This easy lemon basil rice is packed with zesty flavor. Turn plain rice into this incredible dish in less than 30 minutes with only lemon, basil, chicken broth, and butter. It is the perfect side dish for any dinner.Jump to Recipe
- Reasons You’ll Love the Lemon Basil Rice Recipe
- The Ingredients
- Choosing the Right Rice for the Lemon Basil Rice
- How to Make Lemon Basil Rice
- What are the Benefits of Eating Lemon Rice?
- Other Ways to Spice the Rice
- Make the Basil Lemon Rice Vegan
- Can I Use a Rice Cooker?
- Can I use an Instant Pot?
- Storing the Lemon Basil Rice
- Serve Lemon Basil Rice with These Recipes
- The Best Lemon Basil Rice
Reasons You’ll Love the Lemon Basil Rice Recipe
Versatile - this recipe is extremely versatile and goes with everything. Whether you’re making grilled chicken, pork chops or something else this is the perfect side dish
Fast and Easy - making the recipe is just a matter of adding everything to a saucepan and cooking. It doesn’t get easier than that. Plus it’s made in less than 30 minutes.
Simple Ingredients - lemon basil rice is made with 5 very simple ingredients most of which you probably have on hand.
Basmati Rice - an aromatic, long grain rice traditionally from India and Pakistan. It’s light and fluffy and so good
Chicken Broth - adds a ton of flavor and is used in place of water
Butter - makes the lemon basil rice creamy and keeps the rice from sticking
Lemon - use the zest and the fresh lemon juice of one whole lemon, this adds the zesty flavor you expect to have from lemon basil rice
Basil - fresh and sliced into thin ribbons
Choosing the Right Rice for the Lemon Basil Rice
This recipe uses basmati rice. It’s my favorite rice to use because it always comes out perfectly. It’s never sticky, or mushy, and it’s an easy 2:1 ratio between liquid and rice. However, as mentioned earlier, this recipe is very versatile which means if you don’t have basmati rice on hand or can’t find it you can substitute.
Since basmati is a long grain rice, I recommend using another type of long grain rice. Long grain cooks up in a way that’s light, fluffy, and separates after it’s cooked instead of clumping together which leads to a desirable end product. If basmati is not an option for you, consider using the following types instead:
- Jasmine Rice
- Caroline Gold Rice
- Wild Rice
- American Long Grain White Rice
As long as you’re substituting another type of long grain rice for basmati rice the cook time and liquid to rice ratio should stay the same. If using a brown rice or a medium or short grain rice be sure to read the instructions on the package in case you need to adjust the liquid and cook time.
How to Make Lemon Basil Rice
Step 1: Add the chicken broth and lemon juice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. While the broth is reaching a boil, rinse the basmati rice with water before adding to the boiling chicken broth.
Step 2: Once the chicken broth is boiling, add the basmati rice and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and cover the sauce pan with a lid and let cook at a simmer for about 18 minutes or until all of the chicken broth is absorbed. Once done stir in the lemon zest, basil, and butter. Serve immediately.
What are the Benefits of Eating Lemon Rice?
There are many benefits to eating this delicious lemon basil rice. To start off, basmati rice has a lower glycemic index compared to other types of white rice. This means you don’t get the same blood sugar surge that you would get with other rice varieties.
Fiber is found in the rice which adds many benefits for digestive health. Eating whole grains like basmati rice is also linked to a lower risk of heart disease and have been known to help lower cholesterol levels as well as lower blood pressure.
Basmati rice is full of vitamins and minerals such as phosphorus, zinc, and B vitamins. It’s easy to digest, easy to cook, and overall a great choice when it comes to a side dish. Adding lemon to the side also brings about even more benefits. Lemon is packed with vitamin C, has been shown to help with weight loss, and can protect against many diseases. If these aren’t all reasons to make and eat the lemon basil rice, then I don’t know what is.
Other Ways to Spice the Rice
- Add saffron. It has a sweet, earthy, and complex flavor. It’s most commonly used in Mediterranean, Asian, and European cuisine. It would take this recipe to the next level. It is a healthy spice that’s quite expensive but a little goes a long way.
- Add basil pesto. If two tablespoons of fresh basil isn’t enough for you or if you’re looking for another way to enhance the basil even more add basil pesto. If you do this, consider omitting the butter. Since the pesto is made with olive oil this will keep the rice from sticking and give it a great texture. Pesto also has fresh garlic which would be super delicious.
- Use coconut milk. For a tropical flavor and a creamy texture add coconut milk. To do this I recommend using 1 cup coconut milk 1 cup chicken broth. If you’re using full fat coconut milk, omit the butter to cut back on the fat content. The rice will be creamy enough with just coconut milk.
- Add frozen peas and cumin seed. The cumin seed adds a fragrant flavor that’s not overwhelming but it’s just enough to infuse the rice with great flavor. The peas are a great addition not just for color but flavor too!
Make the Basil Lemon Rice Vegan
If you’re vegan or looking for more ways to eat a healthier and cleaner diet there are a few substitutions that can be made. First, substitute chicken broth with vegetable broth. Don’t have any broth on hand? Feel free to use water instead. If using water you may find that there’s less flavor. To avoid this add some sliced garlic, seasoned salt, and maybe some black pepper.
The other substitution that would need to be made is omitting the butter or substituting the butter for olive oil or coconut oil instead. You may even decide to omit the butter all together and not make any substitutions. That is certainly an option because basmati rice isn’t the type of rice that sticks together and causes a problem after it’s cooled down. However, adding a little oil will give you nicely seasoned fluffy rice.
Can I Use a Rice Cooker?
Using a rice cooker for this lemon basil rice is super easy. First start by washing the rice to remove any excess starch. Use a colander to drain. Add the rice, chicken broth, butter, and lemon juice to the rice cooker. Stir well to combine then close the lid.
Next, choose the normal (regular/sushi) rice setting. Let cook. Once it’s done cooking, fluff the rice with a spatula or a wooden spatula and remove the rice from the rice cooker to prevent it from getting mushy. Stir in the lemon zest and basil, serve immediately. Lemon rice in rice cooker is super easy and you don't have to worry about the rice getting too mushy or overcooked because this method cooks the lemon basmati rice perfectly.
Can I use an Instant Pot?
Yes, using your instant pot for this lemon basil rice is a quick fun way to cook it. The biggest difference between the instant pot and a rice cooker or sauce pan is that you don’t need quite as much liquid. You only need 1 cup of chicken broth for 1 cup of basmati rice.
Add 1 cup chicken broth, 1 cup basmati rice, butter, and lemon juice to the instant pot. Cover with the lid and switch the venting knob to the sealed direction. Cook at high pressure for 6 minutes followed by a 10 minute natural release. When that time has passed, fluff the rice with a spatula add lemon zest and basil pesto. Serve immediately.
Storing the Lemon Basil Rice
To store the lemon basil rice, place in an air tight container and refrigerate for up to a week. To reheat the rice place in a microwave safe bowl, add a little chicken broth or water over top and/or place a damp paper towel over top of the container and microwave for 30 seconds at a time until it’s heated through.
Be sure to stir before adding back in for an additional 30 seconds. Without the damp paper towel and sprinkles of water you may end up with rice that’s dry and hard so don’t skip this step.
Looking for longer term storage? You can freeze the lemon basil rice. To do this place the rice in heavy duty freezer bags after the rice has cooled. Seal the bag and place in the freezer for up to a month. Let the rice thaw before reheating. Try not to reheat rice twice.
Serve Lemon Basil Rice with These Recipes
The Best Lemon Basil Rice
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 lemon zested
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons sliced basil
- Place the chicken broth and lemon juice in a sauce pan a bring to a boil. While heating, rinse your basmati with water. Once the chicken broth has reached a rolling boil, add the long grain rice and bring back to a boil. Cover and cook for 18 minutes or until the chicken broth is absorbed.
- Once the rice is done stir in the lemon zest, butter, and sliced basil. Serve immediately.