If you've ever lived in Utah, been there, or have friends who live there, then we bet you know all about Cafe Rio. It's pretty much legendary, partially because of their magical cilantro lime rice. And guess what? We're about to share the best-ever copycat recipe!

a bowl of Cafe Rio copycat cilantro lime rice, from Shelf Cooking

We're not ones to hype things up, you guys, but this rice is everything! Seriously. You will never go back to plain rice after you take the first bite. We make this recipe ALL the time and serve it on Taco Tuesday or use it in burritos, rice bowls, or as a filling side with chicken.

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This side dish is versatile with a capital “V”. Are you ready to learn the secrets to making this totally delicious cilantro lime rice recipe?! Here we go!


oven-baked tacos with rice inside, from Shelf Cooking

You know how we said this rice is versatile? Well, we weren't kidding! We could rattle off at least a hundred ways to use this rice, but for the sake of time, here are five of our faves:

  • Oven-Baked Tacos – If you love taco Tuesday, we guarantee you will LOVE our oven-baked tacos. Serve some of this rice on the side, inside the tacos, or both ways!
  • Stuffed Peppers – Pull some ground beef or shredded chicken out of the freezer, stuff a few red, yellow, or green peppers with your meat, this rice, and some cheese. Place your peppers in a glass dish. Top with tomato sauce or salsa, cover the dish in foil and bake at 350°F for around 20 minutes. Uncover, top with shredded cheese and bake for another 5 minutes, then serve and enjoy!
  • Burrito Bowls – Calling all Cafe Rio fans! Go ahead and jump for joy because we have a copycat recipe for their sweet pork, too. You know what to do!
  • Chimichangas – Cheesy, chewy, chimichangas! We bet you can't say that five times fast. Fried or baked, make them how you like them. We have the best recipe for easy chimichangas, and they are begging for a side of this cilantro lime rice.
  • Fajitas – If you haven't tried our sheet pan fajitas, you should! One-pan dinner, for the win! And this rice would make the perfect side.

If you weren't hungry when we started reading this post, we bet you are now. Before we spill the deets on this recipe, let's talk about easy modifications!


making riced cauliflower in the food processor, from Shelf Cooking

Need to make a switcheroo or two? That's what shelf cooking is all about. Here's how to use what you have to modify this cilantro lime rice:

  • White Rice – If you don't have white rice, don't worry! Brown rice works well as a substitute. For a healthy version of this recipe, use cauliflower rice instead!
  • Diced Green Chilies – No canned chiles? Dice a fresh jalapeno pepper.
  • Sugar – All out of sugar? Dang it! No worries, though. Either sub in some artificial sweetener, or try honey for a healthier take.
  • Chicken Boullion – If you're out of bouillon, chicken broth works just as well.
  • Garlic – If you don't have fresh garlic on hand, double the amount of onion in this recipe, or use garlic salt in its place.

There are two ingredients we don't recommend changing, for obvious reasons. Cilantro and lime are the stars of the show!


cilantro and lime rice leftovers in a bowl, from Shelf Cooking

Since you're a shelf cooker, why not make some extra rice to freeze for later? This makes those busy weeknights even easier!

Allow your rice to cool, then place it in a freezer-safe bag and flatten it. Label and use within two to three months. Don't forget to write that's it's cilantro lime rice! (It's sometimes hard to tell when frozen.)

Ready to reheat and eat? Break your frozen rice into smaller chunks, place in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and heat for 3-4 minutes. You can add a splash of water if you need to!

That's it. Easy, peasy rice! We suggest making several extra batches to have on hand because once your family tries this recipe, they'll be requesting it all the time. Oh, and speaking of that recipe. The time is here! Who's excited?!


It's happening, you guys! We're letting you in on a game-changing secret. Let's learn how to make the world's best cilantro lime rice. Rice, rice, baby!

a bowl of Cafe Rio copycat cilantro lime rice, from Shelf Cooking

Copycat Cafe Rio Cilantro Lime Rice

Whether you've been to Cafe Rio or not, you're in for a treat! This versatile, tasty rice is the perfect addition to Taco Tuesday.
4.34 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 6


  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 cups uncooked white rice
  • 4 tsp chicken bouillon
  • 1 can diced chilies
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp sugar


  • Saute onion and garlic in butter until onion is soft. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
  • Cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and enjoy!
Keyword Cafe Rio Copycat, white rice

Now you're ready to level up your next Taco Tuesday! Pretty easy, right?

This simple, flavorful, and filling cilantro lime rice will become a new family favorite in no time! And good news: the leftovers taste just as good. Whip up a few rice bowls, and you'll have lunch for the next few days. Or, make a big batch of our breakfast burritos and toss in some of this rice.

Speaking of burritos, we have to know! What's your favorite burrito topping? Drop a comment below!

Image with text that reads "cilantro lime rice" from Shelf Cooking

If you're looking for a few more fun recipes to try, we've got you covered!

Have a rice day!