Cilantro lime chicken and rice is a one pot meal filled with juicy chicken, tender rice, and a spicy cream sauce. Perfect for any night of the week, this one pot meal comes together easily and clean up is a breeze. It’s a tasty comfort food dish, that you’ll come back to time and again.
Fall is here, the chilly temperatures are setting in and I am craving comfort food. Not just any comfort food, but the kind that is ready quickly and is easy to clean up after. After many attempts, this cilantro lime chicken and rice has finally become one of those meals.
The chicken is juicy, with just a slight sear. The rice is tender, not too chewy, overcooked, or waterlogged. (Although I can tell you how to get those results based on my testing.) The sauce is a flavor explosion. It’s got the tang of lime, the bite of sriracha, and the bright earthiness of cilantro all wrapped up in a creamy sauce.
If you don’t like cilantro and still found yourself here, use parsley or basil. It will completely change the flavor of the dish, but the flavors will still make a pretty awesome flavor combination. I’ve tried all three, but I keep coming back to the cilantro.
Making Cilantro Lime Chicken and Rice a One Pot Meal
What started as a two part dish, with more dirty dishes than I care to share, has been reworked and reformed to create this easy weeknight dish. In adapting this dish, I owe a big thanks to Christopher Kimball and Bridget Lancaster and their (discontinued) podcast America’s Test Kitchen. They opened my eyes to the world of baking rice and that is when everything about this recipe changed.
The flavors became bolder, deeper, and more balanced. Instead of spicy, tangy chicken against plain white rice, the flavors now run throughout each bite. It’s taken me so long to get it just right, but the final result is so worth it!
Why We Sear the Chicken
In this recipe, we sear the chicken not just to add extra flavor, but also to jump start the cooking process. The end goal here is to get both the chicken and rice cooked to perfection. We don’t want either to be undercooked or overcooked.
It’s important to use thin sliced chicken breasts, as they cook much faster. Make sure you heat your pan, then heat your oil before starting the chicken. You want it hot so that the chicken will sear without cooking through.
In the video, my pan could have been a little bit hotter and the sear a little bit darker. I had to pull the chicken earlier than I would have liked, but the alternative was over cooked chicken.
Remember, we want to jump start the cooking process in this step, not cook the chicken fully. They are still going to cook an additional 20 minutes in the oven with the rice. Cook your chicken breasts two at a time (a crowded pan won’t give them room to sear) and reserve them on a clean plate while you make the rice.
Cooking with Wine – Or Not
The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of dry white wine. Please do not use anything labeled “cooking wine”. It’s usually the lowest of quality and is unlikely to have flavors that will actually enhance the final dish.
Preferably use something that you are happy drinking. For this dish I’ve used everything from a light bright sauvignon blanc to a big buttery, California chardonnay. These days I’m not drinking as much, so I often keep a bottle of dry sherry on hand, which makes a nice pre-dinner drink and also works well for cooking. The higher alcohol content allows it to keep much longer than your standard white wine.
If you want to omit the wine for this recipe, substitute it with an equal part of chicken stock and add an extra tablespoon of lime juice or vinegar. You are looking to replace both the flavor and the acidity that the wine provides.
Mine Doesn’t Look Like That
Once it comes out of the oven, you must let it sit for 5 minutes before you open the lid. DON’T SKIP THIS STEP! The sauce needs a chance to thicken and the rice will finish absorbing the liquid. If you open it right away, you’ll think that the sauce is too thin. Cover it and give it at least five minutes, maybe seven.
For video presentation purposes, after it was cooked I pulled the chicken out, stirred the rice, then placed the chicken back on top. It will not come out of your oven looking that pretty. If it does, please tag #reneenicoleskitchen on your Instagram post, because I want to see it.
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Cilantro Lime Chicken and Rice Recipe
Cilantro lime chicken and rice in a spicy cream sauce is a one pot meal that comes together quickly and cleans up easily. It’s weeknight comfort food at it’s best, and a great meal to add to your menu rotation.
If you do end up with leftovers turn them into a cilantro lime chicken and rice soup. Chop the chicken, add it back to the rice with some extra stock, heat and serve. You can also use it as a filling for tacos or burritos.
If you are looking for the perfect dessert to wrap up this meal try my Key Lime Pie or Classic Lemon Bars. Also check out my One Pan Garlic Herb Chicken and Winter Vegetables or see all my tasty dinner recipe ideas.
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- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 thin sliced, boneless, skinless chicken breasts, (about 1 lb)
- 1 cup chopped onion, 1/2 medium onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp flour
- 1/2 cup dry, white wine
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 3 tbsp lime juice, about 1 lime
- 1 cup jasmine or basmati rice
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 cup cilantro
- 3 tbsp heavy cream
- 1 tbsp sriracha
- 1 avocado
- 1 fresh lime
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Have all of your other ingredients and the proper measuring cups or spoons on hand.
- Heat an oven safe casserole dish over a medium high flame. Add in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat until shimmery, but not smoking.
- Working with two pieces at a time, quickly sear the chicken breasts on both sides. A crowded pan will cook the chicken, but not sear it. The chicken will cook through in the oven.
- Reserve the cooked chicken on a clean plate. Drop the heat to medium low.
- Add in the butter and swirl around the pan with a whisk to melt. Next add flour, continuing to whisk for 1 - 2 minutes. Gradually add in the chicken stock, whisking to combine.
- Add in the onion and cook 2 - 3 minutes, or until tender. Add in the garlic, cooking one minute more.
- Add lime juice and wine, then allow it to come to a boil. Turn up the heat if necessary. Once boiling add in rice, salt, pepper, paprika, cilantro, sriracha, and heavy cream. Stir to combine completely.
- Place chicken back into the pan on top of the rice. Cover and bake in the preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes before serving.
- Slice avocado and lime, chop up extra cilantro.
- Serve topped with avocado slices, extra cilantro, and a squeeze of lime to taste.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 638Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 140mgSodium: 985mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 6gSugar: 7gProtein: 44g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix and is for general information purposes only. For the most accurate information, calculate using your select brands and exact measurements.
For the step by step version of this recipe, check out the Cilantro Lime Chicken and Rice Story.