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.

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.

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.

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.  I had tried Basmati in the past, but I cooked it using the typical method for all kinds of 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.

Here’s the secret: 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, 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.  And that’s it.

One last thought: Chipotle uses Rice Bran Oil in their rice. I have not added it here, and I don’t know if they add it to the water while the rice cooks or somehow add it at the end. I think the rice is delicious enough on its own without added oil.

It’s perfect, each and every time.

Chipotle Cilantro-Lime Rice (Copycat Recipe)

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 2 min

Cook Time: 20 min

Total Time: 22 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.

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. basmati rice
  • 2 ¼ tsp. salt, divided
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 T. finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 T. fresh lime juice
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, bring 8 cups water to a boil.
  2. Add rice, 2 tsp. salt, and bay leaf; stir, and return to a boil. Boil uncovered for 12 minutes.
  3. Remove bay leaf. Using a fine mesh strainer, drain rice and rinse with hot water. Pour into a large bowl.
  4. Stir in cilantro, lime juice, and lemon juice. Add remaining ¼ tsp. salt or additional salt to taste. Serve hot or at room temperature.

This recipe for Chipotle Cilantro-Lime Rice originally appeared at FoodPolitic.

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60 Responses to “Chipotle Cilantro-Lime Rice (Copycat)”

  1. #
    Faye — January 25, 2014 at 8:23 pm

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

    • #
      Meggan — January 25, 2014 at 11:16 pm

      Thank you, Faye! I hope you enjoy it. This represents the end of a long journey for me, the quest for perfect rice. :)

  2. #
    mkpassey — February 6, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Have you ever tried making this with brown rice?

    • #
      Meggan — February 7, 2014 at 5:45 am

      I haven’t made it with brown rice YET, but I purchased brown basmati rice just this week and plan to try it out this weekend. I’ll comment again and let you know if anything changes with the recipe. Thank you for stopping by! :)

    • #
      Meggan — April 29, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      ON March 19th I posted a version using brown Basmati Rice, just in case you were still wondering. Thanks! http://www.culinaryhill.com/brown-cilantro-lime-rice/

  3. #
    kim — February 25, 2014 at 11:56 am

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

    • #
      Meggan — February 25, 2014 at 12:00 pm

      The rice is fully cooked! It is soft and tender and not even a whisper of crunchiness. It’s amazing. You are going to love it!

  4. #
    REBECCA — March 5, 2014 at 12:30 pm

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

    • #
      Meggan — March 5, 2014 at 12:37 pm

      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.

    • #
      aejaygoehring — September 21, 2014 at 10:39 am

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

  5. #
    afros4india — March 5, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    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?

    • #
      Meggan — March 5, 2014 at 1:49 pm

      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!

    • #
      afros4india — March 5, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      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. :)

    • #
      Meggan — March 5, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      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. #
    Dave — March 6, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    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…

    • #
      Meggan — March 6, 2014 at 3:23 pm

      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. #
    Lo — March 11, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    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

    • #
      Meggan — March 11, 2014 at 5:34 pm

      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. #
    Tim Taylor — March 12, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    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?

    • #
      Meggan — March 12, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      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.”

    • #
      Autumn — November 24, 2014 at 2:11 pm

      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. #
    Jess — April 15, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    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!

    • #
      Meggan — April 15, 2014 at 8:28 pm

      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. #
    lily — April 17, 2014 at 7:36 am

    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. #
    Sowmya — April 29, 2014 at 2:16 pm

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

  12. #
    Shaina — June 4, 2014 at 9:25 pm

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

    • #
      Meggan Hill — June 5, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      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. #
    Julie Stump — June 9, 2014 at 8:16 pm

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

    • #
      Meggan | Culinary Hill — June 10, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      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!

  14. #
    Olivia — July 26, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    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!

    • #
      Meggan | Culinary Hill — July 26, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      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!

  15. #
    Daniel Himmel — August 16, 2014 at 3:54 am

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

  16. #
    Rhonda Welborn — August 17, 2014 at 8:22 am

    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.
    http://thewanderlustkitchen.com/how-to-cook-perfect-rice/

    • #
      Meggan | Culinary Hill — August 17, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      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!

    • #
      Meggan | Culinary Hill — August 17, 2014 at 9:14 pm

      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!

  17. #
    Nagi | RecipeTin Eats — October 4, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    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!

  18. #
    pinkie24 — October 6, 2014 at 9:19 pm

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

    • #
      Meggan | Culinary Hill — October 7, 2014 at 7:19 am

      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.

  19. #
    Candace Bembenick — October 9, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    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.

    • #
      Meggan | Culinary Hill — October 9, 2014 at 6:14 pm

      Bay leaves? Amazing! No rice bran oil? They have it listed in the ingredient list. I wondered if that was how they got the grains to separate so nicely. I really need to get a job there so I can learn the secrets!

    • #
      Candace Bembenick — October 9, 2014 at 9:31 pm

      oops, i totally did forget, we do add oil to the rice after we cook it, but the bay leaves are important to the flavor as well. :P

    • #
      Meggan | Culinary Hill — October 10, 2014 at 7:09 am

      That is such an insider tip, I never would have guessed that in a million years. I can’t wait to make another batch and add those to see how it improves things! Thank you so much!

    • #
      Khoi Nguyen — October 24, 2014 at 9:43 am

      Use Olive oil is the best

  20. #
    Ari Oglesby Persaud — October 10, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    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.

    • #
      Meggan | Culinary Hill — October 12, 2014 at 11:53 am

      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!

  21. #
    HaveYourCake — November 4, 2014 at 9:25 am

    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.

    • #
      Meggan | Culinary Hill — November 4, 2014 at 1:33 pm

      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!

  22. #
    Nagi | RecipeTin Eats — January 8, 2015 at 12:36 am

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

  23. #
    Kristyn — January 27, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    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?

    • #
      Meggan | Culinary Hill — February 3, 2015 at 9:05 am

      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.”

  24. #
    Jennifer — March 3, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    Can I make this but with regular long grain white rice

    • #
      Meggan | Culinary Hill — March 3, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      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!

  25. #
    Bridget Schoff — March 16, 2015 at 11:14 am

    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.

    • #
      Meggan | Culinary Hill — March 16, 2015 at 12:01 pm

      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.

  26. #
    David Z — May 15, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    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 ?

    • #
      meggan — May 15, 2015 at 5:34 pm

      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!

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