Easy Lemon Rice (Greek-Inspired)

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Hands holding the sides of a bowl of Greek lemon rice

Introducing the perfect side for your next Mediterranean-inspired meal: lemon rice! Our EASY vegan take on this savory, lemony, Greek dish is equally fluffy, flavorful, and SO versatile. It’s amazing with falafel, hummus, grilled veggies, Mediterranean bowls, and beyond!

Just 1 pot, 5 ingredients, and 25 minutes required to level up your go-to grain. Let us show you how!

White basmati rice, olive oil, garlic cloves, lemon zest, salt, turmeric, lemon, and water

If you’ve eaten at a Greek restaurant and wondered what’s in that delicious rice accompanying your main dish, you’re not alone! This recipe is inspired by many such experiences and a desire to make a homemade, plant-based version.

Our search for the origin story of this dish came up empty-handed, but common ingredients seem to include white rice, chicken broth, lemon juice, butter, salt, and a handful of other ingredients depending on the recipe.

How to Make Lemon Rice

Our 1-pot vegan version begins with sautéing garlic in olive oil until just fragrant and still light in color. You don’t want your garlic to get too browned as it can result in a bitter flavor.

Sautéing minced garlic in olive oil

Next, we add lemon zest and sauté briefly. Then comes white rice, water, and a generous amount of FRESH lemon juice!

This is not the time or place for bottled lemon juice, friends. If you need more convincing, Ken’s Greek Table has some additional words of wisdom: “For the love of Pete, do NOT use that pre-bottled lemon juice s***!”

Pouring water into a saucepan of rice

Now that you’re on board with fresh lemons, there are just two more ingredients before we set it and forget it: 1) sea salt for overall flavor and 2) a little optional pinch of turmeric for a pretty yellow color!

After cooking in a saucepan for about 15-20 minutes, we turn off the heat, fluff with a fork, and let it rest until it becomes extra fluffy!

Using a fork to fluff rice

We hope you LOVE this lemon rice! It’s:

Fluffy
Bright
Savory
Comforting
Quick & easy
& SO delicious!

What to Serve with Lemon Rice

It’s a versatile side that pairs well with our Classic Vegan Falafel (GF), Grilled Veggie Skewers with Chimichurri Sauce, Hummus From Scratch, and much more. It’s also so good with our Easy Mediterranean-Inspired Nourish Bowls!

More Mediterranean-Inspired Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Fork resting in a bowl of our easy Greek lemon rice recipe

Easy Lemon Rice (Greek-Inspired)

Fluffy, savory, lemony, and perfect for leveling up your favorite grain: Greek-Inspired Lemon Rice! Just 1 pot, 5 ingredients, and 25 minutes required for this easy vegan side perfect with Mediterranean-inspired mains.
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Bowl of our easy lemon rice recipe topped with slices of fresh lemon
5 from 9 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 (~3/4-cup servings)
Course Side
Cuisine Greek-Inspired, Mediterranean-Inspired
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 4-5 Days

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup dry white basmati rice*
  • 2-3 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 ¼ cups water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 pinch ground turmeric (optional for color)

Instructions

  • Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add olive oil and minced garlic. Sauté for about 1 minute until fragrant but still light in color.
  • Stir in basmati rice and lemon zest. Sauté for 1 more minute.
  • Add the water, lemon juice, salt, and optional turmeric. Stir well, turn the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the rice is tender and the liquid is fully absorbed.
  • Turn off the heat and let the rice rest for a minute or so before fluffing with a fork and serving. If the rice is slightly too toothsome, simply place the lid back on top of the pot and let it rest for 5-10 more minutes — the steam should fully cook it! It’s delicious served with Mediterranean-inspired dishes including falafel, hummus, grilled veggies, bowls, and more.
  • Store leftover rice in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop with a little oil or water until warm.

Notes

*Brown rice doesn’t work well in this recipe. We tested and strongly preferred the fluffy texture and neutral flavor of white rice. If you want to try brown rice, we’d recommend using long grain rice and adding slightly more water and cooking longer.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated without optional ingredients.
*Loosely adapted from Damn Spicy’s Greek Lemon Rice.

Nutrition (1 of 4 servings)

Serving: 1 (~3/4-cup) serving Calories: 198 Carbohydrates: 38.3 g Protein: 3.3 g Fat: 3.9 g Saturated Fat: 0.5 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4 g Monounsaturated Fat: 2.5 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 293 mg Potassium: 30 mg Fiber: 0.3 g Sugar: 0.5 g Vitamin A: 0 IU Vitamin C: 9 mg Calcium: 9 mg Iron: 0.4 mg

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  1. Jeanne says

    Love love love this rice!!! I topped it spinach dal, dinner done! Keep the recipes coming, they are all delicious and so easy to make!

  2. Amanda Hogberg says

    Made this in the instant pot. Didn’t have fresh squeezed lemon, but had Santa Cruz lemon juice (way better than ReaLemon). It was DELICIOUS. Paired it with Salmon that I topped with an easy mix of dijon mustard and brown sugar along with roasted veggies.

  3. Lisa K says

    I was gifted some lemons and wanted to try something new with them. I usually end up making some sort of baked treat with lemons :)
    This sounded like a great recipe for me to try! I thought the lemon flavor was really nice. The recipe is easy to follow and all of the ingredients are usually on hand. Now I just need some falafel!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you gave this recipe a try and enjoyed it, Lisa. Falafel would be SO delicious with it. Thank you for sharing! xo

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Debra, Brown rice doesn’t work well in this recipe. We tested and strongly preferred the fluffy texture and neutral flavor of white rice. If you want to try brown rice, we’d recommend using long grain rice and adding slightly more water and cooking longer.

  4. Sarah says

    Just made this in the instant pot and followed the white rice instructions you linked….adjusted the water to do 1:1 ratio with the lemon. Easy and came out perfect! So nice to let it cook while I did some work.

  5. Allison Steinberg says

    This was delicious! My garlic turned blue though during the cooking process. Any ideas how to prevent that from happening?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Allison, we’re so glad you enjoyed it! Is it possible you didn’t sauté the garlic before adding the remaining ingredients? That usually happens because of a reaction between the garlic and lemon juice, but we’ve found as long as you sauté the garlic first, it doesn’t seem to happen!

  6. Laurie says

    So delicious!! We had it with some spicy Mexican-inspired food. Worked beautifully for us! Anything lemony in the summer is perfect!

  7. Julie says

    I made this tonight and I am certain it will become a regular on our table! I followed the recipe as written, except I did not have white basmati on hand so I used jasmine and it turned out so well. It has a great flavor and stickiness to the rice that makes you love it!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Julie! Thank you for the lovely review and for sharing your modification! xo

  8. Vicki says

    It looks wonderful! I always love your recipes. Do you think I can make this in the rice cooker? I don’t think I’ve ever cooked rice on the stove because I love my rice cooker so much. I don’t eat garlic, so I would not be doing that step. So I’m wondering if I could put everything in the rice cooker with maybe a little extra water and cook it? Thanks!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Vicki! We haven’t tested in a rice cooker, but we do think it would work. Let us know if you try it!

      • Susan Ottwell says

        Since my diagnosis of diabetes, white rice is unthinkable. Brown rice causes a bit more of a spike in my blood sugar than I like, while red rice has much less of an effect. But everyone’s metabolism is a little different; ymmv.

  9. Charlotte Mellor says

    I would like to suggest that one can get fluffy brown rice if it is first dextrinized, then placed in a covered casserole dish and baked at 350 until all water is evaporated. Typically, 2 c. of dry rice to 4-5 c. of water taked 1- 1.5 hours.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Roxanna, that should work, though won’t be quite as flavorful and the garlic may turn blue when you add the lemon (still fine to eat, just not as pretty!).

  10. Dee says

    What do you mean by “dry basmati rice”? Basmati needs to be rinsed 3 to 4 times before cooking, if not soaked. It will thus be wet.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Marlee, we’d suggest a 1:1 ratio of rice:liquid, which would mean using just 3/4 cup water since the lemon juice is also adding liquid. For timing, we’d suggest pressure cooking on high for 4 minutes. You can also check out our Instant Pot white rice recipe for more details. Let us know if you try it!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      It will have more bitterness, but maybe! We’d suggest using less lemon zest if you try with quinoa since both are bitter.