How to Make Cilantro Lime Rice in Rice Cooker

Cilantro lime rice is a delicious and refreshing side dish that pairs perfectly with a wide range of Mexican and Southwestern dishes, such as burritos, tacos, or grilled chicken. Making this flavorful rice in a rice cooker is convenient and ensures consistently fluffy and perfectly cooked rice with minimal effort. In this guide, we’ll take you through the step-by-step process of preparing cilantro lime rice using a rice cooker, allowing you to enjoy this restaurant-quality dish at home.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Before you start cooking, gather the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup of long-grain white rice (jasmine or basmati rice works well)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1 lime (for both zest and juice)
  • 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Optional: 1 garlic clove, minced (for added flavor)

Step-by-Step Guide

Rinse the Rice

Rinsing the rice is an essential 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, typically taking 1-2 minutes.

Sauté the Rice (Optional)

Sautéing the rice before cooking it in the rice cooker can add a nutty flavor and improve the texture. It’s an optional step but worth trying if you have the time.

  • Heat the olive oil in a skillet or a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the rinsed rice and minced garlic (if using).
  • Sauté the rice for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently until it becomes translucent and slightly toasted.

Combine Rice, Water, and Salt in the Rice Cooker

  • Transfer the rinsed (or sautéed) rice to the rice cooker.
  • Add 2 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt to the rice. Stir to ensure the salt is evenly distributed.

Cook the Rice

  • Close the rice cooker’s lid and set it to the “Cook” or “White Rice” setting, depending on your rice cooker model.
  • Let the rice cooker do its magic. It will automatically switch to “Keep Warm” when the rice is cooked, which typically takes 15-20 minutes.

Prepare the Lime Zest and Juice

While the rice is cooking, you can prepare the lime zest and juice, which will add a burst of fresh citrus flavor to the dish:

  • Use a microplane grater or a fine grater to zest the lime. Be careful not to include the bitter white pith beneath the green outer layer.
  • Cut the zested lime in half and juice it. You should have about 2-3 tablespoons of lime juice.

Fluff the Cooked Rice

Once the rice cooker switches to “Keep Warm” mode, leave it closed for an additional 5-10 minutes to allow the rice to steam and finish cooking. This step helps ensure that the rice is fluffy and moist enough.

Combine Rice, Cilantro, Lime Zest, and Juice

  • Open the rice cooker and use a fork to fluff the rice, separating the grains.
  • Add the chopped cilantro to the rice and gently toss to combine.
  • 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.

Serve Your Cilantro Lime Rice

Your homemade cilantro lime rice is now ready to be served as a delightful side dish to complement your favorite Mexican or Southwestern dishes. Garnish with additional cilantro leaves or lime wedges for an extra pop of color and flavor.

Tips and Variations

  • Using Chicken or Vegetable Broth: To add more depth of flavor to your cilantro lime rice, you can substitute water with chicken or vegetable broth. Just adjust the salt accordingly, as broth may already contain 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 adds both flavor and texture.
  • Adjusting Lime Flavor: Lime intensity can vary, so feel free to adjust the amount of lime juice and zest to suit 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 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. Fluff with a fork before serving.


Making cilantro lime rice in a rice cooker is convenient and flavorful to elevate your home-cooked Mexican and Southwestern-inspired meals. With minimal effort and a few simple ingredients, you can enjoy this delightful side dish’s fresh and zesty flavors. Whether you’re serving it alongside burritos, tacos, grilled chicken, or as a base for a burrito bowl, your homemade cilantro lime rice will surely impress your family and friends with its vibrant taste and fluffy texture.

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