Whenever you have some pesto in the fridge, Easy Pesto Lemon Rice is a delicious way to use it to make a tasty side dish! 

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Easy Pesto Lemon Rice finished rice in serving dish

Easy Pesto Lemon Rice is a great side dish any time you have a few tablespoons of leftover pesto in the fridge. I made this on Saturday night when my niece Alyson, her fiance Nick, and their friend Rachel came for what we call a “cooking lesson.” The truth is that all three of them are pretty good cooks, but it’s been fun teaching them some techniques they might be hesitant to try on their own.

We completely devoured this rice, which I think is the perfect side dish for anything that goes with the flavors of basil and lemon, so if you want leftovers I’d recommend you double the recipe. I used my favorite Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice (affiliate link), which is one of the lowest-glycemic types of rice. For the pesto I used some of my Basil Pesto with Lemon that I had in the freezer but if I didn’t have that I’d use Kirkland Basil Pesto. We ate with with Baked Pesto Chicken, another super-easy recipe that went well with the rice.

Easy Pesto Lemon Rice found on KalynsKitchen.com

How to Make Easy Pesto Lemon Rice:

(Scroll down for complete recipe with nutritional information.)

  1. Heat olive oil, then add the rice and cook until rice is starting to get lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the salt and lemon juice. Then add the chicken stock and let the mixture come to a boil.
  3. Once it is barely boiling, lower heat to medium low, cover the pan and let the rice cook for 20 minutes without lifting lid.
  4. Just a reminder to keep the rice tightly covered while it simmers!
  5. After 20 minutes, remove lid, fluff the rice with a fork, and stir in 2-3 T of basil pesto. (I like a lot of pesto, but you can definitely use even less than 2 tablespoons if you want just a hint of basil flavor.)
  6. Put the lid back on and let the rice stand for 5 more minutes.
  7. That’s it; you now have delicious Pesto Lemon Rice!

Easy Pesto Lemon Rice thumbnail image of finished rice

Make it a Meal:

We loved this as a side with Baked Pesto Chicken, but I think it would also taste great with Grilled Zucchini and Sausage KabobsParmesan Chicken, or Spice Rubbed and Roasted Fish Filets.

More Rice Dishes You Might Like:

Mujadarra (Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions)
Slow Cooker Greek Rice
Lake Powell Spicy Rice

Easy Pesto Lemon Rice finished rice in serving dish
Yield: 4 servings

Easy Pesto Lemon Rice

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

This Easy Pesto Lemon Rice is a delicious side dish to serve with any kind of protein.


  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 T fresh-squeezed lemon juice (see notes)
  • 2 1/4 cup chicken stock (I used a can of chicken broth with some added water)
  • 2-3 T basil pesto (see notes)


  1. Heat olive oil in a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid; then add the Uncle Ben's Converted Rice (affiliate link) and saute until rice is light browned, about 2-3 minutes, stirring several times.
  2. Add the salt and lemon juice (I use my frozen lemon juice) and stir again (the lemon juice will bubble up in the pan.)
  3. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  4. As soon as it is boiling, turn down the heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and let it cook without lifting the lid for 20 minutes.
  5. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork.
  6. Stir in the pesto, put the lid back on and let the rice sit for 5 minutes.
  7. Serve hot.


I used my fresh-frozen lemon juice for this recipe. I used my Basil Pesto with Lemon from the freezer but you can definitely make this with Kirkland Basil Pesto.

Leftover rice can be reheated in the microwave or frozen, but you probably won’t have any leftovers unless you double the recipe!

Recipe created by Kalyn with inspiration from Georgette’s Really Lemony Greek Pilafi.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 247Total Fat 16gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 12gCholesterol 10mgSodium 607mgCarbohydrates 18gFiber 0gSugar 3gProtein 7g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.

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Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
Using low-glycemic Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice makes this Easy Pesto Lemon Rice a great side dish for phase 2 or 3 of the original South Beach Diet. (If you’re eating this for South Beach phase two or wanting the healthiest option, be sure not to buy the “instant” type; you want the converted rice that says “original” on the package.) This is too high in carbs for a traditional low-carb diet plan.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Side Dishes to find more recipes like this one. Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

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