I am a huge fan of Cilantro Lime Rice, I use it in various recipes. It works well in soups and stews, such as my Pork Pozole Verde and in Fried Rice dishes, such as my Pineapple Coconut Thai Shrimp Fried Rice or even used from leftovers in my Kitchen Sink Fried Rice. It also pairs nicely with tacos or stuffed into burritos or with anything carne asada.
Tangy lime infused rice with fresh cilantro is just so feel good fresh! Though I do love the fresh flavor of this recipe, sometimes I crave the tropical flavor and creaminess of coconut milk or pineapple with this rice. Either way you like it, all versions of Cilantro Lime Rice are easy to make in a rice cooker, an Instant Pot, or on the stovetop.
Cilantro Lime Rice + Coconut Milk (Optional)
Method + Flavor #1
Rice Cooker + Coconut Milk
- 2+ Cups Long Grain White Rice (or whatever you like)
- 2+ Fresh Limes, 2 halved for squeezing + 1 sliced to serve with
- 1/2 cup Fresh Cilantro, minced finely
- Coconut Milk, Plain – Optional (I used refrigerated So Delicious brand but canned is creamier)
- Good Pinch of Sea Salt or Pink Himalayan Salt
- 1 Tbsp+ Coconut Oil, optional
- Determine the amount of liquid you’ll need for your rice cooker based on the measured amount of rice. Mine comes with a plastic cup and has corresponding measurement lines in the rice cooker insert.
- Using coconut milk in place of the water indicated for your rice cooker, add rice + coconut milk to the cooker insert.
- Season with a pinch of sea salt.
- Squeeze about 6 lime halves into the coconut milk and rice and stir, mixing it all together.
- Set your rice cooker to cook based on its settings.
- When your cooker chimes, chop the fresh cilantro finely and add to the rice while fluffing with a large fork.
- Squeeze additional limes over the rice evenly and serve.
Tips + Notes:
- Before cutting limes, use your weight and roll the limes on the counter with your palms – helps you get more juice out of each lime.
- If you are using canned coconut milk which is thicker than the drinkable variety, you may need to dilute it with water about 1:1 so the rice can absorb the liquid properly in time.
- If you are needing to get your daily dose of Coconut Oil, you can add it to the rice cooker when you add the coconut milk + rice.
- Always rinse the rice before cooking… always.
- If you want to infuse the rice with a bit more flavor, you can mix up methods #1 + #3 by replacing about 1/2 of the coconut milk with Hint Pineapple or Hint Lime Water.
Traditional Flavor #2 – Cilantro Lime Rice
For traditional Cilantro Lime Rice, follow original instructions but replace coconut milk with coconut water or filtered water.
Flavor #3 – Cilantro Lime Pineapple Rice
Follow original instructions but replace all the coconut milk with Hint Pineapple Water.
3 Ways of Cooking Cilantro Lime Rice
Cooking Method #1
The Rice Cooker Method
Instructions in recipe above.
Cooking Method #2
The Instant Pot Method
There are two ways you can do this really:
- Either follow the manufacturer’s instructions for Rice in the Instant Pot
- Or you can use a tried and true method that Thai people have used seemingly forever to create perfect sticky rice
My husband is a Thai speaker and to help him learn the language better, he has made friends with dozens of native Thai women at local restaurants where we’ve lived. I get a sick kick out of watching their surprised expressions when he answers them in Thai, I guess I’m super proud of him because it’s a tough language to master. He has a natural charisma that opens people up to him. When these women meet him and realize he can speak with them in their native language, he instantly becomes like family. It’s pretty cool to see, people generally appreciate you when you can speak the language of their homeland.
Life tip: If you ever find yourself living in a foreign land, learn at least the basics… it will get you a lot more respect and courtesy from people. Germany, for us, went a lot smoother after we taught ourselves as much of the language as we could make stick. They appreciate the effort, even if it’s a mangled version and you think you sound terrible… yes they get a little laugh out of it because its always funny to hear someone butcher a language but putting a smile on someone’s face every day is a good goal to have and they do appreciate you trying.
The Thai women who take my husband under their wing have taught him all about the food. One of the best tips we’ve adopted is how to make perfect sticky rice. It isn’t a very scientific method but it does work every time.
The Perfect Sticky Rice
- Glutinous Rice (sometimes called Thai Sticky Rice or Sweet Rice) is best but you could use any white rice really, Calrose Rice is a great option as well. In a pinch, Jasmine Rice is ok too. Rinsed thoroughly.
- Water, filtered
- Fresh Limes, halved for squeezing
- Fresh Cilantro, minced finely
- Pinch of Salt
- Add rinsed rice to Instant Pot, flatten it out.
- Sprinkle salt over the top.
- Lightly touch your finger down on top of the rice, on top of – not into the rice. Slowly pour in water until it reaches just below the first joint (the first crease line on the palm side your finger). I’ve heard it called “the knuckle method” or the “finger method”.
- Close up your Instant Pot, ensuring the vent is set to seal.
- Choose manual setting, set for 12 minutes at high pressure and press start. You can also just press the Rice Setting and see what happens… jk – it works fine too. I’ve also seen it done on high for 7 min, and natural release for 10 min.
- Natural release for 5 minutes (when cooking for 12 min) and then manual release if any pressure remains. Be careful and cover vent with a towel to avoid burning yourself.
- Once pressure is released, remove the lid and fluff with a fork, sprinkling in fresh chopped cilantro and fresh lime and blending well.
- It will be a little different than fluffing traditional rice but basically you need to blend in cilantro and lime juice.
Tips + Notes:
- Surprisingly size doesn’t matter! I tried to argue with my husband that my finger is smaller than his and that it makes no sense that this would work when everyone is using different size fingers to measure the same thing. Well, apparently logic and science aren’t needed for this method… it’s magic.
- This method can cook more than just 1 cup of rice, I’ve made it with 1, 2, and 3 cups of rice with the same perfect result.
- If you do not rinse the rice thoroughly… First – eewww! Second, it will not turn out right. Read on it here if you like: Why Properly Rinsing Rice, Barley, Farro, & Quinoa Is So Damn Important .
- The Instant Pot method is best used with the water options, not coconut milk. You could mix coconut milk with water but coconut milk alone froths up a lot and didn’t work well for me.
Cooking Method #3
The Traditional Stovetop Method
- 1 cup Medium-Grain or Long-Grain Rice, thoroughly rinsed
- 2 cups Water (ratio should stay 1 rice : 2 water)
- 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil, Butter, or Ghee
- Heavy Pinch Sea Salt
- Fresh Limes, halved for squeezing
- Fresh Cilantro, minced finely
- Add water and salt to a large saucepan and bring the water to a boil.
- Add oil/butter and rice, stir, and bring to a gentle simmer.
- Cover the pan and turn down the heat to low. Set a timer for about 15 minutes or according to rice package instructions.
- Check the rice only towards the end of cooking, you want to keep it covered to avoid releasing all the hot steam doing its magic with the rice. Brown rice can take about 2x as long to cook so be sure to check the package cook time.
- If it is still very wet, let it cook for another few minutes. 20 minutes seems to be the standard listed time for white rice, I find that 18 minutes is the sweet spot for our rice. Go ahead and test a grain or two when checking at 15 minutes – the rice should be soft but firm, a little chewy.
- Remove from heat and let sit covered for a minute or two. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the rice and fluff, blending in fresh chopped cilantro.
- How much lime you use really depends on your personal taste but I usually use 1 large lime per cup of uncooked rice. Plus serve with extra slices to suit each person’s taste.
Of all the ways to cook Cilantro Lime Rice, the Instant Pot Method is my absolute favorite. Mostly because I prefer a recipe that you can set it and forget it but also because I love the result – perfect sticky rice. My favorite flavor combo is the traditional cilantro lime and rice with butter. I do love to sub water for coconut water or Hint Water though, especially if the flavor boost compliments the main dish.
This recipe doesn’t have to be limited to just Cilantro Lime Rice either, I know cilantro isn’t everyone’s cup of coffee – you either love it or you hate it, I’m told. You can alter this recipe to suit your flavor needs, keeping the ratios right, and just following the cooking instructions.
You can get a sweet deal on Hint Water by clicking here.
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