This easy and simple Lemon Rice is ready to report for side dish duty!
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I’ve noticed a common denominator with many of my main dishes: I almost always recommend serving them with rice.
To make meals more special, especially if you are looking for a healthy starch to pair alongside a simple protein (like Baked Salmon in Foil), step up your grain game with lemon rice.
It’s among my favorite healthy rice recipes because it’s creamy, satisfying, and easy to pair with everything from salmon, shrimp, chicken, and more.
5 Star Review
“Outrageously delicious!! This will be my new go-to rice. Creamy, absolutely fantastic!”— Kathleen —
How to Make the BEST Lemon Rice Ever
With a few simple ingredients and a saucepan (an Instant Pot or rice cooker will also do), you can make this insanely flavorful and creamy lemon rice. It instantly elevates any meal (try it with Grilled Salmon in Foil) to a whole other level of scrumptiousness!
- Brown Rice. Use any kind you like. Long-grain brown rice is what I usually have around (it’s perfect for Chicken Fried Rice), but you can use basmati rice or short-grain brown rice instead.
- Lemon Juice + Zest. For the brightest lemon flavor, add lemon to rice twice: in the rice’s cooking liquid so it absorbs the flavor AND in the finished fluffy rice for an extra burst. (Double up on the lemon and serve this recipe with Baked Lemon Chicken.)
- Parsley. For a fresh-tasting finish of herbaceous flavor.
- Kosher Salt. Salt is a critical ingredient in cooking any kind of grain, from Steel Cut Oats to just about any pasta recipe. It won’t make the rice taste salty; instead, using kosher salt makes rice taste less bland and like its best version of itself.
- Coconut Oil. Adding just a tiny bit of fat makes this a creamy lemon rice recipe with just the right touch of richness and unctuousness.
- Coconut Water. If you’ve never made rice with coconut water, prepare to be amazed. Cooking rice with coconut water doesn’t impart a strong coconut taste; rather, it makes this simple lemon rice creamy.
- Rinse and drain the rice. Bring the rice, coconut water, salt, and coconut oil to a boil.
- Cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes (or however long your bag of rice suggests). If it starts to stick or become dry, add extra coconut water.
- Remove the rice from the heat, add the lemon zest and juice, then fluff with a fork.
- Let it rest for a few minutes, then stir in the herbs. ENJOY!
- To Store. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm rice in a saucepan on the stovetop over medium-low heat. Stir frequently, and add splashes of coconut water or regular water as needed if the rice becomes dry. You can also reheat it in the microwave.
- To Freeze. If you want something to do with lots of rice (leftovers are always a good thing), you can freeze it. Freeze rice in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Not only is this vegetarian rice recipe dead simple, but it’s also the perfect side dish to prepare with an array of make-ahead-friendly recipes.
Here are a few of my favorite ideas:
- Greek Food. Enjoy as Greek lemon rice by serving it with Greek Chicken or Slow Cooker Yogurt Chicken Shawarma.
- Creamy Soups. Add a spoonful of this creamy lemon rice to Instant Pot Carrot Soup, Pumpkin Curry Soup, or Asparagus Soup. (If you want a true lemon rice soup, try my Crock Pot Chicken and Rice Soup.)
- Meatballs. Pick from my Whole30 Meatballs, Baked Chicken Meatballs, Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs, or Lentil Meatballs.
- Italian Chicken or Sausage Recipes. Crock Pot Sausage and Peppers or Sheet Pan Italian Chicken would be delicious.
- Curries. Thai Chicken Curry, Instant Pot Lentil Curry, and Chickpea Curry would all be perfect make-ahead delights to enjoy with healthy rice recipes like this one.
- Indian Dishes. For Indian lemon rice, try it paired with Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala or Instant Pot Butter Chicken.
- Asian Dishes. Swap fried rice in recipes for leftovers of this simple lemon rice instead. Try it in Homemade Fried Rice or Tofu Stir Fry.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Citrus Juicer. You can add lemon juice to rice to flavor it, and this tool makes it easy.
- Instant Pot. My favorite tool for making rice recipes.
- Saucepan. If you’re making your lemon rice on the stove, this pan is perfect.
What dish will you serve with this easy lemon rice? Personally, I’m going for one of these healthy salmon recipes first!
Frequently Asked Questions
Long ago, I committed to creating brown rice recipes over regular white rice recipes for its greater health benefits (and lovely nutty flavor). Not only is brown rice a whole grain, but it also contains more fiber, protein, and other key nutrients than white rice. With just one bite, you’ll be a convert and make all of your favorite healthy rice recipes like this lemon rice with brown rice too!
Making lemon rice in the Instant Pot is one of my favorite methods. Use 1 cup rice and 1 1/4 cups coconut water; cook on HIGH pressure for 22 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice and zest after it finishes cooking. Rest the lid back on the Instant Pot and let it sit a few minutes for the juice to absorb and the flavors to marry.
Sure! Refer to your machine’s directions to prepare the rice. Cook until tender and fluffy, then add the lemon juice, zest, and herbs at the end.
While you can technically make crockpot lemon rice, it’s not a method I particularly recommend. Of the lemon rice cooking methods I tried, making lemon rice in a slow cooker just didn’t do the trick for me since I found the texture mushy in comparison. (For the record, baked lemon rice in the oven was also a no-go for me.)
No. Do not confuse these two ingredients because they are not the same. Coconut water contains very little fat and is almost entirely water (over 90%). On the other hand, coconut milk is a combination of water (closer to 50%) and parts of the coconut flesh, which is much higher in fat.
- 1 cup brown rice
- 1 3/4 cups coconut water plus a few additional tablespoons as needed (or swap unsalted vegetable or chicken broth)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus additional to taste
- Zest and juice of 1 medium lemon about 1/4 cup juice
- 2 tablespoons Italian parsley minced (or any herbs you love*)
- Rinse and drain the rice. Combine the rice, coconut water, salt, and coconut oil in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Cover with a tight-fitting lid, reduce the heat to a low simmer, and cook for 45 minutes. Check a few times, especially towards the end as the rice cooks. If at any point it looks like it is becoming dry or sticking, splash in additional coconut water as needed.
- Remove from the heat. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice, and then fluff with a fork to combine.
- Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley. Enjoy warm.
- *INGREDIENT NOTE: Feel free to change this recipe up with any herbs you love or have on hand, or simply omit them. I like parsley, dill, or thyme with Greek recipes and fish or shrimp. Cilantro and/or mint is delicious for Thai or Indian recipes.
- TO MAKE IN THE INSTANT POT: Use 1 cup rice and 1 1/4 cups coconut water; cook on HIGH pressure for 22 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice and zest after it finishes cooking. Rest the lid back on the Instant Pot and let it sit a few minutes for the juice to absorb and the flavors to marry.
- TO MAKE IN A RICE COOKER: Refer to your machine’s directions. Add the lemon juice and zest at the end.
- TO STORE: Store leftovers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm rice in a saucepan on the stovetop over medium-low heat. Stir frequently, and add splashes of coconut water or regular water as needed if the rice becomes dry. You can also reheat in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze rice in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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