This easy and simple Lemon Rice is ready to report for side dish duty!

Easy and simple Lemon Rice with Herbs in a bowl is one of the best healthy rice recipes

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I’ve noticed a common denominator with many of my main dishes: I almost always recommend serving them with rice.

From Chicken Tikka Masala and Poached Salmon to Garlic Butter Shrimp and Grilled Cod, all are main dishes that I suggest serving with brown rice (Instant Pot Brown Rice is an easy way to make it).

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.

Creamy rice and lemon recipe to go with chicken or fish in a saucepan

5 Star Review

“Outrageously delicious!! This will be my new go-to rice. Creamy, absolutely fantastic!”

— Kathleen —

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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!


The Ingredients

  • 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.

Ingredient Note

Keep in mind that the total amount of cook time for rice will vary slightly between brands and varieties. Consider the suggested cook time referenced in the recipe as a starting point. Always consult the package directions of your rice and adjust accordingly for best results.

  • 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.)

Ingredient Note

Make sure the juice is freshly squeezed. No bottled lemon juice allowed—trust me, you will notice the difference.

  • Parsley. For a fresh-tasting finish of herbaceous flavor.

Market Swap

If you have other herbs in your refrigerator threatening extinction, feel free to chop them up and toss them in. They’re a great way to change the flavor profile of the rice and pair it with different cuisines.

  • Greek Lemon Rice. Add thyme and parsley.
  • Indian Lemon Rice. Try cilantro and/or mint (see this Turmeric Rice as well).
  • Italian Lemon Rice. Sprinkle in some fresh oregano and/or rosemary.
best lemon rice to go with chicken in a bowl with herbs and lemon wedges
  • 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.

Substitution Tip

You could also swap for olive oil or butter if that’s what you have in your pantry. You can also omit it if you prefer. Just know that the rice will lose some of its creaminess.

  • 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.

Substitution Tip

You can find coconut water at almost any grocery store. Be sure to buy straight-up, regular, 100% coconut water (like this one or this one), not a coconut-flavored beverage (like this one).

If you can’t find coconut water or don’t care to purchase it, you can make this rice with regular water or (for bonus flavor) chicken broth or vegetable broth.

The Directions

a saucepan with rice, salt, and coconut water to make lemon rice without chicken broth or butter
  1. Rinse and drain the rice. Bring the rice, coconut water, salt, and coconut oil to a boil.
  2. 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.
simple and creamy lemon rice to go with salmon in a saucepan
  1. Remove the rice from the heat, add the lemon zest and juice, then fluff with a fork.
a saucepan with parsley being stirred into an easy lemon rice recipes
  1. Let it rest for a few minutes, then stir in the herbs. ENJOY!

Storage Tips

  • 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.
a simple rice recipe with lemon and brown rice to go with salmon in a saucepan with a spoon

Leftover Ideas

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:

a bowl of easy lemon rice without chicken broth or butter

What to Serve with Lemon Rice

Salmon recipes are by far my favorite type of main dish to serve with lemon rice. It’s a classic pairing that just cannot be beat!

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.
Easy and simple Lemon Rice with Herbs in a bowl is one of the best healthy rice recipes

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought!

Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

A spoon and bowl of the Best lemon rice recipe with parsley

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

Is Brown Rice Healthier Than White Rice?

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!

Can You Make Instant Pot Lemon Rice?

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.

Can I Make Lemon Rice in a Rice Cooker?

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.

Can You Make Lemon Rice In a Slow Cooker?

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.)

Is Coconut Milk the Same as Coconut Water?

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.

Easy and simple Lemon Rice with Herbs in a bowl is one of the best healthy rice recipes

Lemon Rice

4.86 from 7 votes
The BEST lemon rice recipe! This simple lemon rice is the perfect healthy rice recipe to serve with salmon, chicken, shrimp, and more.

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 55 mins
Total: 1 hr

Servings: 6 servings, about 3 cups

Ingredients
  

  • 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*)

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Notes

  • *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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1of 6, about 1/2 cup cookedCalories: 148kcalCarbohydrates: 27gProtein: 3gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.5gPotassium: 269mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 113IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 29mgIron: 1mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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28 Comments

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  1. Sounds great! What does the coconut oil add to this recipe? I’ve never added an oil to rice.  How else do you use coconut oil if I add it to my pantry.  I learn so many great tips from you, which is helping me enjoy cooking more and expand my repertoire. I love to bake, but cooking was never my forte.  

    1. Hi Kathryn, adding the coconut oil adds a little bit of richness and helps the rice taste more satisfying. I use coconut oil in many of my baking recipes, which you can check out here! https://www.wellplated.com/category/recipes-by-type/baked-goodsbreads/

  2. I made this in the Instant Pot as directed, and the rice turned out al dente — and creamy. It was delicious! I used the coconut water, along with the tablespoon of coconut oil, and that provided a nice balance to the lemon. Another great recipe we’ll be making again! Thank, Erin!5 stars

    1. Hi Fariha, I have not tried to add coconut milk, but you could experiment with it. If you try it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  3. Hi! I’m very excited to try this but want to substitute quinoa for rice. Does this change the recipe at all? Thanks!

    1. Hi Jordie! I’ve only tested the recipe as written, so it would be a complete experiment. If you decide to try it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  4. I made this dish on Sunday too add on with my other food groups and it was so different from the regular plain bland rice, thank you for helping me add a touch of flavor5 stars

  5. I tried this recipe with a substitute of lime with white rice and used parsley flakes and it turned out great tasting and looking….yayyy no more boring rice :) Thank you ❣5 stars

  6. I don’t have coconut water right now, can I substitute some coconut milk? I just discovered your site and I love it! I was looking for a new recipe to cook Kokanee salmon. So happy I settled on your recipe with rosemary and lemons. Delicious!!! I have been looking over your site, your other recipes and your cookbook. Love everything I am seeing. You talk about your blog- – how do I view your blog? Thank you so much!,

    1. Hi Laura! You can use regular water or a broth here instead. THANK YOU so much for your kind words! This website is my blog, so you can find recipe posts and other fun posts on my travels, shopping, home renovations, and more!

  7. Outrageously delicious!! Thanks so very much for this recipe, Erin. I googled ‘chicken kabobs’ last night (in a jam!) for a quick recipe for a late weekday evening dinner (I’ll also leave a review for those!) and ran across your Lemon Rice recipe. EUREKA! I’m so excited – didn’t have coconut water on hand but used chicken stock, coconut oil and of course, fresh lemon with parsley from my terrace garden. This will be my new go-to rice. Creamy, absolutely fantastic!! Thanks from your newest fan!5 stars

  8. Great recipe. I actually made it with 3 cups of instant whole grain brown rice and chicken stock. I kept it warm in a sprayed cooking canola oil in a slow cooker on warm. It was a hit at the pot luck with grilled chicken and vegetables. I only used 1 lemon for the 3 cups of uncooked rice which was plenty. Thanks a lot. I will use this recipe again.5 stars

  9. This is a delicious recipe! It’s actually refreshing. I did choose to add a bit more coconut water in place of the coconut oil. I will share it with others. Thank you, well plated.com.5 stars

  10. Hello, if you are making the rice in an instant pot, I noticed that you stated to cook the rice on high pressure for 22 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes, what exactly did you mean by letting the pressure release naturally? The recipe sounds amazing and I plan to cook the rice this weekend.

    1. Hi LaVerne, on the instant pot there is the release valve to vent the steam located on top of the lid. When you naturally let it release, you don’t touch that valve. When you do a quick release, you push the release valve to the “venting” position. Hope this helps!