Lemon Rice

4.72 from 25 votes
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This easy Lemon Rice Recipe is bursting with lemon flavor! It’s a delicious way to turn plain rice into an exotic dish and is the perfect accompaniment to any meats and veggies.

Lemon Rice served in a skillet, with a spoon mixing through it.


 

As the temperature starts to climb, it’s time to introduce vibrant citrus flavors to our meals, and this zesty Lemon Rice makes a wonderful side dish for your dinner line-up. Think creamy, slightly tangy, and packed with bright, irresistible lemon essence; this rice recipe is versatile enough to pair with your favorite fish or meat dishes and will make your meals that much better. Thus, if you want to learn how to make lemon rice, let’s dive into this simple and flavorful recipe!

What is lemon rice made of?

Lemon rice is a popular and flavorful dish with cooked rice, fresh lemon juice, and various seasonings. The key feature of lemon rice is its tangy and savory taste, which comes from the liberal use of lemon juice. Light, flavorful, and delicious, it’s a game-changer for those looking to liven up plain ol’ white rice.

Notice there are no roasted peanuts and red chilies in here because this is how we Macedonians make Lemon Rice: green onions, garlic, lemon zest, and as much lemon juice as one needs. I, however, did add a bit of turmeric, too. Also, the rice is cooked in broth and Half & Half instead of water, which in turn makes the rice creamy and so much more flavorful. A sprinkle of dill at the end is everything. 

What You’ll Need

These simple ingredients come together to create a vibrant and flavorful lemon rice dish that’s perfect as a side or a light meal.

  • Butter – Adds flavor to the rice, but you could also use ghee.
  • Olive oil – Canola oil or vegetable oil are good alternatives.
  • Green onions (white parts only) – Chopped shallots or yellow onion would also work.
  • Garlic – I use fresh garlic but garlic powder is okay to use.
  • Lemon zest – Adds a bright citrus flavor and aroma.
  • Long grain rice – Basmati rice or jasmine rice are great substitutes. Try not to use short grain rice because it tends to stick together when cooked.
  • Turmeric powder – Adds a beautiful color and a subtle flavor.
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper – Enhances the overall flavor of the dish.
  • Vegetable broth – Substitute with chicken broth or water.
  • Half & Half – We’ll use this to add creaminess and richness, but heavy cream or evaporated milk can also be used.
  • Lemon juice – Provides acidity and brightness to balance the flavors.
  • Chopped fresh dill – I use dill as a garnish here, but you can substitute it with fresh parsley or cilantro.
  • Chopped green onions – To add color, extra flavor, and freshness.
Close-up overhead shot of lemon rice topped with lemon slices.

How To Make Lemon Rice

This rice dish is so easy to make – after trying it yourself, you may never return to minute rice!

  1. Prep. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pan.
  2. Saute the aromatics. Add the sliced green onions, and cook for a minute. Mix in the garlic and add the lemon zest, and cook for 30 seconds.
  3. Cook the rice. Add a cup of long-grain rice, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Stir well. Add broth, half & half, add lemon juice, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 18-20 minutes.
  4. Fluff. Remove from heat, fluff rice and adjust seasonings.
  5. Serve. Garnish with dill and green onions before serving.

Recipe Tips

  • Rice: Stick to long-grain varieties like Basmati, Jasmine, or white long-grain rice for this recipe.
  • Rinse: A quick rinse of the rice washes away extra starch, which means no sticky rice clumps.
  • Tweak: Start with the suggested amount of lemon juice and adjust it to achieve the perfect level of tanginess.
  • Watch That Flame: Keep the flame low to avoid scorching the rice, but make sure it’s high enough to maintain a simmer.
  • Go for Fresh: Opt for fresh lemon juice and herbs to pack the most punch in flavor.

Delicious Variations

For those who wish to add an extra touch to this already fantastic rice recipe, here are some mix-in suggestions:

  • Protein: Toss in some cooked shrimp, chicken, or tofu for a complete meal in itself.
  • Vegetables: Sauteed bell peppers, peas, or a mix of your favorite vegetables can add more color and nutrition to your dish.
  • Nuts and Seeds: A sprinkle of toasted cashews, peanuts, almonds, or sesame seeds can add a nice crunch and enhance the overall flavor.
  • Herbs: Fresh herbs such as parsley, mint, or cilantro can be added for an extra pop of freshness.
  • Spices: Add a pinch of red chili flakes or a dash of hot sauce for a spicy kick.
  • Cheese: A sprinkle of feta or goat cheese adds a creamy, tangy twist.

Serving Suggestions

These are just a few ideas, but the beauty of lemon rice is its versatility – it can be paired with just about anything you like! The zesty, tangy flavor pairs exceptionally well with grilled or baked meats, including this Artichoke Chicken Recipe, my Grilled Mahi Mahi, or these wonderful Honey Garlic Baked Pork Chops. A bowl of this Bouillabaisse soup with a side of lemon rice can make for a warm, comforting meal.

Wide shot of lemon rice in a skillet.

Storing Leftovers

  • Cool leftover rice within an hour after cooking.
  • Transfer the rice to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 6 months.
  • To reheat, add a bit of water and heat until hot throughout.

Easy Rice Recipes

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4.72 from 25 votes

Easy Lemon Rice Recipe

This easy Lemon Rice Recipe  is bursting with lemon flavor!  It's a delicious way to turn plain rice into an exotic dish and is the perfect accompaniment to any meats and/or veggies.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 green onions,, white parts only, cut into thin rounds, reserve green parts for garnish
  • 3 cloves garlic,, minced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper,, to taste
  • 1 cup low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup half & half,, you can also use heavy cream or evaporated milk
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • chopped fresh dill,, for garnish
  • chopped green onions,, for garnish
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Instructions 

  • Melt butter and heat olive oil in a nonstick pan.
  • Add onions and cook for 1 minute.
  • Stir in garlic and lemon zest; continue to cook and stir for 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
  • Add rice; season with turmeric, salt and pepper, and cook and stir for 1 minute.
  • Stir in vegetable broth, half & half, and lemon juice.
  • Turn up the heat and bring mixture to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to a simmer; cover the pan and simmer for 18 to 20 minutes, or until liquid has evaporated.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Fluff with a fork and taste for seasonings; adjust accordingly.
  • Garnish with dill and green onions.
  • Serve.

Notes

  • Choosing Rice: Long-grain rice varieties such as Basmati or Jasmine are best for this dish as they stay fluffy and separate after cooking.
  • Rinse the Rice: Rinsing the rice before cooking can help remove excess starch and prevent the grains from sticking together.
  • Adjust the Lemon: The amount of lemon juice can be adjusted to suit your taste. Start with the recommended amount and add more if you prefer it tangier.
  • Keep an Eye on the Heat: When simmering the rice, make sure the heat is low enough that it doesn’t burn the bottom of the pan but high enough to keep a gentle simmer.
  • Fresh is Best: Use fresh lemon juice and herbs for the most vibrant flavor.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 302kcal | Carbohydrates: 44.5g | Protein: 6.1g | Fat: 18.4g | Saturated Fat: 4.9g | Cholesterol: 20.5mg | Sodium: 75.8mg | Fiber: 1.4g | Sugar: 3.7g

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

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79 Comments

  1. Karen says:

    Can you make this in pressure cooker by chance?

    1. Katerina says:

      Hi! Yes, you can follow these instant pot directions for rice: https://diethood.com/instant-pot-jasmine-rice/
      I suggest to saute the onion, garlic, and lemon zest. Then add in the rice, seasonings, and liquids. For the liquid, use 1/2 cup broth and 1/2 cup cream, plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice.

  2. Jim Kirklin says:

    Delicious pairing with an Indian coconut curry chicken and green vegetable.
    Common Ingredients were easily found if not already on hand. Seasoning Substitutions ok.
    Go to rice dish for a future side. Skipped 1/2&1/2.

  3. Terry says:

    Very good recipe. I served it with an Indian Tiki Masala

    1. Katerina says:

      That sounds like a delicious combination! I’m glad the recipe paired well with the Tikka Masala. Thank YOU! 🙂

  4. Nancy says:

    This dish is terrific! I served it with beef kabobs which turned out to be a perfect pairing. Beautiful, and … YUMMY!

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      That’s great! I’m very glad you enjoyed it! Thank YOU! 🙂

  5. Hazel says:

    Absolutely the worst rice I have ever made. The flavor was horrible. I didn’t have heavy cream so I used evaporated milk. It tasted like sour milk with lemon rice. Followed recipe completely. Will not be making it again. I did semi-save the rice by adding a little more vegetable stock, onions and red bell peppers but because it was already enough water, it ended up mushy.

    1. your mom says:

      how can you give a 1star if you didn’t have all the ingredients seems like maybe you should Make sure you have all the ingredients before you rate a dish

  6. Cristina Belmont says:

    Super easy and fast. I added some Brie and Parmesan for extra creaminess as well as some cayenne pepper. It was praised by all family.

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      That’s great! I’m very glad you and your family enjoyed it! Thank YOU! 🙂

  7. Dale says:

    My goodness, this was delish!
    I am unsure what I did wrong though, as I wound up scooping the rice out with a slotted spoon as there was a bunch of oily butter left – great for tomorrow’s fried potatoes and eggs. Maybe I had the wrong rice, but I think when I make it again (and I will!) I will try increasing the rice to 1.5 cups to absorb all the liquid. What a great taste though! Also think I will double the recipe and make it 3 C rice. I could have eaten all of this myself, but I have an E Indian lad renting a room that I pre-cook for.

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      I’m very glad you enjoyed it! Thank YOU! 🙂