Garlic Cilantro Brown Rice

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This tasty Garlic Cilantro Brown Rice is an easy and flavorful side dish with hearty brown rice, fresh cilantro, lime juice, and a hint of garlic. Ready in just 35 minutes.


Brown rice is a staple in my home and I find myself making it at least once a week for side dishes and quick grain salads. But after a while, plain brown rice can get boring and that's where this recipe comes into play. It's amazing how much a little garlic, fresh cilantro, and citrus juice can transform a sometimes boring side dish into something special.

For those people wondering, this Garlic Cilantro Brown Rice is also a copycat of Chipotle's cilantro lime brown rice, with a little extra flavor from the onions. It's perfect for burrito bowls, fish tacos, grain bowls, and more.

One more thing to love about this recipe, it's versatile. Play around with the herbs, oil, and citrus juice to make all kinds of yummy combinations. For something Mediterranean inspired, try lemon and fresh thyme. Take it in an Asian route with sesame oil, soy sauce, and orange juice. Try a classic combination of lemon juice, parsley, and lots of fresh ground pepper. Or stay with the Mexican theme with tons of lime juice and fresh cilantro.

If you are looking for something lighter, we also love this Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice or protein-packed Cilantro Lime Quinoa.

Ingredients and Swaps

  • Brown rice: This recipe is made with medium grain brown rice. Stick to this type of brown rice for the best results. Using short-grain or long-grain rice may change the cooking time and amount of liquid needed. Don't simply swap in white rice, since there are many types of rice and each requires a different cooking time and liquid to rice ratio.
  • Cilantro: Since cilantro is one of the main flavor components in this recipe, make sure to use freshly chopped cilantro. If cilantro isn't your favorite herb, swap in parsley or basil.
  • Lime: Citrus adds a zesty, bright flavor to the rice. Lime juice works great but you could also try it with lemon juice or orange juice.
  • Garlic and onion: These aromatics add a ton of flavor to the rice and make it a special side dish. 

What to Serve with Cilantro Brown Rice

This garlic brown rice can be served with almost anything. While it is often served with Mexican recipes, it also works with all types of their dishes. Here are some to try.

Recipe Ideas

Think of this recipe as a blueprint for making really tasty brown rice. Here are some ways to customize it.

  • Make it with different herbs: Swap in different fresh herbs like parsley, basil, chives, or dill.
  • Try different citrus: Use fresh lemon, lime, or orange juice.
  • Add veggies: Saute some extra veggies to add to the rice or add spinach before serving. It will wilt right into the rice. Drained canned tomatoes can also be added. 
  • Use stock or broth: Cooking rice in chicken broth or vegetable broth is an easy way to boost the flavor.
  • Add fiber: Add some canned corn or canned black beans to the rice to add fiber and nutrients.

How to Freeze Cooked Brown Rice

Once the Cilantro Brown Rice is cooked, it's easy to freeze and store in the freezer. First, let the rice come to room temperature. An easy way to do this quickly is to spread the rice out on a cookie sheet. 

Once it is cool, add it to a freezer-safe bag or container.  The frozen will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. 

To reheat, let it defrost overnight in the fridge. Then gently reheat in the microwave or a skillet.

You can also microwave the frozen rice. Break it into chunks and then place it on a bowl covered with plastic wrap. Cook for about 2 minutes or until the rice is heated through. Be careful when removing the plastic wrap since it will be very hot. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to some of the most common questions about this brown rice recipe.

The recipe will work with white rice but you will need to adjust the amount of water and cooking time according to the type of rice you are using.

For people who don't love the taste of cilantro, swap in another fresh herb like parsley or basil. 

This recipe is a spin-off of the popular Chipotle rice. However, it has even more flavor with the addition of onion and garlic.

The Recipe
Garlic cilantro brown rice in a bowl with fresh cilantro leaves and lime wedges.

Garlic Cilantro Brown Rice

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  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup onion, minced
  • 1 cup medium grain brown rice (or short grain)
  • 2.25 cups water (or broth)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (or more)
  • 1 lime, juice
  • Salt and pepper

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Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.


Add the rice and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.


Add the water or broth and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer and cover.


Cook for around 35 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir in cilantro and lemon/lime juice if using. Season with salt and pepper.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 2/3 cup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 134
Calories from Fat 21
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 2g
Saturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 6mg
Total Carbohydrate 25g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 0g
Protein 3g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.


I normally get around 4 cups of cooked rice per 1 cup dry rice but this can vary depending on the rice you use.
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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
On Garlic Cilantro Brown Rice
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Linda Wert
July 18, 2018 - 18:41
Will only use two cups liquid next time. Otherwise, very tasty.
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Linda wert
July 18, 2018 - 18:05
Add a Rating:
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Bonnie Traynor
May 22, 2016 - 19:31
Add a Rating:
I used chicken broth to cook the rice in and I only had Jasmine Rice. It was delicious!!!!!
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Bonnie Traynor
May 22, 2016 - 18:30
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I only had Jasmine Rice which I used and cooked it in Fat Free Chicken Broth. It was incredible!!!!!
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