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ingredients laid out on a cutting board for cilantro lime chicken rice bowl recipe - cilantro, lime, black rice and grilled chicken thighs

Cilantro Lime Chicken Rice Bowl

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Southeast Asian-Inspired: Cilantro Lime Chicken Rice Bowls

I love a good rice bowl. This cilantro lime chicken rice bowl recipe is a fusion of flavors and colors. I used black rice to add some savory toothsomeness and chose to go with a Southeast Asian flavor. Chicken marinated in a sweet cilantro-lime soy and fish sauce tops the rice bowl. And I paired it with colorful spring vegetables that you can roast or steam depending on your mood. The whole dish is topped with crushed peanuts and served alongside an optional Vietnamese nuoc chom sauce with fresh herbs. Wholesome, healthy, and delicious—this is a fun bowl to add interest to your weekly meals.

Thai Marinated Cilantro Lime Chicken

I chose boneless chicken thighs for this recipe because they are more moist and can handle a good char on the grill without drying. You can use chicken breasts for this or bone-in thighs if you like. I made the marinade with cilantro, fish sauce, ginger, and lime. To balance the sauce I added honey—if you don’t have honey, brown sugar is a nice substitute. I’ve also made this using lemongrass which adds an intense citrus flavor. Feel free to add chilis to the marinade if you are looking for spice. If grilling the chicken, keep the pieces large so they won’t fall through the grill grates.

Black Rice

I would describe most black rice varieties as having a slightly nutty and earthy flavor with hints of sweetness. Additionally, black rice tends to have a chewy texture and a deep, dark color that adds visual appeal to dishes. I chose black rice for this bowl because of its complex taste. The black rice marries well with the sweet and savory flavors of the marinated chicken. It also adds depth to the vegetables and stands up against the sweet and tangy nuoc cham sauce. I suggest using forbidden rice in this dish or a Thai jasmine variety.

Vegetables and Toppings

For this cilantro lime chicken black rice bowl, either steam your vegetables or roast them. I think vegetables such as asparagus, snap peas, baby carrots, bell peppers, and cauliflower are good choices for this bowl. Roasting the vegetables will give the dish a warm and comforting feel and steaming will keep things light and fresh. I like to finish these bowls with a crunchy topping such as chopped peanuts or fried leeks. Additional fresh herbs are a great way to finish the dish. Some of my favorites are Thai basil and mint. Vietnamese nuoc cham is a sweet and tangy finishing sauce to serve with the bowl. Pickled fresnos would also add a nice spicy punch of flavor.

Perfect as a weeknight dish, cilantro lime chicken black rice bowls are a great way to add variety to your weekday meals. Try it out and let us know what you think!

cilantro lime chicken black rice bowl with roasted spring vegetables in a bowl on a table with a fork ready to eat

Cilantro Lime Chicken Black Rice Bowls

This Southeast Asian-inspired Cilantro Lime Chicken and Black Rice Bowl is a colorful and wholesome meal. Chicken thighs are marinated in a zesty cilantro lime sauce and served on top of nutty black rice. A medley of seasonal spring vegetables rounds out the bowl creating a healthy and flavorful meal that's both satisfying and nourishing. Topped with crunchy peanuts and optional garnishes, this bowl is a deliciously balanced fusion of fresh ingredients and aromatic herbs. Perfect for weeknight dinners or special occasions.
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Course: Main, Main Course
Cuisine: Southeast Asian
Keyword: chicken, grains, grilled, healthy, herbs, high fiber, lime, rice, spring, vegetables, weeknight
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Marinating Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4
Calories: 480kcal
Author: juiceofsevenlemons
Cost: $20


Cilantro Lime Marinade

  • 1 lb chicken thighs boneless skinless, chopped into large pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus more for garnish
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey substitute brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Rice Bowls

  • 2 cups cooked black rice Forbidden or Thai Jasmine
  • spring vegetables e.g., asparagus, snap peas, baby carrots, bell peppers, or cauliflower -chopped into large pieces and roasted or steamed
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
  • optional toppings fresh cilantro leaves, Thai basil, lime wedges, sliced green onions, fried leeks

Nuoc Cham-Inspired Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey or sugar
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 small red chili thinly sliced (optional)


Make Nuoc-Cham Inspired Sauce

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, lime juice, water, rice vinegar, and honey (or sugar) until well combined.
  • Stir in the minced garlic and sliced red chili, if using.
  • Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning to your preference, adding more lime juice for acidity, honey (or sugar) for sweetness, or fish sauce for saltiness. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Marinate & Grill Cilantro Lime Chicken

  • In a quart-sized plastic bag, combine the chopped cilantro, lime zest, lime juice, minced garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, honey, grated ginger, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Submerge the chicken until evenly coated. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
  • Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the marinated chicken for around 8 minutes, turning occasionally, until cooked through and lightly charred. Alternatively, you can cook the chicken in a skillet on the stove.

Assemble Black Rice Bowls

  • While the chicken is cooking, cook the black rice according to the package instructions.
  • If using roasted vegetables, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Toss the spring vegetables with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread them out on a baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until tender and lightly browned. If using steamed vegetables, steam them until tender-crisp.
  • To assemble the bowls, divide the cooked black rice among serving bowls. Top with the grilled cilantro lime chicken, roasted or steamed spring vegetables, and chopped peanuts.
  • Garnish the bowls with sliced green onions, fresh cilantro leaves, Thai basil, and lime wedges, if desired.
  • If using, drizzle the nuoc cham-inspired sauce over the assembled bowls just before serving, or serve it on the side for dipping.
  • Serve the bowls immediately, with extra lime wedges on the side for squeezing over the top.


Calories: 480kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 75mg | Sodium: 1300mg | Potassium: 720mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1300IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 3mg

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