copycat qdoba brown rice recipe

Copycat Qdoba Brown Rice Recipe

Qdoba has become synonymous with build-your-own Mexican bowls packed with fresh, bold flavors. One of their signature menu items that keeps fans coming back is their cilantro-lime brown rice. With its subtle smoky spices and zesty citrus kick, this rice is so addictive many have tried replicating it at home.

Luckily, we’ve cracked Qdoba’s code for their famous Qdoba brown rice and are sharing an easy copycat recipe so you can enjoy restaurant-quality rice bowls anytime.

qdoba brown rice

Why We Love Copycat Qdoba Brown Rice

There are so many reasons why this Qdoba inspired brown rice is a game-changer for home cooking. Here’s a taste of what makes it so special:

Perfectly Balanced Flavors

With just the right blend of savory spices like cumin, paprika and oregano combined with bright cilantro and lime, the flavors in every forkful pop beautifully. It has layered depth without overpowering your other bowl fillings.

Adaptable Recipe

While the Qdoba brown rice shines in Mexican bowls, it would also work well alongside a variety of cuisines. The flavors are versatile enough to complement Mediterranean, Indian or Asian dishes too.

Fiber & Nutrient Boost

By using brown rice instead of white, this recipe gives you a whole grain nutritional boost. Brown rice adds more fiber for digestion and provides minerals like magnesium and potassium.

Saves Money

Dining at Qdoba to get your brown rice fix multiple times a month starts to add up quick. Making it easily at home lets you enjoy this tasty rice whenever the craving strikes at a fraction of the cost.

Customizations Welcome

Once you master the classic recipe, start experimenting with add-ins like corn, peppers or Za’atar seasoning for even bolder rice bowls. Get creative with personalizing the flavors to match your tastebuds!

How to Make Copycat Qdoba Brown Rice

Recreating the signature Qdoba brown rice is simple with our step-by-step recipe guiding you. Here’s what you’ll need to make this flavor-packed rice at home:


  • 1 1/2 cups long grain brown rice, thoroughly rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • Juice from 1/4 lime
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Kitchen Tools Needed:

  • Medium saucepan with lid
  • Wooden spoon for stirring
  • Fork for fluffing rice
  • Measuring cups & spoons
  • Knife & cutting board

Step-By-Step Cooking Instructions

Follow these simple steps for authentic tasting copycat Qdoba cilantro-lime brown rice every time:

1. Heat the avocado oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook for 5 minutes until translucent and softened.

2. Stir in the garlic, cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder and oregano. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly so the spices become very fragrant.

3. Add the can of diced tomatoes with their juices along with the chicken or vegetable broth and the rinsed brown rice. Give it a good stir.

4. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Pop on the lid and let it simmer for 30 minutes undisturbed until the rice has absorbed most of the broth and is tender.

5. Remove the pot from the heat and fluff the rice with a fork to break up any clumping. Stir in the fresh chopped cilantro, lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Serve the brown rice hot as a side dish or meal base. It pairs perfectly with your favorite Tex-Mex style toppings!

Tips & Tricks

  • Use freshly squeezed lime juice for the brightest citrus flavor
  • Cook time may vary based on brown rice brand; taste test doneness after 25 minutes
  • Sprinkle extras cilantro or green onion on top for bonus flavor

Get Creative With Copycat Qdoba Rice Bowls

The beauty of this easy Qdoba brown rice recipe is how versatile it is. You can reinvent the rice in so many globally-inspired bowls at home. Stay true to the Tex-Mex roots with fajita veggies or black beans. Or add Mediterranean flair with tzatziki sauce and feta cheese. The possibilities are endless!

Tex-Mex Rice Bowls

  • Chicken or steak fajita meat
  • Roasted bell peppers & onions
  • Black beans or pinto beans
  • Shredded cheese like Monterey Jack
  • Diced avocado
  • Salsa or hot sauce

Mediterranean Rice Bowls

  • Grilled chicken or falafel
  • Tzatziki sauce
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Tomatoes & cucumber
  • Crumbled feta cheese
  • Kalamata olives
  • Fresh dill

Get the whole family involved in whipping up personalized rice bowls at home. Set out all the flavor-packed toppings and let everyone build their own customized meal masterpiece!

Storing Leftover Brown Rice

Like dining in at a Qdoba restaurant, you’ll likely have leftover cilantro lime rice after assembling your bowed meals at home. Here are some storage tips:

  • Let rice cool completely before storing
  • Transfer to airtight container and refrigerate up to 4 days
  • To reheat, add a few tablespoons of water to rice and microwave in 30 second intervals, fluffing between cycles, until hot

You can also use leftover rice for fried rice. Simply cook the chilled rice in a skillet with eggs, veggies and soy sauce for a delicious one-pan meal. No rice goes to waste!

Common Questions About Copycat Qdoba Rice

Want to perfect your duplicate version with more Qdoba-inspired flavor? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

What type of brown rice works best?

Long grain brown rice like jasmine or basmati have the ideal fluffy, light texture best replicating the Qdoba original. Stay away from short grain or brown rice mixes.

Can I use frozen veggies?

It’s best to stick to fresh or canned vegetables to mirror the Qdoba flavor profile. But in a pinch, subbing frozen corn kernels or peas could work.

How spicy is this rice recipe?

The blend of spices creates a light smokiness with subtle heat, not an intensely spicy dish. Add more chili powder or hot sauce if you want to turn up the heat.

Can I make it ahead of time?

Yes! Simply cook the rice, let it cool completely, then store in fridge up to 4 days. Reheat individual portions as needed with a touch of water to restore moisture.

Satisfy Your Qdoba Cravings at Home

Now that you know the secrets behind Qdoba’s brown rice, you can recreate the magic any night for quick dinners or meal prep lunches. With time-saving brown rice simmering on the stove while you prep fresh mix-in toppings, you’ll feel like you have your own Mexican restaurant kitchen.

So next time a Tex-Mex takeout food craving hits, bypass the long wait at the restaurants. Stay home, fill your bowl with smoky, citrusy brown rice and all your favorite meats, cheeses and veggies. Dig in to get your foodie fix while saving time and money. ¡Buen provecho!


Hey there! I'm Emma, the nostalgic home cook behind When I'm not busy cooking up childhood classics in my Portland kitchen, you can find this 80s-music loving thrift shopper spending time with my family and hunting for vintage treasures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *