Mexican Cilantro Rice (Green Rice)

By Lee Jackson ↣ Published on: February 11, 2024

Last Updated: February 11th, 20240 Comments on Mexican Cilantro Rice (Green Rice)

Fragrant rice dishes don’t come more delicious than this Mexican cilantro rice. Packed with herbaceous flavour and fragrance it’s a truly wonderful addition to any Mexican inspired feast.

A bowl of Mexican Cilantro Rice (Green Rice) with a spoon.

As a huge fan of flavoured rice dishes from all over the world, discovering this Mexican treasure was a high point! I first sampled it in one of the countless Mexican restaurants near home when I lived in Las Vegas, and in Mexico of course on my trips there.

Regular, green or red rice (the colours of the Mexican flag) are commonplace in the country, and it's the green rice (arroz verde) that has the most flavour. Typically cooked with cilantro, green chillies, onion and lime juice it has a herbaceous, spicy and lightly sour combination of flavours.

Typically it's served as a side dish but honestly, I could eat it on its own with a big spoon all day! I'll usually serve it alongside some kind of stew, like creamy Chipotle Chicken, or some grilled marinated meat but I'll often just pile up some cilantro rice and top with a crispy fried egg and a few drops of inferno-spiced hot-sauce. Pure comfort food.

However you choose to enjoy yours, be safe in the knowledge that it's really very easy to make at home.

What's Ahead?

A bowl of Mexican Cilantro Rice (Green Rice) with a spoon.

What is Arroz Verde?

Arroz Verde is a Mexican rice dish flavoured with a blend of fresh herbs like coriander (and sometimes parsley), green chillies, onions, and garlic. These ingredients are blended to create a vibrant green sauce that's mixed with rice and cooked until fluffy, offering a fragrant and flavourful side dish.

Why it works?

FLAVOUR POR FAVOR! It's a big yes please to ALL that cilantro flavour with a nice little heat too. Like I said earlier, I'd be happy just eating this rice with an egg and a spoon, but it's so versatile in its uses - it will fast become an indispensable part of ANY Mexican meal.

The ingredients for Mexican Cilantro Rice - rice, cilantro, onion, garlic, chilli and vegetable stock.

Stuff You'll Need

To make my Cilantro rice, you'll only need a few easy to find ingredients.

  • Rice - a regular long grain rice is the best option for arroz verde.
  • Fresh Cilantro (coriander) - this gives the authentic green rice flavour and fragrance. You can also use a little parsley. I'll often use half cilantro, half parsley.
  • Green Chilli - for this recipe I used two hot Thai chillies 'cause that's what I had at home, but if you can get them use one serrano or jalapeño chilli. Leave the seeds in for more spice or remove for a milder heat level.
  • Onion and garlic - adds a little backbone to the rice.
  • Ground Cumin - I add a small amount for a little extra earthy fragrant flavour.
  • Stock/broth - use vegetable to make this rice vegan or chicken stock if you're not veggie. The stock just adds more flavour to the rice, you can of course just use water.
  • Seasonings - for a final touch, add salt & pepper and optionally a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice.
A bowl of Mexican Cilantro Rice (Green Rice) with a spoon.

Step by Step

It's not difficult at all to pull this rice dish together. It's cooked like a pilaf, using the absorption method, then left to rest. Finally a fluffing up with a fork creates the most delicious light and fluffy cilantro rice ever.

  1. Step 1 - Rinse the rice in a sieve until the water runs almost clear. Set aside.
  2. Step 2 - In a jug, using an immersion blender, or in a regular blender or nutri bullet blend the cilantro and broth together until very well blended. Set aside.
  3. Step 3 - In a small saucepan, fry the onion, garlic, chilli and cumin for a few minutes until soft.
  4. Step 4 - Add the rice and stir well to combine everything. Pour in the broth/cilantro mixture and stir once or twice to combine everything. Let this come to a simmer without stirring. Reduce the heat to low and place lid on the pan.
  5. Step 5 - Cook gently for 10-12 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is JUST beginning to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Step 6 - Remove from the heat and place a clean tea towel or paper towel over the pan and return the lid. Leave the rice to rest for 30 minutes, then fluff up with a fork.
A bowl of Mexican Cilantro Rice (Green Rice) with a spoon.

Pro Tips

  • Cooking the rice - pay close attention to the heat of the cooking rice. A low heat and gentle simmer is what you need. Leave the lid on the pan and don't stir the rice as you'll release excess starch and make it stodgy.
  • To check its doneness, take out a grain or two and test. To see if the liquid has evaporated, make a hole with the handle of the spoon to the base to see if it's dry. If you feel a little of the rice just beginning to stick and it's dry at the base, that's the optimum time to remove from the heat.

Serving & Storage Suggestions

  • Cilantro rice is a versatile dish that can be served in so many ways, alongside grilled meats, soups, stews, enchiladas, fajitas, tacos, salads and more.
  • Use it as a base for a delcious and healthy burrito bowl, topped with marinated chicken, beans, avocado and cheese!

Storage

  • Fridge - You can keep leftover cilantro rice in the fridge for 4-5 days in an airtight container.
  • Freezer - It freezes well - I like to portion into single portions in old take-out containers and freeze separately. They're good for 3+ months. Microwave from frozen until piping hot, stir once or twice during reheating to avoid microwave scorching.
A bowl of Mexican Cilantro Rice (Green Rice) with a spoon.

Ready to get cooking?

You'll soon be serving this delicious cilantro rice as part of every Mexican dinner, trust me. In my humble opinion, it's the tastier between red and green rice and the only Mexican rice I cook at home. I'm sure you'll be on board once you sample for yourself. Lift your rice game, Mexican style and you'll never look back! Gracias and I hope you enjoy!

More Mexican recipes

If you liked my Cilantro rice recipe, make sure you try some or all of my other favourite Mexican recipes.

Any Questions? (FAQ)

Have a question about? Let me know in the comments.

What makes Mexican Cilantro Rice different from regular rice?

Mexican Cilantro Rice, or Arroz Verde, is infused with a blend of fresh cilantro, parsley, and green chilies, giving it a vibrant green color and a distinctive, herbaceous flavour.

Can I make Mexican Cilantro Rice with brown rice?

Yes, you can substitute brown rice for white rice in Mexican Cilantro Rice recipes. However, brown rice may require a longer cooking time and slightly more liquid to achieve the desired texture.

Is Mexican Cilantro Rice spicy?

The spiciness of Mexican Cilantro Rice can vary depending on the amount of green chilies used. Typically, it has a mild to moderate level of heat, but you can adjust the spice level to suit your preference.

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A bowl of Mexican Cilantro Rice (Green Rice) with a spoon.

Mexican Cilantro Rice (Green Rice)

Rate this recipe

5 from 1 vote
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Recipe by Lee
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Diet Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings (adjustable) 4
Calories (per serving) | 255

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 green chilli
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves tightly packed, finely chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock, or water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup rice

Instructions

  • Rinse the rice in a sieve until the water runs nearly clear. Set aside.
  • In a jug or blender, thoroughly blend the coriander and broth. Set aside.
  • Sauté the onion, garlic, chilli, and cumin until softened in a small saucepan.
  • Combine rice with sautéed ingredients, pour in coriander broth, and simmer without stirring. Cover and cook over low heat.
  • Cook for 10-12 minutes until water is absorbed and rice starts to stick.
  • Remove from heat, cover with a tea towel, return the lid and let it rest for 30 minutes before fluffing with a fork.

Notes

Serving & Storage Suggestions
  • Serving: Coriander rice offers versatility, complementing various dishes like grilled meats, soups, stews, enchiladas, fajitas, tacos, and salads. Utilize it as a base for a nutritious burrito bowl, topped with chicken, beans, avocado, and cheese.
  • Storage Fridge: Store leftover coriander rice in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days.
  • Storage Freezer: Freeze in single portions; lasts for 3+ months. Reheat in the microwave until hot, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.

Nutrition

Calories: 255kcal (13%) | Carbohydrates: 43g (14%) | Protein: 4g (8%) | Fat: 7g (11%) | Saturated Fat: 1g (6%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 804mg (35%) | Potassium: 125mg (4%) | Fiber: 2g (8%) | Sugar: 3g (3%) | Vitamin A: 524IU (10%) | Vitamin C: 5mg (6%) | Calcium: 27mg (3%) | Iron: 1mg (6%)
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