This Cilantro Lime Rice is incredibly fragrant and flavorful, and very easy to make. It pairs well with most proteins, including beef, pork, chicken, and fish. I love it with Carne Asada and Ground Beef Tacos.

“THIS TASTES INCREDIBLE” is what my cilantro-hating husband said about this rice the first time he tried it.

Cilantro Lime Rice - With Fresh Lime Zest and Cilantro Leaves Stirred Throughout

Quite an endorsement from someone who usually avoids cilantro at all costs.

But the cilantro + lime flavor combination is truly special, and I’ve been a fan for a long time.

On this blog I’ve shared Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice, this very popular Cilantro Lime Dressing, and even Cilantro Lime Jalapeño Sauce. I still make them all regularly.

I’ve experimented with various ways of making this dish, and the key to a great cilantro lime rice is two-fold.

A small white bowl filled with cilantro lime rice with fresh lime rounds on the side

First, it’s best to cook the rice like you would Mexican Rice or a Rice Pilaf. It needs to be toasted in oil first. You don’t want to just take some rice cooker steamed rice and stir cilantro and lime into it.

The other really important part is to add lots of fresh lime zest.

Believe me, if you add only lime juice, it will not taste like lime rice. It will taste more like sour rice.

The lime zest adds incredible aroma and flavor. It’s yet another example of citrus zest being one of the most amazing ingredients you can cook with.

How to Make Cilantro Lime Rice:

In a large nonstick skillet that has a tight-fitting lid (you’ll need it later), melt your cooking fat of choice. I currently favor ghee:

Melted Ghee in a Nonstick Skillet

Add rinsed and drained basmati rice, and toast it in the ghee for 5 minutes, until it takes on a more chalky and opaque look:

Rice Toasted in Ghee Until Opaque and Chalky in Look

Basmati rice is my favorite long-grain choice for this recipe, but you may use jasmine as well.

Add filtered water to the pan:

Adding Filtered Water to the Basmati Rice

Then some kosher salt to season it:

Salt Added to the Water and Rice

Give it a quick stir to distribute the salt, then put a lid on. Bring the water up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, keeping it covered the whole time:

The Pan Covered Tightly With a Glass Lid

After 20 minutes, the rice should absorb all the water:

Basmati Rice - Cooked in a Nonstick Skillet Until Tender and Fluffy

Fluff the rice by giving it a good stir, then let it sit for 5 minutes to let more steam escape.

Then it’s time to add all the flavor. You’ll need freshly chopped cilantro leaves, lots of fresh lime zest, and lime juice:

How to Make Cilantro Lime Rice - Adding Cilantro Leaves, Lime Zest, and Lime Juice to the Cooked Rice

[Side note: Since I get asked every time I share, these are the liquid beakers I use here -affiliate link]

Stir everything up very well, then the rice is ready to serve:

Lime and Cilantro Rice - In a Bowl with Fresh Lime and Cilantro Around 

The rice is at its absolute best for about a half hour after making it. After that, the rice is not quite as fragrant (though it’s still good). 

This rice is a great side for CarnitasSlow Cooker Shredded Mexican BeefGround Beef Tacos, and Chicken Fajitas. Enjoy!

A white bowl filled with cilantro lime rice on wood cutting board

Cilantro Lime Rice

This Cilantro Lime Rice is fragrant and flavorful, and very easy to make.

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  • 2 cups basmati rice (or jasmine rice)
  • 2 tbsp ghee or other cooking fat of choice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • zest of 2 limes


  • Place the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly under running water until the water running through comes out clear instead of cloudy, about 2 minutes. Let rice drain in strainer for 2 more minutes.
  • In a large nonstick pan (must have a tight fitting lid for use later), melt the ghee over medium heat. Add the rice and toast for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. The look of the rice will change, and eventually become evenly coated in oil and have a chalky and opaque look to it.
  • Add the water and salt, and stir. Cover with a lid, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low, to maintain a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, making sure not to lift the lid during cooking.
  • After 20 minutes, the liquid should all be absorbed. Stir and fluff the rice, and let sit off the heat for another 5 minutes to cool slightly and let the steam rise off.
  • Stir in the cilantro leaves, lime juice, and lime zest, then serve. Enjoy!


Calories: 270kcal, Carbohydrates: 50g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 13mg, Sodium: 397mg, Potassium: 78mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 90IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 21mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.