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Chicken and Rice with Creamy Cilantro Sauce Recipe

chicken in creamy cilantro sauce over rice with broccoli

Chicken and rice is favorite combination at our home. What’s not to love – it’s a delicious and frugal combination? When you purchase a whole chicken it’s one of the least expensive meats and rice (even our favorite, basmati rice) is cheaper per pound than pasta. One of our staple chicken and rice meal is baked chicken quarters and ginger rice. A new favorite is chicken with creamy cilantro sauce served over plain rice.

Every month I cook several whole chickens and use the meat for things like chicken enchiladas, stir fry, or soup. I recently came across a recipe from Reformation Acres on how to cook an old hen (which are notoriously tough) in parsley sauce. It looked wonderful and although I don’t have any parsley growing in the garden I do have a lot of cilantro.

I changed up the recipe a bit to reflect my cooking style which is different than Quinn’s (Reformation Acres). She’s more like a french chef and I’m more like a short order cook. She does things like mixes her dry cake ingredients and her wet cake ingredients in separate bowls. I rarely do that, even though I know it makes for a better cake. She uses a proper liaison to thicken her sauce. I had to google what a liaison in cooking was.

One of the joys of cooking is that we can each tweak recipes to reflect our own tastes and cooking style. We can also tweak recipes based on what we happen to have on hand or in the garden. The possibilities are endless.

I realize that people either love or hate cilantro, there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. Fortunately, our family loves it. We plant cilantro in the fall and grow it through the winter since it really likes cooler weather. We grow enough for the year and freeze it to use later when we can tomatoes during the summer.

Yield: 8

Chicken with Creamy Cilantro Sauce over Rice

chicken in creamy cilantro sauce over rice with broccoli

Creamy cilantro sauce, chicken, and rice make an incredible combination. I cook a whole chicken for this but you can use chicken breasts if that's what your family likes. You can also thicken the sauce with cream cheese, arrowroot, or cornstarch instead of making a roux if that's more your style. This recipe is really more of a process than an exact recipe, so feel free to tweak it to fit your tastes and cooking style.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes


  • whole chicken
  • large onion
  • 2 carrots (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5-6 peppercorns
  • 1 cup cream, half and half, or milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped tomatoes (optional)


Cook Chicken

In a large stockpot, cook whole chicken in two quarts of water with thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns, onion, and carrots.

Bring the chicken to a boil and then turn heat down to medium and cover pot. Simmer for several hours, until you can easily remove a drumstick by tugging on it.

When the chicken is done, remove it from the pot and allow it to cool before removing the skin and bones, and chopping the meat.

Strain the broth to remove the vegetables and herbs. Remove fat from the broth by putting it in the freezer for a few minutes and then scooping off the fat.

You want about 3 cups broth, if it's much lower than that add water to make up for the difference.

Make Creamy Cilantro Sauce

Make a roux by melting butter in stock pot. Add flour and cook for just a minute.

Slowly whisk in broth. You'll want to just a little broth at a time and whisk it in well so it stays smooth. There's nothing worse than lumpy sauce.

Once all the broth is stirred into the roux, add milk.

Add cilantro, salt, and pepper.

Simmer the sauce until it thickens. It's not going to be "gravy" thick but it will thicken some.

Add shredded chicken.

Serve over rice - we like basmati. Top with fresh chopped tomatoes (optional)

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chicken in creamy cilantro sauce over rice with broccoli

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