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Chimichurri Rice

$6.67 Recipe/$1.11 Serving

Chimichurri rice is the perfect quick and easy weeknight side dish. This healthy chimichurri and tomato rice is packed with flavor and is a great side for Mexican inspired dishes. Based loosely on the frozen Peruvian Chimichurri Rice from Trader Joe’s, this version is vegan, gluten free and dairy free.

Large skillet filled with chimichurri rice with large wooden spatula.

Why you will love this recipe

  • Easy to make – this recipe has just a few simple steps and is perfect for busy weeknights. You can even add shredded chicken or quick taco chicken for a simple, healthy meal.
  • Ready in 10 minutes (thanks to leftover rice) – this recipe comes together so quickly because it uses leftover rice so it’s ready in no time. Simply sauté the onions and garlic and add the canned tomatoes before stirring in the rice and fresh herbs.
  • Great for meal prep – this recipe tastes just as good the next day and is great for eggs, salads or packed in tacos or burritos for leftovers.
  • Perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner – this chimichurri rice goes great with eggs for breakfast, over salad or in lettuce wraps with cilantro tahini dressing for lunch or in tacos, burritos or taquitos for a simple dinner with instant pot shredded Mexican chicken or black beans.
Ingredients to make chimichurri rice in ramekins and bowls.
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Ingredients

  • Onion – this helps provide the base flavor for the dish. If you are short on time, you can omit the onions.
  • Canned diced tomatoes (drained) – be sure to drain as much liquid as possible from the canned diced tomatoes so that the chimichurri rice isn’t watered down. You can use regular diced tomatoes or fire roasted diced tomatoes.
  • Spices: Chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, salt – these spices help to give the tomatoes a burst of flavor and help to season the entire dish. The chili powder provides a little heat. If you want more heat, add crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Cooked brown jasmine or basmati rice – since you are going to use precooked rice, I recommend either jasmine rice or basmati rice. You can use white or brown rice, but I prefer brown. If you don’t have precooked rice, you can make a batch of rice on the stove or in the instant pot (see notes below) or use a quick cooking rice.

Chimichurri Sauce

  • Fresh cilantro – I personally love a good cilantro chimichurri so I think all chimichurri dishes should include cilantro.  Some recipes only include the flat leaf parsley, but if you love cilantro, be sure to add it in, it’s so flavorful.
  • Fresh flat leaf parsley – parsley is a very traditional ingredient in chimichurri and many dried chimichurri spice mixes are very parsley heavy. I prefer flat leaf parsley (sometimes called Italian parsley) over curly parsley and it’s what I recommend for this recipe.
  • Fresh garlic – fresh garlic adds bold flavor to the chimichurri. Traditionally chimichurri is used as a marinade or sauce for grilled meats so the garlic really holds up well to those bold flavors.
  • Red wine vinegar – red wine vinegar adds tang and balance to the chimichurri. I prefer to use red wine vinegar and lime juice but if you only have one or the other, that is ok too.
  • Lime Juice – lime juice is slightly sweet and pairs so well with the fresh cilantro and the spices. If you have a fresh lime on hand, I highly recommend adding the lime juice along with the red wine vinegar.
  • Olive oil – olive oil helps to build the dressing with the vinegar and lime juice and also helps to coat the cilantro and parsley.

How to make chimichurri rice

Start by making the chimichurri sauce: finely chop the cilantro, flat leaf parsley and fresh garlic. Add them to a bowl. Pour the red wine vinegar, lime juice and olive oil over the fresh herbs. Stir well. Let sit while you make the rest of the dish.

Fresh herbs on a black and white cutting board before and after chopping.

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.

While the skillet is preheating, chop the onion.

When the skillet is hot, spray it with non-stick (I use avocado oil spray or olive oil spray) and add the onion, stirring occasionally. Cook 2-3 minutes until onion becomes translucent.

Onions before and after sauteing in a large skillet.

Drain the diced tomatoes. When the onion is done cooking, add the drained diced tomatoes along with the spices (chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, salt) stir and cook 2-3 minutes allowing the tomatoes to warm up and giving any excess liquid from the can time to start to evaporate.

Diced tomatoes, spices and cooked onions in large skillet.

Add the cooked rice and chimichurri mixture to the tomatoes and onions and stir well. Turn off the heat and allow the rice to warm using the residual heat from the pan.

Large skillet with rice and chimichurri sauce added.
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Top tips

  • Be sure to drain the chopped tomatoes before adding them to the pan or the dish will be watery.
  • You can easily double or triple this recipe for meal prep. Freeze extra in single servings for quick and easy meals later in the month.
  • You can use the thin stems from the cilantro and the parsley. I used to drive myself crazy trying to pick off the leaves, but the stems are actually super flavorful and delicious too! Just don’t use the thick part of the stems, as they can be tough and not have as much flavor.
  • Be sure to wash your herbs before using. You will notice that fresh parsley especially can have dirt on the leaves, which will ruin the flavor of the dish. You can wash the fresh herbs and dry them using a salad spinner or a fresh towel.

What to serve with healthy chimichurri rice

Chimichurri is typically served with grilled meats but can also be used on roasted or grilled vegetables as well. Some great dishes to serve Peruvian chimichurri rice are:

Hand holding fork in a bowl of chimichurri rice.

What other additions can you make to this dish?

This chimichurri rice is based loosely on the frozen Peruvian chimichurri rice that Trader Joe’s used to sell. That dish had the following ingredients: cooked basmati rice (water, basmati rice), tomatoes, creme fraiche [milk], garden peas, shallots, prefried onion (onion, sunflower oil), water cilantro, garlic, salt, ginger, natural lemon flavor, red wine vinegar, paprika, chili pepper, chili panca.

To make this closer to that recipe, you could add:

  • Fresh grated ginger (about 1 tablespoon) – the ginger would add a different kind of heat to the dish.
  • Frozen or fresh peas (about ½ – 1 cup) – the peas are a traditional pilaf ingredient and would add some veggies to the dish.
  • Cream fraiche, feta cheese or queso fresco – this would add a creaminess to the dish, add the cheese when you are adding the rice and the herbs.
  • Red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper: This would add spiciness to the dish (I kept it mild to be family friendly).

Common questions

What is chimichurri

Chimichurri is a classic condiment originating from Argentina and Uruguay. It can be used as a condiment, as a sauce or as a marinade. Traditional green chimichurri is usually made with fresh parsley, garlic, olive oil red wine vinegar and herbs like fresh or dried oregano and salt.

You will often find it serve with grilled steak or chicken but it can also be used on grilled fish, roasted or grilled vegetables.

Can you make this in advance?

Yes! The flavors actually get even better the next day. However if you are serving this to a crowd, you may want to make it the day of to ensure you get the best color from the fresh herbs.

Cast iron skillet filled with chimichurri rice.

Can you make this for meal prep?

Yes! The flavors are even better the next day and this chimichurri rice can be used so many ways as leftovers. Add it to:

What if you don’t have leftover rice?

If you don’t have leftover rice, you can also use quick cooking rice or frozen rice (Trader Joe’s, Sprouts and many other grocery stores now stock frozen rice). You can also make your own frozen rice, I recommend freezing it in 1 cup portions using Soupercubes, then stashing them in Stasher Bags in the freezer for when you need rice quickly.

You can also make rice at home using the Instant Pot or the stove. If you are making rice fresh, you will need 1.5 cup dry jasmine or basmati rice and 1.75 cups water for white rice or 2.25 cups water for brown rice.

Be sure to rinse your rice well (especially white rice). Add the rinsed rice and water to the instant pot or stove top.

For instant pot, cook on high pressure 3 minutes for white jasmine or basmati rice or 7 minutes for brown jasmine or basmati rice. Let pressure naturally release for best texture.

For stove top, bring up to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat to low and simmer, covered for 15 minutes for white jasmine or basmati rice and 20-25 minutes for brown jasmine or basmati rice.

What to do with leftover fresh herbs

  • Make Cilantro Chimichurri Sauce to use with other meals later in the week
  • Chop the herbs and put them in a ice cube mold. Pour olive oil over the herbs in the mold and allow to freeze. You can add this directly to your hot pot next time you are cooking for a flavor infusion (would be great in Cilantro Lime Quinoa).
  • Make cilantro lime dressing with leftover cilantro
  • Make Cauliflower Tabbouleh with leftover flat leaf parsley

Storing leftovers

Fridge: Store leftover chimichurri rice in the fridge for up to 5 days. However, since you are using leftover rice, you will want to keep that in mind. The rice should only be in the fridge for a total of 5 days, so if you made your rice a few days ago, that could shorten the storage time.

Freezer: This simple chimichurri rice freezes so well. You can freeze it for up to 3 months in a well sealed freezer safe container. I recommend using Soupercubes to portion out the rice into ½ or 1 cup portions so that you can easily defrost it for a simple meal.

White bowl filled with chimichurri rice, lime by the bowl.

Substitutions

  • Onion – if you don’t have onion on hand, you can also use 1 tablespoon dried onion flakes added to the tomatoes or you can use 2 shallots or simply omit them completely from the recipe.
  • Diced tomatoes – you can also use whole canned tomatoes that you cut into cubes (discard the juices), or you can use chopped fresh tomatoes (about 1.5 cups).
  • Spices: Most of the spices listed are pantry staples. If you don’t have paprika, you can also use smoked paprika or just add more chili powder.
  • Fresh cilantro or fresh parsley – if you don’t have one of these on hand, you can just use more of the fresh herb you do have on hand.
  • Fresh garlic – this helps to bring a strong garlic flavor to the dish. If you don’t have fresh, you can simply omit it, it will still taste great!
  • Olive oil – you can also use avocado oil if you don’t have olive oil on hand.
  • Red wine vinegar – if you don’t have red wine vinegar, use the juice from 2 limes instead of 1 or add a lemon as well.
  • Fresh lime juice – if you don’t have lime juice, you can use all red wine vinegar (add an extra tablespoon) or you can use the juice from half a lemon.

If you love this recipe, you should try

Mexican Cauliflower Rice

Green Cauliflower Rice

Instant Pot Yellow Rice

Vegan Shawarma (uses leftover rice too)

★ Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating below!
Spoon in a bowl with chimichurri rice.

Chimichurri Rice

$6.67 Recipe/$1.11 Serving
Chimichurri rice is so easy to make, ready in 10 minutes and packed with flavor! This healthy side dish is perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner and can also be made into tacos, enchiladas or on salads. This recipe is vegan, gluten free and dairy free.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Save Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican, South American
Keyword: chimichurri rice
Prep Time: 3 mins
Cook Time: 7 mins
Total Time: 10 mins
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped - $0.33
  • 4 cups cooked rice - $1.86
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained (14 ounce can) - $1.29
  • 2 tsp chili powder - $0.20
  • 1 tsp paprika - $0.10
  • 1 tsp salt - $0.05
  • 1 tsp garlic powder - $0.10

Chimichurri Sauce

Instructions

  • Make the chimichurri sauce by finely chopping the cilantro, flat leaf parsley and garlic.
  • Add all the ingredients for the chimichurri in a bowl, stir well.
  • Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Chop the onion. Once the skillet is hot, spray with non-stick (avocado oil or olive oil) and add the chopped onions. Cook 2-3 minutes.
  • Drain the can of diced tomatoes. Add the tomatoes to the cooked onions along with the spices (chili powder, paprika, garlic powder and salt). Cook 2-3 minutes.
  • Once the excess water has cooked off of the tomatoes, add the cooked rice and chimichurri sauce. Turn off heat and stir well.

Notes

Top tips
  • Be sure to drain the chopped tomatoes before adding them to the pan or the dish will be watery.
  • You can easily double or triple this recipe for meal prep. Freeze extra in single servings for quick and easy meals later in the month.
  • You can use the thin stems from the cilantro and the parsley. I used to drive myself crazy trying to pick off the leaves, but the stems are actually super flavorful and delicious too! Just don’t use the thick part of the stems, as they can be tough and not have as much flavor.
  • Be sure to wash your herbs before using. You will notice that fresh parsley especially can have dirt on the leaves, which will ruin the flavor of the dish. You can wash the fresh herbs and dry them using a salad spinner or a fresh towel.
Storing leftovers
Fridge: Store leftover chimichurri rice in the fridge for up to 5 days. However, since you are using leftover rice, you will want to keep that in mind. The rice should only be in the fridge for a total of 5 days, so if you made your rice a few days ago, that could shorten the storage time.
Freezer: This simple chimichurri rice freezes so well. You can freeze it for up to 3 months in a well sealed freezer safe container. I recommend using Soupercubes to portion out the rice into ½ or 1 cup portions so that you can easily defrost it for a simple meal.
See how I calculate food cost.

Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
Calories
188
Fat
 
3
g
Carbohydrates
 
37
g
Fiber
 
2
g
Sugar
 
3
g
Protein
 
4
g
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database.
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Recipe Rating




Jasmine

Tuesday 22nd of March 2022

Just made this and I love how quick and easy this was. I had everything I needed in my kitchen. So flavorful!