Breakfast. Freshly-cooked, steaming plain rice? Yes, please!
Lunch. Freshly-cooked, steaming plain rice? Yes, please.
Dinner. Freshly-cooked, steaming plain rice. Uhm...sure, okay, thanks.
Have you ever felt that way? We have, too. Yeah, it’s nice to have fresh, hot rice during a meal, but when it’s the same plain rice over and over again, well, it can get kind of boring. Plain rice is generally used as a blank canvas to highlight the flavor of other dishes because it’s bland and soaks up flavors quite nicely.
But what if rice didn’t have to be a blank canvas? What if rice could have a ton of great flavors on its own, which you can use to complement other dishes and create a party in your mouth?
What if the recipe is right here??
Yep, we fell head over heels in love with this amazing recipe and we wanted to share it with you so that you can learn how to make cilantro lime rice and spruce up your next meal with the tangy, spicy, and herby flavors that go with almost any cuisine!
Tips on making cilantro lime rice
First of all, let’s get all those helpful little tips out of the way so that you can get to cooking your (probably) next favorite rice recipe:
1. Use cilantro sparingly
If you’re cooking with cilantro for the first time, you might want to take it easy with this particular herb. When you chop cilantro finely, you’re going to release more of the oils inside the leaves, giving your dish a stronger flavor. Don’t just dump all the cilantro in one swoop; add it little by little and taste the dish as you go.
Remember, you can always add more of an ingredient, but it’s not always possible to remove it once it overpowers a dish.
2. Use long-grained rice, when possible
If you’ve never had long-grained rice, this is the perfect recipe to try it! Generally, long-grained rice varieties come out drier and fluffier after cooking and the individual grains are sturdy enough to be mixed with other ingredients. These characteristics make long-grained varieties more suited for mixed-rice recipes like this one.
Jasmine rice vs white vs brown rice
Okay, first things first: jasmine rice is a kind of rice. It’s a long-grained variety that’s primarily grown in Southeast Asia, which is why it’s prominently featured in many Southeast Asian cuisines and dishes. When it comes to colors, you might be surprised to know that jasmine rice actually comes in both white and brown varieties! There’s even red and black jasmine rice as well.
Now, the difference between brown and white rice. Simply put, brown rice is a whole-grain rice. This means that during processing, only the outward husk is removed, and all the other parts – the bran, the germ, and the endosperm – are left intact. These parts are highly nutritious and contain fiber, which is why brown rice is generally viewed as more nutritious compared to white rice. It’s also more filling compared to white rice.
White rice, on the other hand, has the husk, bran, and germ removed, which means that much of the nutritional value has also been removed. However, it is more popular and more widely-consumed compared to brown rice. In many cases, it’s because brown rice has a strong nutty flavor with a chewy texture that can interfere with the taste of dishes, while white rice (as mentioned above) is bland.
What to serve with cilantro lime rice?
Due to the flavor profile of this recipe, the best dishes to pair with this cilantro rice are from either Asian or Mexican cuisines. This means that you have so many amazing choices, from Mexican burritos to Asian rice bowls.
Fun tip: Why not make a rice bowl station and let people make their own rice bowls? Set out choices like a range of different proteins (chicken and shrimp are great choices), vegetables (julienned carrots, daikon, and cucumbers), and even toppings like roasted peanuts and bean sprouts.
You can also do the same with a Mexican station! Lay out some tortillas, refried beans, several protein choices (steak and pork will work well), and some finely-shredded cabbage, chopped tomatoes, and diced onion, and have a party! Here’s a great recipe for tamales that will go great with this cilantro rice.
How to zest a lime
When you zest a lime (or any citrus fruit like lemons or oranges), you want to get enough of the outer skin without hitting the white part of the rind. The white part is bitter and should not be included. Use a zester or a fine grater. We love this one:
Wash the lime and dry it thoroughly. Place the surface of the lime and scrape it against the rough surface of your grater. When you have removed all the colored skin, keep rotating the lime, zesting as you go, until you have enough zest for the recipe.
Why fresh lime juice is best
As with any fruit juice, fresh and straight from the fruit is always better than processed or bottled. Using fresh lime juice means that you’ll be getting 100% pure lime juice, as processed or bottled juices may have a lot of preservatives or sugar to help increase shelf life.
Tips on how to perfectly cook rice
1. Rinse your rice (even if the package doesn’t call for it)
The secret to serving fluffy rice with well-separated grains? Rinsing the rice first! This extra step helps remove all the excess starch in the grains. The starch is what makes the rice gummy and sticky after cooking. Yes, even no-rinse-needed rice can benefit from a quick rinse or two.
You can place the rice in a fine strainer and let the water run through while swirling your fingers through the rice. Watch the water; it will turn from milky white to clear. When the water runs clear, most of the excess starch has been removed from the rice.
You can even pre-soak the rice for around 10 minutes before rinsing it. Soaking the rice will draw out the starch more efficiently, so you only need to rinse the rice for a short time.
2. Always Read the Package Directions
Another surefire way to ruin your rice is to put too much or too little water. Different rice varieties will need different amounts of water when cooking. Always read the package directions to know how much water to put into your rice. The package directions are more a guide than a rule, so you can still add or remove water as needed. It might take a few tries to get rice perfectly cooked, especially if you’re cooking with a new variety.
Generally, brown rice needs a bit more water and time to cook compared to white rice.
How to store cilantro lime rice
If you have any leftover rice, make sure that the rice is completely cool before you store it. Place the rice in an airtight container before placing it in the fridge. It will keep for 2 to 3 days. Give it the sniff test—if it has any sour smell at all, toss it out.
Can you freeze cilantro lime rice?
You can make this recipe ahead of time in large batches so you can always have cilantro lime rice at the ready whenever the mood strikes! Yay for meal prep! After cooking the rice, make sure to cool it completely. Once cool, immediately place into airtight containers or Ziplock bags.
When you want to serve the rice, let the rice thaw slowly in the fridge the night before using it. After it thaws, you can microwave the rice on high for 4-6 minutes, or sauté the rice for a few minutes in a hot pan until completely warmed through.
Cilantro Lime Rice
Spice up any mealtime with this quick and easy recipe! Cilantro lime rice will give your plain rice that kick it needs to be the star of your meal. You can use this recipe for so many different dishes, whether your family loves a good burrito or an amazing rice bowl. Cilantro and lime is a classic combination that works well with different cuisines, so feel free to experiment and see which one works best for you.
- 3 c. cooked rice*
- 3 T. fresh lime juice
- 2 t. lime zest
- 3 T fresh cilantro
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Cook the rice according to the package directions.
- As your rice is cooking, zest and juice your lime, and finely chop your cilantro. Set aside.
- After the rice cooks, turn off the heat and let stand for around 10 minutes. DO NOT lift the lid up immediately. This period allows the rice to rest and the moisture to evenly spread through the rice.
- Using a fork, fluff the cooked rice gently. Take care not to smash the rice grains, as this can make your final dish gummy and unappealing.
- Once the grains are separated, stir in the lime juice, zest, and cilantro, and mix well until blended through.
- Season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.
*You can use white or brown rice, depending on what you have. For this recipe, we used short-grained brown rice.
Use a Sharp Knife to Chop Your Cilantro
When chopping up herbs, always make sure to use a sharp knife. Using a dull knife bruises and tears the herbs rather than cutting them cleanly, which can make the final product bitter and unappetizing.
Add a Little Bit More Flavor Into Your Rice
Want to add just a bit more flavor into this dish? You can sauté your uncooked rice with a bit of onion and garlic before cooking the rice. Browning the rice this way adds even more depth to the final rice dish.
Can I use Day-Old Rice for This?
Yes! This recipe can work well with day-old rice. In fact, day-old rice is much easier to work with compared to fresh rice because the grains are generally drier and separated, and you can toss in the ingredients more easily. Simply add a little olive oil in your pan, toss in your rice and heat it through, and add the other ingredients in the same way as the end of the recipe.