Chipotle Rice Recipe From Employee

If you’ve ever visited a Chipotle Mexican Grill, you’ve likely tasted their famous cilantro lime rice. It’s a flavorful and refreshing side dish that pairs perfectly with burritos, tacos, bowls, and more. The good news is that you can recreate this delicious rice at home with this authentic Chipotle-style cilantro lime rice recipe. In this guide, I’ll walk you through the step-by-step process to achieve that restaurant-quality taste right in your own kitchen. This recipe is inspired by the techniques used by Chipotle employees to create their signature rice.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make Chipotle-style cilantro lime rice:

  • 1 cup of long-grain white rice (jasmine or basmati rice work well)
  • cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil (or your preferred cooking oil)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (adjust to taste)
  • 2 limes (for both zest and juice)
  • 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Step-by-Step Guide

Rinse the Rice

Rinsing the rice is an important step to remove excess starch, which can cause the rice to become gummy or sticky. Here’s how to do it:

Place the rice in a fine-mesh strainer or sieve.

Rinse the rice under cold running water while gently agitating it with your fingers. Continue rinsing until the water runs clear, which typically takes 1-2 minutes.

Sauté the Rice (Optional)

Sautéing the rice before cooking can add a nutty flavor and improve the texture. While this step is optional, it’s worth trying if you have the time.

Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat.

Add the rinsed rice.

Sauté the rice for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently until it becomes translucent and slightly toasted.

Cook the Rice

Add 2 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt to the rinsed (or sautéed) rice in a saucepan.

Cover the saucepan with a lid and bring the water to a boil over high heat.

Simmer the Rice

Once the water boils, reduce the heat to low to maintain a gentle simmer.

Allow the rice to simmer, covered, for about 15-20 minutes. During this time, the rice will absorb the water and cook perfectly.

Rest the Rice

After simmering, turn off the heat, but cover the saucepan for 5-10 minutes. This resting period helps ensure the rice is fluffy and moist.

Prepare the Lime Zest and Juice

While the rice is resting, you can prepare the lime zest and juice, which will provide a burst of fresh citrus flavor:

Use a microplane grater or a fine grater to zest the limes. Be careful to avoid the bitter white pith beneath the green outer layer.

Cut the zested limes in half and juice them. You should have about 2-3 tablespoons of lime juice.

Fluff and Season the Rice

After the resting period, remove the lid from the saucepan.

Use a fork to fluff the rice, separating the grains.

Add Lime Flavor

Drizzle the freshly squeezed lime juice over the rice. Lime juice adds a bright, zesty flavor to the rice so that you can adjust the quantity to your taste.

Finally, sprinkle the lime zest over the top of the rice to enhance the lime flavor and provide a vibrant visual contrast.

Add Fresh Cilantro

Add the chopped cilantro to the rice and gently toss to combine. Cilantro adds flavor and gives the rice its signature green specks.

Serve Your Chipotle-Style Cilantro Lime Rice

Your homemade Chipotle-style cilantro lime rice is now ready to be served as a delightful side dish or as a base for a burrito bowl or other Mexican-inspired dishes. You can garnish it with additional cilantro leaves or lime wedges for an extra pop of color and flavor.

Tips and Variations

Using Chicken or Vegetable Broth: You can substitute water with chicken or vegetable broth to add even more flavor to your cilantro lime rice. Just adjust the salt accordingly, as broth often contains sodium.

Adding Corn or Black Beans: For a heartier version of cilantro lime rice, consider adding cooked corn kernels or rinsed and drained black beans before fluffing it. This variation not only adds flavor but also provides a delightful textural contrast.

Adjusting Lime Flavor: The intensity of limes can vary, so feel free to adjust the amount of lime juice and zest to your taste preferences. You can add more lime juice after tasting if you’d like it to be more citrusy.

Spicing It Up: If you enjoy a bit of heat, add a pinch of red pepper flakes or a finely chopped jalapeño pepper to the rice for a spicy kick.

Storage and Reheating: Leftover Chipotle-style cilantro lime rice can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. To reheat, place it in a microwave-safe dish, cover it with a damp paper towel, and microwave in 30-second intervals until heated through. Fluff with a fork before serving.


With this authentic Chipotle-style cilantro lime rice recipe, you can enjoy this beloved side dish’s fresh and zesty flavors in the comfort of your home. Whether serving it as a side, in a burrito bowl, or alongside your favorite Mexican-inspired dishes, your homemade cilantro lime rice will impress with its vibrant taste and fluffy texture. By following these steps, inspired by the techniques used by Chipotle employees, you can recreate the restaurant-quality flavor that you love.

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