This Mexican rice recipe is fluffy and flavorful with lightly toasted rice, tomato, chilies and spices, the perfect fiesta side dish.
Perfect Easy Mexican Rice
We're cooking up an amazing Mexican dish in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen tonight, my friends. You've likely enjoyed it in your favorite Mexican restaurant served alongside all your favorite Mexican recipes.
It's restaurant style Mexican Rice, and it's the perfect side dish for pretty much all Mexican food.
What is Mexican Rice?
Mexican rice is a popular side dish of white rice simmered in broth with onion, garlic, and tomato, along with other spices and often chili peppers. It's reddish-orange color comes from the tomatoes, and it is light, fluffy, and very flavorful.
In Mexico, you'll hear it referred to as "arroz rojo" or "arroz Mexicano". Some people confuse it with Spanish rice, which has some similarities, but is something different altogether.
I enjoy making it at home because I can make it my way, with spicy chilies and a few additional seasonings, though you an easily adjust it to your own preferences. It's a very customizable recipe.
It goes with so many dishes and really does make the perfect side dish, though you can also mix in extra vegetables and/or proteins to turn it into a simple evening meal or snack.
Let's talk about how to make Mexican rice, shall we?
Mexican Rice Ingredients
- Vegetable Oil. For cooking.
- Rice. Use long grain white rice for the fluffiest rice, though medium grain rice is good as well. I prefer long grain, like Jasmine rice. This recipe can be made with brown rice, but this is not traditional.
- Vegetables. Tomatoes, onion, garlic, and chili peppers if you'd like some spice factor. I love mine with jalapeno and serrano.
- Chicken Broth. Chicken stock is good as well, or you can use water mixed with chicken bouillon cubes or a mix of chicken and tomato bouillon.
- Seasonings. Mexican oregano, cumin, and salt and pepper.
- Fresh Chopped Cilantro. For garnish.
- Optional Extras. Corn and peas. Frozen corn and peas are great for this recipe.
How to Make Mexican Rice - the Recipe Method
Warm the Chicken Broth. Add the chicken broth to a small pot and heat to warm it. Using warm chicken broth will result in more evenly cooked rice.
Tomato-Chili Puree. Add the onions, chili peppers, garlic, tomatoes, Mexican oregano, cumin, and salt and pepper to a food processor or blender. Process until smooth and set aside.
Toast the Rice. Heat the oil in a large pan to medium heat and add the rice. Cook 6-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until the rice is lightly toasted. You will see it turn a nice golden brown.
Be careful not to burn the rice.
Add Tomato-Chili Puree. Stir in the pureed tomato-chili mixture and cook 2-3 minutes. This will help develop the flavor of your finished rice. You can skip this step and add your broth right away, but you'll get more flavor with a few minutes of cooking.
Chicken Broth. Stir in the chicken broth and optional extras (peas, corn). Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer.
Covering the rice will help it become nice and fluffy, and absorb all that delicious liquid.
Cover and Simmer. Cook, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked to your liking and absorbs all of the liquid. Do not stir while cooking.
If the rice gets too dry, add a few tablespoons of extra chicken broth or water.
Rest the Rice. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. This will allow any other liquid to absorb, and the rice to loosen a bit.
Fluff and Serve. Fluff the rice with a fork and garnish with chopped cilantro and lime juice. Serve.
Boom! Done! Your Mexican rice is ready to serve. So easy to make, isn't it? Serve it as a flavorful side dish and everyone will love you for it. It's that good!
What to Serve with Mexican Rice?
Serve it on the side with anything off the grill or a nice roasted chicken or beef, but here are some great Mexican dishes that go great with Mexican Rice.
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Rinsing the rice ensures fluffier rice that doesn't stick together by removing the dusty starches that coat the grains.
- Roast the tomatoes first before pureeing them for additional flavor.
- Spice It Up. For a spicier version, use hotter chilies and add chili powder to your mix of seasonings. Also, hot sauce is a great addition.
- Other Seasonings. Consider adding 1 teaspoon achiote powder (or ground achiote) for additional red color. Other popular spices are turmeric, cayenne, and other herbs.
- Add other vegetables to your preference, like peas and carrots, chopped chilies, extra corn, or okra.
- Add proteins to make this more of a full meal, such as chopped chicken or pork, grilled shrimp, or fish.
Cool any leftover Mexican rice completely, then transfer to a sealed container and refrigerate immediately. Use within 1-2 days.
You can freeze Mexican rice, though it does affect the texture.
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy this Mexican Rice recipe. Let me know if you make it. I'd love to hear how it turned out for you, and what you served it with!
If you enjoy Mexican cuisine, I recommend the following cookbooks, which I used to adapt this recipe.
- Authentic Mexican, by Rick Bayless (affiliate link, my friends!)
- Mexico: The Cookbook (affiliate link, my friends!)
Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Mexican Rice Recipe
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1-2 jalapeno peppers chopped (optional - use serrano for spicier)
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 medium tomatoes chopped (or use a 15-ounce can tomatoes, drained - I prefer fire-roasted tomatoes)
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1.5 cups long grain or medium grain rice rinsed
- 2 cups chicken broth warmed
- Chopped cilantro for serving
- 1/2 cup frozen corn thawed
- 1/2 cup frozen peas thawed
- Add the chicken broth to a small pot and heat to warm it.
- To a food processor or blender, add the tomatoes, onion, chili peppers, garlic, Mexican oregano, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Puree until smooth. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large pan to medium heat and add the rice. Cook 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is lightly toasted and golden brown.
- Stir in the pureed tomatoes-chili mixture and cook 2-3 minutes to let the flavors bloom.
- Stir in the chicken broth and optional extras (peas, corn). Bring the rice to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Cook, covered, for 15-20 minutes, or until the rice absorbs all of the liquid. Do not stir while cooking. If the rice gets too dry, add a few tablespoons of extra chicken broth or water.
- Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Fluff with a fork and garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve.
This recipe was updated on 12/21/22 to include new information, photos, and video. It was originally published on 8/17/22.
Donna Pearman says
I made this to accompany my family's requested Mexican Christmas Dinner, and it was a HUGE hit! I was kind of surprised at needing to puree all the veggies, but the resulting flavor was incredible. The rice was very tasty, but not overpowering, and it was eaten plain, topped with beans, included in tacos and even topping a green salad. It made a large amount, so we were able to snack on it for three days. The last of it will go into a Mexican fried rice, with tomatoes, peppers and taco meat. Yum yum yum! This recipe is a keeper! Thanks, Mike!
Mike Hultquist says
Awesome, Donna! Very happy you enjoyed it! Yay!!
Loved this recipe. Thank you for sharing.
Mike Hultquist says
Heather Soper says
Thanks for this recipe, definitely going to make it! I’m growing chillies, don’t know how hot they will be but going to find out!!
Mike Hultquist says
Awesome! Enjoy, Heather! Definitely spice it up!