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 comes 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. (This post was originally published on April 25th, 2016 and has been updated to contain nutritional information. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn commission on qualifying purchases.)
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!
Is this rice spicy?
It seems as though it should be really spicy, but it’s actually more medium spicy. I know that’s subjective, but it’s only 2 small chiles for the whole recipe. But if you’re not a fan of spicy food, substitute jalapenos, which are much milder.
Serve this cilantro rice warm or cold.
This side dish is the perfect accompaniment to Mexican or Latin dishes, and is great for picnics or potlucks. Michelle got the recipe from Epicurious and she adapted it. And I got it from her, and I adapted it, so I just call it, “Michelle’s Cilantro Rice”. I love to pair it with Slow-Cooker Green Chile Pork or Quick Chicken Tacos.
Can you make this cilantro rice vegan or vegetarian?
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. The second way is to make the cilantro sauce and refrigerate it. Then finish the dish the next day.
Here are the ingredients you need for this cilantro rice recipe:
- yellow onion
- serrano chiles (or jalapenos for a milder version)
- long grain rice
- chicken broth (vegetable broth for vegan or vegetarian)
For the cilantro dressing, you’ll need:
- olive oil
- white wine vinegar
- salt (this is my absolute favorite salt!)
How to make cilantro rice
Saute the onion, garlic and serrano chile.
Add rice, broth and cook until tender.
While the rice is cooking, make the cilantro dressing.
Puree all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. You can do this step ahead of time. Refrigerate cilantro dressing until ready to use.
Allow the cooked rice to cool completely, about 45 minutes before tossing it with the dressing.
Serve room temperature or chilled.
Have you made this cilantro rice recipe? Let me know in the comments!
- 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.
I make my rice in a rice cooker, do you think I could make the sauce and add it to the uncooked rice and water then prepare the rice as usual. This sounds so delicious I want to try it!
totally! I think you’d just need to sauté the onions, garlic and chiles separately and then add it to the rice when it’s done.
Cynthia, I am in the love cilantro camp and my mother is in the opposite camp. I would absolutely love this spicy rice dish. It’s jam packed with fresh flavor!
Fortunately my whole family loves cilantro…but I know a lot of families that are divided!
I need to make a trip out to the Huntington Gardens again. Such a beautiful and inspiring place to be! I’ve had cilantro rice on my radar to try for awhile now, and have yet to make it. You’ve reminded me to do so and may have to start with this great recipe! Thanks for sharing. 😉
One of my favorite places to visit! You really need to see it if you haven’t been for a while!
Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet says
This is beautiful! I love the fresh flavors, such a perfect and versatile side dish!
Thank you! It’s one of my family’s favorite side dishes!
Vicky @ Avocado Pesto says
If this even converts the cilantro haters out there it must be a winner! I am in the love cilantro club so know this is the perfect dish for me!
Melanie Varey says
This looks delicious! Your steps and pictures make this recipe really easy to follow too. On my to make list!
Sabina Green says
I live in the UK and we call it corriander. I love the flavour as it is so fresh, I have never used it in a rice dish before, but I will have to give it a try.
We call the seeds coriander and the leaves cilantro. In Asian communities it’s referred to as Chinese parsley. It’s definitely a staple here in Southern California where Mexican food is prevalent! I hope you enjoy it!
Ron Donoho says
The spicier the rice, the better, I say!
It is flavorful and delicious. Rice is one of my favorite side dishes to a meal. There are so many good ways to make it, including this one.
Paula Richie says
Just this past weekend I ordered ingredients to prepare Cilantro Brown Rice! Now to do it.
I’ve never tried it with brown rice, but I’ll bet it will be good.
This looks like a fantastic recipe, I love cilantro and I love rice! what a perfect combination. Thanks for sharing.
You’re welcome! Thank you.
I don’t have any white wine vinegar, will Mirin or plan Chardonnay work?
Do you have lime juice? Neither of those would really work.
I put it on my grocery list. Thank you for replying.
Patricia Guest says
I LOVED this – such a comfort food – I’m using it as a rice base to a BBQ’d salmon with jalapeno peach salsa. I used the canned Chile peppers vs. the serrano peppers for a mild heat. I also added a nob of butter to the onion/garlic saute. It turned out really well. thanks!
Thank you! I appreciate it! all those additions sound wonderful!
Hey Cynthia! Love the cilantro rice. Thanks for sharing! I linked to it from my buttery smoked lobster tail recipe as a great side dish. Thanks again!
Thank you! I’m headed over to share to my social channels!
thank you! Pinned/yummed/tweeted and rated!