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. Lo

    I made this with brown basmati rice and it was still hard and crunchy at 12 minutes. It ended up taking more then 40 minutes to cook5 stars

    1. I actually made this today with brown basmati rice too. I followed the cooking time on the bag (40 minutes) but not the method. I used my method listed above – 8 cups of water per 2 cups of rice, cooked uncovered, rinsed afterward. The rice was soft and chewy and separated grains. It definitely takes longer with brown rice (unless you use a pressure cooker), but the method works.

  2. Dave

    I watch the ladies season the rice at the local shop. They add the cilantro, salt, and then start stirring it. They actually spray the lime water from a spritzer, stir, spritz, stir, etc. until they get it flavored the way they want it.
    Just another method…5 stars

    1. HI YOUR COPYTCAT LIME RICE IS WONDERFUL. THANK YOU5 stars

    2. Dave, that’s a fabulous insight. That is why having a food blog is so fun, because that is probably yet one more way to ensure absolutely spot-on matching rice, and I never would have known it myself. That way no bite is overly flavored with lime and it’s distributed perfectly. Thank you for this idea, I’m definitely going to try it out on my next batch! I appreciate you stopping by!

  3. Hey Meggan,

    Quick question: will the rice come out mushy or over cooked at all? Is there anything special I need to do to prevent that?5 stars

    1. Hey there! If you follow the instructions you should have no problems at all. I did have some experiences with overcooking the rice and it happened 1). when I rinsed the rice before cooking it (you should rinse it AFTER), and 2). when I put the lid on the pot while cooking it (you should cook the rice UNCOVERED). And of course cook the rice for 12 minutes, not 20 or anything like that. It worked really well! I hope you find success and I hope you love the recipe. Thank you for stopping by!

    2. Wow! Thanks for your response! I’m excited and will stop by to tell you how it goes. :) I’m pairing this rice with a Butter Curry. :)

    3. Wha-what? Butter curry?! That sounds amazing. I love butter and I love curry so… yeah. Going to have to try that. :) Enjoy! And thanks for the idea!

  4. REBECCA

    Why is it called Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice if there is no Chipotle in the receipe.5 stars

    1. aejaygoehring

      Next time read the damn article before making such an idiotic observation.5 stars

    2. Hi Rebecca, it is called Chipotle Cilantro-Lime Rice because it is a copycat recipe of the rice served at Chipotle, the Mexican restaurant. “Chipotle” is describing the copycat element of the title, not the recipe ingredients. I am so sorry for the confusion. Same goes for my Chipotle Guacamole and Grilled Peppers & Onions, they are copycats from the restaurant. The Chipotle chicken, however, does actually contain chipotle peppers while also being a copycat recipe.

  5. kim

    I LOOOOOVE rice & for want to try this recipe. Is the rice fully cooked?5 stars

    1. The rice is fully cooked! It is soft and tender and not even a whisper of crunchiness. It’s amazing. You are going to love it!

  6. Have you ever tried making this with brown rice?5 stars

    1. I haven’t made it with brown rice YET, but I purchased brown basmati rice just this week and plan to try it out this weekend. I’ll comment again and let you know if anything changes with the recipe. Thank you for stopping by! :)

  7. Faye

    So interesting! Definitely going to have to try this!,5 stars

    1. Thank you, Faye! I hope you enjoy it. This represents the end of a long journey for me, the quest for perfect rice. :)

  8. meggan

    Luckily there is a handy “Jump to Recipe” button right at the top of the post so you can skip ALLLLLLL of it.

  9. meggan

    Hi Raymond, thanks for your kind words! Sorry about the lost comment, I don’t see it anywhere on the back end. Anyway, regarding blogging, I suggest you check out this free website, Food Bloggers Central: http://www.foodbloggerscentral.com/ It has a lot of great ideas. You can also read this page about joining our Facebook group full of 2,500+ food bloggers. http://www.foodbloggerscentral.com/join-our-facebook-group/ I would just say that growing a food blog generally takes some time and a lot of patience; there’s always so much to learn. Best of luck and hope to see you in the FB group soon!

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