Homemade Mexican Rice Recipe (Easy!) (2024)

This Mexican Rice recipe rivals any restaurant, is so easy to make at home and the perfect addicting side for all your Mexican dishes!

This Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice recipe is truly the best Mexican rice I’ve ever devoured – restaurant or homemade. It’s light, fluffy, infused with flavor and the answer to the dreaded question “What should I make?” when it comes to sides. This rice is already easy but I’ve also included alternate “lazy day” instructions with ZERO chopping to make this truly the easiest and tastiest Mexican Rice recipe!

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How to Make Mexican Rice Video

Homemade Mexican Rice Recipe (Easy!) (1)

You will love this Easy Mexican Rice

With Cinco de Mayo around the corner, I thought it was time for the best Mexican Rice recipe!

Oh Mexican Rice, how do I love thee?! Just like Pico de Gallo ,Homemade Salsa, Salsa Verde and Guacamole are Mexican staples served with every meal, Mexican Rice can be found – or should be found – in a bed alongside all your Burritos,Carnitas, Fajitas, EnchiladasandShrimp Tacos. All too often, however, homemade versions are either bland, dry or mushy. Not this Mexican Rice!

This easy Mexican Rice recipe is soooooo good, I couldn’t stop eating it straight from the pot – and neither could Patrick. It is just the right consistency, flavorful without tasting overpowering and tastes like it came straight from your favorite Mexican restaurant. I guarantee you will be want to serve this Mexican rice with everything or nothing because it is addicting all on it’s own!

What is Mexican Rice?

Mexican rice is a flavorful and popular dish in Mexican cuisine, characterized by cooking the rice with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and spices. The rice is typically sautéed with these ingredients before being simmered in broth or water until it is tender and infused with the flavors of the seasonings. Mexican rice is known for its vibrant red color, thanks to the addition of tomatoes or tomato sauce. It is often served as a side dish to complement Mexican main courses, such as tacos, enchiladas, or grilled meats.

Spanish Rice vs Mexican Rice – what’s the difference?

The terms “Spanish rice” and “Mexican rice” are sometimes used interchangeably, but there can be slight differences in their preparation and flavor profiles depending on regional variations and personal recipes.

Spanish ricetraditionally refers to a dish made with white rice cooked in a tomato-based broth with onions, garlic, and various spices such as cumin and paprika. It often incorporates ingredients like bell peppers, peas, and chorizo for added flavor.

Mexican rice,on the other hand, typically uses long-grain rice sautéed with onions and garlic before being cooked in a tomato-based broth or sauce. It commonly includes ingredients like tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, and sometimes vegetables like carrots.

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Mexican Rice Recipe Easy ingredients

  • basmati rice: please use basmati rice for the best results. Other types of rice will likely stick together and can easily get mushy (see above section). Basmati rice is located with all the other rice varieties at your grocery store.
  • olive oil: use quality olive oil for the best flavor.
  • onion: ½ medium yellow onion will do the trick.
  • garlic: 3 minced garlic cloves. Use more or less depending on your garlic love.
  • jalapenos: use 1-3minced jalapenos depending on how spicy you want it. If you want it even spicier, reserve some of the jalapeno seeds and add them in after you taste the finished Mexican Rice.
  • chicken broth: please use low sodium broth so we can control the salt.
  • tomato sauce: one cup is used instead of broth for the signature tomato flavor.
  • fire roasted tomatoes:boast a wonderful smoky flavor and are sweeter with less acidity than regular diced tomatoes. Most grocery stores carry them but if you can’t find them, then substitute regular diced tomatoes.
  • cannedmild diced green chilies: make sure you purchase mild green chiles – I have accidentally used the hot chilies before and they are HOT! Mild green chiles, however are more tangy than hot so you don’t have to worry about them making your soup spicy.
  • tomato bouillon: come in cubes or a powder can be found in almost every grocery store for about $2. They are located either next to thechicken bouillon(where I found mine) or in the Mexican food aisle. Tomato bouillon is also delicious added to pastas so I promise it won’t go to waste!
  • seasonings: ground cumin, chili powder, dried oregano, ground coriander, smoked paprika, and salt round out the flavor profile.

WHAT RICE IS BEST FOR MEXICAN RICE?

I highly recommend basmati rice for this easy Mexican Rice recipe for the same reasons I raved about it in my Greek Lemon Rice. Not only does basmati boasts a light nutty flavor but basmati grains are long and slender like other white rices but they cook up lighter and fluffier. The individual grains remain distinct when cooked instead of sticking together which means no more clumpy or mushy rice! Basmati Rice also reheats beautiful because of the distinctive grains so the rice remains just as fluffy on day 2!

Mexican Rice Seasoning FAQs

Can I use garlic powder?

You may substitute the fresh garlic with 1 teaspoon garlic powder.

Can I use onion powder?

You may substitute the fresh onion with 1 teaspoon onion powder.

Do I have to add jalapenos?

Just one jalapeno will add flavor but will not make your Mexican Rice spicy so I don’t suggest omitting. You may, however, substitute the jalapeños with some cayenne pepper or chipotle chile powder to taste.

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How to make Mexican Rice

Although Mexican Rice is very easy to make there are a few TIPS AND TRICKS to make the best Mexican rice:

  1. Rinse and drain rice thoroughly.This is crucial to remove the extra starch from the rice so it doesn’t cook up sticky and mushy. To rinse, place rice in a fine mesh sieve and thoroughly rinse rice under cool running water until the water runs clear.
  2. Use basmati rice for best results.Other types of rice will likely stick together and can easily get mushy (see above section). Basmati rice is located with all the other rice varieties at your grocery store.
Homemade Mexican Rice Recipe (Easy!) (4)

3. Sauté Rice until toasted. We start by sautéing our onions with our rice for 3 minutes then add our jalapenos and sauté until the rice is toasted. Toasting the rice with the onions and jalapenos not only infuses it with those flavors but helps develop the wonderfully nutty flavor. More importantly, toasting the rice helps the grains keep some of their texture after they are cooked. After toasting your rice, don’t worry that the rice doesn’t look like it’s toasted evenly, we are just looking for some of the rice to be toasted indicating that that the flavor is developed.

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4. Stir in all remaining Rice ingredients. Next, we stir in chicken broth, tomato sauce, fire roasted tomatoes, tomato bouillon cubes, chopped green chilies and all of our seasonings.

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5. Tomato bullion cubes! Tomato bouillon are the secret ingredient to this Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice and are what turns the rice into that characteristic orange color. Tomato bouillon cubes or powder can be found in almost every grocery store for about $2. They are located either next to the chicken bouillon (where I found mine) or in the Mexican food aisle.

6. Boil until water evaporates. Next, bring the contents to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to LOW. Simmer 12-15 minutes, or until water is evaporated and rice is tender, stirring once at 8 minutes and replacing lid. Once the water is evaporated, the rice still might seem “wet” but this will take care of itself when we replace the lid and let it sit for 10 minutes.

7. If liquid evaporates before rice is done, then add just a little liquid, keeping in mind that the rice will continue to steam for 10 minutes once it’s removed from heat, so it doesn’t need to be 100% cooked once liquid is gone.

8. If rice is still wet, don’t worry, it will continue to absorb the 10 minutes while it is steaming. When you remove the lid after 10 minutes, you can let the rice sit an additional 5-10 minutes to dry out.

9. Add lime juice to taste.Lime is optional but it adds a wonderful fresh, bright pop. You can also omit the lime and let each person customize their own rice if they prefer.

10. Cilantro to taste. You will notice we use both coriander and cilantro in this Mexican Rice recipe but they actually taste different even though they both come from the cilantro plant. Dried/ground coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant and tastes sweet, warm and toasty while whereas cilantro adds the fresh, fruity citrus punch. If you don’t have coriander on hand you can omit it, I just think it adds a little “something-something” special

EASY MEXICAN RICE ALTERNATIVE

Often, I am lazy when it comes to sides, so if you want to eliminate all chopping and make this Mexican Rice strictly “dump and run” you can use the following substitutions:

  • Substitute the chopped onion with 1 teaspoon onion powder.
  • Substitute minced garlic with 1 teaspoon garlic powder.
  • Substitute minced jalapenos with pinch-¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper.

How to make Mexican Rice in Rice Cooker

You can easily adapt this Mexican Rice recipe for your rice cooker! Simply add all of the ingredients to your rice cooker EXCEPT the olive oil and onions. Omit the olive oil completely and replace the chopped onions with 1 teaspoon onion powder. Cook on the white rice setting.

Can I prep this Easy Mexican Rice ahead of time?

Yes! While this Mexican Rice recipe doesn’t require much prep, you can still prep everything in advance so it can come together in minutes.

  • Chop aromatics. Chop your onions, garlic and jalapenos and store in separate airtight containers in the fridge.
  • Measure seasonings. Measure out all of the seasoning and store in a separate airtight container.
  • Rinse rice. Thoroughly rinse basmati rice and leave it in the strainer to dry.
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Mexican Rice Recipe variations

You can also add any sorts of veggies to your Mexican Rice. Often Mexican Rice is served with carrots, corn and peas. You will want anywhere from 1-2 cups veggies depending on your personal preference.

  • Mexican Rice with Carrots: if using fresh carrots, dice them and add to the pot when you add the jalapenos.
  • Mexican Rice with Corn: if using canned corn, rinse, drain and add to pot with chicken broth.
  • Mexican Rice with Peas: use thawed, frozen, petite peas (never canned!) and stir them into your rice after it has cooked but before you recover and let sit 10 minutes.
  • Mexican Rice with Frozen Mixed Vegetables: like the peas, if you use frozen, corn or carrots, stir them into your rice after it has cooked but before you recover and let the pot sit 10 minutes. You can even buy frozen mixed vegetables with corn, peas and carrots for the easiest option.
  • Mexican Rice with Protein: instantly transform your Mexican Rice recipe into a meal-in-one by adding protein such as ground turkey, ground beef, shredded rotisserie chicken, chopped chicken,pork, shrimp, salmon/other fish.

Mexican rice and beans

You can play around with this Mexican Rice recipe to make it your own whether it’s adding more or less jalapenos, tomato bouillon, cilantro, lime or adding in any sort of veggies.

You can easily turn this Mexican Rice into Mexican Rice and Beans, just like I do with my Cilantro Lime Rice with Black Beans recipe. Simply rinse and drain your beans thoroughly and add them to the pot when you add the chicken broth and simmer away. You can use your favorite beans but I think black beans pair the best with this recipe.

HOW TO STORE & REHEAT MEXICAN RICE

This Mexican Rice recipe stores beautifully! The extra time allows the flavors to build and meld even further.

  • Refrigerate:Let Mexican Rice cool to room temperature then transfer to a tightly covered airtight container or to several small containers for meal prep. Store in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.
  • Microwave: For small portions, microwave rice in a microwave safe container with a couple teaspoons water for 60-90 seconds or until warmed through.
  • Stove: For larger portions, transfer Mexican Rice to a nonstick skillet along with a dash of water or chicken broth. Heat over medium heat, stirring often until warmed through.

HOW TO FREEZE EASY MEXICAN RICE

This easy Mexican Rice can also be frozen:

  • Let the rice cool completely before transferring to a freezer bag (recommended) or freezer-safe airtight container. If using a bag, squeeze out as much excess air as possible to prevent freezer burn.
  • Label and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Let rice defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Reheat in the microwave or stove as directed above.
Homemade Mexican Rice Recipe (Easy!) (9)

How to serve Homemade Mexican Rice

There are so many main dish Mexican staples that all need this easy Mexican Rice recipe! I could list everything in my Mexican Recipes Section, but I’ll spare you and let you look at the photo index yourself. Here are just a few of my favs that pair beautifully with this Mexican Rice:

  • Enchiladas. Enchiladas always need a side of rice! This Mexican Rice is ideal because it compliments and doesn’t compete with the enchilada flavor. Some of our favorite enchilada recipes are red chicken enchiladas, ground beef enchiladas, creamy green chili chicken enchiladas, enchiladas verdes and honey lime chicken enchiladas.
  • Burritos. Burritos and rice are a match made in heaven. Serve Wet Burritos, California Burritos, Smothered Chicken Burritos or Ground Beef, Bean and Cheese Burritos with Mexican Rice and drool.
  • Tacos. Tacos might be the most popular Mexican food and so they need the BEST rice as a side. Some of our favorite taco recipes to serve with Mexican Rice include Carne Asada Street Tacos, Easy Shredded Chicken Tacos, Ground Beef Tacos, Ground Turkey Tacos, Shrimp Tacos, Baja Fish Tacos, Blackened Fish Tacos and Tacos Al Pastor.
  • Favorites! Of course, there are so many other Mexican dishes in addition to enchiladas, burritos and tacos. Serve Mexican Rice with all your favorites such chicken fajitas, taquitos, fiesta lime chicken, beef barbacoa and carnitas.

Creative ways to serve this Mexican Rice Recipe

This Mexican Rice recipe can be served as a simple side or added to all sorts of dishes/ingredients. Let your imagination run wild! Here are a few serving:

  • Main dish side. Serve Mexican Rice alongside your favorite Mexican protein and let it be the talk of he plate.
  • Burritos: Layer a burrito size tortilla with Mexican Rice, protein, guacamole, sour cream and lettuce. Serve with additional sour cream and either pico de galloorhomemade salsa.
  • Wet Burritos: Layer each burrito size tortilla with ¼ Mexican Rice, ¼ cup black beans (if using refried beans, layer first), 1 tablespoon sour cream, ⅓ cup chicken/meat, and 2 tablespoons cheese (more or less of each to taste) down the center of the burrito. Roll up tortillas burrito style, and place on lightly greased foil on a baking sheet then lightly brush burritos all over with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes or until lightly golden then remove from oven. Fold sides of foil up around burritos (to keep sauce from escaping) and evenly pour red or green enchilada sauce over burritos then evenly top with one cup cheese. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. To serve, top burritos with desired toppings.
  • Burrito Bowls: Layer Mexican Rice with cheese, chicken/beef/pork chopped lettuce, and your favorite toppings including crushed tortilla chips and either sour cream/Greek yogurt. For extra YUM, serve with avocado crema, cilantro lime dressing or tomatillo avocado ranch.
  • Stuffed Peppers: Slice the tops off of 6-8 bell peppers and remove the core/seeds inside. Rub the outsides with olive oil and line in a 9×13 baking dish. Combine seasoned ground beef with cooked Mexican Rice and spoon into each pepper. Top with sharp cheddar then tent with foil. Bake until peppers are tender, about 35 minutes. Uncover and bake until cheese is bubbly, 10 minutes more. Serve with sour cream or Mexican crema, cilantro, cotija, etc.

HELPFUL TOOLS TO MAKE MEXICAN RICE RECIPE

  • Wide Pan: this Le Creuset Braiser is one of my favorite pans! It is wide and shallow and perfect for cooking Mexican Rice or for stove to oven recipes or for large one-skillet dinners.
  • Garlic press: I use this every single day! It is the ultimate garlic press- it is easy-to-use, easy-to-clean and minces garlic with one squeeze. Unlike other presses, this garlic press has beveled holes that finely cut the clove rather than bruising it, bringing out the best flavor.
  • Onion chopper: onions make me cry like crazy so I LOVE this onion chopper! It’s made with stainless steel discs for chopping/dicing the hardest vegetables/cheeses with 1 easy motion. It’s also backed by a lifetime warranty– and I can guarantee way less tears!
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LOOKING FOR MORE RICE RECIPES?

  • Cilantro Lime Rice
  • Coconut Ginger Rice with Black Beans
  • Cranberry Apple Pecan Wild Rice
  • Cilantro Lime Avocado Rice
  • Greek Lemon Rice
  • Parmesan Risotto
  • Coconut Rice with Pineapple and Cashews

WANT TO TRY THIS MEXICAN RICE RECIPE?

Pin itto your MEXICAN, SIDES or RICE Board to SAVE for later!

Find me on Pinterestfor more great recipes! I am always pinning :)!

©Carlsbad Cravingsby CarlsbadCravings.com

More Favorites from Carlsbad Cravings

  • Reuben Sandwich Recipe
  • Mushroom Chicken Recipe
  • Grill Pork Tenderloin
  • Baby Bok Choy
  • Roasted Pork Tenderloin Recipe
  • Best White Chicken Chili Recipe
  • Mediterranean Rice
  • Tomato Basil Bisque
  • Beef Broccoli Recipe
  • Banana Bread with Cream Cheese
  • Acai Bowl Recipe
  • Queso Dip

Homemade Mexican Rice Recipe (Easy!) (16)

Easy Mexican Rice Recipe

This Mexican Rice rivals any restaurant, is so easy to make at home and the perfect addicting side for all your Mexican dishes! It’s light, fluffy, infused with flavor. This rice is already easy but I’ve also included alternate “lazy day” instructions in the NOTES with zero chopping for the easiest and tastiest Mexican rice! Also check out the notes for options to make Mexican Rice with black beans, peas, carrots and corn.

Servings: 8 -10

Total Time: 30 minutes mins

Prep Time: 5 minutes mins

Cook Time: 15 minutes mins

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Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion chopped
  • 2 cups basmati rice well rinsed and drained*
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1-3 jalapeno peppers seeded, deveined, minced
  • 2 3/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup (8 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1 14 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes well drained
  • 2 teaspoons (or 2 chopped cubes) TOMATO bouillon with chicken flavor see notes**
  • 3 tablespoons mild chopped green chiles
  • 1/2 tsp EACH ground cumin, chili powder, dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp EACH ground coriander, smoked paprika, salt

Garnish

Instructions

  • Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add onions and rice and sauté for 3 minutes then add jalapenos and sauté until rice is toasted, approximately 2-3 more minutes. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds.

  • Stir in all remaining Rice ingredients (except for cilantro and lime juice garnish). Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to LOW. Simmer 12-15 minutes, or until water is evaporated and rice is tender, stirring once at 8 minutes and replacing lid.

  • Once water is evaporated, remove from heat, stir, cover and let sit undisturbed for 10 minutes.

  • Add cilantro and lime juice if desired and fluff with a fork. Taste and season with additional salt or lime juice if desired.

Video

Notes

Don’t miss the “how to make” recipe video at the top of the post!

TIPS AND TRICKS

  • *Use basmati rice for best results.Other types of rice will likely stick together and can easily get mushy (see above section). Basmati rice is located with all the other rice varieties at your grocery store.
  • Rinse and drain rice thoroughly.This is crucial to remove the extra starch from the rice so it doesn’t cook up sticky and mushy. To rinse, place rice in a fine mesh sieve and thoroughly rinse rice under cool running water until the water runs clear.
  • Sauté Rice until toasted. After toasting your rice, don’t worry that the rice doesn’t look like it’s toasted evenly, we are just looking for some of the rice to be toasted indicating that that the flavor is developed.
  • **Tomato bullion cubes! Tomato bouillon are the secret ingredient to this Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice and are what turns the rice into that characteristic orange color. Tomato bouillon cubes or powder can be found in almost every grocery store for about $2. They are located either next to the chicken bouillon (where I found mine) or in the Mexican food aisle. If you can’t find them, then substitute with chicken bouillon.
  • If liquid evaporates before rice is done, then add just a little liquid, keeping in mind that the rice will continue to steam for 10 minutes once it’s removed from heat, so it doesn’t need to be 100% cooked once liquid is gone.
  • If rice is still wet, don’t worry, it will continue to absorb the 10 minutes while it is steaming. When you remove the lid after 10 minutes, you can let the rice sit an additional 5-10 minutes to dry out.
  • Cilantro to taste. You will notice we use both coriander and cilantro in this Mexican Rice recipe but they actually taste different even though they both come from the cilantro plant. Dried/ground coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant and tastes sweet, warm and toasty while whereas cilantro adds the fresh, fruity citrus punch. If you don’t have coriander on hand you can omit it, I just think it adds a little “something-something” special.

rice cooker INSTRUCTIONS

Add the rice, tomato sauce and the amount of broth your rice cooker calls for then add the rest of the ingredients (omit olive oil) substituting with 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder and the jalapeno with pinch-¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper.

LAZY DAY EASY MEXICAN RICE

To eliminate all chopping and make this rice strictly “dump and run” you can use the following substitutions:

  • Substitute onion powder with 1 teaspoon onion powder.
  • Substitute garlic with 1 teaspoon garlic powder.
  • Substitute jalapeno with pinch-¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper..

Mexican rice and vegetables

You can add any sorts of veggies to your Mexican Rice. Often Mexican Rice is served with carrots, corn and peas. You will want anywhere from 1-2 cups veggies depending on your personal preference.

  • Mexican Rice and Beans: Rinse and drain beans well then add to the pot when you add the chicken broth.
  • Mexican Rice with Carrots: If using fresh carrots, dice them and add to the pot when you add the jalapenos.
  • Mexican Rice with Corn: If using canned corn, rinse, drain and add to pot with chicken broth.
  • Mexican Rice with Peas: Use thawed, frozen, petite peas (never canned!) and stir them into your rice after it has cooked but before you recover and let sit 10 minutes.
  • Mexican Rice with Frozen Mixed Vegetables: Like the peas, if you use frozen, corn or carrots, stir them into your rice after it has cooked but before you recover and let the pot sit 10 minutes. You can even buy frozen mixed vegetables with corn, peas and carrots for the easiest option.

HOW TO STORE & REHEAT

Mexican Rice stores beautifully! The extra time allows the flavors to build and meld even further.

  • Refrigerate:Let Mexican Rice cool to room temperature then transfer to a tightly covered airtight container or to several small containers for meal prep. Store in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.
  • Microwave: For small portions, microwave rice in a microwave safe container with a couple teaspoons water for 60-90 seconds or until warmed through.
  • Stove: For larger portions, transfer Mexican Rice to a nonstick skillet along with a dash of water or chicken broth. Heat over medium heat, stirring often until warmed through.

HOW TO FREEZE

This easy Mexican Rice can also be frozen:

  • Let the rice cool completely before transferring to a freezer bag (recommended) or freezer-safe airtight container. If using a bag, squeeze out as much excess air as possible to prevent freezer burn.
  • Label and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Let rice defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Reheat in the microwave or stove as directed above.

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Homemade Mexican Rice Recipe (Easy!) (2024)

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