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Cilantro Lime Rice

Cilantro lime rice is the perfect side dish for most Mexican or Asian meals. It’s fresh and just a little tart, plus it’s very easy to make!

A plate of cilantro lime rice topped with lime slices, next to a sprig of cilantro, fresh limes, a kitchen towel, and a water glass

Rice is one of my favorite side dishes, in part because it’s so versatile. This cilantro lime rice is one of my go-to rice recipes, because it’s packed full of flavor, while still having the versatility of plain rice. It goes wonderfully with Mexican and Asian meals, or as a snack all on its own. 

The secret to this recipe is that it uses not only lime juice, but also lime zest. That makes the rice taste super fresh, while also giving it a good depth of flavor to balance out the strong cilantro. Whether it’s the base of your meal, a side dish, or a snack, cilantro lime rice is a recipe you’ll find yourself turning to over and over again. And it only takes about half an hour to make!

Overhead view of the ingredients for cilantro lime rice: a bowl of raw rice, a bunch of cilantro, a bowl of salt, a bowl with two lime halves, and a pyrex of water.

What You’ll Need

This simple and quick rice recipe only uses a few ingredients. Be sure to check out the recipe card at the bottom of the article for the exact amounts.

  • White basmati rice – You can also use jasmine rice if you prefer.
  • Water
  • Lime – Try to use a ripe lime that is both juicy and has nice zest.
  • Cilantro
  • Sea salt

How to Make Cilantro Lime Rice

Here’s how to make this fragrant and vibrant rice dish. As you can see, it’s super easy!

  • Rinse the rice. Place the rice in a fine mesh strainer, and rinse until the water runs clear. 
  • Add water to the rice. Place the rice in a pot, and add the water.
  • Zest the lime. Zest the entire lime, and set the zest aside.
  • Juice the lime. Squeeze all the juice from the lime into the pot with the rice. 
A side by side with a pot of raw rice with water being poured into it, next to a pot of raw rice and water with lime juice being poured into it
  • Cook the rice. Bring the rice, water, and lime juice to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce the heat. Simmer the rice until all the water has been absorbed, which should take about 15 minutes. 
  • Rest. Remove the rice from the heat, and let it sit for 5 minutes, with the lid on.
  • Season. Stir in the lime zest, cilantro, and salt, then your rice is ready to serve. 
A side by side of a pot with cooked rice with lime zest and chopped cilantro on top, next to a pot of rice with the cilantro and lime zest stirred into the rice

Tips For Success

Here are some tricks and tips for making perfect cilantro lime rice every time. 

  • Don’t skimp on the rinsing. A lot of people make the mistake of not washing their rice enough. People think that since rice is fairly clean, it doesn’t need to be thoroughly rinsed. In reality, you don’t wash rice to clean it, you wash it to remove the starch. The starch on the outside of rice is what makes it gummy. Make sure you rinse the rice thoroughly, until all of the water that you’re rinsing it with is clear. This will ensure that your rice is light and fluffy, rather than gummy and dense. 
  • Roll the lime. Before cutting the lime and juicing it, roll it on the counter while applying firm pressure with your palm. This will break up the pulp in the lime, allowing you to get more juice out of the fruit. 
  • Fluff the rice. When you stir in the lime zest, cilantro, and salt, try to fluff the rice rather than aggressively stirring it. Use a fork or a rice paddle and lift the rice up as you incorporate the seasonings. You want to avoid stirring while pressing hard into the rice, or you’ll force it into a dense clump. 
A serving tray full of cilantro lime rime with a serving spoon, next to a kitchen towel and fresh limes

What to Serve it With

I love to eat cilantro lime rice all by itself, but I think it’s best when served with some Mexican or Asian foods. Here are a few of my favorite things to eat with this recipe. 

A plate full of cilantro lime rice with a serving spoon in it, and two lime slices, with cilantro and fresh lime next to it

How to Store Cilantro Lime Rice

This rice recipe will last in the fridge for up to 4 days if stored in an airtight container. Reheat in the microwave on 80% power in 20-second intervals until heated all the way through. 

Can This Recipe Be Frozen?

Yes! You can store this rice in the freezer for up to 2 months in an airtight container. Make sure to thaw the cilantro lime rice completely before reheating it. 

Close up of a serving spoon taking a spoonful of cilantro lime rice out of a serving tray

Cilantro Lime Rice

4.7 from 3 votes
This cilantro lime rice is fragrant, fresh, and easy to make. It's the perfect side dish for almost any Mexican or Asian meal!
author: Alyssa
yield: 4 servings
A plate of cilantro lime rice topped with lime slices, next to a sprig of cilantro, fresh limes, a kitchen towel, and a water glass
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 30 minutes


  • 1 cup white basmati/jasmine rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup cilantro , diced
  • Pinch of sea salt


  • Rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear. Transfer the rice to a pot and add the water.
  • Zest the lime and set the zest to the side. Cut the lime in half and squeeze the lime juice into the pot.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, cover and reduce to simmer for about 15 minutes or until the water has been absorbed and the rice and nice and fluffy.
  • Remove the rice from the heat and allow it to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the zest, cilantro and season with a bit of salt.


Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.


Serving: 1cup (cooked) | Calories: 174kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 0.3g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 155mg | Potassium: 81mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.4g | Vitamin A: 143IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1mg
cuisine: Mexican
course: Side Dish

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