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. Jennifer

    As for the rice, are there any nutrients left after this cooking process?  Yikes!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Jennifer, I assume this is a rhetorical question? ;) Because no, probably not. It’s my understanding (based on reading the package the rice comes in), anytime you rinse rice at all, you are rinsing away whatever nutrients the rice was enriched with.

  2. Esther

    Hi Meggan,

    Rice and masoor dal – called dal – chawal, are a staple in our culture. We eat them every single day, made from scratch every singly day!! We make varieties of flavored rice – atleast 12 and more in some regions of our country, and equal number of varieties of dal. Most if not all of these varieties call for fluffy, soft yet non-sticky rice. For generations people in our culture have been cooking rice uncovered on stove, a perfect make, every single time. As a matter of fact, the first thing young girls are taught to make in the kitchen is making perfect rice.  I have never heard of rinsing the rice after it is cooked, though. That is interesting, however. I shall try that for today’s lunch. Your method of cooking rice and the choice of masoor dal to go with it, suggests, you have quite some expertise with Indian cuisine – both cooking and tasting! Keep up the good work of spreading joy!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Esther, thank you so much for your comment! I am definitely no expert (at anything, never mind Indian cuisine!) but I struggled with making rice to my satisfaction for a long time until I found this method. If you do not normally rinse the rice, I will have to try leaving that step out myself again (I can’t remember if I tried it when I was working on this recipe). I love how you said that you have been cooking rice uncovered on a stove for generations… it seems so crazy to me and many others and yet it’s perfect every time. You have warmed my heart with your stories. Thank you so much.

  3. David Z

    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 ?5 stars

    1. meggan

      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!

  4. Jennifer

    Can I make this but with regular long grain white rice 5 stars

    1. 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!

  5. Kristyn

    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?5 stars

    1. 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.”

  6. Well well! I was googling for a cilantro rice recipe….and look what came up! Going on my dinner table tonight :)5 stars

  7. HaveYourCake

    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.5 stars

    1. 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!

  8. Ari Oglesby Persaud

    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.5 stars

    1. 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!

  9. Candace Bembenick

    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.5 stars

    1. 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!

    2. Candace Bembenick

      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. :P5 stars

    3. Khoi Nguyen

      Use Olive oil is the best5 stars

    4. 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!

  10. pinkie24

    hi.. just a lil confused, why do you have to rinse the rice with water after its cooked? wouldnt it get soggy?5 stars

    1. 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.

  11. 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!5 stars

  12. Rhonda Welborn

    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/5 stars

    1. 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!

    2. 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!

  13. Daniel Himmel

    I like it even better with some zest of lime in it, too. gives it a “warmer” flavor.5 stars

    1. THAT sounds fabulous!

  14. Olivia

    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!5 stars

    1. 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. Julie Stump

    Hi Meggan-
    Do you have portions for making this recipie for a crowd (about 40 servings)? Thanks, Julie5 stars

    1. 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!

  16. Shaina

    How well does this keep in the fridge? I want to make it ahead of time for a party5 stars

    1. 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!

  17. Sowmya

    Do we need some curry or gravy to eat with this as a munch? Pls do let us know5 stars

    1. Yes, this dish is excellent served as the base for something equally delicious. I created it with Chipotle Chicken in mind, although it would also be great with lentils. Here are some links!
      Chicken: https://www.culinaryhill.com/chipotle-chicken/
      Masoor Dal: https://www.culinaryhill.com/masoor-dal/

      Good luck and thank you for stopping by!

  18. lily

    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.5 stars

  19. Jess

    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!5 stars

    1. 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!

  20. Tim Taylor

    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?5 stars

    1. Katelyn Leahy

      Woah Autumn! Thank you!! Hey Meggan, I am making this right now! Thank you for the dinner idea!!!5 stars

    2. Autumn

      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.5 stars

    3. 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.”

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