay leaf, and oil if using. Close rice cooker, plug in, and turn on. Cook according to manufacturer's instructions.
  6. When the rice is finished, remove bay leaf. Stir in cilantro, lime juice, and lemon juice. Add remaining ¼ tsp. salt or additional salt to taste. Serve hot or at room temperature.
  1. If using long-grain rice, I recommend rinsing it before cooking it to remove excess starch. To rinse the rice, place it in a fine-mesh sieve under cool water and rinse until the water runs clear. Drain well before adding the rice to the pot or rice cooker. Alternatively, you could soak the rice in a large bowl of water for up to 30 minutes to help remove starch while conserving water.
  2. When using a rice cooker, it is important to follow the manufacturer's instructions for rice and water portions. Many rice cookers come with a specific "measuring cup" that may not be equivalent to a standard 8-ounce cup. They will also specify exactly how much water to use in relation to their measuring cup for best results. Those instructions supersede my quantities of rice and water here, but the other ingredients should remain the same (subject to your own taste preference, of course).

Related Recipes:

Chipotle Chicken (Copycat)

Make your own Chipotle Chicken recipe at home! This recipe yields 2 cups of marinade, enough for 10 lbs. chicken. Make some now, freeze some for later!

Slow Cooker Black Beans

Slow Cooker Black Beans are inexpensive, easy, delicious, and nutritious. Perfect as a healthy main dish or as a side to your Mexican favorites.

Chipotle Guacamole Recipe

This Chipotle Guacamole recipe is the real deal. With just six ingredients and a few minutes, enjoy as much Chipotle Guacamole at home as you can mash!

Chipotle Grilled Peppers and Onions

Chipotle Grilled Peppers and Onions, a copycat recipe for the tastiest grilled fajita veggies to ever grace your burrito bowl. Naturally vegan and gluten free.

Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette

That smoky-sweet Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette you love and crave, now made in your own kitchen with easy pantry ingredients. Your new favorite salad dressing!

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  1. So interesting! Definitely going to have to try this!,

  2. Have you ever tried making this with brown rice?

  3. I LOOOOOVE rice & for want to try this recipe. Is the rice fully cooked?

  4. Why is it called Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice if there is no Chipotle in the receipe.

    • Hi Rebecca, it is called Chipotle Cilantro-Lime Rice because it is a copycat recipe of the rice served at Chipotle, the Mexican restaurant. “Chipotle” is describing the copycat element of the title, not the recipe ingredients. I am so sorry for the confusion. Same goes for my Chipotle Guacamole and Grilled Peppers & Onions, they are copycats from the restaurant. The Chipotle chicken, however, does actually contain chipotle peppers while also being a copycat recipe.

    • Next time read the damn article before making such an idiotic observation.

  5. Hey Meggan,

    Quick question: will the rice come out mushy or over cooked at all? Is there anything special I need to do to prevent that?

    • Hey there! If you follow the instructions you should have no problems at all. I did have some experiences with overcooking the rice and it happened 1). when I rinsed the rice before cooking it (you should rinse it AFTER), and 2). when I put the lid on the pot while cooking it (you should cook the rice UNCOVERED). And of course cook the rice for 12 minutes, not 20 or anything like that. It worked really well! I hope you find success and I hope you love the recipe. Thank you for stopping by!

    • Wow! Thanks for your response! I’m excited and will stop by to tell you how it goes. :) I’m pairing this rice with a Butter Curry. :)

    • Wha-what? Butter curry?! That sounds amazing. I love butter and I love curry so… yeah. Going to have to try that. :) Enjoy! And thanks for the idea!

  6. I watch the ladies season the rice at the local shop. They add the cilantro, salt, and then start stirring it. They actually spray the lime water from a spritzer, stir, spritz, stir, etc. until they get it flavored the way they want it.
    Just another method…

    • Dave, that’s a fabulous insight. That is why having a food blog is so fun, because that is probably yet one more way to ensure absolutely spot-on matching rice, and I never would have known it myself. That way no bite is overly flavored with lime and it’s distributed perfectly. Thank you for this idea, I’m definitely going to try it out on my next batch! I appreciate you stopping by!

  7. I made this with brown basmati rice and it was still hard and crunchy at 12 minutes. It ended up taking more then 40 minutes to cook

    • I actually made this today with brown basmati rice too. I followed the cooking time on the bag (40 minutes) but not the method. I used my method listed above – 8 cups of water per 2 cups of rice, cooked uncovered, rinsed afterward. The rice was soft and chewy and separated grains. It definitely takes longer with brown rice (unless you use a pressure cooker), but the method works.

  8. When I have had Chipotle’s rice, it seems like it is spicy. This recipe does not have any spice in it so is there a difference?

    • Tim, that’s an interesting observation. I guess I have never thought it was spicy, but cilantro can be quite overpowering at times. Although if you’ve had cilantro and you’re sure that’s not it, then I’m not sure. I’d never be so bold as to say it was a freak incident or that jalapenos somehow got randomly mixed in, but I just know that when I try my recipe, to me it tastes the same as theirs. I’m not sure! Here is how they describe their rice on the official Chipotle website: “Steamed white rice tossed with freshly chopped cilantro, a dash of citrus juice and a little salt.”

    • Chipotle cooks their rice in a rice pot and while it is cooking, several whole bay leaves are added to the pot. Once the rice is taken from the pot, sunflower oil is added to the pot and the bay leaves are removed. If you’ve ever had bay leaves you know that it has a certain spiciness to it. After the bay leaves are removed, the rice is portioned out into four separate pans and left in heated shelves until they need more rice on the line, the kosher salt, cilantro and lemon/lime mixture are stirred in just before the rice is sent to the front line to be served to the customers.

  9. Made this tonight, and it was outstanding. Better than the famous chains! Halved the recipe so shortened the cook time by a few minutes. Just awesome!! Great great tips!

    • Awww shucks, Jess, that’s so great to hear! I’m glad it worked for you and that you enjoyed it. :) Thank you for coming back tonight to leave a comment and let me know. That’s so nice of you!

  10. I just love chipotle’s rice. not sure which came first – wahoo’s tacos or chipotle, but I first had this rice at wahoo’s in socal when they only had a few chain of restaurants.

  11. Do we need some curry or gravy to eat with this as a munch? Pls do let us know

  12. How well does this keep in the fridge? I want to make it ahead of time for a party

    • I have never actually made it ahead of time so I cannot say for sure. I do make batches of rice frequently which I store in the fridge, and I reheat small portions for fried rice or adding to soup or whatever, and it works great. In this case, I guess I would say add the salt and lime juice and cilantro right before serving, rather than before refrigerating. You’ll have to decide on a way to reheat the rice though. I don’t know how well this would, but if it were me, I’d probably reheat it in a dry non-stick skillet. Good luck!

  13. Hi Meggan-
    Do you have portions for making this recipie for a crowd (about 40 servings)? Thanks, Julie

    • Hi Julie, I wish I did but I truly don’t. I’ve never made this recipe other than the version listed above. I guess I would just triple the recipe twice… at least. Good luck, I wish I could offer more advice!

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  15. I did not want to try this, because boiling rice uncovered seemed so contrary to the way I have been taught to cook rice. Holy moly, I am soooo glad I did. That was the fluffiest, most perfect rice I have EVER made! It was just like Chipotle’s! Now every rice recipe I make will be made this way! I loved it!! Thanks!

    • Thank you Olivia! I know, it’s a weird way to cook rice and I didn’t believe it either at first. Thanks for giving the crazy idea a shot, so glad it worked for you and that you liked it!

  16. I like it even better with some zest of lime in it, too. gives it a “warmer” flavor.

  17. I used this method for my rice a few weeks ago. I followed each step exactly except I used chicken broth instead of water. But I plan to use the same method again for this recipe but using water instead. I’ll say that my rice was perfect! It was completely cooked, not musy or sticky.

    • Rhonda, I love using chicken broth when I cook rice, especially brown rice! It tastes so great. I haven’t tried it with this method or with Basmati rice, but I’m glad it worked for you and that you liked it. Thank you for letting me know!

    • Rhonda, I love using chicken broth when I cook rice, especially brown rice! It tastes so great. I haven’t tried it with this method or with Basmati rice, but I’m glad it worked for you and that you liked it. Thank you for letting me know!

  18. This is such a great simple twist on plain rice! I am having a taco bar today and you know, I’m going to make this to have on the side! Thanks Meggan!

  19. hi.. just a lil confused, why do you have to rinse the rice with water after its cooked? wouldnt it get soggy?

    • It definitely doesn’t get soggy. So with normal rice, when you cover it, it absorbs all the water and when it is done, you are left with just rice in the pan and no water. With basmati rice, you cook it uncovered in tons of water, more than would ever be absorbed. You rinse it at the end to get rid of the excess starch so the grains stay separated and don’t clump together. I know, it sounds like a weird way to do it, but it definitely works. It’s actually the way the say to cook the rice on the package (well, they offer like 3 methods) so it is no ground-breaking revelation on my part! I would not SOAK the rice when it’s cooked, just put it in a fine mesh strainer and give it a rinse.

  20. i worked at chipotle, this is close. All we did was cook the rice with water and bay leaves in a rice cooker, then we added salt and citrus (mostly lime) juice.

  21. Hi! I just wanted to add that yes, excess water is key to non-sticky rice. BUT I read a blog not long ago that perfected my basmati rice making. Wash rice, soak the rice in excess water for half an hour before cooking, then use a ratio of 1 cup rice : 2 cups water and cook like normal rice (on high until boiling, then cover and simmer for 15 mins). With this method you don’t have to strain, which can get messy.

    • I have seen recipes that suggest soaking rice in water to remove excess starch. I know it definitely works; I just find it easier to strain the rice after cooking it and giving it a rinse. I guess it depends on the size of your strainer! Still, I’d like to try your method and see if it works better. Thank you for the suggestion!

  22. The secret to fluffy rice, isn’t a lot of water. It’s cooking the raw rice first in oil, until the rice is clear, then adding in twice as much water by volume as rice, salt and any seasoning you want IN the rice, such as a bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then stick the lid on, reduce your heat to low for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat and let it steam for 15 minutes. Open, use a fork to fluff the rice, none of it sticks, and there’s no draining, or rinsing.

    • I could see this method being very effective because you cook the rice first in oil which would prevent sticking. I have a few baked rice dishes that start that way and it always yields fluffy, individual grains. Great method!

  23. Well well! I was googling for a cilantro rice recipe….and look what came up! Going on my dinner table tonight :)

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  25. Tried this over the weekend and it came out perfect. Exactly like Chipotle. My new mission is to figure out how they make their pinto beans. Any ideas?

    • Hi Kristyn, I haven’t made their pinto beans myself, but here’s what I dug up from the site. I imagine it would take some trial & error to get it right. I’ve added that recipe to my to-do list! “Simmered with onions, garlic, oregano, and chipotle-chili adobo.”

  26. Can I make this but with regular long grain white rice

    • Hi Jennifer, the technique I have outlined above (cooking with a ton of water, leaving the pot uncovered) won’t work with regular long-grain rice. If I were going to use regular rice, I would rinse it first to remove as much starch as possible (to prevent sticking) and then cook the rice according to the package directions. Chipotle uses regular long-grain rice so you should be able to, too! I just had better luck with the basmati. Good luck!

  27. Chipolte’s website says the Cilantro-Lime Rice is a lemon lime flavor. Your recipe is wrong and tastes it.
    Extra long grain rice with cilantro and fresh lemon and lime.

    • You are right, there should be both lemon and lime juice. I caught that for their guacamole so I don’t know how I missed it for this rice. Thanks for letting me know. They also use Rice Bran oil and a Bay Leaf so I need to re-work this recipe for sure.

  28. What temperature are you cooking the rice at for 12 minutes.  When i place it on low heat the boil slowly goes down.  Would u recommend I keep it at medium heat ?

    • Hi David, sorry that wasn’t clear from the recipe! You’ll want to keep it at medium heat or even medium-high, whatever temperature is required to keep it boiling. I use a gas stove so medium heat works for me to keep it at a boil. On an electric stove it might be different, but probably not much. If you have any other questions please let me know!

  29. Hi Meggan,

    Rice and masoor dal – called dal – chawal, are a staple in our culture. We eat them every single day, made from scratch every singly day!! We make varieties of flavored rice – atleast 12 and more in some regions of our country, and equal number of varieties of dal. Most if not all of these varieties call for fluffy, soft yet non-sticky rice. For generations people in our culture have been cooking rice uncovered on stove, a perfect make, every single time. As a matter of fact, the first thing young girls are taught to make in the kitchen is making perfect rice.  I have never heard of rinsing the rice after it is cooked, though. That is interesting, however. I shall try that for today’s lunch. Your method of cooking rice and the choice of masoor dal to go with it, suggests, you have quite some expertise with Indian cuisine – both cooking and tasting! Keep up the good work of spreading joy!

    • Hi Esther, thank you so much for your comment! I am definitely no expert (at anything, never mind Indian cuisine!) but I struggled with making rice to my satisfaction for a long time until I found this method. If you do not normally rinse the rice, I will have to try leaving that step out myself again (I can’t remember if I tried it when I was working on this recipe). I love how you said that you have been cooking rice uncovered on a stove for generations… it seems so crazy to me and many others and yet it’s perfect every time. You have warmed my heart with your stories. Thank you so much.

  30. As for the rice, are there any nutrients left after this cooking process?  Yikes!

    • Hi Jennifer, I assume this is a rhetorical question? ;) Because no, probably not. It’s my understanding (based on reading the package the rice comes in), anytime you rinse rice at all, you are rinsing away whatever nutrients the rice was enriched with.

  31. I currently live outside the U.S. and I barely remember Chipotle… Now I can save myself the waiting in line cause this rice is amazing!! Perfect recipe, I followed it to a t (along with your black beans and chicken recipes- did the best I could with that one) and it was all really delicious. I don’t think I will ever cook rice with a lid again! 

    • You are so sweet, thank you! The chicken gets easier with practice. I used to feel like – how will I ever make this! Now I can make it in my sleep. I also love that you get at least two batches out of it, that takes away some of the pain of the process. I love the rice too. I am working on a rice cooker method and also using regular long-grain rice. I think they are both good but I still like this original way the best (with no lid). Thank you so much for letting me know what you tried and how it went. It makes my day!

  32. Hi! I just want to say that I use Minute Rice Premium Rice in a rice cooker and it works great! I just at lemon juice, lime juice and salt to taste. Add chopped cilantro, top with some mozzarella cheese and a little sour cream ( this is how my 5 year old devours it at Chipotle and at home!) Its great!! Pretty darn close to the real thing.  

    • Bonnie, this is awesome! I really need to update the recipe to reflect more methods of preparation, and this is going on the list. Thank you so much for sharing your experience! Adding cheese and sour cream makes everything better… ha ha! My 3-year old loves the rice with their salad dressing on top. :)

  33. I’m not sure what happened, but this turned out WAY overpowered with lime or salt (or maybe both) when I made it for dinner. It was just a bit too much. I cut the recipe in half with the amount of rice I used, but I don’t know what happened. I am gonna try it again though! 

    • I am so sorry about that, Jenn!!! Over salted food is the worst. It’s just not fixable! Here’s hoping your next attempt works out better. When you halved the rice, I assume you halved the salt/lime too?? :(

  34. I just made the rice (basmati) for the first time tonight using the Stev top method following the directions exactly. Understanding I may have done something wrong, here are my comments. After rinsing the rice with hot water and straining it the best I could it still seemed very wet. After adding 2 tbsp lime and 1 tbsp of lemon it was just way to wet. I’m guessing I didn’t get enough water out during straining. What else should I have done?

    Last, the lemon and lime was way to strong especially compared to Chipotle’s. I’m just going to cut the amount in half the next time I try to make this recipie.

    Any comments/suggestions welcome.

    • Hi Mike, I am so sorry you had some problems with the recipe. It sounds like you probably did everything right. I have never done anything to deliberately “dry” the rice and it has always been fine for me, but now I want to go and make it again and assess more closely how “wet” the rice is. Because clearly you had issues, and I’m really sorry about that. I will also test the amount of lemon and lime juice, maybe I had weak citrus?? What a disaster, I’m so sorry about that! I will retest this within a week and reply to you with my findings. So sorry again.

  35. This recipe works well with these directions.

    NOTE: It DOES NOT work with a 1/2 batch.. Tried it ‘halving’ the ingredients and there was way too much lemon/lime. Also, after ~ 11 1/2 minutes of boiling, my pot ran out of water.

    • Good to know, thank you!! I never tried making a half batch, and now I never will. Thanks for your help.

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  37. I have always made basmati rice using the ration 1 cup rice:1 ¾ cup water and it comes out perfect. I fear you are using too much water. 

    • The way I’m making it, you end up pouring off the excess water. In your version, do you do the same? Or is all the water absorbed? I imagine if you used exactly the right amount of water (as you are probably doing) the rice wouldn’t need to be drained. I am planning to experiment with this recipe again soon so I’ll try your way! Thanks for sharing.

  38. Chipotle does rinse their rice until all the water runs clear and they use bay leafs when cooking it

    • Hi Anna, do they really rinse their rice? That’s awesome. I mean, it totally works for me in terms of getting it to be so separated and not sticky at all. And yes, the bay leaves are everything. They change the flavor of the rice so much, for the good! Thanks for your comment.

  39. So the rice to water ratio On the back of my basmati rice bag is a little different then your instructions sink don’t know what to follow … The back of my bag says 2 cups of rice and 3 cups of water . And your instruction say 2 cups of rice with 8 cups of water

    • Hi Desiree, I think there is more than one way to make the rice. I make it with 8 cups of water (or 6 or 10 or some large amount) and then drain off the excess after 12 minutes (and also boil it uncovered). I’m not sure how the bag you are reading says, but if you were going to COVER the rice and try to have it absorb all the water, then 8 cups of water would be way too much. 3 cups might be more appropriate. But since I drain the excess water off and rinse the rice until the water runs clear, 8 cups works fine. But of course it’s up to you! Feel free to follow the instructions you see there. :)

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