I have tried several recipes for Cilantro Lime Rice–they all tasted the same as regular rice, with maybe some vague limey notions. I don’t ever want the lime in my life to be vague. This recipe, also known as Arroz Verde (Green Rice) brings the zip! We start with aromatic basmati rice, add a couple special ingredients to amp up the creaminess and flavor, finishing with lime juice AND zest. This is my favorite side dish to serve with Chicken tacos, Fajitas, Carne Asada, Burritos, you name it. Or just eat all by itself, it’s that good!

a metal fork digging in to a close up shot of green cilantro lime rice with cilantro garnish.
Table of Contents
  1. The best cilantro lime rice recipe
  2. Easy cilantro lime rice ingredients
  3. How to make cilantro lime rice
  4. What goes with cilantro lime rice?
  5. How to store leftovers for cilantro lime rice
  6. Can you freeze cilantro lime rice?
  7. Cilantro lime rice frequently asked questions
  8. More sides to go with all your mains
  9. Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe
  10. Easy Black Beans Recipe

Recently Eric and I escaped life for a few days and flew to a cute little spot in Cancun. I never thought I would be one for all-inclusive-resorts (My family traveled a lot. I hit 35 states by the time I was 17. I was taught that vacations are about cramming in as much sight seeing as possible…paltry concerns such as sleep or meals be damned.)

But for this stage of young motherhood and all the wildness it brings, I love a good beach trip where the only thing on my agenda is drinking a second virgin Pina Colada and lounging with a book. Turns out, Eric and I are really excellent at this whole “doing nothing” thing.

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man and woman drinking from pineapple, then sitting at a lunch table by the beach.

And eating. We are really good at eating. You can see above my selections from the buffet. Who needs lunch when you could have an entire plate of petit fours?

The thing about an all inclusive resort is, you really can order as much food as you want. (And I don’t even feel guilty; we are their cheapest customers because we don’t drink alcohol 😂)

So we’re at a restaurant one night, and Eric orders dessert. The waiter pauses from taking his notes, looks up and asks, “Are you telling me what you want, or are you just reading the menu out loud?” Because Eric had ordered ALL the desserts on the menu. All of them. Send help guys 😅 You better believe we demolished every last bite.

ceramic bowl filled to the brim with cilantro lime rice with a work and lime & cilantro garnish.

The best cilantro lime rice recipe

Do you have a Chipotle where you live? It’s a great fast-casual Mexican joint. My friend Katie’s son loves the Cilantro Lime Rice they serve so much that he orders not one, but TWO side dishes of rice with his meal every time they go. This cracks me up for some reason!

I’ve tried lots of different recipes for Cilantro Lime Rice and guys, none of them blew me away. Rice is good all by itself (with a lil help from our bubba butter of course) and when you add some cilantro and lime at the end, it’s good. But I was looking for that GREEN and SUPER FLAVORFUL rice I’ve had in certain “fancier” Mexican restaurants, where the cilantro lime flavor is absorbed in the rice itself, amping up the flavor significantly. Chipotle’s rice is good, but honestly it’s got nothing on the green stuff.

close up of green cilantro lime rice with lime garnish and a side of black beans.

Then, last summer, I was visiting my friend Kim, and she made Carnitas for the whole family, because she really loves us (this is the best way to show love for me ;) She had this bright GREEN rice simmering on the stove and I was so excited! I asked to see the recipe right away, hadn’t even tasted it yet.

Then I DID eat it with my carnitas and could. not. stop. It’s so good, just all by itself, but especially with all the fixins like Pico de Gallo and a pot of Tejano Pinto Beans. So what makes it so good?

The method is a huge part of it. Instead of adding cilantro to already-cooked rice, we are pureeing it with milk and chicken broth (so much more flavorful and creamy than water!), so the cilantro flavor can literally seep into the rice as it cooks and absorbs liquid.

And p.s., we’re not just using cilantro! The secret ingredient that makes the rice such a vibrant green is the spinach we’re adding to the blender. Say what now? Yes, really, spinach. You can’t taste it, but who could say no to adding all that good healthy stuff to a pot of rice? It’s a no brainer! I LOVE it, both for color and the nutrition bump.

Then, we toast the rice until it’s golden brown in some butter and olive oil. This browning adds in lovely flavor that you can’t get any other way. Then some easy aromatics, onion and garlic, add in even more umph.

And finally, once the rice is mostly cooked, we add in not just lime juice, but also plenty of lime zest too, to bring that punch of citrus flavor that I love.

close up showing individual grains of cilantro lime rice.

I could eat a bowl of this rice all by itself, so happily. Bless you for this recipe, Kim! I’m so excited I finally have a level-up cilantro lime rice that I love! I’m going to try it next with Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas. Or maybe with Carne Guisada! yes please. Okay here we go, let’s make it!

Easy cilantro lime rice ingredients

The ingredient list is pretty short, this is all you need! The full recipe measurements and instructions are in the recipe card below.

wood table with cilantro lime rice ingredients set out, like, garlic, milk, and more.
  • spinach
  • cilantro
  • chicken broth
  • milk
  • kosher salt
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • basmati rice
  • onion
  • garlic
  • lime zest
  • lime juice

How to make cilantro lime rice

First up, grab your blender! Add in your chicken broth, milk, salt, spinach and cilantro. There is something extremely satisfying about shoving what looks like too-many green things into a blender, and knowing that it’s all going in your body eventually, am I alone here? PILE IT ON!!

a blender filled with milk, broth, spinach, and cilantro for cilantro lime rice.

Meanwhile, toast the rice in some butter and oil. I LOVE the flavor this brings out in the rice! I wish I made time to do this every time I cooked rice. Definitely don’t skip it for this recipe. That golden brown flavor is just 🤌

top pic rice toasting in a pot with a wooden spoon, bottom chopped onion added to rice.

After the rice has toasted a bit, add in the onions and garlic and keep sautéing for a bit.

Now it’s time for the fun. Pour in the green stuff!

top pic pouring green liquid from blender into pot with rice, bottom cooked rice in green liquid unstirred.

Bring it to a bowl, then cover and heat on low for a while. After about 15 minutes, it will look like this. ↑ So fun right?

Fluff it up a bit, then don’t forget to add in the lime juice and zest.

cooked and stirred cilantro lime rice in a cooking pot with a wooden spoon.

And voila! That’s it! Easy peasy. If you don’t have the time to make a full Mexican meal to go with this rice, make the simple black beans recipe I’ve included in the recipe notes. It’s super basic, but they are really good and a make a great (and cheap) last minute dinner! Those are the beans you see in some of today’s photos. I love slapping a fried egg on top. Add in some fried plantains, and you have one of my favorite meals of all time!

bowl of rice and beans with a spoon on a marble counter with cilantro garnish.

What goes with cilantro lime rice?

I mean, what doesn’t go with cilantro lime rice? In the dinner world, I can envision this rice pairing well with any kind of Mexican dish, Asian flavored dish, or sittin pretty with some grilled meats and veggies. Really, almost any time you use white rice this could be a much more flavorful replacement. Here are some dishes that I think go spectacularly with cilantro lime rice.

How to store leftovers for cilantro lime rice

Rice is so easy to store and lasts a good 4-5 days in the refrigerator. It’s a great side for any meal prep you are making for the week. You could even double it and use it for two different meals throughout the week. Place the cooled rice into a container with an air-tight lid and put it in the refrigerator.

To eat leftover rice, make sure it’s in a microwave safe dish, spritz with a bit of water, then cover with a splatter shield and microwave on high. The water spritzing is important, rice loses a lot of moisture as it sits in the fridge and you need to restore some of that if you want rice that isn’t dry as a bone.

If it’s a single portion, try one minute, stir, and if it’s not all the way warmed through add another 30-60 seconds. If it’s a family sized serving, sprinkle with water, cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring once or twice, until hot and steaming.

large pot filled with cilantro lime rice, garnished with lime and cilantro.

Can you freeze cilantro lime rice?

Yes totally! Cilantro lime rice (and really any cooked rice, for that matter) is super easy to freeze and a really great way to get dinner on the table really quickly for a future meal. Let the rice cool, then carefully transfer it to a ziplock freezer bag. Squeeze out all the air, seal, and put it in the freezer. It will be good for about 3 months in the freezer, after that it starts to dry out and the quality deteriorates.

To use, you can thaw the rice in the fridge overnight or on the counter for a few hours, then warm in the microwave for 1-5 minutes depending on portion size. Sometimes to speed up the process, I’ll take a bag straight from the freezer, open the seal but leave it in the bag and microwave for one minute. After that, it’s thawed enough to break into chunks into a serving bowl and then microwave until hot as instructed above. Don’t forget to add a little water.

a large wooden serving spoon stirring a pot of cooked cilantro lime rice.

Cilantro lime rice frequently asked questions

How to make chipotle Cilantro lime rice?

Well, I don’t have Chipotle’s exact recipe but this is a close copycat, with a couple additions! I think it’s even better than the Chipotle version, because hello green flavor! Especially if you are planning to add this rice to a burrito or a salad. You will love it I promise.

how to make cilantro lime rice in the Rice cooker?

I haven’t tried it but I think it would work! You could also try the slow cooker. Nora over at A Clean Bake has a slow cooker rice recipe that you could try out and adapt with these ingredients. If you are making this in the slow cooker OR rice cooker, I would blend the ingredients called for in the recipe, sauté the onion and garlic, then add everything to the rice cooker and follow the rice cooker’s instructions (or follow Nora’s instructions for slow cooking). You’ll want to make sure you use the recommended rice to liquid ratio, so you can either leave some liquid out or add water as needed.

Can dogs eat cilantro lime rice?

The things people google, y’all 😂 No pooches please! I didn’t know this, but apparently lime zest (and lesser so, the juice) is toxic to dogs and could irritate the digestive system. Who knew?? Not only that, this rice has oil, butter, milk, and more that wouldn’t be great for a dog. Definitely keep this side dish for the humans of the household!

large bowl with cilantro lime rice and quick black beans, with a spoon and lime slices.

More sides to go with all your mains

A really great side dish can make or break your dinner. You want it to be just as flavorful as the entree! These are some side dishes I turn to time and time again, and that are versatile enough to pair with SO many main dishes.

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pot with cilantro lime rice being stirred with a wooden spoon and lime slice garnish.

Cilantro Lime Rice

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Steam time: 10 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 5
I have tried several recipes for Cilantro Lime Rice–they all tasted the same as regular rice, with maybe some vague limey notions. I don't ever want the lime in my life to be vague. This recipe, also known as Arroz Verde (Green Rice) brings the zip! We start with aromatic basmati rice, add a couple special ingredients to amp up the creaminess and flavor, finishing with lime juice AND zest. This is my favorite side dish to serve with Chicken tacos, Fajitas, Carne Asada, Burritos, you name it. Or just eat all by itself, it's that good!


  • 1 cup chicken broth*
  • 1 cup milk, I used whole milk, any kind will do
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or use 1 teaspoon of table salt
  • 1 cup spinach, packed
  • 3/4 cup cilantro, packed tight (about 1 bunch)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cups basmati rice
  • 1/4 yellow onion, chopped small
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest, buy at least 2 limes
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice


  • Blend. In a blender, add 1 cup chicken broth*, 1 cup milk, and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt. Pack a 1 cup measuring cup with spinach, then add it to the blender.
    Clean your cilantro, then use a knife to cut the leaves away from the stems. Add the whole bunch worth of leaves to the blender (or less, if you are not that into cilantro. Also you can hold some leaves back for garnishing later, if you want.) If a few stems get tossed in, that's okay. Blend the mixture until it is smooth and vibrantly green.
  • Prep the veggies. Cut 1/4 of an onion into a small dice. This could be anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 cup onion; add more if you love onion! This recipe is forgiving.
    Smash a clove of garlic with the side of a chef's knife, peel, then mince finely. Set aside.
  • Toast the rice. In a 2 or 3 quart pot that has a properly fitting lid, heat 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add 1 and 1/2 cups basmati rice. Stir with a wooden spoon and toast for about 3-5 minutes, until the rice is fragrant and starting to turn golden brown (not dark brown, don't over do it!)
  • Add the chopped onion and 1 clove of garlic to the rice in the pan. Stir and saute for about 1-2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant.
  • Pour in all the green stuff from the blender. I love this part! Liquid health. Stir it all together.
  • Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil.
  • Once it boils, cover the pot with a lid and immediately turn the heat down to low. Set a timer for 15 minutes.
  • Prep the limes. While the rice is cooking, zest 2 limes. (I love my microplane grater for this!) You need about 2 teaspoons. Cut the limes and juice them until you have at least 3-4 tablespoons juice.
  • When the rice has cooked for 15 minutes, remove the lid and add the lime zest and juice. Use a rubber spatula to stir it all together. Turn the burner off but leave the pot on the still-hot burner.
  • Put the lid back on and let the rice steam with the lime for another 5-10 minutes.
  • Remove the lid, fluff the rice with a fork a bit, and it's ready to serve! Eat hot with Chicken tacos, Fajitas, Carne Asada, Burritos, Taco Salad, you name it! Or serve simply with the black beans recipe I've included in the notes. A favorite dinner of mine, with a fried egg maybe. Mm-mm. Rice and beans foreverrr!


*Instead of chicken broth, I used 1 cup water and 1 teaspoon chicken base. I have two brands I like, Zoup Chicken Culinary Concentrate, and also Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base. I love keeping these products on hand in my fridge! 

Easy Black Beans Recipe

I love to make this rice with my stupid-easy black beans from a can. Here’s the recipe if you want it, it’s super simple but sometimes really hits the spot for a quick dinner, especially if you eat it with a fried egg on top. And don’t even get me started on fried plantains added to this situation–not an ingredient I usually have on hand! This could be my last meal guys. I’m a simple girl.
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 can black beans, don’t drain it, just dump in the whole thing.
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (use like 1/2 teaspoon table salt)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoon taco seasoning (or a sprinkle of chili powder will do here) 
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Heat the oil in a pot, and add in the garlic and onions. Saute for 3-5 minutes over medium heat, until onions soften slightly. Add the whole can of beans, no draining, we need that liquid. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon oregano, and 2 teaspoon taco seasoning. I just made up all these spice measurements, btw. (Except the salt; 1 teaspoon kosher salt is about what you need for 1 can of beans.) Play around and see what you like! Heat the beans over medium, until they come to a simmer. Serve right away, or let it keep simmering as long as you need, turning it to low if it’s going to be a while. Add 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro. 


Calories: 332kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 936mg | Potassium: 215mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 950IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 91mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Calories: 332
Keyword: basmati rice, cilantro, lime, rice
Did you make this? I’d love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

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