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Discover the bright, zesty flavors of this lemon rice recipe! This simple, satisfying side dish is packed with aromatic garlic and a citrus twist.

Lemon Rice in serving bowl with spoon and lemon slices.
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Not sure about you, but we’re always looking to add a little pizzazz to our side dish game. Here’s the way to do it: this lemon rice recipe! Just a few simple ingredients take standard rice to the next level.

Simply stir in lemon juice and zest, fresh garlic, and a bit of parsley after cooking up a pot of rice, and it infuses a zingy, citrusy flavor that’s positively irresistible! This is our new trick for entertaining and it always gets rave reviews.

Jump to the recipe—now.

Ingredients in this lemon rice recipe

Lemon rice is the type of recipe we love to whip up as a side dish, because it requires just a handful of ingredients to make big flavor impact. All you really need is rice and a lemon, and you might already be stocking most of the other ingredients. Here’s what you need for lemon rice:

  • White long grain rice
  • Salted butter
  • Garlic (or garlic powder)
  • Lemon, zest and juice
  • Fresh parsley

Because it’s a simple ingredient list, there’s no shortcuts here! Use a real lemon with zest and juice, and a real garlic clove for the best flavor (not jarred in either case). However, if you don’t have garlic on hand, garlic powder tastes good too: though it doesn’t have the beautifully pungent flavor of fresh garlic.

Lemon rice in serving bowl with spoon.

Tips for lemon rice

There’s no trick to lemon rice: the simple combination of aromatic garlic and zingy lemon works wonders when it comes to flavor. There are just a few things to note about the method:

  • Rinse the rice. Rinsing rice removes starch from the outside of the grains. This prevents getting a gooey, sticky, gummy pot of rice.
  • Let the rice stand for 10 minutes after cooking. This rest time is crucial because it steams the rice, letting the water become fully absorbed into each grain.
  • Add the lemon zest and juice after cooking. For the freshest lemon flavor, add the lemon zest and juice at the end of cooking.
  • Parsley is optional but recommended. Adding a bit of green chopped herbs adds a nice color to the presentation of this dish.

Best way to zest a lemon

The quickest and best way to zest a lemon for lemon rice? Use a microplane grater. A microplane is a handheld grater with sharp holes in it, which is quicker and more consistent than using a box grater or a zester. Here’s how to zest a lemon with a microplane:

  1. Hold the microplane in one hand. Place the flat end on a flat surface and hold it at an angle.
  2. Hold the lemon in the other hand, and drag it down over the microplane holes (or the holes of the box grater). Important: make sure to remove the yellow part of the skin only; avoid the bitter white pith.
  3. Gradually turn the lemon until all yellow parts of the peel have been removed.
Lemons on marble surface with napkin.

Ways to serve lemon rice

Lemon rice is a truly versatile side dish: it pairs with many Mediterranean-style recipes from chicken to fish and vegetarian dinners. Here are a few great ways to serve it:

Lemon Rice recipe in bowl with serving spoon, lemons and parsley.

More easy side dishes

This lemon rice is one of our favorite easy and healthy side dishes! Here are a few more sides to try:

Dietary notes

This lemon rice recipe is vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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Lemon Rice

Lemon Rice


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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Rest Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 13 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

Discover the bright, zesty flavors of this lemon rice recipe! This simple, satisfying side dish is packed with aromatic garlic and a citrus twist.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup dry white long grain rice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely minced (or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh parsley (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse it under cold water, then drain and shake dry.
  2. Place the rice in a saucepan with 1 ½ cups water and ¼ teaspoon of the kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low. Cover and simmer 12 to 15 minutes, until the water is completely absorbed. Remove from the heat, cover and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Once rested, fluff the rice with a fork. Stir in the butter, minced garlic, lemon zest and juice, parsley (if using), and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Taste and add additional salt if necessary. Serve immediately or store leftovers refrigerated for up to 5 days; reheat gently on the stovetop.
  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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1 Comment

  1. Sonja Overhiser says:

    Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below!