This flavor-packed chimichurri rice is easy, quick to make, healthy and pairs well with just about anything. It highlights the flavors from bright fresh herbs, aromatic garlic, tangy red wine vinegar and just a touch of red pepper flakes. Once the rice is cooked, you can whip up a batch in 5-10 minutes, making it the perfect weeknight side dish! Naturally vegan and gluten-free.
This super simple chimichurri rice makes for such a stunning, bright and herby side dish you can serve in many ways.
Chimichurri-flavored dishes have always been a favorite for me: there is something unique and special about the huge punch of flavor from combining fresh garlic, red wine vinegar, red pepper flakes and a generous amount of fresh herbs.
Chimichurri sauce is an Argentinian condiment or sauce that's typically used to garnish meat, but also is amazing over roasted vegetables, buddha bowls, pasta, vegetable tacos and much more.
In this recipe, a fresh chimichurri sauce is tossed in cooked rice for a simple and flavorful rice side dish. I used brown rice for a nice chewy bite and although I kept my version quite simple to keep the focus on the flavors from the chimichurri, you can easily personalize yours by adding tons of vegetables and beans.
It highlights a robust tangy flavor and tons of garlicky aromas while also providing lots of freshness, thanks to all the fresh herbs. The nutty rice pairs perfectly with the yummy chimichurri, which can be whipped up quickly in 5-10 minutes without much effort, especially if using a food processor.
Let me know if you gave it a try! ❤️
Why you will love this recipe
- Makes for an impressive side dish packed with flavors
- Easy to make and quick
- Great way to use up leftover rice that's already cooked
- Healthy and nutritious
- Great for meal prep and stores well
- Versatile and makes for a basic recipe that's easy to personalize
- Naturally vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian
Ingredient you will need
(See below in the recipe card for the measurements)
- Cooked rice: you will need a batch of cooked rice for this recipe (4 cups cooked, which is about 1 + ⅓ cups of uncooked rice)). I used basmati rice (brown rice), but any kind of rice works well, such as jasmine rice, long-grain rice and even short-grain rice. White rice vs brown rice will give you similar results as well, although we love the chewy bite from brown rice better, plus it is more nutrient-dense (more fiber and plant-based protein).
- Fresh herbs: a classic chimichurri sauce typically combines fresh parsley and fresh cilantro. If you do not like cilantro, then simply use more of the parsley. You will need a lot to make this sauce! Once the herbs are crushed, the volume will significantly go down, so you want to start with plenty.
- Green onion: you can swap for a small shallot. I like green onion better for its milder taste.
- Garlic: I used 2 cloves of garlic, but feel free to add more for a more pungent taste.
- Red wine vinegar: classic in chimichurri, it adds a nice oomph to the condiment and helps tenderize the herbs once pulverized. White wine vinegar or lemon juice works too if that's all you have.
- Red pepper flakes: for a little heat, omit for a milder chimichurri or add more to give it more character.
- Cumin and dried oregano: to flavor the chimichurri.
- Olive oil: a classic chimichurri sauce is very oily with the chopped herbs and garlic drenched in plenty of olive oil. I choose to prepare mine with less oil for health reasons, but you can add more if you want. As a side note, you could also completely omit the oil for this rice recipe.
How to make a chimichurri rice recipe
(See below in the recipe card for the full recipe)
This recipe is very fast to prepare, especially if you already have a batch of cooked rice ready to use.
Cook the rice
Start by cooking the rice following the package directions. You will need 4 cups of cooked rice, which is about 1 + ½ cups of uncooked rice. I used long-grain brown rice to make this recipe.
I like cooking rice using the Instant Pot: it is fuss-free, mess-free and perfect every time. Plus, it frees up your hands and eyes for other cooking tasks in the meantime.
- To cook the rice using the Instant Pot: simply combine the rinsed brown rice with 2 cups of water and cook on high pressure for 22 minutes. Once done, let the pressure naturally release for about 15 minutes, then manually and carefully release the remaining steam. Here is a more detailed guide on how to cook brown rice using an Instant Pot.
- To cook the rice using the stove: combine the rinsed brown rice with 3 cups of water, cover and bring to a simmer. Then, keep cooking on medium heat (turn down the heat) until the grain is tender, about 45 minutes. Once done, remove from the heat and let the rice sit covered for another 10 minutes.
If you have a rice cooker, then this would work well.
Make the homemade chimichurri sauce
While the rice is cooking, then make the quick chimichurri sauce.
Add the garlic to your food processor and pulse/process until finely chopped. Then, add the green onions, red wine vinegar, olive oil, cumin, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and fresh herbs. Process until desired consistency, which can take 30-60 seconds. Take 1-2 breaks to scrape the walls and bottom with a spatula and taste to adjust the saltiness to your liking. Set aside until ready to use.
Assemble and serve
Once the rice is cooked and the chimichurri done, then assemble the dish: pour the chimichurri sauce over the cooked plain rice and stir to combine. Taste again as you might need more salt or red pepper flakes.
Serve while still warm! Enjoy!
- For a quick and convenient recipe, then feel free to use frozen rice! This frozen cooked brown rice would work great here: simply thaw it (you will need 2 bags) as directed before tossing it with the sauce.
- Although not essential, I recommend making the chimichurri sauce ahead of time: the herbs tenderize while marinating in vinegar and salt, making the sauce more delicate in texture with flavors that are better distributed into the condiment.
- Use steamy warm rice: I find that the chimichurri sauce infuses the rice with more flavor if the rice is warm when combining the ingredients.
I like this dish as is with some cherry tomatoes as seen in the pictures. You can garnish with more fresh herbs and red pepper flakes if desired and feel free to add some fresh lime juice over the rice when serving for a delicious extra zesty flavor. This rice is better with a whole lot of flavor!
This recipe makes for a great side dish full of freshness and flavors. Chimichurri is typically paired with meat, steak being the most classic way to serve it. That being said, there are plenty of vegan proteins or main dishes that would be a perfect fit alongside this recipe, such as:
- Blackened tofu steaks
- Pan-fried marinated tempeh
- Smoky tofu
- Portobello steaks
- Spiced roasted chickpeas
- Chickpea falafel (check out this falafel gyro for an easy recipe)
- Tofu meatballs
- Chickpea patties
- Panko tofu nuggets
If you have extra chimichurri left, then you can use it differently the next day, such as in salads, bowls, tacos or burritos.
Variations to the recipe
This herbed rice is amazing to use as a base and to add on more ingredients you like (especially if you want to make it a full meal or a main dish). These are great ingredients to boost your recipe:
- To make Peruvian chimichurri rice (Trader Joe's chimichurri rice): cook an onion in a large skillet on medium-high heat and then, add a drained can of diced tomatoes (14 or 15 oz, make sure to remove the extra juice or water), 1 tsp of chili powder, 1 tsp of paprika and about ½ cup of frozen green peas. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the tomatoes aren't watery anymore. Then add the rice and the chimichurri sauce to the pan and stir to combine.
- Roasted vegetables: such as mushrooms, carrots, sweet potatoes, zucchini, cauliflower or broccoli. You can check out this vegan pesto couscous salad for inspiration.
- Fresh vegetables: chopped spinach, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped red bell pepper or shaved purple cabbage would be great additions.
- Beans: adding a can or two of drained chickpeas, cannellini beans, black beans or pinto beans would be an easy way to add more plant-based protein, fiber and texture.
- Spices and herbs: try flavoring with paprika, smoked paprika, chili powder (for a Mexican twist) and cayenne pepper (for more heat).
Chimichurri rice stores very well! If you have kept leftover cooked plain rice in the fridge for a few days before, you might have noticed that the grains tend to dry out a bit. In this case, dressing the rice with chimichurri (which has some oil and tons of herbs) helps keep the grain hydrated and feeling fresh for longer.
Keep the leftover chimichurri rice in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Reheat using the microwave until heated through.
Can I use dried herbs instead?
No, the key ingredient in a chimichurri is plenty of bright fresh leafy herbs.
What if I don't have a food processor?
You can easily make this recipe without a food processor, although you will have to finely chop the herbs and crush the garlic manually. Then, stir all the ingredients together in a bowl, that's it!! The finer the herbs are, the better the chimichurri will be.
More grain side dishes to try
- Mexican tomato rice
- Coconut pineapple rice
- Mushroom couscous
- Mango fried rice
- Garlic turmeric fried rice
- Zesty quinoa salad
- Southwestern brown rice and quinoa
I hope you like this chimichurri rice recipe as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
Easy Chimichurri Rice
- Food processor (optional)
- 4 cups cooked rice of choice - I used brown rice, long grain
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 green onions
- ¾ cup fresh parsley
- ¾ cup fresh cilantro
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp cumin
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- ¼-½ tsp red pepper flakes - adjust for heat tolerance, optional
- 1 tsp salt - or to taste
- If not already done, start by cooking the brown rice following the packaging instructions.
- In a food processor, add the garlic and pulse/process until finely chopped. Then, add the green onions, fresh herbs, red wine vinegar, cumin, dried oregano, olive oil, red pepper flakes and salt. Process until combined and the herbs are finely chopped. Taste and adjust salt and other seasonings.
- Once the rice is cooked, then pour the chimichurri sauce over and toss to combine. Adjust saltiness and serve right away with your protein of choice.
- Storage tips: keep the leftover chimichurri rice in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat using the microwave.
- You can add more ingredients to the rice, such as cooked or fresh vegetables, spices or beans. Check out the blog post for more ideas!
- For a lighter recipe or if following a whole food plant-based diet, then you can also omit the olive oil.
Please note that the nutritional information is an estimate provided for informational purposes only (calculated by software) and may vary based on cooking methods and ingredients used. Consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian if you need precise nutrition calculations for health reasons.