This lemon rice is an easy 1-pot dish that’s bursting with flavor!  Filled with mint, dill, onions, and of course lots of fresh lemon juice you won’t be able to get enough!  It’s delicious both warm or cold so it works great for packed lunches and even picnics and potlucks.

A white plate with lemon rice on it with 3 lemons in the background.

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I have always loved Dolmas (you know those stuffed grape leaves you can get at Mediterranean restaurants), are delicious, but they seem time-consuming and a little difficult to make.  So, I decided to simply make the lemony rice that they stuff in dolmas.  It’s all the goodness of dolmas without the work! 

It’s so lemony that it makes my mouth water just thinking about it!  Use this dish like a Greek Lemon Rice Pilaf and pair it with any Mediterranean-inspired dish, add a protein to make it a full meal, or simply eat it on its own.  The lemon and herb mixture makes this rice totally addictive and a perfect addition to any meal!

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • It’s easy to make in 1 pot in less than 30 minutes!
  • This lemon rice is bursting with flavor! Filled with fresh lemons and herbs!
  • It’s Vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and nut-free so everyone can enjoy it!
  • This dish is perfect for potlucks and parties!
  • It’s great for meal prep and lunches!
  • Lemon rice makes a flavorful side for any meal.

Loved this! Couldn’t get enough for that lemony flavor!

—Anna
A plate full of lemony rice with mint and dill in it and lemon wedges on the side.

Ingredients and substitutions

  • Onions – I like sweet onions, but you could use any type. (I know that this sounds like a lot, but the onion is key to the right taste and texture. The first time I made it, I only put in 1 onion, and my husband and I were fighting over the tiny pieces of onion at the bottom of the pan. So, trust me, you won’t regret using a lot)!
  • Dill – For flavor.  You could leave it out if you don’t like dill, but it gives it that meditation flavor of dolmas.
  • Mint – Optional, but recommended – it gives it a fresh burst of flavor
  • Olive Oil – Use light olive oil, dark virgin olive oil has too strong of a flavor in this dish.
  • Lemon – Freshly squeezed lemon juice is best!  You don’t want to skimp on the lemon or it just won’t be lemon rice. 
  • Salt – For flavor.
  • Grape Leaves – (Optional) for extra texture and flavor of dolmas.  You can find these in jars in the Mediterranean section of the supermarket. 

How to make lemon rice

  1. Add 2 tbsp of light olive oil to the bottom of a medium-sized pot, add 2 cups diced onions and 1 tsp of salt. Saute them over low heat for about 5 minutes until they become translucent (to bring out its sweetness).
  2. Toss in 2 tbsp of fresh dill, 2 tbsp of fresh mint, and 1/4 cup of fresh squeed lemon juice and give it a stir.
  3. Add 4 1/4 cups of water and bring to a boil.
  4. Wash rice in a wire mesh strainer until the water runs clear, then add it to the pot.
  5. Let the rice slowly boil until the liquid is slightly below the rice then cover, turn it to low heat, and cook for 5 more minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat and let it sit with the cover on for at least 10 minutes. (Leave the cover on, I know it’s hard not to peek).
A collage of 4 pictures showing the process of cooking the onions, herbs, lemon juice, and rice to make lemon rice.

Make the lemon herb dressing

  1. Add 1/3 cup lemon juice, 3 tbsp light olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tbsp minced mint, and 2 tbsp minced dill to a small bowl and stir well.
  2. Fluff your rice with a fork then drizzle the dressing over the rice before serving.
A close up of a white plate filled with herbed lemony rice with lemon wedges on the side.

Make it into deconstructed Dolmas

You can use this rice to roll up inside of grape leaves to make your own dolmas if you would like, or you can simply chop up grape leaves into small pieces and toss them in with the rice along with the lemon dressing. I find grape leaves in a jar at my local grocery store. They will be in the aisle with the Middle Eastern foods.

This lemony dolma rice is delicious both warm and cold. It works great as a side or a main course.  It’s delicious with some crispy fried tofu, breaded tofu, or a vegan “chicken” product like Chick’n Scallopini served on the side.

Lemon rice is perfect for lunches, picnics, and potlucks too!

Someone squeezing a lemon slice over top of a white plate full of lemon rice.

More lemony recipes

Lemon rice recipe

A white plate filled with lemon rice with wedges of lemons and a fork on the side.
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5 from 4 rating

Lemon Rice

A lemony rice pilaf made with fresh lemon juice, dill, and mint.  All the lemony goodness of Dolmas without the work!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, (light version)
  • 2 cups sweet onions , diced (about 2-3 onions)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced dill
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced mint
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, (about 2 whole lemons)
  • 4 1/4 cups water
  • 2 cups Jasmine or Basmati rice, rinsed well

Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup lemon juice, fresh-squeezed
  • 3 tablespoons light olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced mint

Instructions
 

  • Add 2 tbsp of light olive oil to the bottom of a medium-sized pot, add 2 cups diced onions and 1 tsp of salt. Saute them over low heat for about 5 minutes until they become translucent (to bring out its sweetness).
  • Toss in 2 tbsp of fresh dill, 2 tbsp of fresh mint, and 1/4 cup of fresh squeed lemon juice and give it a stir.
  • Add 4 1/4 cups of water and bring to a boil.
  • While the water is coming to a boil, wash the rice in a wire mesh strainer until the water runs clear, then add it to the pot once the water boils.
  • Let the rice slowly boil until the liquid is slightly below the rice then cover, turn it to low heat, and cook for 5 more minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and let it sit with the cover on for at least 10 minutes. (Leave the cover on, I know it’s hard not to peek).

Make the lemon herb dressing…

  • Add 1/3 cup lemon juice, 3 tbsp light olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tbsp minced mint, and 2 tbsp minced dill to a small bowl and stir well.
  • Fluff your rice with a fork then drizzle the dressing over the rice before serving.

Notes

  • You can adjust the amount of onion and lemon to taste.
  • Light olive oil works best.  Darker, virgin olive oil has too strong of a flavor. 
  • You can add 6-8 chopped grape leaves to the rice along with the dressing if you want more of a Dolma taste.
Serving: 1cup, Calories: 264kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 446mg, Potassium: 59mg, Vitamin A: 670IU, Vitamin C: 0.8mg, Calcium: 25mg, Iron: 0.5mg
Did you make this recipe?Please leave a star rating and review below!

*This recipe was originally published on September 13, 2018.  It was updated on August 20, 2020, to include new images and more detailed recipe instructions. 

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