For a light, bright side dish, try this delicious and citrusy Lemon Rice recipe!

This quick dish has its roots in Greek cuisine, but is actually an Irish recipe. Lemon rice is often added to Greek soups, or used as a side dish in Indian food. The delicate flavor and aroma of fresh lemon as it cooks is heavenly! We even have 3 simple ways to prepare lemon rice: stovetop, Instant Pot, and rice cooker methods.

close up of cooked Lemon Rice

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Why We Love This Recipe

We love it when one recipe can be used in so many different cuisines and has so many different uses! It’s the perfect side dish for lighter proteins like chicken, fish, or shrimp because it has a light and tangy flavor. We also like it with dijon chicken, an elegant combination suitable for a special occasion!

Lemon Rice ingredients on a table

Ingredients and Variations

RICE For this super easy recipe, we chose long grain rice because it’s firmer and makes for a nicer presentation, but you could use a mixture like a pilaf blend or basmati or just brown rice.

HERBS & SEASONING – Depending on what cuisine style you are cooking in, you can add fresh parsley, tarragon, cilantro, or even dill. These more delicate flavored herbs will complement the savory onion and citrusy lemon. Salt & freshly ground black pepper really finish this dish and bring all the flavors together.

BUTTER – Butter and the flavors of lemon together? We needn’t say more! It’s simply a delicious combination.

GARNISH – Sliced green onions make a lovely garnish on the top, but you could also use fresh cracked black pepper and extra lemon zest sprinkled on top.

How to Make Lemon Rice

Lemon rice is super easy to make, with simple ingredients and few quick steps!

  1. Sauté onion in butter until cooked but not browned. Optional: add minced garlic.
  2. Simmer rice with zest, lemon juice, broth, salt & pepper. 
  3. Remove lemon rice from stove top and do not remove cover for 5 minutes then fluff with a fork.
  4. Stir in tarragon (or other herbs) and green onions and serve immediately.

close up of Lemon Rice

Lemon Rice in the Instant Pot

  1. Set instant pot to sauté and cook onion in butter, just until cooked.
  2. Stir in rice, lemon zest, lemon juice, chicken broth, salt, and pepper. Cover and set the Instant Pot to the rice setting. Or on manual, set to high heat and cook for 4 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove cover, and fluff with a fork. Stir in tarragon (or other herbs) and green onions and serve immediately.

Lemon Rice in a Rice Cooker

  1. Sauté onion in butter until cooked but not browned.
  2. Place rice in the rice cooker bowl of the rice cooker. Add onion, lemon juice, chicken broth, salt, and pepper.
  3. Close the cover and set for the regular cycle. When the machine switches over to the Keep Warm setting, add the lemon zest, butter, and herbs. Stir to combine.
  4. Close the cover and let the rice steam for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove cover, and fluff with a fork. Stir in tarragon (or other herbs) and green onions and serve immediately.

Lemon Rice on a spoon

Tips and Tricks for Perfect Lemon Rice

  • Avoid instant rice blends because it won’t come out as firm as it needs to be.
  • One of the unique features of this recipe is that it looks and tastes light and fresh, so take care not to overcook the onion as it will discolor the dish and overwhelm the lemony flavor.
  • Fresh rather than dried herbs are best in this recipe, choose only one kind and chop or mince it finely.


  • Lemon rice will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 4 days.
  • Leftover rice can be added to soups, stews, or served cold scooped onto a wrap with some chicken and lettuce for a healthy lunch at work or school!
  • Reheat leftover lemon rice on the stovetop or in the microwave. Add some flour and shape lemon rice into patties. Pan fry for a different look or as an appetizer with a dollop of homemade tzatziki.
top view of Lemon Rice in a bowl

Other Side Dishes To Try!

close up of cooked Lemon Rice
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Lemon Rice

This easy Lemon Rice recipe is perfect for a light and fresh side dish that can be made using the stovetop, Instant Pot, or rice cooker.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Candace



  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 cup long grain rice ½ pound
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon optional, or other fresh herbs
  • 1 green onion chopped, optional garnish


  • In a medium pot, melt butter and cook onion for 2 minutes on medium heat without browning.
  • Stir in rice, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Add chicken broth, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Add tarragon and green onion if using and stir.
5 from 2 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 212 | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 459mg | Potassium: 196mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 120IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.

Course Side Dish
Cuisine Greek, Indian, Irish

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Lemon Rice in a bowl with writing

Adapted from An Irish Country Cookbook

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close up of Lemon Rice in a bowl with writing

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ingredients to make Lemon Rice with a bowl full


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About the author

I am a wife, mother of two, and professional accountant. I love fantastic food, and it is so often the center of our lives, from everyday dinner, to family gatherings, and special evenings at fabulous restaurants. I have always loved cooking and baking, with my mom and grandma, and now, with my daughter and son. I love trying new recipes while enjoying my favorites too. I’m so happy to share them with you.
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