With millions of views, this Greek Lemon Rice Recipe is one of the most popular recipes on my website! Zesty and packed with flavor thanks to sautéed onions, garlic, Mediterranean herbs, and lots of lemon, this Greek Yellow Rice is sure to become a family favorite!
Reader Andrea says: I made this for the first time tonight and was blown away, the flavor is magnificent and complex and so easy! A keeper for sure!! 🙂
Greek Lemon Rice Recipe
While there are thousands of Greek Lemon Rice recipes out there, this is my favorite and seeing the amount of reviews tells me that this is a favorite for many others too so I’m updating this post to thank you for all the love ⎯ THANK YOU! 🙂💕
Why this recipe works:
- Packed with flavor. Sautéed onions, garlic, lemon, and Mediterranean herbs are some of the ingredients featured in this Greek Rice Pilaf for a deliciously bold and zesty Mediterranean flavor.
- Ready in 30 minutes. This rice is perfect for when you’re looking for something quick and easy to make!
- Tried, true and loved by many. You’re guaranteed to try this recipe and be successful!
- Serve with this Greek Baked Feta Dip with Tomatoes, this fancy Pan-Fried Feta Cheese with Honey and Sesame or these Greek Chicken Gyros for the ultimate Mediterranean dinner!
The Key To A Damn Good Greek Lemon Rice
This is a very simple recipe with simple ingredients so in order to get all the flavor, you need high-quality ingredients!
For example, this is a Lemon Rice Pilaf so you want to use freshly-squeezed lemon juice, ditch the store-bought juice, it’s just not for recipes where lemon is supposed to be the key flavor!
Also, *life hack*, when visiting your local farmer market, ask if they give away complimentary herbs. My local farmer market does that and will give away tons of fresh herbs if you ask (yes, for free)! I had no idea they did that!
How to make Greek Rice Yellow?
See how bright and yellow my greek lemon rice is? The broth I used contains turmeric which is responsible for that bold yellow hue!
If you want your rice to be just as yellow, simply add a pinch of turmeric in it (the recipe card down below tells you when to add it in).
What can I add to this Greek Lemon Rice?
Most Greek restaurants will add butter to their Lemon Rice to make it richer. I’m personally not a fan but you can give it a try and see how you like it!
Another way to elevate this dish is by adding a few extra drops of freshly-squeezed lemon juice right before serving or even some crumbled feta cheese.
Greek Lemon Rice Ingredients
Check the recipe card towards the bottom of this page for the exact quantities and instructions!
Olive oil. Pretty much the base of Mediterranean cooking so I’d say this is a key ingredient. Make sure you’re using high-quality extra-virgin olive oil for best flavor as cheaper brands tend to taste very bitter (and too strong).
Onion. Yellow onion is great but I sometimes like using red for a bolder flavor.
Garlic. Use fresh garlic.
Basmati rice. Make sure you wash/soak your rice really well to get rid of all the extra starch. If you skip this step, you rice will turn out mushy/soupy and you want fluffy.
Lemon zest. I recommend sticking to organic lemons (still, scrub them really well) because they shouldn’t be coated in chemicals as regular lemons which makes the zest safer.
Chicken broth. I’ve consistently made this greek yellow rice with vegetable broth as well so you can use that instead of chicken if you want to make it vegetarian/vegan. I highly recommend using low-sodium so you can have control over the amount of salt you add in.
Lemon juice. Freshly-squeeze, forget store-bought lemon juice for this recipe. Lemon is the key flavor here so you want to use fresh lemon juice!
Black pepper. Your best option here is freshly-ground but ground will also work, it’s just that freshly-ground has much more flavor because you’re grinding it and using it straight away.
Turmeric, optional. The secret ingredient that will give you that bright yellow color you see in the pictures. If the broth you’re using already contains turmeric (mine does) and it’s yellow, that’s a sign that you don’t need to add any extra turmeric to your rice. If your broth doesn’t contain turmeric, add it in or your rice won’t turn out yellow.
Butter, optional. This is a restaurant secret. Have you noticed that their Greek lemon rice is very rich? They throw in some butter after cooking and before serving. Use unsalted if you want to try this trick.
How to make Greek Lemon Rice
STEP ONE: Saute the onions and garlic. Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic and saute until soft and fragrant (4-5 minutes).
STEP TWO: Add the rice. Add the washed rice and lemon zest, saute until slightly toasted (about 1 minute) stirring frequently to keep the rice from sticking to the skillet.
STEP THREE: Add the liquids and herbs. Pour in the broth, lemon juice, dill, parsley, cumin, oregano, black pepper, salt, and turmeric (optional). Mix and allow to come to a boil uncovered, then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the liquids have evaporated and the rice is tender but not sticky (time may vary depending on the rice you’re using). Stir, then taste and adjust seasonings, if desired.
STEP FOUR: Let sit. Remove the rice from heat and allow to sit covered for 10 minutes. Uncover and fluff up before serving. Optional: stir in the butter and/or top with a few extra drops of fresh lemon juice or crumbled feta cheese.
Store any leftovers in an air-tight container and refrigerate for up to 2-3 days. Some say up to 5 days but cooked rice is a breeding ground for bacteria so I personally never store it for longer than 2 days.
Reheat on the stovetop until hot adding a splash of water or broth or in the microwave (60-90 seconds). Always make sure the rice is steaming hot before serving. Do not reheat more than once for safety reasons.
What to serve with Greek Lemon Rice
Greek appetizers: Greek Baked Feta Dip with Tomatoes or Greek Feta Cheese with Honey and Sesame both readers favorite appetizers.
Greek Chicken Gyros with marinated Greek chicken, fresh veggies, homemade Tzatziki sauce and feta cheese, absolutely delicious. Feel free to skip the pita or stuff the rice inside!
Baked Honey Dijon Chicken balance out the zesty flavor of this dish with a savory-sweet chicken recipe!
Chicken Fritters cheesy and tender, these chicken fritters get devoured within minutes by adults and kids alike!
Veggies: try these quick Garlic Butter Green Beans, these Spicy Roasted Lebanese Potatoes, or these Healthy Oven Roasted Vegetables!
HAPPY COOKING!! I hope you’ll love this delicious Greek Lemon Rice Recipe as much as I do!!
More rice recipes you’ll enjoy:
- Ecuadorian Rice and Beans (Menestra Recipe)
- Loaded Chicken and Yellow Rice (Arroz Con Pollo)
- Sticky Teriyaki Tofu Rice Bowl
- Spiced Somali Rice
Greek Lemon Rice Recipe
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 medium yellow onion (chopped, red onion will also work)
- 1 cup basmati rice (soaked and drained or thoroughly washed)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 tsp organic lemon zest
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth for a vegetarian/vegan version)
- 1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tbsp fresh dill (or to taste)
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley (or to taste)
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- 1 pinch turmeric (optional but required if you want the bright yellow color in the picture)
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter (optional, for serving)
- Extra lemon juice (optional, for serving)
- Saute the onions and garlic. To a large saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic and saute until soft and fragrant (4-5 minutes).
- Add the rice. Add the washed rice and lemon zest, saute until slightly toasted (about 1 minute) stirring frequently to keep the rice from sticking to the pan.
- Add the liquids and herbs. Pour in the broth, lemon juice, dill, parsley, cumin, oregano, black pepper, salt, and turmeric (optional). Mix and allow to come to a boil uncovered, then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the liquids have evaporated and the rice is tender but not sticky (time may vary depending on the rice you’re using). Stir, then taste and adjust seasonings, if desired.
- Let sit. Remove the rice from heat and allow to sit covered for 10 minutes. Uncover and fluff up before serving. Optional: stir in the butter and/or top with a few extra drops of fresh lemon juice or crumbled feta cheese.
📷 DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?! Tag @damnspicy #itsdamnspicy on Instagram!
Rice were not yellow at all but flavor is definitely there
Hi Kristine! Thank you for your review, I really appreciate it! As mentioned in the blog post, if you’d like your rice to take on a bright yellow hue, you should use broth with turmeric in it or, alternatively, you should add a pinch of turmeric yourself! xo
Thanks for the review, Mary! I’m so happy to hear that you loved it!
How long do you soak the rice?
Hey Missy! You can soak the rice for 15-20 minutes!
Amazing recipe!!! So flavorful and light! Leftovers were fantastic too! I’m making it again, but this time I won’t have basmati rice available. Should I seek it out or simply use jasmine as a substitute? Thanks!
Hey Brigette! So happy to hear that you loved this dish! I haven’t personally tested this recipe with Jasmine rice but I’ve heard of people making Greek Lemon Rice with Jasmine rice so if you do give it a try, let me know how it worked out for you! xo
I just made it with Jasmine rice and it was delicious!
I made this for the first time tonight and was blown away, the flavor is magnificent and complex and so easy! A keeper for sure!! 🙂
Yay!! So happy to hear that you loved this recipe, Andrea! Thanks for your review!
My college age son came home for dinner, kabobs, hummus, and your rice. He said Mom, you outdid yourself! Best compliment ever. Thanks for a great recipe.
YES!!!! So happy to hear that, Connie, thanks for sharing!
Wonderful recipe! I would cut back on the lemon juice next time and maybe on the liquid overall. I added ½ tsp of turmeric and it was a beautiful yellow color! I doubled the recipe! Great flavor!
This rice is so flavorful and good!!
I served it and one bite in someone says “this is the best rice I’ve ever had” 🙂
The aroma alone was so fantastic. It was a prelude to what would be the best rice I’ve made to date. It pairs so well with bacon-wrapped pork kebabs. Yummy!
Loved this rice
Subtle and beautiful
Delicious! Will definitely make this again.I served this with grilled tilapia and a green veg for a light and healthy meal.
Absolutely delicious, didn’t use dill as i had thyme in the garden , worked really well .Will make again but with less lemon juice .We had it with herby chicken breasts and cheesy garlic bread …yummy !
This looks so good! What a great side to make for a weeknight or with guests!
Thanks for sharing! Do they keep long?
Super delicious rice! I’ve made it a few times and it turns out great every single time. Today I’m making it with chicken shawarma wraps and can’t wait for dinner! Thanks for a great recipe.
Really delicious! It was very much enjoyed by the family! Will be making again! Thank you so much for the recipe!
Just the broth, nice catch – thanks!
Carrie Pope says
I am so happy I stumbled on this recipe! It turned out great and is delicious. I will definitely be making this again. Thank you!
Thanks for the great review Carrie, happy to hear that you loved this recipe!
delicious; my new go-to rice recipe!
Hi Jillian, thanks for the feedback! So happy to hear that you enjoyed this recipe!
I’m always craving good Mediterranean food and we have a restaurant right across the street, but oh man, I do not have money for it every night (especially if you order in; I just don’t have $70 to blow on food for two people) so I’ve been trying to learn how to do it myself, and this rice was DELICIOUS! Honestly, the lemon made it even better than the restaurants!
Hello looks Delish making it for a buffet dinner can I make this a day ahead ?
Hi Pam! Yes, you can make it ahead of time.
Looking forward to making this recipe! Any tips on making it with a pressure cooker? TIA
Hi Jennifer, I’m sorry I can’t offer any tips as I haven’t personally tried to make this in a pressure cooker. If any of my readers has tried this, you’re welcome to share your experience!
Gita Lioufas says
We really love this, but I think it’s even better when you but dill and parsley in after cooking !
From previous times making it, this is an absolute family favorite especially with the fresh lemon and feta cheese for serving.
Question — has anyone done this with long grain brown rice? We’re working on more whole grains. Suggestions on adapting cooking time? Historically I struggle with cooking rice to correct textures, but your original recipe was perfect!