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. Still hungry? Discover my full menu of Chipotle copycat recipes.

Chipotle cilantro lime rice in a white bowl.
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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.

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 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.

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.

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 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).
    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.
  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!

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.

4.98 from 75 votes

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.
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 minced fresh cilantro (or omit or sub parsley)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice from 1-2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice from 1-2 lemons

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 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. Shawn Salmon

    Do you still drain off water if using Jasmine and the stove top method? 4 cups of water with 2 cups of rice seems like a lot otherwise. It doesn’t say drain it in the steps.

    1. meggan

      Hi Shawn, step #2: “Remove bay leaf. Using a fine mesh strainer, drain rice and rinse with hot water. Pour into a large bowl.” Unless you’re referring to a different one where it’s not listed. I’ll go take a look at all of them and see if anything seems wrong. Thanks for pointing that out! You definitely want to drain it off. -Meggan

  2. Michelle

    Absolutely amazing. Just like the real deal! 5 stars

  3. Rico jimenez

    Thank you so Very Much! My son has been craving the rice since quarantine. It came out so good!

  4. Amanda Aguirri

    I made the rice, black beans, and chicken. They all tasted great – beans were a bit too spicy for me though. While my family loved the meal, we all agree it doesn’t taste anything like Chipotle!
    Thanks for the recipes. I will be making them again for sure.5 stars

  5. Litz

    This was delicious! I was always taught to pan fry rice before putting it into the boiling water so I did it with this recipe too and it came it delicious just like Chipotle! Thank you.5 stars

  6. Julie Eldredge

    I did the basmati “pasta method” just like the recipe and it worked beautifully. I loved the result because the rice was incredibly separate. I have been looking for a method to cook rice like I find in Indian restaurants. I have found it!!!!5 stars

  7. Char

    Yummy! I made this using basmati rice and I did use cilantro. It was perfect with my spicy seared scalllops!5 stars

  8. Parveen Seehra

    Hi- I have been making basmati rice all my life and there is an easier method. For every cup of rice you make, you add two cups of water and you let it cook at low heat occasionally stirring. When the rice has very little water left, turn the heat to high and turn off the gas and then serve! No draining required and it makes delicious moist rice. Try this method out some time and tell me how it goes. You won’t regret it!4 stars

  9. Neil Saldana

    First time using this technique with 1C. Basmati rice and worked excellent. My pot did start to boil over but just lowered the temp and kept stirring and it all worked out. Girlfriend approved, salud!5 stars

  10. Gail

    Hi, I wanted to make this tonight but I only have dried cilantro can I use that?

    1. Meggan

      Hi Gail, I have never tried making it with dried cilantro, but I think it would be fine! I would recommend rehydrating it in a little water for about 10 minutes before putting it in, just to try to make it as close to the fresh stuff as possible. :) -Meggan

  11. F.Lee

    Do you cover or uncover the rice as it cooks?
    In the blog you said to uncover, yet in the recipe portion below you say to cover the rice.

    1. meggan

      Hi there, you’re right, I have a typo. If you do basmati rice, I would say leave it uncovered and do the “pasta method.” If you are using regular long-grain rice, you should cover it. The part in the recipe card is correct, the part in the post was wrong. I’m going to fix it now. Just stick to the recipe card! Sorry about that. Thanks for letting me know. -Meggan

  12. Wendy

    I made this recipe and your Chipotle copycat recipe for fresh corn salsa. What a huge hit. It was for my Mom’s 85th birthday and I bought a Carnitas seasoned pulled pork fro Aldi’s market. I am one of 9 siblings and this was my choice to bring. Everyone loved it! Both recipes give you the Chipotle flavors without the expense and without waiting in line. Your flavors were amazing.5 stars

  13. Ky

    Hi Meggan. Have you tried freezing the leftovers? Just wondering if the taste & texture would be the same.

    1. meggan

      Hi Ky, I haven’t frozen this rice specifically, but I freeze other rice all the time. It works great! You shouldn’t have any problems. I guess the only potential issue I see is, the cilantro is going to freeze and “might” look sad when it comes out. I can’t imagine it would still be bright green. But the flavor would probably be sound. And maybe it would still look green, I’m not sure. But as far as everything else goes, you’ll be fine! Rice is a dream to freeze. I usually just put it in ziplock bag, label it, and freeze it. Then I thaw it in the refrigerator. Thanks! -Meggan

  14. Kate

    I LOVE your pasta method for cooking the basmati. It’s the perfect texture every single time I do it your way. This recipe is amazing. Thanks so much for sharing!5 stars

  15. Kristen

    This recipe is phenomenal!! So similar to Chipotle’s rice (that bay leaf makes a HUGE difference) but so much cheaper! My picky-eating son gobbles this up.5 stars

    1. Meggan

      Thank you Kristen! I’m always happy to hear when a picky eater is pleased! :)

  16. Mayra

    Rice5 stars

  17. Elyse

    i used two cups basmati rice and 8 cups of water, but the end result was a little bit mushy. how can i fix this? other than that, the flavour was good!

    1. meggan

      Hi Elyse, I’m assuming you followed the recipe precisely. It sounds like your rice was a little over-cooked, so I will retest and probably adjust the boiling time from 12 minutes to a range of 10-12 minutes (maybe some stoves cook hotter or boil more rapidly than mine?). That’s the only thing that makes sense to me; your rice was done a little early. I’m so sorry about that. I would check it at 10 minutes if you make it again, or even 9 minutes. I’ll test it again too! Thanks for your feedback! -Meggan

  18. Syndell

    As a former chipotle employee I can tell you this is pretty close to accurate. 2 things missing- a little Rice bran oil in the cooking water and kosher salt when mixing in the citrus juices and cilantro. 😊

    1. meggan

      Hi Syndell, THANK YOU! For some reason I thought the oil had to go into a spray bottle with the citrus juices… but I’ll update the recipe with your secrets. :) Thanks a lot! -Meggan

  19. BrendaRose Simkin

    I cannot give 5 stars because I DO NOT like the pasta method of cooking rice. I got into it before I realized I needed a fine mesh drainer and then had no way to drain it and ended up with the atickiest rice ever.4 stars

    1. Megan

      When cooking rice on the stove, i always only use double the water than rice. Then I cook basmati rice for about 1 minutes with the lid on over Medium heat. That makes it so there is no water to drain afterwards. And it comes out perfect when it is just about done and you leave the lid on, take it off the heat, and let it sit for a few minutes more. The rice will absorb all the remaining liquid and will come out to the perfect consistency.

    2. meggan

      Hi Brenda, I’m sorry about that. I will update the recipe to explain that a fine-mesh strainer is required for that method (that way maybe you would have known to look at the second option listed which is more traditional where you just cover the rice and let it cook until the water is absorbed). -Meggan

  20. 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?

    1. Mikiel

      I’ve had the exact same experience as you

    2. Meggan

      Hi Jess and Mikiel, yes, if you are having issues with stickiness, I would definitely try the pasta method, and rinse after. It should solve the problem!

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