Our Version of Cafe Rio’s Cilantro-Lime Rice and Black Beans

Cilantro-Lime Rice and Black Beans are the perfect complement to the Cafe Rio Salad or Burrito! I will actually often make these just as a side dish to my regular Mexican-night meals!

Cilantro-Lime Rice and Black Beans
This rice and beans recipe tastes JUST LIKE the stuff you get at Cafe Rio. It is so easy to make and it tastes so good! Put these on your tacos, burritos, salads, nachos or serve them as sides. The rice recipe really does make a ton so if you aren’t a huge fan of rice, I would suggest halving the recipe.


Make sure you rinse and drain the beans really well — you don’t want any of that syrup to be in your beans. I promise it will taste better that way.


We have had such great feedback with ALL of our Cafe Rio recipes and we hope to get more! Leave us a comment and let us know how your Copycat Cafe Rio dinner turned out! We love hearing from our readers!

Our Version of Cafe Rio’s Cilantro Lime Rice and Black Beans

Save Recipe


    For the Rice:
  • 1 c. uncooked rice (long-grain, white rice)
  • 1 tsp. butter or margarine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 can (15 oz) chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
  • For the Black Beans:
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/3 c. tomato juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro


    For the Rice:
  • In a saucepan combine rice, butter, garlic, 1 tsp. lime, chicken broth
  • and water. Bring to a boil.
  • Cover and cook on low 15-20 minutes, until
  • rice is tender.
  • Remove from heat. In a small bowl combine lime juice,
  • sugar and cilantro.
  • Pour over hot cooked rice and mix in as you fluff
  • the rice.
  • For the Black Beans:
  • In a nonstick skillet, cook garlic and cumin in olive oil over medium heat until you can smell it. Add beans, tomato juice, and salt. Continually stir until heated through. Just before serving stir in the cilantro.


  1. Vennesa says:

    I’m wondering what kind of rice you used. Obviously not minute rice because you cooked it 15-20 minutes.

    • Ann says:

      I used bismati, because it is what I buy bismati and arbeo in bulk (my two favorite white rices.) it worked well. Venessa, I noticed the web site looked like the family might be from UT….so I read their bios. I think they are. I know since I have moved to UT, I often have to add a little extra water (water boils at a lower temperature at higher altitudes, so more of it boils off). Maybe, if you are at a lower altitude, if your rice was sticky…add a little less water or broth. Maybe 1/4 cup less? Add more if it is still not hydrated enough?

  2. Erica says:

    I used just plain, long-grain white rice. I tried it once with Calrose rice (because it was what I had on hand…) NOT good! 🙂

  3. Danielle Spangler says:

    I tried it with instant rice and it turned out great. I look forward to trying it again when I have long grain. I combined the can of broth with the butter, garlic, lime juice and eliminated the water. Once it was boiling I added 2 cups of instant rice and let it stand. Then I poured the other mixture over it the same when I fluffed it. Great!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    We tripled the black bean recipe and ended up using 4 cups of tomato juice. The beans were swimming in the juice and didn’t look right although they okay. Do you really use that much juice?

  5. Erica says:

    Yeah, you just serve them with a slotted spoon so they drain off. If they aren’t swimming in juice they will dry out.

  6. sha says:

    love their sweet rice and black beans, many thanks for sharing♥♥ love their salads♥ many thanks again♥

  7. Angela says:

    How would you recommend doing the beans from scratch? Would you cook with the seasonings or just plain and then add things afterwards?

  8. Erica says:

    I have never made the beans from scratch, but I am sure they would be great if you added the seasonings while cooking them. If you are worried if it will be too strong or come out mushy (which I don't know if they would, because again, I have never made the beans from scratch), I would say just make them plain and then add them afterwards. They will probably taste the same either way you do them.

    • Lisa says:

      DO NOT cook dry beans in tomato juice first! The tomato juice must come after they are completely cooked, otherwise, your beans will never soften. It has something to do with cooking them in acid. Cook with spice in water if you must, but add tomato juice last.

    • Brianna says:

      I always start with dry beans, and I agree…don’t start with juice. I actually don’t evens add spices because it always makes them cook longer. I cook them in a crock pot, but you can cook them on the stove. When they are soft, add the ingredients, and follow the recipe as directed. They won’t get too mushy. The tomato juice and salt will ensure they are fine.

  9. Jeff and McKenna says:

    on the rice it says lime juice two times, is that right?

  10. Erica says:

    Yeah that's right. The lime juice is divided. You use a little bit of it earlier in the recipe (when cooking the rice) and then you use the rest later (in the sauce you pour over it).

  11. Showalter Homestead says:

    I've tried making this and my rice always comes out sticky. Do you have any tips?

  12. Jason and Kelly says:

    the key to getting the rice just right is to brown it before you add the water. heat the butter or oil in the pan on medium heat, then add the rice and cook it until it starts to brown being careful not to burn it. add the garlic and cook the rice until it is a golden color, then add the water and other ingredients and cook following the rest of the directions. this keeps the rice from being sticky at all and each grain stays individual. it is seriously the key to getting the rice right. and you can can pretty much use any kind of rice, including calrose, and it turns out just right.

  13. T says:

    How many servings do you get out of this recipe? We are wanting to do it for a Company party and I don't know how much to plan on. Thanks

  14. Erica says:

    4-6 depending on how big of eaters you have…

  15. Erica Jessop says:

    We like pinto beans on our salads do you use the same recipe for those as you would for the black beans? Thanks:)

  16. christine says:

    I made the beans for my family last night. The only complaint was that they were too salty. I didn't even put in the amount listed on the recipe because I thought it was a lot of salt but it was still very salty. Otherwise it was good.

  17. Christy says:

    What can size of black beans did you use?

  18. Erica says:

    Just the regular size.. I think it's 14 oz…

  19. Sara says:

    Just made this tonight for dinner and it took me right to Cafe Rio 😀 Delicious!

  20. Sara says:

    Also for the rice, make sure you don't stir it too much otherwise the rice gets sticky and mushed together.

  21. Sarah says:

    thank you, we love these!!! and have had them SEVERAL times now!!!

    However, they are WAYYYYYY too salty for us with that much salt. Like, I don't know how it's not too salty for everyone! But, we know that now and have adjusted to for what we like! thanks!

  22. Blair says:

    I've never had Cafe Rio (they haven't made it to Texas yet apparently!), but this recipe looked great so I gave it a try anyway. Although at first the sweetness of the pork scared me a little bit, when you layer it with all the other flavors, it was wonderful!! I didn't do the tortilla/cheese part, and I also skipped the rice. Finally, I added a can of corn like you suggested. Although the changes I made surely made it less like the actual Cafe Rio salad, it was really good none the less! I think it would be great for having guests over! Thanks!

  23. Laurelberry says:

    Canned beans are very high in sodium, I would not recommend adding salt to them. Just look at the label on the can to see the salt content of the brand you are using.

  24. Megs says:

    I loved your Cafe Rio salad dressing recipe, but these beans have SO much salt! 1 1/2 tsp for one can of beans?! If I had stopped to think before just following the recipe, I never would have added salt. I'm sure this is a typo– right???

  25. Erica says:

    @ Megs– ya know, I have had a lot of people complain about the amount of salt. For some reason I haven't noticed but I will actually go ahead and change it on the recipe. I wrote it up over 3 years ago so it very well could be a typo. Thanks for bringing this to my attention!

  26. Frank and Victoria says:

    can this be cooked in a crock pot with out the beans going mushy?

  27. Erica says:

    @ Frank and Victoria– I don't know. I have never tried it. If you do it, maybe don't used canned beans, try using the dried ones. I'm not sure what to recommend! If it turns out well, let me know!

  28. Laura says:

    The rice was fantastic, I love the tartness of the lime with the little bit of sweetness from the sugar. Yum, thanks!

  29. Rebecca says:

    This may seem like a silly question, can you cook the rice and the rest of the ingredients in a rice cooker?

    • Erica says:

      Yes, you can. I usually do!

  30. Angela says:

    I was wondering if you have the recipe for Pinto Beans, we live near the Pinto Bean Capitol of the World and we love the Pintos but not the black beans. Is it the same recipe just different beans?

    • Erica says:

      Yes we do! It is in our cookbook! The recipe isn’t the same… Send me an email and I will email it to you.

  31. http://tinyurl.com/myakgavin18359 says:

    Exactly how long did it take u to create “Our Version
    of Cafe Rio

    • Erica says:

      Do you want to know how long it takes to prepare or how long it took me to come up with the recipe?

  32. Sarah says:

    When you say tomato juice in the bean recipe – is that tomato sauce? or actual tomato juice – aka V-8?

    • Erica says:

      Yes, I used v8 but I’m sure tomato sauce is ok.

  33. Stacey says:

    I LOVE your Cafe Rio recipe! Thanks so much for posting it! One question…is there something I could substitute the chicken broth with in the cilantro lime rice? I’m making this for a party on Sunday and my father is a vegetarian.

    • Emily says:

      You could try vegetable broth.

  34. shane says:

    almost 3 cups of liquid for 1 cup uncooked rice seems like too much is that the correct amount? You said in a comment that you use a rice cooker have you used the stove as well ? The flavor is great but it is almost mush and I did not over flake with a fork and I also browned the rice in butter and garlic prior to adding the liquid.

    • shane says:

      Now that it’s cooled off its perfect. I’m making this for 100 people and I think I’ll try a little less liquid. Thank you!

  35. Kat Whiting says:

    Thank you so much for all these fabulous recipes! I’m wondering if you could email me your recipe for the pinto beans…?

  36. Laura says:

    For dried beans, soak overnight then simmer for about two hours – don’t add anything to them until they are cooked otherwise they will toughen. Once cooked, drain and follow the recipe above

  37. Angela Larson says:

    We are wanting to do these for a meal when we go to Lake Powell, so I wanted to do as much as I could before we leave. Have you done the rice or beans ahead of time and if so, how long will they last before they need used? Thanks, we love these!

    • Erica says:

      First of all…. JEALOUS!!! I love Lake Powell. It is probably my favorite place in the world! Secondly, I have done them ahead of time– totally fine. I would say 4-5 days ahead would be just about right.

      • Jen says:

        How did you store these items to make in advance (especially the 4-5 days)? Just in the fridge? Or did you freeze the rice/beans/etc…?

  38. JessieMN says:

    Is there any substitute for the tomato juice? My nursling is sensitive to tomato products; too acidic. Thanks!

    • Erica says:

      I have never used a substitute. Maybe V8 juice? or is that still too acidic?

  39. Shantel says:

    I used your recipe for the cilantro lime rice and it was so yummy! Thank you so much for sharing.

  40. Soozcat says:

    Well, these weren’t bad per se, but I was expecting the flavor of Cafe Rio’s cilantro lime rice and black beans. Neither one of these recipes tasted anything like Cafe Rio’s food. I won’t be making them again.

    • Kari says:

      I live in Oregon, we don’t have Cafe Rio here, but so many visitors from Utah *Missionaries* LOVE Cafe Rio… so, I started making these recipes 2 years ago… then, last summer, we visited a cafe rio when visiting family in layton…

      Personally, we love these recipes and flavor MORE than Cafe Rio! 🙂 we won’t go back to cafe rio. our family has another restaurant they like better and we will try that one. but we love these recipes!

      • Erica says:

        This is the best comment EVER! Thank you so much! I am so glad you have liked these recipes 😀 I am sure the missionaries love coming to dinner at your house.. I would!

  41. Robyn says:

    I am planning on making the rice and beans for a big family Christmas dinner. My sisters and I are vegetarians and so I was wondering if it would change it too much if I used veg. Broth instead of chicken. Thanks

    • Emily says:

      It should be fine with vegetable broth!

  42. Amy says:

    Made is sans onion due to food allergy. Delicious! Cooking around an onion allergy is not easy, but the taste for this shines through without it. Excellent recipe! Thanks so much!

  43. Kim says:

    How are these reheated? Would you recommend cooking beforehand or just serving fresh off the stove? Thanks! I’m excited to try these! (Beans and rice)

  44. Kimberly says:

    Would you recommend cooking beforehand and reheating to save time, or are taste and texture compromised too much? Thanks! I’m excited to try these!

    • Emily says:

      No, making ahead would be fine!

  45. Karina says:

    Just made the black beans. I didn’t have tomato juice or tomato sauce. I used 1 chopped roma tomato, about 1/2 a cup of chicken broth, and 1 tsp of tomato paste. I also used low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed. I used about 1/2 a tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Turned out so yummy! The rice is in the rice cooker now. the 15 oz chicken broth and 1 cup water is too much I think so I just went with how I’ve always cooked rice. Used 1 cup brown rice, and about 2 cups of chicken broth/water combo. I usually do the finger measure whenever I’m cooking rice (don’t ask! lol! It’s a cultural thing) and it always turns out right. Can’t wait! Pairing it with peruvian style roasted chicken thighs 🙂

    • Erica says:

      So glad that you liked it!!! haha I wish I was able to perfectly cook rice by just doing the finger test.. I am pretty dependent on a rice cooker most of the time. The chicken wings sound delicious! Sounds like you have a pretty impressive meal going on there 🙂

  46. Nate says:

    I know someone said not to use calrose rice but I totally disagree! The trick to not having a sticky rice with calrose is to use less liquid and let it sit after cooking for at least 10 minutes. Then fluff and add some tomatillo sauce (cafe rio mild sauce) just before serving. For added flavor and authenticity add some butter as well. Cafe rio cooks their rice, covers it with plastic wrap and then tin foil before storing it in their warming ovens until used each day. As they pull it out they add butter a several ladles of mild sauce. I may or may not have worked there for a while… Calrose rice gives that perfect texture without becoming mushy like long grain will almost every time because it splits so easily. Just my opinion of course…

    • Erica says:

      Nate— Thank you so much for this comment! This is awesome advice!!! I am definitely going to try it this way next!

  47. Christie says:

    After reading the many comments, I understand the pinto beans use a different recipe. Will you please share?

    • Echo says:

      Hi Christie, Check your email. Thanks!

  48. Holly says:

    Has anyone ever tried making this with quinoa? I am IN LOVE with all things café rio but was wondering if anyone had tried the quinoa. Thanks!

    • Echo says:

      I haven’t tried it with quinoa, but it’s a great idea.

  49. Heather says:

    What happened to the rice recipe!!?? I keep trying to bring it up and it won’t!!!
    I made it before and everything was deLish!!! It’s stopped showing somehow! Is it just me??

    • Erica says:

      You are totally right— a few of our recipes disappeared in a transition that we have done recently. We will get this back up ASAP

    • Sarah says:

      You’re not the only one! I haven’t tried the rice yet and am hoping the recipe comes back up soon for my next meal plan! Yum 🙂

      • Emily says:

        It should be back up! Try refreshing the page.

  50. Heather says:

    Thank you SO SO MUCH!!!!!
    I can’t wait!!!!

  51. AshLynn says:

    Hi, I don’t know if I’m just not seeing it, but you don’t have the recipe for the rice. Just two recipes for the beans? Is it posted somewhere else?

    • Erica says:

      Whoops– you are right, let me see what exactly happened here! We will change it ASAP It looks like the INGREDIENTS are correct for the rice, but we have the instructions for the beans for some reason. We have been doing a little construction on our site and it must have been jumbled up!

  52. Tamsyn says:

    I love this recipe. Thank you for sharing. Can I use a rice cooker for this recipe or will it make the rice sticky and soggy? I just want perfectly fluffy delicious rice!

    • Erica says:

      We have used a rice cooker and just thrown everything in and started it… works great!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *