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Learn the secrets to making Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice in the comfort of your own kitchen. This copycat recipe starts with getting the right type of rice and cooking it in a non-traditional way. This rice is soft and fluffy with just the right amount of chew and no stickiness.

A bowl of Cilantro-Lime Rice.

I’ve taken a deep dive into cooking perfect, fluffy rice on the stove or using a rice cooker. By using Basmati rice, and cooking it in lots of water (aka “the pasta method”), I was able to closely mimic their recipe.

You don’t have to use Basmati, though; I experimented with other kinds of rice and cooking methods and have outlined those as well.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Why I love my rice cooker
  6. Recipe FAQs
  7. Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice (Copycat) Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for cilantro lime rice.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

“Grain” refers to the rice’s length to width ratio, when cooked. More than likely, you’d be able to tell whether a rice is short-grain or long-grain just by looking at it. Medium is a tad more difficult, because sometimes it gets lumped (clumped?) into the short-grain category.

  • Short grain rice is a plump, stubby grain. This rice is most commonly used for making sushi. Short-grain rice has more starch, so it clumps together easily.
  • Long grain rice is slender and long, as its name suggests. Varieties include American white and brown rices, Jasmine rice, and Basmati rice. Long-grain rice has a firm, dry texture, and is best for side dishes, pilafs, and salads.
  • Medium grain rice is somewhere in between. It produces moist, tender, slightly chewy grains that stick to each other when cooked. Common medium-grain rices include Arborio and Valencia, which are used to make risotto, and Bomba rice, which is used in paella.

One thing I’ve definitely learned along the way is to use the type of rice listed in a given recipe. Each one has different characteristics, so if you swap in a kind that hasn’t been tested, you might not get the result you are hoping for.

Step-by-step instructions

Method 1: How to Make Perfect Basmati Rice on the Stove (pasta method)

Even though I had cooked Basmati rice before, I had always cooked it using the typical method we’ve all been taught: measure a specific ratio of rice to water, bring to a boil, cover, and cook until all the water has absorbed. Then I learned about a new (well, new to me) method for cooking Basmati rice, and it changed my rice-cooking life.

If you’ve always thought cooking rice was too tricky, this method is for you. It’s called the pasta method; if you can cook pasta, you can definitely make perfect rice.

  1. Bring 8 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Add rice, bay leaf, and salt to taste (I like 2 teaspoons). Stir and return to a boil.
A pot of water and rice.
  1. Boil uncovered for 10 to 12 minutes (for me it’s always 12, but some readers have reported mushy rice after 12 minutes, so keep an eye on yours).
A pot of cooked rice.
  1. Remove bay leaf. Using a fine mesh strainer, drain rice and rinse with hot water.
Cooked rice in a strainer.
  1. Stir in cilantro, lime juice, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt (I like an additional ¼ teaspoon). Serve hot or at room temperature.
A pot of cooked rice.

Method 2: How to Make Long-Grain Rice on the Stove (absorption method)

If you don’t have Basmati rice, you can still use another type of long-grain rice and still have a great version of Cilantro Lime 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. Or, soak the rice in a large bowl of water for up to 30 minutes to help remove starch while conserving water.

  1. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Add rice, bay leaf, oil if using, and salt to taste (I like 2 teaspoons). Stir and return to a boil.
A pot of water and rice.
  1. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.
A pot of cooked rice.
  1. Remove bay leaf. Stir in cilantro, lime juice, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt (I like an additional ¼ teaspoon). Serve hot or at room temperature.
A pot of cooked rice.

Method 3: How to make rice in a Rice Cooker

I love using a rice cooker! It’s completely hands-free and all I have to do is push a button. I use and recommend the Aroma Housewares Rice Cooker, which you can get on Amazon for $30. Rice cookers usually come with a measuring cup that’s a little smaller than a standard cup. You simply count out the number of cups you’re making, then fill the cooker with water up to the level on the side that matches the number of cups you’re making.

  1. Add rinsed rice, water (according to manufacturer’s instructions, bay leaf, salt (I like 1 teaspoon), and oil if using. Close rice cooker, plug in, and turn on.
A rice cooker of uncooked rice and water.
  1. Cook according to manufacturer’s instructions.
A rice cooker full of white rice.
  1. When the rice is finished, remove bay leaf. Stir in cilantro, lime juice, and lemon juice. Add more salt to taste (I like ¼ teaspoon). Serve hot or at room temperature.
A rice cooker full of white rice.

Method 4: Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice

You can cook Cilantro Lime Brown Rice in a rice cooker (easy, because most rice cookers have a ‘brown rice’ button) or on the stove top. I prefer to use brown Basmati rice, but any long-grain brown rice will do.

Because brown rice takes a little longer, just follow the revised cooking times as outlined in Step 7 of the recipe.

A metal saucepan with a spoon and brown rice in it.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: 1 cup uncooked white rice makes 3 cups cooked white rice. 1 cup uncooked brown rice makes 4 cups cooked brown rice. This recipe will make about 6 cups Cilantro-Lime Rice, enough for 12 (½ cup) servings. That means it’s great for plenty of burrito bowls and meal prep!
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Freezer: Rice is one of the easiest things to freeze. I love to pack it into 2-cup portions (in plastic bags). Label, date, and lay flat in the freezer. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw as needed or add to soups or stir-fries straight from the freezer.
  • Cilantro haters: If you happen to be one of the millions of people who despise cilantro (it’s not your fault), you can ask for rice without cilantro at Chipotle.
A bowl of Cilantro-Lime Rice.

Why I love my rice cooker

The Aroma Housewares Rice Cooker is compact, super simple, and does exactly what it’s supposed to do without fail. My sisters, Erin and Meredith, each have the same one, and we all love it. Not to mention, it has over 6,100 positive reviews. That’s a whole lot of rice!

You can buy my favorite rice cooker for about $30 on Amazon.

A photo of a rice cooker.

Rice cookers can cook polenta beautifully, also, without stirring it for a million hours. It’s not just a one-job appliance. And if you’re not sold on my rice cooker, others have slow cooker capabilities, too.

Recipe FAQs

How many cups of rice will 1 cup uncooked rice make?

1 cup uncooked white rice makes 3 cups cooked white rice. 1 cup uncooked brown rice makes 4 cups cooked brown rice.

What is the difference between brown and white rice?

Brown rice is considered a whole grain, with fibrous bran, germ, and all. Fiber, vitamins, and minerals are all stored in the bran and germ. White rice has had the bran and germ removed in processing, and so it’s technically less nutritious than brown rice. (But it’s still delicious!)

Brown rice takes quite a bit longer than white rice in terms of cooking, but instructions on how to make Cilantro Lime Brown Rice are in the recipe card below, in case you are interested.

Chipotle Burrito Bowl

Tonight, stay in and build your own Chipotle Burrito Bowl with the copycat recipes you know and love. Fluffy rice, black beans, tender chicken, sweet corn salsa, tomato salsa, and lots of guacamole. It’s great…

50 minutes
View Recipe
A bowl of Cilantro-Lime Rice.

Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice (Copycat)

Learn the secrets to making Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice in the comfort of your own kitchen. This copycat recipe starts with getting the right type of rice and cooking it in a non-traditional way. This rice is soft and fluffy with just the right amount of chew and no stickiness.
4.97 from 597 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Servings 12 servings
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, Mexican
Calories 114

Equipment

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups basmati rice unrinsed, or any long-grain white rice, rinsed (see note 1)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt
  • teaspoon olive oil or rice bran oil, optional
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro minced (or omit or sub parsley)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice from 1-2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice from 1-2 lemons

Instructions 

To cook basmati rice on the stove top:

  • Bring 8 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Add rice, bay leaf, and salt to taste (I like 2 teaspoons). Stir and return to a boil. Boil uncovered for 10 to 12 minutes (for me it's always 12, but some readers have reported mushy rice after 12 minutes, so keep an eye on yours).
  • 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. Season to taste with salt (I like an additional ¼ teaspoon). Serve hot or at room temperature.

To cook any long-grain rice on the stove top:

  • Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Add rice, bay leaf, oil if using, and salt to taste (I like 2 teaspoons). Stir and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.
  • Remove bay leaf. Stir in cilantro, lime juice, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt (I like an additional ¼ teaspoon). 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), bay leaf, salt (I like 1 teaspoon), 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 more salt to taste (I like ¼ teaspoon). Serve hot or at room temperature.

To cook brown rice:

  • Follow the instructions above using the following times: 40 minutes for Basmati on the stove top, 45 minutes for long-grain on the stove top, and 60 – 70 minutes for a rice cooker (or according to manufacturer’s instructions). 2 cups brown rice makes 16 servings, ½ cup each (higher yield than white rice).

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Long-grain rice (not Basmati): If using a long-grain rice other than Basmati, 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. Or, 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). If you’re looking to buy a rice cooker, I use and recommend the Aroma Housewares Rice Cooker, which you can buy from Amazon.
  3. Yield: 1 cup uncooked white rice makes 3 cups cooked white rice. 1 cup uncooked brown rice makes 4 cups cooked brown rice. This recipe will make about 6 cups Cilantro-Lime Rice, enough for 12 (½ cup) servings. That means it’s great for plenty of burrito bowls and meal prep!
  4. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  5. Freezer: Rice is one of the easiest things to freeze. I love to pack it into 2-cup portions (in plastic bags). Label, date, and lay flat in the freezer. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw as needed or add to soups or stir-fries straight from the freezer.

Nutrition

Calories: 114kcalCarbohydrates: 25gProtein: 2gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 2mgPotassium: 35mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 4IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 9mgIron: 1mg
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Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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Comments

  1. Ok, I, like everyone else, was very concerned about making this so I used half the recipe in case it turned out bad, well, it was fantastic. I do understand all the questions about cooking the rice tho, it seemed very odd to me but came out just fine, I’ll check your other recipes…just when you think you know everything there is to know about cooking, here comes Ms Hill!5 stars

    1. Why thank you! I’m so glad you loved it! :) I hope you find more recipes to explore! – Meggan

  2. I cooked long grain rice on the stove. I rinsed it, also. I think 15 minutes is not enough as many of the rice kernels were half cooked but still crunchy. When I make Mexican rice, it calls for 20 minutes then open the lid and then turn heat off and let sit another 10 min. Also used a heavy bottomed pan.2 stars

    1. Hi Joan, I’m sorry your rice was crunchy after 15 minutes, I hope you covered and cooked it longer. My recipe doesn’t call for using a heavy-bottomed pan but a large pot, this is likely why your rice didn’t turn out as expected, as it probably needed more time. Sorry again, take care! – Meggan

  3. Hi Meganβ€” have you ever held the rice for a party? Any tips for how I can keep it from getting sticky in a chafer? Thx!

    1. Hi Claudia, yes! I recommend making a water bath in the large bottom pan, and holding the rice in a smaller pan inside. This will help the rice keep warm without overheating it. – Meggan

    1. Hi Charlene, I’m sorry your rice came out sticky! This usually happens if you didn’t rinse it enough times. So sorry again! – Meggan

  4. Hi! I love Chipotle, but it gets spendy so I’m trying to cook at home more. This recipe seems awesome! I am just wondering if I don’t have lemons on hand, can I substitute more lime juice? Or omit it entirely?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi H.G. you can omit the lemon juice and add more lime juice to taste! Hope this helps – Meggan

  5. My only concern is the four cups to one cup. I’m Korean and have made rice since I was 5 and I’m 54. It’s always 2 to 1 water to rice and a little less in a rice cooker. We use our finger to measure the water in the cooker.

    1. Its the pasta method, so because its alot of water you drain it. Its a different way to make rice

  6. Thank you! My family LOVES this rice and it’s so easy to prepare! It is delicious and it is fast becoming a family favorite!5 stars

    1. Hi Tameka, it is! I love this recipe for meal prepping for the week. Take care! – Meggan

  7. Super easy and delicious – tastes just like Chipotle! I made the rice using the rice cooker method and it was perfect. I think next time I might try adding in a dab of butter. Thank you for the recipe!

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