Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe (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.

This cilantro-lime rice goes perfectly with my Chipotle copycat chicken, steak, barbacoa, or carnitas. Or, try my highly-rated Sofritas recipe or guacamole. See all my Chipotle copycat recipes here.

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.

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How do they do it?

Why is the Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice so perfect?

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, much like pasta, I was able to most 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.

What does short-grain, medium-grain, and long-grain rice really mean?

“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 with all this rice cookery is to use the rice called upon in the recipe. All rice is not the same, since it has vastly different characteristics.

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

Wondering how much rice to make? Say no more.

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

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

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. In a pot, heat at least 4 cups of water for every cup of rice you plan to cook.
  2. Add the rice when the water boils, and leave uncovered while it boils. Add a bay leaf to the water, (total game changer).
  3. After draining the rice, the final step is rinsing the cooked rice in hot water.
  4. Stir in lime and lemon juices, salt, and finely chopped cilantro while the rice is still warm. Perfection!

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.

Method 2: How to Make Another Type of Long-Grain Rice on the Stove

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 the rice to remove excess starch before cooking it. I don't know for a fact if Chipotle does that (probably not), but it will rinse some starch out of the rice and give you a fluffier product.

You could also add a teaspoon of oil to the pot of water. Chipotle uses rice bran oil, but olive oil works well for me.

  1. Rinse the rice before adding it to your rice cooker (less starch = less sticky rice).
  2. In a pot, heat at least 4 cups of water for every cup of rice you plan to cook.
  3. Add the rice when the water boils, and leave uncovered while it boils. Add a bay leaf to the water.
  4. After draining the rice, the final step is rinsing the cooked rice in hot water.
  5. Stir in lime and lemon juices, salt, and finely chopped cilantro while the rice is still warm.

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.

Method 3: How to make rice in a Rice Cooker

I adore my rice cooker! It’s completely hands-free and all I have to do is push a button. 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. Rinse the rice before adding it to your rice cooker (less starch = less sticky rice).
  2. Add a teaspoon of oil, the bay leaf, and a pinch of salt if desired. (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.)
  3. Follow your rice cooker’s 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).
  4. Toss with salt, citrus juice, and chopped cilantro at the end.

Bowl of delicious cilantro lime rice served in a yellow bowl with three lime halves next to the bowl.

What is the difference between brown and white rice?

While white rice is the most popular form of rice out there, brown rice is definitely gaining speed, especially for people who want to hold on to their rice nutrients.

The main difference between white and brown rice is this: 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.

Method 4: Chipotle 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.

White bowl of Chiptole's Cilantro Lime Rice, pictured against a light brown background.

What is a good rice cooker to use?

This is my current rice cooker (Culinary Hill may earn income if you make a purchase through this link). It's 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.

Rice cookers can cook polenta beautifully, also, without stirring it for a million hours. It’s not just a one-job appliance. Some have slow cooker capabilities, too!

For about $30 on Amazon, it has over 6,100 positive reviews. That's a whole lot of rice!

Hey, cilantro haters, this hot tip is for you: 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. Yup!

Now that you’ve mastered rice, you’re well on your way to creating your very own burrito bar! I hope there’s enough parking.

4.97 from 63 votes

Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe

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.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword lime, rice
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 117kcal
  • 2 cups basmati rice unrinsed, or any long-grain white rice, rinsed (see notes)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt
  • teaspoon olive oil or rice bran oil, optional
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro (or omit or sub parsley)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice from 1-2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon

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 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. Season to taste with salt (I like an additional 1/4 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 1/4 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 1/4 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, 1/2 cup each (higher yield than white rice).

Recipe Notes

  1. If using a different 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).

Nutrition

Calories: 117kcal

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  1. Jess

    Hi there, in the notes you said to still do 4 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice even if it’s long grain, and also you said to still rinse with hot water. But in the actual recipe below, it says 4 cups of water for 2 cups of rice, and to just remove the bay leaf and add the juice and cilantro…I’m just wondering which is best? I’ve made this a zillion times and it always comes out extremely sticky. I use jasmine rice, and have tried oil, rinsing before, and both combined. I haven’t tried the pasta method yet or rinsing after it is cooked, though, so wondering if that will help with stickiness?

  2. Khadija

    Made this last night and it was fantastic! My 3yr old always asks for extra rice with her chipotle kids meal and this let’s me give her more if she wants it!
    Also, I’m Pakistani and my mom, grandma, and great grandmother were taught to make rice this exact way. It makes the most perfect, fluffy, separated rice grains ever. Goes way back :) thanks for bring up this method!5 stars

  3. Andi

    I made this rice in my rice cooker and your copycat Chipotle chicken recipe and it was a huge hit at my house. I can’t wait to try your other recipes! Thank you!5 stars

  4. Angie

    Forgive me if I am overlooking something but I know you mention in the recipe and also in a post that the oil is optional. I am wondering if you can share some more on this as to advantages of using or skipping, etc or if there is a cooking method that makes a difference whether you use it or not. I am going to use the slow cooking method but we are making a large amount for a large gathering…and just was curious to have some more insight from you. Thanks!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Angie! I only tested the recipe without oil because someone who cannot eat (or does not eat) fat asked me about that. While you can make the rice without oil, I don’t recommend it. It will taste better and cook better with oil. No question, hand’s down. The recipe worked without it, but I was almost surprised by it and felt a little uncertain reporting those results. If you have no reason to avoid the oil, please use it. I will feel a lot better about your prospects if you do! I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions. -Meggan

    2. Angie

      Sorry, I meant “rice cooker” method :(

  5. Christine

    My daughter recently decided that she will ONLY eat Chipotle rice, and I thought this recipe would save me from her craziness, but she still won’t eat it. The rice is perfect. It is the combination of flavors after it is cooked.  The first time, I said I’d just omit the lemon next time because it is WAY to citrusy.  Just made it again, adding only the lime and cilantro.  It still is sadly “not right”.  Is there a “right” kind of lime, or some other secret I could be missing? Have used the basmati rice method and the rice has been beautiful. It just doesn’t taste right :-(5 stars

    1. meggan

      The only thing I can think of is that, I think, Chipotle uses a spray bottle to add the citrus juice. I can’t remember if someone commented on that in this post, or if I heard it from a friend who worked there. But maybe somehow using a spray bottle prevents the flavor from being too concentrated? Because I think you’re right. Their rice has the same flavor but it is somehow muted. Or maybe I’m just crazy. I mean, I love this recipe, but it’s clearly not exactly right. I don’t think it’s a different kind of lime. Let me ask around. I’ll report back if I learn anything else!

  6. Jan

    Good recipe. Thank you. However you had said “Although Chipotle uses long-grain rice, I found that I was able to most closely mimic their rice by using Basmati”. Just want to inform you that Basmati Rice is long grain rice.
    It is considered the King of Rice.5 stars

  7. Brooke

    I just made this and it came out crunchy after 12 minutes and the hot water rinse. Flavor was good. Followed recipe exactly using basmati rice. I tried again at 15 minutes… still crunchy :(3 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Brooke, I’m so sorry you had issues. The only thing I can think of is that it is the rice itself. I don’t want to say your rice is old or low-quality, but new rice that is imported will perform better than old rice that is domestic. But if the rice is still crunchy after 15 minutes, you can just cook it until it’s tender. Or, you can put a lid on it to create steam. You certainly don’t have to give up, there’s still hope! Overcooked rice can’t be saved, but undercooked rice just needs to cook longer. It’s hard for me to know exactly what the problem is without being there in your kitchen with you. I’m so sorry about that and that you had issues.

  8. Brittney

    I just have to say I just made this and the carnitas, and they are DELICIOUS. EXACTLY like Chipotle and better. I am a terrible cook, especially with meat, but this turned out perfectly and it’s going to become a staple. THANK YOU!5 stars

  9. Steven Kang

    Hi Meggan,
    Would I be able to substitute wild rice for this recipe? I read that it is gluten free and I realize that it’s not something Chipotle uses.5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Steven, you can definitely try it! Wild rice takes a lot longer to cook, as I’m sure you know, so you can basically just follow the instructions on the package for it (but add a bay leaf and stir in the juice and cilantro at the end). I’m sure you know this but all rice is gluten free, not just wild rice! At least to the extent that the manufacturer takes care to monitor the condition of the packaging plant. Thanks for your question, I hope this helps.

  10. Alicia

    Made this on the stove for a potluck. Everyone loved it! Great recipe!5 stars

  11. Loretta

    Used your method and it was fantastic! Will always make my rice this way. Thank you!5 stars

  12. Trey

    Wow! Just wow! I made the brown rice (in rice cooker), Pico de Gallo, guacamole, grilled onions and green peppers. I made the tofu that Chipotle makes from another website cause I didn’t see it on here. But everything tasted EXACTLY like Chipotle! My family loved it too and went back for more! Great job!5 stars

    1. meggan

      This makes me so happy Trey! I am working on the tofu recipe so yes, it isn’t on the site yet. Glad you loved everything though. Makes my day!

  13. Sara Enlow

    Hi, I work at Chipotle and can confirm that we definitely wash our rice (a few times because of how much we cook at once). I figured I’d let you know that your recipe is pretty much the same as we use. Good job!5 stars

  14. Bridget Gabor Cummings

    Making this for a graduation party for 150!  I am planning half brown and half basmati. I normally bake my rice  Using Alton Browns oven baked recipe. I think baking it wil make it easier to make such big batches?  Do you think this will work well for this recipe? 5 stars

  15. Brandi

    I made this tonight and my family said it was even better than Chipotle! Absolutely amazing! Thanks for sharing! I can’t wait to try the black beans, guacamole, and corn salsa recipe you have posted!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Wow, thank you so much Brandi! That makes my day, really. :) I appreciate you! I hope you enjoy the other recipes as well.

  16. Abby Plummer

    I am going to give your rice cooking method a try even though I have a method that makes very good rice. I am trying out your method because I just made your Pork and it is amazing. Thank you for sharing can’t wait to eat everything together.5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Abby, thank you for giving the rice a try! There are so many good ways to make rice. Also happy to hear you enjoyed the pork! I think it’s soooo good. Take care!

  17. Stephanie

    Hi! I have a long grain Basmati rice that I like to use, so that would seem to fall under two different categories for cooking. Should I just following the cooking instructions on my box of rice or can I use just the long-grain method from your recipe? Mine says to use 1 cup of rice, 1 1/4 cups of water, combining all ingredients in the pan until brought to a boil. Then I cover and simmer for 15 minutes…5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Stephanie, is it regular rice that just happens to come in a box? I think you could do either method and it would work. What you have described is pretty close to my standard plain-rice recipe. Feel free to follow the box instructions! Thanks for your question.

  18. Katie

    Man- bloggers sometimes get some unkind feedback!  I am making this recipe tomorrow- but even if it doesn’t come out great- thanks for taking the time to help some of us out there who want to cook delicious food but don’t have the natural inclination to do so.  ;)5 stars

    1. meggan

      Well thanks, Katie! Yes, we do. Sometimes it is deserved, though. :) Generally we aren’t professionals (although I’m working on my culinary credentials) so I just take it in stride. I hope you love the recipe! I really appreciate your comment. XO

  19. meggan

    I just deleted my previous comment. I’m going to retest the rice cooker method and see how it comes out for me. Sorry about the salt. In the basmati/stove top method obviously most of the salt ends up the liquid which is drained off, but that wouldn’t be the case in a rice cooker. So I need to fix the recipe. Thanks for letting me know and sorry about that.

  20. Amy

    Do we use oil in the basmati rice as well? We are making it for our marriage bible study tomorrow! YUMMY!5 stars

    1. meggan

      The oil is optional! You can use it in the Basmati rice. You don’t have to! I realize I didn’t get back to you in time and that you already made this (or didn’t make it, since I didn’t get back to you). So sorry about that. Thanks for your comment!

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