This authentic Mexican rice recipe is easy to make, made with simple ingredients, and way better than the rice you’ll find at a Mexican restaurant! It’s the perfect side dish for all your favorite Mexican recipes.
If I had to pick one side dish to serve at every meal, it would be this authentic Mexican rice! Made with easy-to-find ingredients and ready in 40 minutes, this rice is perfect alongside Mexican and Tex-Mex favorites like chicken enchiladas, chile rellenos, and carne asada.
Mexican rice is a staple in my Mexican family. As a kid, it was one of those dishes that was always on the dinner table alongside refried beans and the salsa of the day that my mom always made from scratch.
This recipe is exactly how my mom used to make it for me and my brothers and sisters, and I’m so excited to share it with the world!
Ingredients in Mexican Rice
- Long grain white rice: The long grains of this rice give you that perfect fluffy and light texture that you want from Mexican rice. Just be sure to rinse the rice under water to remove any extra starch.
- Oil: Canola or your favorite vegetable oil for toasting the rice.
- Onion and garlic: For added savory flavor.
- Tomato: One diced Roma tomato is all you need.
- Tomato paste: This adds more tomato flavor as well as that beautiful orange-red color that is so distinct in Mexican rice. There are other variations that use tomato sauce or tomato bouillon instead. My mom always used tomato paste, so that’s what I’m using today.
- Broth: I like using vegetable or chicken broth instead of water for even more flavor. But if you don’t have broth in the pantry, water will work in a pinch.
- Peas: I like adding frozen peas at the end and fluffing them into the rice so they keep their beautiful vibrant color. You could also add frozen corn, carrots, or green beans for extra veggies.
- Salt: Added during the cooking process, and you can always add more once it’s done if you think it needs more.
How to Make Mexican Rice
Rinse and toast: Rinse the rice under running water until the water runs clear, then saute it in hot oil until the rice begins to brown lightly and gets toasted.
Add onion and tomato: Stir in the onion, tomato, garlic, and salt, and cook for 30 more seconds.
Add broth and tomato paste: Stir in the broth and tomato paste. Continue mixing until the tomato paste has completely dissolved.
Cook: Bring the rice to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Then uncover and let it sit for 5 minutes without touching it.
Add peas: Add the frozen peas and gently fluff them into the rice with a fork. The peas will thaw and warm up with the heat of the rice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Spanish rice is typically yellow and gets its color from saffron, whereas Mexican rice is more orange and red and gets its color from tomatoes (either tomato sauce, tomato paste, or tomato bouillon). Spanish rice is also a bit firmer, whereas Mexican rice is softer and almost melts in your mouth.
Mushy rice is typically a result of absorbing too much water and overcooking. If your rice always turns out mushy, try adding a little less water or liquid next time.
1 cup of uncooked rice serves 3-6 people. When cooked, 1 cup of uncooked rice makes about 3 cups. One serving of cooked rice is about 1/2 cup as a side dish and 1 cup as a main dish.
Long-grain white rice is the best rice to use for Mexican rice. Basmati and Jasmine also work.
No, Mexican rice is not traditionally spicy. If you’d like to add some spice, you can add in some jalapeno or serrano peppers to give the dish some heat.
Storing and Reheating
This rice can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 6 days.
To reheat, heat in the microwave in 1-minute intervals, stirring in between each, until fully heated through.
What to Serve with Mexican Rice
Mexican rice pairs well with a variety of Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes. Here are some of my favorites:
- Add rice to a fine mesh strainer or colander and rinse under running water until the water runs clear. Drain well.
- In a large saucepan or pot over low-medium heat, add the oil. When hot, add the rice and saute for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the rice begins to lightly brown.
- Add the onion, tomato, garlic and salt. Stir and saute for 30 seconds.
- Add the broth and tomato paste. Stir together to mix until the tomato paste has completely dissolved.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and let cook for 20 minutes. Remove the saucepan or pot from the heat, uncover, and let it sit for 5 minutes.
- Add the frozen peas and gently fluff the rice with a fork. Don't stir it. Taste and season with more salt if necessary.
- Instant Pot: If you have an Instant Pot, try my foolproof Instant Pot Mexican Rice recipe.
- Want to add some spice? Add in a chopped jalapeno or serrano pepper when you add in the onion.
- Optional vegetables: I used frozen peas, but you can also use frozen corn, or a frozen pea, corn and green bean mix.