Chipotle Cilantro-Lime Rice (Copycat)
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!
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.
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.
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!
Chipotle Cilantro-Lime Rice (Copycat)
Yield: 6 to 8 servings servings
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Total Time: 25 min
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).