Learn the secret to making restaurant-style Mexican Rice at home. And it’s always perfect: Tender, delicious, never sticky. Whether you are making dinner for the family or feeding 100, this recipe works every time and it tastes exactly the way you want it to! 

Mexican rice in a blue bowl with a sliver spoon.
Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and substitutions
  5. Mexican Rice Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Mexican rice ingredients in various bowls.

Ingredient notes

  • Rice. I use long-grain white rice, (basmati rice works too) but you can definitely make this with brown rice (you’ll need to increase your cook time).
  • Oil. The recipe calls for vegetable oil, but you can substitute olive oil or leave it out entirely (see Recipe Tips below).
  • Tomato paste. In Mexico, instead of tomato paste, cooks use one cube of Consomate brand tomato bouillon. If you don’t want to open a small can of tomato paste, look for a tube at the grocery store. The paste adds a deep, tomato flavor to the rice.
  • Cilantro or parsley (optional). Stirred in at the last minute. In truth, no one in Mexico ever does this (but let’s be honest – they would never make rice in the oven, either).

Step-by-step instructions

This method starts the rice on the stove, but finishes it off in the oven. You need a heavy Dutch oven or stock pot with a lid that’s oven safe. (If making large amounts of rice, use the largest stockpot you have, then transfer the rice to large baking dishes and seal with aluminum foil.)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and adjust the rack to the center position inside the oven. To start, purée the raw onions and tomatoes together using a food processor or blender. Then measure out the amount of tomato and onion mixture you need for the amount of rice you’re cooking. (Discard or freeze the rest to add to a future recipe!)
    A side-by-side photo of two process shots from above the food processor. The photo on the left shows the processor filled with quartered roma tomatoes and quartered white onion, and the photo on the right shows after they have been processed together, producing a red sauce.
  2. Next sauté the dry rice in oil over medium heat until toasted. Stir constantly so the rice doesn’t burn; your goal is to get toasted grains. Once about half the rice looks golden and toasty, stir in the garlic. Then pour in the tomato onion mixture, tomato paste, and chicken broth and bring the whole mixture to a boil.
    A rectangle side-by-side photo of an All-Clad saucepan from above. The photo on the left is of the white rice grains in the saucepan, and the photo on the right shows the rice with the tomato-onion mixture added.
  3. Cover the pot and transfer the rice to the preheated oven. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Stir the rice halfway through the cooking time. When tender, stir in parsley or cilantro and fluff with a fork before serving.

Recipe tips and substitutions

  • Brown rice: It takes longer to cook but tastes really great in this recipe. In the oven, add 10 minutes to the baking time will ensure the brown rice is cooked all the way through.
  • Peas and carrots: Sometimes in Mexico, they add ¼ cup frozen peas and carrots midway through cooking.
  • Jalapeños: If you want, stir in 1-2 minced jalapeños with the fresh garlic. They don’t do this in Mexico, but it tastes great.
  • Vegan: Just swap the chicken broth for water or vegetable broth.
  • No oil. If you want, you can omit the oil entirely in this recipe. Follow the recipe as written, making this change for Step 3: Instead of heating oil in a pot, toast the dry rice (un-rinsed) on high, stirring CONSTANTLY, until about half the rice is lightly browned. Keep your eye on it; you need to keep it moving so it doesn’t scorch. Continue the recipe as written, stirring in the garlic. The rice will bake up perfectly, separated and fluffy, as if you had used oil.
  • Salsa or canned tomatoes: So many readers love using their favorite salsa instead of the tomato/onion mixture. You can even use canned tomatoes (lookin’ at you, fire-roasted tomatoes with green chilies!) Rotel, or a couple cans of El Pato tomato sauce, a zesty tomato and chili purée found at Mexican grocery stores. As long as you have two cups of liquid, you’re good to go.
  • Skip the oven: You can also make Mexican rice on the stove (that’s what they do in Mexico). After the rice comes to a boil, reduce the heat to the lowest possible temperature on your stove, cover, and cook for another 15 minutes.
  • Use rice cooker: Follow the steps in the recipe below exactly as written through Step 4. Once you bring the rice to a boil, transfer it to your rice cooker (coated with nonstick spray). Close and seal the rice cooker and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For white rice, it took 33 minutes in mine (nearly the same as the oven) and there was no stirring needed. For brown rice, it takes about 50 to 55 minutes.
  • Reheating Mexican rice: Spoon the rice into a microwave safe bowl, add a splash of water, cover with a damp paper towel, and heat in the microwave in 1 minute increments until heated through.
  • Big batch rice: For enough Mexican Rice to feed 25 people, use an 8-quart stock pot, triple the ingredients, and add 10 minutes to the baking time (40 minutes total).
  • Source: I originally learned this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. I thought the method was super innovative: blending tomatoes and onions to make a sauce, and the rice tasted just like a restaurant. After MULTIPLE trips to Mexico (my husband is from there), I now know that everyone in Mexico makes Mexican Rice this way, and this is not a unique ATK invention (even though they present it as such). The difference is, in Mexico they call it Spanish rice, they never add cilantro or jalapeños, and they typically make it on the stove, not in the oven. And they use a blender, not a food processor. 
Mexican rice on a blue plate with a sliver spoon.

More delicious Mexican recipes

Mexican rice in a teal bowl.

Mexican Rice

Learn the secret to making restaurant-style Mexican Rice at home. And it's always perfect: Tender, delicious, never sticky. Whether you are making dinner for the family or feeding 100, this recipe works every time and it tastes exactly the way you want it to! 
4.88 from 102 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Servings 12 servings
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Calories 286

Ingredients 

  • 2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes or 4 Roma tomatoes cored and quartered
  • 1 onion peeled and quartered
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups chicken broth or water
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste or one cube Consomate tomato bouillon
  • Salt
  • minced fresh cilantro or parsley, for garnish (optional)
  • Lime wedges for serving

Instructions 

  • Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a food processor or blender, puree the tomatoes and onions until smooth. Measure 2 cups of puree, pouring off and discarding any excess.
  • In a large Dutch oven or a 3-quart saucepan, heat oil until shimmering. Add the rice and sauté, stirring frequently, until light golden in color, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato mixture, broth or water, tomato paste, and salt to taste (I like 1 ½ teaspoons). Bring to a boil.
  • Cover (or transfer to a baking dish and cover) and bake until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Stir halfway through baking time.
  • Fluff rice with a fork. Fold in cilantro or parsley (if using) and season to taste with salt. Serve with lime wedges.

Recipe Video

Notes

  • Brown rice: It takes longer to cook but tastes really great in this recipe. In the oven, add 10 minutes to the baking time will ensure the brown rice is cooked all the way through.
  • Peas and carrots: Sometimes in Mexico, they add ¼ cup frozen peas and carrots midway through cooking.
  • Jalapeños: If you want, stir in 1-2 minced jalapeños with the fresh garlic. They don’t do this in Mexico, but it tastes great.
  • Vegan: Just swap the chicken broth for water or vegetable broth.
  • No oil. If you want, you can omit the oil entirely in this recipe. Follow the recipe as written, making this change for Step 3: Instead of heating oil in a pot, toast the dry rice (un-rinsed) on high, stirring CONSTANTLY, until about half the rice is lightly browned. Keep your eye on it; you need to keep it moving so it doesn’t scorch. Continue the recipe as written, stirring in the garlic. The rice will bake up perfectly, separated and fluffy, as if you had used oil.
  • Salsa or canned tomatoes: So many readers love using their favorite salsa instead of the tomato/onion mixture. You can even use canned tomatoes (lookin’ at you, fire-roasted tomatoes with green chilies!) Rotel, or a couple cans of El Pato tomato sauce, a zesty tomato and chili purée found at Mexican grocery stores. As long as you have two cups of liquid, you’re good to go.
  • Skip the oven: You can also make Mexican rice on the stove (that’s what they do in Mexico). After the rice comes to a boil, reduce the heat to the lowest possible temperature on your stove, cover, and cook for another 15 minutes.
  • Use rice cooker: Follow the steps in the recipe below exactly as written through Step 4. Once you bring the rice to a boil, transfer it to your rice cooker (coated with nonstick spray). Close and seal the rice cooker and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For white rice, it took 33 minutes in mine (nearly the same as the oven) and there was no stirring needed. For brown rice, it takes about 50 to 55 minutes.
  • Reheating Mexican rice: Spoon the rice into a microwave safe bowl, add a splash of water, cover with a damp paper towel, and heat in the microwave in 1 minute increments until heated through.
  • Big batch rice: For enough Mexican Rice to feed 25 people, use an 8-quart stock pot, triple the ingredients, and add 10 minutes to the baking time (40 minutes total).
  • Source: I originally learned this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. I thought the method was super innovative: blending tomatoes and onions to make a sauce, and the rice tasted just like a restaurant. After MULTIPLE trips to Mexico (my husband is from there), I now know that everyone in Mexico makes Mexican Rice this way, and this is not a unique ATK invention (even though they present it as such). The difference is, in Mexico they call it Spanish rice, they never add cilantro or jalapeños, and they typically make it on the stove, not in the oven. And they use a blender, not a food processor. 

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 286kcal
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Meggan Hill

I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

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Comments

  1. Hi Meggan,
    I just want to correct you on something, in Mexico, Mexican Rice is very commonly made in the oven not just on the stove top. Especially when cooking large batches for a gathering. “They” actually do use the oven for this dish.
    I thought it worth noting.

    1. Hi Anna, wow really? I’ve spent a LOT of time in Mexico, in many different places (my husband is Mexican, born and raised there) and he laughed in my face at the idea of making this in the oven. And I’ve seen it there myself; everyone pretty much uses the oven for storage. But, he’s from a rural area and I’m sure it depends on where you go. I’m glad to hear it though. That’s great! Thanks for letting me know. -Meggan

  2. just finished making this! I didn’t have fresh tomatoes on hand, so I used Mexican style canned tomatoes blended with some onion to create the puree. I just let my teenager taste the finished rice and she proclaimed that it tasted just like the rice from our favorite Mexican restaurant! Love how easy this was to finish off in the oven.5 stars

  3. I have a go-to Mexican rice recipe I love but I’ve never been able to get the “dry, fluffy, not-stuck-together-grains-of-rice” effect. This will now be my “forever” recipe! I used 1 (maybe 1.5) Tbsp of Knorr’s Caldo de Tomate seasoning (that’s what my other recipe requires) instead of tomato paste or a bouillon cube. Turned out exactly like my favorite restaurant’s rice. So easy & muy delicioso!!5 stars

  4. I made this tonight for the first time and it was delicious. I had our last bit of tomatoes from our garden and was excited to use them in this recipe. My whole family loved it. I made it with brown rice and left it in 10 extra minutes, like you said, and it was so good. I did add some extra chicken broth because it was brown rice and it was perfect. Absolutely loved the flavor. This will become a regular rice for us. Thanks for the recipe.5 stars

  5. Fantastic recipe. I used a 14.5 oz can of fire roasted diced tomatoes. That, along with the onion, produced exactly 2 cups of liquid. I didn’t use cilantro as I am the only one in my family who likes it. I think browning the rice really sets this recipe apart (I used olive oil). I want to pass it on to friends but wonder how they will do the tomato step if they don’t have a food processor. I have baked other types of rice dishes and love how well it turns out in the oven. This will be my go to for Mexican rice. Thank you!5 stars

    1. Hi Lisa! I love that you used the fire-roasted tomatoes, I bet that tasted great! Your friends can use just a regular old blender instead of the food processor. I’m glad you love it! :) – Meggan

    1. Hi Megan, you cover it. Sorry this wasn’t clear from the recipe, I’ll take a look and make sure it’s obvious for the next person. Thank you! -Meggan

  6. This website really has all of the info I wanted about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.5 stars

  7. Absolutely excellent! I wanted rice and beans so I went looking for an authentic recipe for the rice. All I did was switch out the chicken broth for water and salt since I’m vegetarian, and it turned out exactly like a restaurant would serve! This is excellent, thank you so much.5 stars

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