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.

4.99 from 66 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 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. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. Jade

    Hi, is the boil time the same if you use 1 cup rice instead of 2 cups? thanks! will try this tonight!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Jade! Yes, should be fine (if you’re using basmati). if you’re using Long-grain rice it may need an extra couple of minutes, but I’m not sure. Shouldn’t be a huge difference in time though!

  6. Melissa Greeno

    Hi, I don’t know if this will help, but…I was recently told by an employee (while standing in line to get some of that delicious rice) that Chipotle uses 6 bay leaves per batch, however, I don’t know the size of their pot or cooker. I figure if we keep adding pieces to the puzzle, we will eventually have the exact recipe. Hope this helps.5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Melissa, thanks for that tip! I feel like I just need to get a job there. I wonder if they make you sign an NDA. ;) I have heard they use a rice cooker (someone else commented on this post at one point). But like you said, what size is that pot? Could be some kind of crazy industrial rice cooker. Who knows! Thanks for the info though, much appreciated!

  7. Danna Lynn

    Awe, ty. I’m am not a chef ~ it’s a family nickname. :) Just wanted you to know I enjoyed the recipe, as did my family. There was none left!! That’s rare with rice around here! 5 stars

    1. meggan

      :) Excellent. So happy to hear it! Thank you!!!

  8. Danna Lynn

    I made this recipe tonight with long grain rice. I saute my rice first, then add boiling liquid, water in this case, so I used that method. Used the bay leaf. After the 5 minuterest, I fluffed and added the lime and cilantro. LOVE!! 5 stars

    1. meggan

      Yes, that’s a GREAT way to do it! That’s how I make my Mexican Rice and my Puerto Rican Rice (well I bake them after the saute of rice and boiling water addition). So good. I should test this recipe that way too! Thank you Chef Danna. :)

  9. Jan T

    Of course it matters how much water you use when cooking rice!!!! That is why you are not successful!!! The ratio is always 2 parts water to 1 part rice! Bring to a boil , cover tightly! Turn down heat to med and let the rice cook until tender. About 10 to 15 minutes depending on how much rice you are cooking.5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Jan, the way I cook the basmati rice in this recipe, it works out perfectly as long as you use plenty of water. Normally I’d agree with you (for long-grain rice), but this is the method suggested on the back of the basmati rice package.

  10. Maddie

    The reason you rinse the rice until the water runs clear is to clean it and get chemicals off. It also helps to keep the rice from sticking together or becoming to starchy. I made this recipe though, and it is absolutely delicious! Thank you!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Thank you Maddie! Yes, you lost the nutrition but also lose the chemicals! Great point! Thanks. :)

  11. A.T.

    I don’t know what I did wrong but the 12 minute boil and hot water rinse turned my rice into a mush-fest. So disappointed because this seemed to work for so many people. Anyway, future cooks beware–if your rice looks done, take it off! I noticed mine looking a little too soft but went with it. R.I.P. 2 cups of basmati rice.

    1. meggan

      Hey there, I’m so sorry to hear that! Not sure what happened. I would be curious to know how long they have written on the package you bought to cook the rice. Sorry again about the wasted food (and time and sanity). :(

  12. Krys

    I made this tonight in my rice cooker and it was delicioussss. I realized too late that I didn’t have any lemons so I just left it out. The lime flavor was kind of strong but in a really good way. We still have a ton left so I’ll be having more for lunch and probably dinner tomorrow!

    In my experience, reheating rice in the microwave works just fine if you give it a heavy sprinkling of water beforehand and then cover it. So that’s how I’ll probably try it tomorrow :)

    Thanks for sharing this recipe (and continuing to update it with additions/corrections, I feel like that’s super rare)!!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hey Krys! I’m glad you liked it! Yeah, it’s really good without lemon too (at least in my opinion). My favorite sentence: “Kind of strong but in a really good way.” I’ve reheated it in the microwave too with water just as you described, works really well! Yes, I’m always trying to improve my recipes, the Mexican Rice and Chipotle Chicken are other ones that are constantly being updated. :) Thank you so much! Have a great weekend. :)

  13. Desiree

    So the rice to water ratio On the back of my basmati rice bag is a little different then your instructions sink don’t know what to follow … The back of my bag says 2 cups of rice and 3 cups of water . And your instruction say 2 cups of rice with 8 cups of water5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Desiree, I think there is more than one way to make the rice. I make it with 8 cups of water (or 6 or 10 or some large amount) and then drain off the excess after 12 minutes (and also boil it uncovered). I’m not sure how the bag you are reading says, but if you were going to COVER the rice and try to have it absorb all the water, then 8 cups of water would be way too much. 3 cups might be more appropriate. But since I drain the excess water off and rinse the rice until the water runs clear, 8 cups works fine. But of course it’s up to you! Feel free to follow the instructions you see there. :)

  14. Anna

    Chipotle does rinse their rice until all the water runs clear and they use bay leafs when cooking it5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Anna, do they really rinse their rice? That’s awesome. I mean, it totally works for me in terms of getting it to be so separated and not sticky at all. And yes, the bay leaves are everything. They change the flavor of the rice so much, for the good! Thanks for your comment.

  15. susan

    I have always made basmati rice using the ration 1 cup rice:1 ¾ cup water and it comes out perfect. I fear you are using too much water. 

    1. meggan

      The way I’m making it, you end up pouring off the excess water. In your version, do you do the same? Or is all the water absorbed? I imagine if you used exactly the right amount of water (as you are probably doing) the rice wouldn’t need to be drained. I am planning to experiment with this recipe again soon so I’ll try your way! Thanks for sharing.

  16. O

    This recipe works well with these directions.

    NOTE: It DOES NOT work with a 1/2 batch.. Tried it ‘halving’ the ingredients and there was way too much lemon/lime. Also, after ~ 11 1/2 minutes of boiling, my pot ran out of water.5 stars

    1. meggan

      Good to know, thank you!! I never tried making a half batch, and now I never will. Thanks for your help.

  17. Mike

    I just made the rice (basmati) for the first time tonight using the Stev top method following the directions exactly. Understanding I may have done something wrong, here are my comments. After rinsing the rice with hot water and straining it the best I could it still seemed very wet. After adding 2 tbsp lime and 1 tbsp of lemon it was just way to wet. I’m guessing I didn’t get enough water out during straining. What else should I have done?

    Last, the lemon and lime was way to strong especially compared to Chipotle’s. I’m just going to cut the amount in half the next time I try to make this recipie.

    Any comments/suggestions welcome.

    1. meggan

      Hi Mike, I am so sorry you had some problems with the recipe. It sounds like you probably did everything right. I have never done anything to deliberately “dry” the rice and it has always been fine for me, but now I want to go and make it again and assess more closely how “wet” the rice is. Because clearly you had issues, and I’m really sorry about that. I will also test the amount of lemon and lime juice, maybe I had weak citrus?? What a disaster, I’m so sorry about that! I will retest this within a week and reply to you with my findings. So sorry again.

  18. Jenn

    I’m not sure what happened, but this turned out WAY overpowered with lime or salt (or maybe both) when I made it for dinner. It was just a bit too much. I cut the recipe in half with the amount of rice I used, but I don’t know what happened. I am gonna try it again though! 

    1. meggan

      I am so sorry about that, Jenn!!! Over salted food is the worst. It’s just not fixable! Here’s hoping your next attempt works out better. When you halved the rice, I assume you halved the salt/lime too?? :(

  19. Bonnie

    Hi! I just want to say that I use Minute Rice Premium Rice in a rice cooker and it works great! I just at lemon juice, lime juice and salt to taste. Add chopped cilantro, top with some mozzarella cheese and a little sour cream ( this is how my 5 year old devours it at Chipotle and at home!) Its great!! Pretty darn close to the real thing.  5 stars

    1. meggan

      Bonnie, this is awesome! I really need to update the recipe to reflect more methods of preparation, and this is going on the list. Thank you so much for sharing your experience! Adding cheese and sour cream makes everything better… ha ha! My 3-year old loves the rice with their salad dressing on top. :)

  20. Malia

    I currently live outside the U.S. and I barely remember Chipotle… Now I can save myself the waiting in line cause this rice is amazing!! Perfect recipe, I followed it to a t (along with your black beans and chicken recipes- did the best I could with that one) and it was all really delicious. I don’t think I will ever cook rice with a lid again! 5 stars

    1. meggan

      You are so sweet, thank you! The chicken gets easier with practice. I used to feel like – how will I ever make this! Now I can make it in my sleep. I also love that you get at least two batches out of it, that takes away some of the pain of the process. I love the rice too. I am working on a rice cooker method and also using regular long-grain rice. I think they are both good but I still like this original way the best (with no lid). Thank you so much for letting me know what you tried and how it went. It makes my day!

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