Lemon Rice is bright, creamy and easy enough for everyday, while elegant enough for entertaining!
Lemon Rice Recipe
I’ve been making this Lemon Rice for years, and it’s always a big hit at my dinner parties. It’s also a bit of a surprise when I serve it, because it looks just like plain ol’ white rice. Then people taste it, and are wow-ed!
Long grain white rice and lemon zest are briefly sautéed in a bit of butter, then simmered in flavorful chicken broth. Five minutes before serving, lemon juice and cream are added. So easy, so delicious! Lemon Rice is the perfect side dish to serve with fish, seafood or chicken.
What can I add to plain rice for flavor?
In this amazing rice dish, additional flavor comes from adding ingredients at two different points in the preparation process. First, rice is cooked lemon zest, butter and chicken broth. Lemon adds brightness, butter richness, and chicken broth savoriness. Once cooked, additional freshness and richness are layered into the rice through stirring in lemon juice and heavy cream.
Another way to amp up the deliciousness even more is to reduce the cream and stir in Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh parsley (see “Variation” on bottom of recipe card).
How to Make Lemon Rice
You’ll want to make this recipe every time you entertain, it’s that luscious and easy to prepare! Here are the steps:
- Prep chicken broth.
Place the chicken broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low.
- Sauté rice.
In a separate large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in rice and lemon zest. Cook over medium heat, stirring, for 5 minutes.
- Add broth and simmer.
Stir in hot broth and salt, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
- Add juice and cream; finish cooking.
Stir in lemon juice, then stir in cream. Continue to stir over low heat until cream is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
How easy is that?
What to Serve with This Lemon Rice Side Dish
This dish is the perfect side with almost any meat or seafood, just make sure you aren’t overdoing the lemon flavor. As I mention in my tips on how to plan a dinner party menu, don’t overdo an ingredient! Here are a few of my favorite main dishes to pair with Lemon Rice:
- Poached Salmon with Cucumber-Dill Sauce
- Salmon and Vegetables en Papillote
- Shrimp and Crab Au Gratin
- Seafood Phyllo Bundles with Creole Mustard Sauce
- Baked Fish on Lettuce
- Grilled Tuna with Puttanesca Sauce
- Chicken Breasts with Tomato-Olive Sauce
- Grilled Rosemary-Dijon Chicken Breasts
- Mustard Crusted Rack of Lamb
- Slow Roasted Leg of Lamb
- Asian Pork Tenderloin
How to Store, Freeze and Reheat Lemon Butter Rice
If preparing ahead, or if you have leftovers, place them in an airtight container (a zip top baggie works well) and refrigerate. Once cooled, the rice can also be frozen (make sure to use a freezer-safe baggie).
To reheat: thaw if frozen. First, stir a spoonful of chicken broth into the rice. Then, reheat in the microwave or in a saucepan, covered, on low heat. Stir occasionally while heating.
How long will lemon rice keep?
Refrigerated lemon rice will keep for around 3 days. Frozen will keep for up to 2 months.
Lemon Rice FAQ
Readily available long grain white rice works perfectly in this recipe.
You could cook Lemon Rice in a rice cooker, but depending on your model of cooker, you may need to dirty another pan. If you aren’t using an Instant Pot, or other type that allows you to sauté, then you’ll need to cook the uncooked rice and lemon zest in butter in a separate saucepan before adding it to the cooker. With an Instant Pot, you can use the sauté setting, then convert over to the rice cooker setting.
I’ve never had an issue with rice sticking in this recipe – probably due to the butter! If you are worried, you can add a drop of lemon juice to the chicken broth.
You can use bottled lemon juice (check the label to make sure it is made from real lemons and has minimal to no preservatives), but you need to purchase fresh lemons to get the zest for this recipe, so you may as well use fresh!
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- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 2 cups long grain white rice
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Place the chicken broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low.
- In a separate large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Stir in rice and lemon zest. Cook over medium heat, stirring for 5 minutes. Stir in the hot broth and salt, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Stir in the lemon juice, then stir in the cream. Continue to stir over low heat until the cream is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Gluten free: Use gluten-free chicken broth.
Lighter Version: Prepare as above, omitting the cream.
Variation: Reduce cream to 1/2 cup, and when you add the cream, also add 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley.
- Category: side dishes, gluten free