Qdoba Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe

QDOBA Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe

Cilantro lime rice is a popular Mexican side dish made from rich, fluffy rice infused with bright fresh flavors. With crispy rice grains and pops of cilantro and lime, it’s no wonder why this QDOBA Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe recipe is a favorite at restaurants like QDOBA Mexican Grill.

The best part – it’s incredibly easy to make a delicious batch at home to enjoy anytime!

Cilantro Lime Rice

Why You’ll Love This QDOBA Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe

What makes this cilantro lime rice so irresistible? For starters, it requires very little time and effort to prepare. Simply cook some rice, combine with cilantro, lime juice and spices, and let the flavors meld. The end result is rice bursting with summery flavors and fantastic texture.

Rice grains get toasted in oil and become exceptionally fluffy. The cilantro offers fresh, vibrant herbaceous notes while tangy lime juice gives it acidity and brightness. A bit of salt enhances flavors while pepper provides subtle heat. When all combined, these components create a stellar balance of aromas and tastes.

How to Make Copycat QDOBA Cilantro Lime Rice

Making this delicious QDOBA-inspired cilantro lime rice is simple with just a few ingredients and easy steps.


  • 1⁄2 cup washed and chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 11⁄2 tablespoons margarine
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄8 cup lime juice (freshly squeezed or concentrate)
  • 2 cups cooked parboiled rice

Kitchen Tools Needed

  • Large bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Knife and cutting board (for cilantro)
  • Spoon for mixing

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1:Cook the rice

Make 2 cups of rice using your preferred method. Parboiled rice like Uncle Ben’s works great, cooked per package instructions. You want the rice freshly cooked and still hot when adding other ingredients.

Step 2: Chop cilantro

While rice is cooking, rinse and dry 1⁄2 cup of cilantro. Chop the cilantro leaves and tender stems finely.

Step 3: Prepare flavoring ingredients

Measure out vegetable oil, margarine, black pepper, salt and lime juice into a large bowl.

Step 4: Mix everything together

When rice is done, immediately add it to the bowl with other ingredients. The rice should still be very hot so the margarine and oil melt. Mix everything together well so flavors distribute evenly.

Step 5: Let flavors develop

Cover the bowl and let it sit for at least 10 minutes, up to an hour. This allows time for the lime and cilantro flavors to fully permeate the rice.

Step 6: Adjust seasonings and serve

Give the rice another good stir, taste, and adjust salt/pepper if needed. Fluff rice with a fork right before serving. Enjoy it hot or chilled.

Qdoba Cilantro Lime Rice

Tips for Making Perfect Cilantro Lime Rice

  • Use fresh lime juice for the best flavor rather than bottled juice which can taste artificial. Juice 1-2 Persian limes.
  • Chop cilantro finely so it combines well. Both leaves and tender stems can be used.
  • Choose an oily margarine like Fleischmann’s to help the rice grains get light and fluffy.
  • Use hot freshly-cooked rice so the grains absorb flavors as it cools. Leftover chilled rice won’t work as well.
  • Let the rice sit at least 10 minutes for best flavor development after initially mixing.
  • Add a pinch of garlic or onion powder to complement the cilantro and lime flavors even more.

Serving Suggestions and Variations

This simple cilantro lime rice is delicious on its own but also pairs well with many dishes:

  • Serve it alongside fajitas or tacos with grilled chicken, steak, shrimp or veggies
  • Stuff into burritos or bowls with your other favorite fixings
  • Top a southwest salad with it for added heartiness and flavor
  • Use it to make vegetarian fried “rice” by frying with eggs, vegetables and soy sauce
  • Stir in corn, black beans or diced tomatoes for extra color and texture

Some other tasty mix-ins to try:

  • Diced red onion or scallion
  • Chopped jalapeño for spiciness
  • Crumbled queso fresco or cotija cheese
  • Squeeze of extra lime juice and zest
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish

Adjust ingredients to suit your tastes and enjoy!

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

Cilantro lime rice stores well for 4-5 days refrigerated in an airtight container. Here are some tips for storing and reheating it:

  • Let rice cool completely before storing to prevent condensation that makes it soggy.
  • When reheating, add a splash of water to refresh it. Cover and microwave until hot, fluffing with a fork.
  • For more flavorful rice, stir in a bit of extra lime juice, cilantro and salt when reheating.
  • Don’t reheat more than once. The texture tends to suffer with multiple reheats.
  • You can also reheat in a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil first for lightly crispy rice.

Common Questions About Cilantro Lime Rice

Here are some common FAQs:

What type of rice works best?

Long grain or jasmine rice is fluffy and absorbs flavors beautifully. Medium or short grain rice like Calrose would be too sticky. Use regular or parboiled.

Can I prepare the rice ahead?

It’s best to mix the hot freshly-cooked rice with ingredients for ideal texture and flavor infusion. Preparing it ahead won’t have the same restaurant quality result.

Can I use dried cilantro/lime instead?

Dried herbs lack the freshness and flavor punch needed. But in a pinch, use 1 tablespoon dried cilantro and 1 teaspoon lime juice concentrate.

Can I omit or sub ingredients?

You can reduce oil and margarine slightly but the rice won’t be as light. Salt and lime juice are essential flavors. Cilantro and pepper give it signature taste.

What’s the difference between limes and lemons?

Lemon juice has sour, acidic notes while limes offer bright, tropical tartness. Using lemon would make the rice taste more sour than fresh.

Qdoba Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe

Qdoba Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This easy homemade copycat of Qdoba's famous cilantro lime rice has the perfect fluffy texture and incredible fresh flavor bursting with lime, cilantro and spice. Takes just 30 minutes total.


  • 2 cups fully cooked parboiled rice
  • 1/2 cup washed and chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons margarine
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 cup lime juice (fresh or concentrate)

Kitchen Tools

  • Large bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Spoon for mixing


  1. In a large bowl, place the 2 cups of hot, fully cooked parboiled rice.
    Add the 1/2 cup of washed and chopped cilantro to the rice.
  2. Pour in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons of margarine into the bowl.
  3. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of salt over the ingredients in the bowl.
  4. Drizzle 1/8 cup of lime juice (fresh or concentrate) evenly over the mixture.
  5. Mix all the ingredients in the bowl thoroughly, ensuring that the rice is well coated with the cilantro, oil, margarine, pepper, salt, and lime juice.
  6. Allow the flavors to meld by letting the rice sit for at least an hour. This step enhances the taste.
  7. If serving later or reheating, the flavors will be even more infused into the rice.
  8. Serve and enjoy your delicious Cilantro Lime Rice!
Nutrition Information:
Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 160Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 300mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 2g

Enjoy Zesty QDOBA-Style Rice Any Day

Whipping up this easy QDOBA cilantro lime rice recipe is a great way to capture the bold, vibrant flavors of popular Mexican restaurant rice at home. Loaded with fresh lime, herbaceous cilantro and perfect fluffy rice texture, it’s a quick, delicious side to complement your favorite Tex-Mex dishes. Adjust ingredients to your tastes and enjoy restaurant-worthy rice without the hassle!


Hey there! I'm Emma, the nostalgic home cook behind YummyRecipes.com. 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.

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