Pancheros Rice Recipe

Discover the secret to Pancheros' mouthwatering cilantro-lime rice! Our homemade recipe unlocks the zesty magic. Let's dive in!

Pancheros Rice

    Pancheros Rice

  • Cuisine: Mexican-inspired
  • Category: Side dish
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Servings: 4
  • Calories: 250 calories

About this recipe

Pancheros rice is like a burst of Mexican-inspired flavor in every bite. It's the canvas upon which Pancheros crafts its delicious burritos, bowls, and more. A superb plate of fluffy, long-grain white rice infused with the zesty tang of lime and the earthy brightness of cilantro. It's a delightful balance of freshness and zest that's sure to tickle your taste buds.

The key to Pancheros' rice is its customization. You see, Pancheros is all about letting you build your meal your way. This means you can choose whether to include this delectable rice in your burrito or bowl, and then you can add in all your favorite ingredients. It's all about making your meal uniquely yours.

When you order at Pancheros, you can expect quality ingredients. They're known for using high-quality long-grain white rice as the base. This choice ensures that the rice is light, fluffy, and doesn't stick together in clumps.

Whether you're enjoying a rice-filled burrito or a rice bowl with your choice of protein, salsas, and toppings, Pancheros' cilantro-lime rice is a flavorful foundation that brings a taste of Mexican cuisine to your plate. It's a fantastic accompaniment to all the other ingredients, creating a harmonious and satisfying meal that's brimming with vibrant, fresh flavors.

Origin of Pancheros Rice recipe

The specific origin or background of Pancheros' rice recipe is not widely documented, all I know is that Pancheros is a fast-casual Mexican-inspired restaurant chain that was founded in 1992 in Iowa City, Iowa, USA.

The restaurant was established by Rodney Anderson, and its mission was to offer fresh and customizable Mexican cuisine to its customers.

Pancheros' approach to food is to provide a build-your-own experience, where customers can choose the ingredients they want in their burritos, burrito bowls, tacos, and more. This includes the option to include cilantro-lime rice as a base for their dishes. The emphasis is on the use of high-quality and fresh ingredients, and this extends to their rice.

The combination of rice, cilantro, and lime is a common element in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, known for its vibrant and zesty taste. Pancheros has incorporated these elements into its menu to create a distinct and tasty rice option that complements its dishes.

Why make this recipe?

You should definitely give the Pancheros-inspired rice recipe a try for several compelling reasons:

  • Bold and Fresh Flavors: Pancheros' cilantro-lime rice offers a burst of fresh, zesty flavors. The combination of cilantro and lime adds a bright and vibrant dimension to the rice, making it a delight for your taste buds.
  • Customization: By making it at home, you have complete control over the ingredients and can customize the rice to suit your personal preferences. You can adjust the level of cilantro, lime, and salt to match your taste precisely.
  • Versatility: This rice pairs wonderfully with a variety of dishes, not just Mexican-inspired cuisine. You can use it as a side dish, in burritos, burrito bowls, or alongside grilled meats, making it a versatile addition to your culinary repertoire.
  • Freshness: Making it at home means you can enjoy the rice while it's at its freshest. You can prepare it right before your meal, ensuring it's hot and flavorful.
  • Nutritional Control: Preparing the rice yourself allows you to control the ingredients, making it a potentially healthier option compared to some pre-packaged or restaurant versions.
  • Cost-Efficient: Homemade rice is usually more budget-friendly than dining out, and you can make a large batch to enjoy over multiple meals.

What does Pancheros Rice taste like?

Pancheros' cilantro-lime rice is a delicious and distinctive combination of flavors. The taste of their rice can be described as:

  • Zesty: The rice has a zesty quality due to the infusion of lime juice and zest. This citrusy element provides a refreshing and tangy note to the dish.
  • Fresh: Cilantro adds an earthy, fresh taste to the rice. It contributes a mild, herbal quality that complements the bright lime flavor.
  • Balanced: The balance of flavors is a hallmark of Pancheros' rice. The zing of lime and the herbal essence of cilantro are well-calibrated, creating a harmonious blend that doesn't overpower the palate.
  • Light and Fragrant: The long-grain white rice used by Pancheros ensures a light and fluffy texture. This rice serves as a neutral canvas for the lime and cilantro to shine, creating a fragrant and appetizing dish.

The result is a rice that's bursting with a vibrant combination of citrus and herbal notes, making it a delightful complement to the other ingredients in your meal. It's a flavor profile that's both refreshing and satisfying, making Pancheros' cilantro-lime rice a standout component in their Mexican-inspired dishes.

What would you need for this recipe?

These are the ingredients needed to make Pancheros Rice:

  • Long-Grain White Rice: This serves as the base of the dish. It's a versatile and commonly used rice variety known for its fluffy and separate grains.
  • Water: Water is used to cook the rice. The ratio of rice to water is important to achieve the desired texture.
  • Vegetable Oil: Vegetable oil is used to sauté the rice initially. This step helps prevent the rice from sticking together and adds a subtle richness to the dish.
  • Lime: Both lime zest and lime juice are used. Lime zest provides a fragrant citrus aroma, while lime juice adds the bright and zesty flavor. It's important for achieving the cilantro-lime taste.
  • Cilantro: Fresh cilantro leaves are chopped and mixed into the rice. Cilantro contributes a fresh and herbaceous element to the dish.
  • Salt: Salt is essential to enhance the overall flavor of the rice. It balances the other ingredients and brings out their tastes.


  • Medium Saucepan: Substitute: A medium-sized pot or cookware with a lid can work if you don't have a saucepan.
  • Fine-Mesh Strainer: Substitute: If you don't have a fine-mesh strainer, a regular colander or strainer can be used to rinse the rice.
  • Zester or Grater: Substitute: A fine grater or a vegetable peeler can be used to zest the lime if you don't have a zester.
  • Citrus Juicer: Substitute: You can use your hands to squeeze the lime juice if you don't have a citrus juicer.
  • Cutting Board and Knife: Substitute: If you don't have a cutting board, a clean, flat surface can be used. Any sharp knife can be used to chop the cilantro.
  • Fork: Substitute: A fork is used to fluff the cooked rice. A spoon can also work for this purpose.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Substitute: If you don't have measuring cups and spoons, you can estimate quantities using regular kitchen utensils.

How to make Pancheros Rice

Looking for the perfect Pancheros rice recipe? Dive into our cilantro-lime delight – a taste of Mexican-inspired magic awaits!


  • 1 cup of long-grain white rice
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt


  1. Start by rinsing the rice in a fine-mesh strainer until the water runs clear. This helps remove excess starch and prevents the rice from becoming too sticky.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the rinsed rice and sauté it for a few minutes until it becomes slightly translucent.
  3. Add the water to the saucepan, bring it to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and let it cook for about 18-20 minutes or until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed.
  4. While the rice is cooking, zest and juice the lime. You'll want to use both the zest and the juice to infuse the rice with that characteristic citrusy flavor.
  5. Once the rice is done, fluff it with a fork and stir in the lime zest, lime juice, chopped cilantro, and salt. Mix well to distribute the flavors evenly.
  6. Taste the rice and adjust the salt or lime juice as needed to suit your preferences.

How do you serve Pancheros Rice recipe?

After making the Pancheros-inspired cilantro-lime rice, here are the steps to serve it:

  • Fluff the Rice: Using a fork, gently fluff the cooked rice. This helps separate the grains and ensure a light, fluffy texture.
  • Taste and Adjust: Taste a small amount of the rice to check if it has the desired balance of cilantro, lime, and salt. If needed, you can adjust the seasoning at this point. Add more salt or lime juice to suit your taste.
  • Portion: Using a serving spoon or scoop, portion the rice onto plates, into bowls, or alongside your main dish, depending on how you plan to serve it.
  • Garnish (Optional): For a decorative touch, you can garnish the rice with additional fresh cilantro leaves or lime wedges.
  • Serve: Place the prepared rice alongside your favorite Mexican-inspired dishes, such as burritos, burrito bowls, tacos, or as a side to grilled meats or vegetables.
  • Enjoy: Serve the rice while it's still warm and freshly made to enjoy the vibrant flavors of cilantro and lime.

Rated: 4.9 of 5.0 from 645 reviews.

Recipe Tags: Pancheros Rice, Pancheros Rice Recipe, Recipe, Easy, Homemade, Top rated

What to serve with?

Pancheros' cilantro-lime rice is a versatile side dish that pairs well with a variety of Mexican-inspired and other cuisines. Here are some dishes and ingredients you can serve alongside Pancheros rice:

  1. Protein Options:
    • Grilled Chicken: Marinated or seasoned grilled chicken is a classic choice.
    • Steak: Sliced and seasoned steak adds a savory dimension.
    • Shrimp: Garlic-lime shrimp pairs beautifully with the rice.
    • Tofu: Marinated and grilled or sautéed tofu is a great vegetarian option.
  2. Salsas and Toppings:
    • Salsa: Fresh tomato salsa, salsa verde, or a fruit salsa like mango salsa.
    • Guacamole: Creamy and rich guacamole is a delightful addition.
    • Sour Cream: A dollop of sour cream adds a cool contrast.
    • Cheese: Grated cheddar or crumbled queso fresco.
    • Beans: Refried beans or black beans for added protein and texture.
  3. Vegetables:
    • Fajita Veggies: Sautéed bell peppers and onions.
    • Grilled Corn: Grilled corn kernels or elote (Mexican street corn).
    • Lettuce: Fresh, crispy lettuce adds a refreshing element.
  4. Tortillas: Flour or corn tortillas for making tacos or burritos.
  5. Hot Sauce: For those who like an extra kick, a dash of hot sauce.
  6. Cilantro and Lime Wedges: Extra fresh cilantro and lime wedges for garnish and squeezing over the dish.

My recommendations and tips

  1. Rinse the Rice: Rinsing the rice before cooking is crucial. It helps remove excess starch and prevents the rice from becoming too sticky. Rinse the rice in a fine-mesh strainer until the water runs clear.
  2. Use Fresh Ingredients: Fresh cilantro and limes make a significant difference in the flavor. Ensure that your cilantro is vibrant and your limes are juicy.
  3. Zest Carefully: When zesting the lime, be cautious not to include the bitter white pith, as this can affect the taste of the rice. Only the green outer zest is needed.
  4. Fluff the Rice: After cooking, use a fork to fluff the rice. This helps keep the grains separate and light.
  5. Customize to Taste: Taste the rice before serving and adjust the amount of lime, cilantro, and salt according to your preference. Some people like it more tangy, while others prefer a milder flavor.
  6. Portion Appropriately: Consider how you plan to serve the rice. If it's a side dish, a smaller portion per person is typical. If it's the main component of a burrito bowl, portion it generously.
  7. Serve Fresh: Pancheros rice is best when served immediately after preparation while it's still warm and flavorful.
  8. Pair Thoughtfully: When serving, consider the dishes and ingredients you'll pair with the rice. It complements various proteins, salsas, and toppings, so choose your accompaniments based on your preferences.
  9. Storage: If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat gently in the microwave or on the stovetop with a little water to restore moisture.
  10. Experiment: Don't be afraid to get creative. Try different protein, salsa, and topping combinations to create your own unique Mexican-inspired meal.

Potential ingredients substitutes

If you need to substitute ingredients for the Pancheros-inspired cilantro-lime rice recipe, here are some alternatives:

  1. Rice: If you can't find long-grain white rice, you can use medium-grain rice or jasmine rice. These varieties will yield slightly different textures but will still work well.
  2. Lime: If you don't have fresh limes, you can use bottled lime juice. However, fresh lime juice will give the best flavor.
  3. Cilantro: If you're not a fan of cilantro or don't have it, you can substitute with fresh parsley. While it won't be the same flavor, it will still add a fresh, herbaceous touch.
  4. Vegetable Oil: Vegetable oil is the most neutral choice, but you can substitute with other cooking oils like canola, sunflower, or even olive oil. Just be aware that using strongly flavored oils, like extra-virgin olive oil, may alter the taste slightly.
  5. Salt: You can substitute regular table salt with kosher salt or sea salt. Remember that coarser salts may measure differently, so adjust the quantity to taste.

Final Remark

In conclusion, Pancheros' cilantro-lime rice recipe is a flavorful masterpiece you can now recreate at home. Customize and savor the taste of Mexican-inspired cuisine whenever you like. Get ready for a delicious journey with every bite!

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