Cilantro rice is a colorful and flavorful Latin side dish. It pairs well with nearly every protein and is quick and easy to make.
This recipe for Cilantro Rice came to me from my friend, Michelle. A few families met one evening, many summers ago, at The Huntington Library and Gardens, for a evening concert and picnic. Since we were going to be listening to music from South America, we all brought something to fit that theme.
I can’t remember what I brought, since all I could do was eat Michelle’s “green rice”. One bite just knocked my socks off! The “green” is a cilantro sauce with some green chile.
I know there are a whole slew of you out there who abhor cilantro. I don’t think I’ve ever met a “cilantro neutral” person. Most either love or hate it. My sister-in-law is in the dislike camp, and when I served this cilantro rice at one family event, I warned her. She tried it, and declared that it was the only cilantro dish she’d ever tasted that she liked. Seriously, it even converts non-cilantro enthusiasts!
Serve this cilantro rice warm or cold.
Cilantro Rice is the perfect accompaniment to Mexican or Latin dishes, and is great for picnics or potlucks. Michelle got the recipe from Epicurious, but I got it from her, so I just call it, “Michelle’s Cilantro Rice”. I love to pair it with Slow-Cooker Green Chile Pork Colorado or Quick Chicken Tacos. For a vegetarian or vegan version, simply substitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth.
Some of the items used in this post are available at my Amazon affiliate link with no additional cost to you.
Can you make cilantro rice ahead of time?
There are two ways you can make this rice dish ahead of time. First you can prepare the whole recipe and when cooled slightly, cover and refrigerate. In fact the consensus in our house is that it’s actually better the second day
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 Tablespoon seeded serrano chiles
- 2 cups long-grain white rice
- 3 1/4 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth for vegetarian/vegan
- 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- black pepper
- Cilantro Dressing:
- 1 bunch cilantro stems removed
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 1/2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon minced seeded serrano chile
- In a large pot, heat 1 Tablespoon oil over a medium heat. Add onions, 1 Tablespoon (or more), minced serrano chile, and sauté about 8 minutes. Add 4 cloves minced garlic and sauté another minute or two.
- Add rice, broth and salt, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until rice is tender and broth is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes.
- While rice is cooking, in a food processor or blender, combine cilantro, 1/2 cup olive oil, white wine vinegar, 1 garlic clove, cumin and 1/2 teaspoon (or more) minced seeded serrano chile. Puree until smooth. Set aside.
- Transfer rice to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. Toss with cilantro dressing and adjust seasoning salt and black pepper if needed.
- Serve warm or chilled.