Mexican Rice Recipe (Arroz Rojo)

Learn the secret to making Mexican Rice at home that tastes even better than a restaurant! 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! Great with brown rice too!

Mexican Rice is great on the side of Carne Asada, enchiladas, fajitas, or tacos.

Or, eat it straight up with beans and guacamole. If you like to meal prep, make Mexican Rice with brown rice and ENJOY the food you prepped!

Learn the secret to making Mexican Rice at home that tastes even better than a restaurant! 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! Great with brown rice too!

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Need to make Mexican Rice for a fiesta? Click and slide the number next to ‘servings’ on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re quenching—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.

What is Mexican Rice made of?

Mexican Rice is made with long-grain white rice, tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, chicken broth, and tomato paste.

You can also make Mexican rice with brown rice.

To make vegetarian Mexican rice or vegan Mexican rice, swap out the chicken broth for vegetable broth or water.

Learn the secret to making Mexican Rice at home that tastes even better than a restaurant! 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! Great with brown rice too!

How do you make the Best Mexican Rice?

For the best Mexican Rice, start by processing fresh tomatoes with onions to create a puree. It’s a simple yet effective way to infuse every grain of rice with flavor. (I learned this method from Cook’s Illustrated, but it’s also exactly how to they make Arroz Rojo in Mexico).

Restaurant Style Mexican Rice - the left photo shows tomato and onion in a blender, the right photo shows ingredients after being blended - click photo for full written recipe

(Need a food processor? I’ve had this one since 2003 and just love it.)

Next, saute the rice in vegetable oil until it’s toasted and golden. Stir in garlic and jalapeños (optional; they are not spicy by the time you eat the dish).

Finally, stir in your processed tomato mixture into the rice along with some chicken broth and tomato paste.

Restaurant Style Mexican Rice - the left photo shows white rice in a silver pot the right photo shows the rice with the addition of tomato mixture - click photo for full written recipe

Bake the rice in the oven for just 30 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

It’s a fool-proof method for soft, individual grains of rice.

What is the proper ratio of rice to liquid?

For every one 1 cup of rice, use 1 ¾ cups liquid of choice and ½ teaspoon salt.

Can I make Mexican Rice without oil?

Yes, you can omit the oil entirely in this recipe if you want to.

Follow the recipe as written, making this change for Step 3: Instead of heating oil in a pot, toast the dry rice (unrinsed) on high, stirring CONSTANTLY, until about half the rice is lightly browned.

You need to keep it moving so it doesn’t scorch. Continue the recipe as written, stirring in the garlic and jalapeños. The rice will bake up perfectly, separated and fluffy, as if you had used oil.

Can I use brown rice?

Yes, brown rice is a great substitute for white rice and packs a bigger nutritional punch.  Just take into account brown rice takes longer to cook, usually 35-40 minutes, so adding 10 minutes to the cooking time will ensure the brown rice is cooked all the way through.

If you cook Mexican rice with brown rice in a rice cooker, just select the “brown rice” button. It usually takes 50 to 55 minutes to cook.

Learn the secret to making Mexican Rice at home that tastes even better than a restaurant! 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! Great with brown rice too!

How do you reheat the rice?

Add a drizzle of water to the mexican rice dish and cover with aluminum foil.  Bake in a 300 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until the rice is heated through.

For individual portions, simply 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.

Mexican Rice in a Rice Cooker

At the request of a lovely reader who commented below, I tried making this Mexican Rice recipe in a rice cooker. It worked perfectly! Follow the steps in the recipe below exactly as written through Step 4.

After bringing the rice to a boil, just transfer it to your rice cooker (coated with nonstick spray). Close the rice cooker and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It took 33 minutes in mine (nearly the same as the oven) and there was no stirring involved.

Need a rice cooker? This one is great. I have it, two of my sisters have it, and we all love it!

Restaurant Style Mexican Rice - a photo of rice in a white rice cooker with a green spatula in the pot on a light background - click photo for full written recipe

I also tried making Mexican Rice with basmati rice (as pictured above). That, too, was a resounding success with both the original (oven-baked) method and the rice cooker method.

Make Mexican Rice For a Crowd

Thanks to reader Andy for his question on scaling up this recipe! If you’d like to feed 25 adults Mexican Rice as a side dish, you just need to triple the ingredients below and add 10 minutes to the baking time (40 minutes total). Oh, and you’ll need an 8-quart stock pot.

Restaurant Style Mexican Rice - a photo of rice in a silver pot with a granite countertop as the background - click photo for full written recipe

I know I said to triple all the ingredients, but my blender could only accommodate 11 roma tomatoes and 2 large onions. With that, I had exactly 6 cups of the tomato-onion mixture. It just depends on the size of your veggies.

Restaurant Style Mexican Rice - a photo onions and tomatos in a blendtec blender on a dark background - click photo for full written recipe

 

5 from 62 votes

Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice

Learn the secret to making Mexican Rice at home that tastes even better than a restaurant! 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! Great with brown rice too!
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword rice, tomatoes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 282kcal
  • 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 or basmati white rice
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 to 2 jalapeno peppers ,stemmed, seeded, and minced (optional)
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (see notes)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro or parsley minced
  • Lime or lemon wedges for serving
  • Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a food processor or blender, puree the tomatoes and onions until smooth. Measure 2 cups of puree, pouring off and discarding any excess.
  • Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or a 3-quart saucepan until shimmering (see notes). Add the rice and sauté, stirring frequently, until light golden in color, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Add garlic and jalapeños (if using) and stir until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir in tomato mixture, broth, tomato paste, and 1 ½ tsp. salt. Bring to a boil.
  • 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 and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with lime or lemon wedges.

Recipe Notes

Notes:
  1. Long-grain white rice is the traditional choice for this recipe, but I've also tested it with basmati and it works perfectly.
  2. To make this recipe vegetarian, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.
  3. If toasting the rice in a 3-quart saucepan, you'll want to transfer it to a 4-quart or larger oven-proof baking dish for baking.
  4. To make the Mexican Rice in a rice cooker, follow the recipe through Step 4. After bringing the rice to a boil, transfer it to your rice cooker (coated with nonstick spray), close, and cook according to manufacturer instructions. Mine takes 33 minutes on the "White Rice" setting.
  5. To make Mexican Rice for 25 adults, use an 8-quart stock pot, triple the ingredients, and add 10 minutes to the baking time (40 minutes total).
Adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook (Mexican Rice recipe).

Nutrition

Calories: 282kcal

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  1. Denise king

    Very good recipe! The only changes i made was to use homemade chicken stock in place of the chicken broth. Also I added green pepper.5 stars

  2. Carli

    We’ve made this twice now and it’s just delicious! We prefer it with olive oil as the vegetable oil version seemed just a tad oily to our taste, but otherwise make it exactly as written. Best homemade Mexican rice ever!5 stars

  3. Lisa Peters

    So, thanks a lot. I made this once, and now my teenage son demands it ALL THE TIME. At least once a week. LOL! It is so, so good and easy and consistently turns out perfectly. Great with pinto beans and guacamole. My son is literally eating this as I’m writing this review and says it deserves 10 stars! :) 5 stars

    1. Meggan

      Hi Lisa! I’m glad you enjoy the recipe! My kids also demand it, but they are 4 and 6; looks like I’ll have to double or triple the recipe by their teenage years- haha! :D -Meggan

  4. Cassandra

    This looks great, but will be saved as a treat, as it is so calorie and carb dense. Thanks for sharing 💕5 stars

  5. Angelina Ramirez

    Can jasmine rice be used for this particular rice?

    1. meggan

      Yes I’m sure it can! I haven’t tested it with Jasmine specifically, but I’ve made it with long grain and basmati and I haven’t had any issues. I think you’ll be okay. Thanks Angelina!

  6. Deric Mallory

    Such a great recipe! I was looking for something while I was at the grocery store and searched for a good recipe on my phone while there and found this. I think this will now be my go-to recipe for Mexican rice. I did sub serrano peppers for jalapeno peppers, because I like my stuff spicy, and the heat level was perfect! Thanks for the recipe!5 stars

  7. prabha

    This is amazing !!! Just made this last night on Instant pot, it turned out really great. I used white basmathi rice which needed a cup more broth to cook well. Thank you for posting this.5 stars

    1. meggan

      I’m so glad to hear that! Thank you so much, I really appreciate you! :D

  8. Pauline

    Yep, you’ve nailed it! You managed to keep the similarity to restaurant style mexican rice while improving its flavor. Lightly frying the rice for 10-15 mins is the key to maintaining its texture without it becoming mushy. This is definitely a keeper. Thanks for sharing.5 stars

  9. Janice

    This recipe is fantastic!  5 stars

  10. Annmarie

    Thanks Meggan! I just didn’t want to miss something and I’m very much a follow the recipe to a “T” kinda person –especially the first time. I thought for sure I was missing a step. I’ve never attempted Mexican rice so I’m excited to try it! ;-)

  11. Annmarie

    I am baffled. How does this recipe take 1 hour and 15 minutes cook time? I so want to try this, but I’m not seeing it mentioned in any reviews either. I’m seeing 10-15 minutes to brown the rice, then add mixture and bring to a boil (that should happen quickly I presume) and 30 minutes in the oven (she mentioned to add 10 minutes cook time for brown rice, but in the comments it said 40-50 minutes for brown rice). I don’t want to try this and undercook it!

    1. meggan

      I have to agree with you, the cooking time is off. If I read the recipe now, here’s how I would calculate the cooking time:
      5 minutes to puree the tomatoes and onions and heat the oil in the saucepan
      10 minutes to brown the rice
      5 minutes to stir in jalapenos, tomato mixture, and bring to boil
      30 minutes to bake.
      I would say 50 minutes is an accurate cooking time. Could be slightly longer depending on your stove (if the rice takes longer to brown or to come to boil). Thanks for pointing this out, I’ll fix the recipe immediately!

  12. Sacha Brady

    I toasted the rice (Jasmine, because that’s what I had) right in the IP using the sauté function, cutting back on the oil probably by half. One can of diced tomatoes blended with a medium onion made just enough slurry for 3 scoops* of rice. I used 1.5 scoops of water instead of broth to make it vegan. I had some jalapeños in the freezer leftover from last season’s canning endeavors, so I chopped some up and tossed them in with the rice etc. I cooked the rice on high for 8 minutes (manual), same as I always do for white rice. Worked like a charm! Stirred in some fresh cilantro and lime juice (I think, it has been a minute) and BOOM, deliciousness.

    *that little cup that comes with the IP (and rice cookers)5 stars

  13. I adjusted the liquid amounts to the appropriate ratio for pressure cooking to make this in my Instant Pot—delicious! Seriously, this is the best version I’ve made at home and is tastier than we usually get in restaurants.5 stars

    1. Sherrie

      I would love to know you adjusted this for the instant pot!

  14. Chelsea Cullen

    Hi there! This looks so yum! I was wondering if it was possible to make this without the oil? Could you just skip the toasting of the rice and put the mixture straight in the oven? I love mexican rice and we have an event coming up where I need to feed about 80 people. I’m thinking mexican bowls with rice and black beans with cashew cream would be great but we try to avoid oil!

    1. meggan

      Hi Chelsea, I realize your event has LONG past by now and I’m sorry it took me so long to reply. It took me a few tries to get the recipe right without oil. Basically, in step 3, you just dry-toast the rice in a hot pot, stirring it constantly. Normally you’d saute it in oil, but it actually works perfectly if you toast it in a dry skillet. Stir it constantly so it doesn’t scorch, about about half the rice is lightly browned. Then proceed with the recipe as normal! It works like a charm. I’ve updated the post with this information. Thank you so much for the question and I apologize again for the delay. -Meggan

    2. meggan

      Hi Chelsea! I can test it and let you know. How soon is your event? I’d hate to say yes if it’s not going to work out for you. The thing with the oil is, it ensures the grains are all separated and fluffy. Do you use anything like nonstick cooking spray, or just nothing at all? I will definitely try it without oil and see what happens. Just let me know how soon you need to know. Thank you!

  15. Cobra Commander

    i have a grad party im cooking for 125 people plus. My nemesis has always been Mexican rice. sometimes is good some times not. i havent done it in a while. im not worried about the 5-6 or 10 timing the recipe. i went to le cordon bleu in austin. im pretty good all around. So im going to do a test batch this weekend. smaller batch. my main question is. You never mentioned if the tomato mixture would be included in the liquid measurement. i know its 1 3/4 cups per cup of rice. So is the 2 cups of tomato mixture included or a separate item.

    It haunts me through the years. my wife makes fun of me for not being able to do it right. it is funny. having this much education and not mastering mexican rice.. I make every other rice perfect. sushi, fried rice, saffron, paella. its my nemesis. looking forward to practicing this weekend.
    thanks
    ryan

    1. COBRA COMMANDER

      Ok. So I tried it Sunday for a double batch and it got me again. Flavor was better then any restaurant. But I had rice that wasn’t cooked all the way on the top part. Bottom was good. It was covered. Proper temp. 
      I had so much going on. We didn’t bring the rice to a boil before putting  it in the oven.  I’m doing it again tonight. Because it so many. I found a rice cooker that doesn’t involve toasting the rice. I’m trying that tomorrow. But I doubt it will be the taste of this one. 

    2. Erin Waskow

      Cobra Commander, I am interested to hear how it turned out cooking for a crowd. I, too was going to try this recipe for an upcoming grad party. Would love to read your reviews and lessons learned! Good Luck!

    3. Cobra Commander

      i went back and reviewed the ingredient list and answered my own question. i’ll let you know how it all turns out.

  16. Carly Kabel

    This recipe was great!! I tripled it because we had about 25-30 people coming and I actually just ended up cooking it on the stove instead of baking it. Our friend from Mexico was here and she said it was REALLY GOOD! She even called it authentic! Since she approved it I felt I should share on here that it was a hit. Two thumbs up!5 stars

  17. Vicky

    Hi – Thank you for posting this recipe. I have been searching high and low for a good Mexican rice recipe and tried several with no luck. I have two questions – 1) If I make the rice for a crowd, how to I brown the rice in a large stock pan? I have tried this before and no matter how long I cooked it, it just did not saute in that big of a pan. 2) I want to have the chunkier pieces of tomato in the rice. If I use a can of Rotel, how do I compensate for liquid?

    thank you!

    1. meggan

      Hi Vicky! Thanks for your question, I hope you like this recipe. Just make sure your oil is reasonably hot when you brown the rice (and you don’t even need to BROWN IT, you just need to break down the outside of the rice grain, the color doesn’t matter so much. You want the rice to look at least translucent. Please let me know if this makes sense). If you want to use Rotel, that’s fine. You need 2 cups total of whatever kind of puree you want, so you can puree some onion and add rotel (unblended, drained) and just have two cups of that mixture. The liquid comes from the chicken broth, so don’t worry about that. Does this all make sense? Hit me back if not! Thank you! Good luck!

  18. Maria

    can this rice be served cold?5 stars

  19. Sue

    Has anyone tried to do this in a crock pot after the boiling step instead of the oven? Having a bbq and trying to get some stuff done in advance so I’m not in the kitchen the whole time once people arrive.

  20. Dana Griffiths

    Tried this for a Mexican dinner party, and followed the recipe almost to a T (left out garlic due to food intolerance). It came out very well. However, I do have one caution: I had 8 coming for dinner, so I added another “half”, uping the rice to 3 cups from 2, and scaling everything else accordingly, just in case anyone wanted seconds. Holy cow! I ended up with a ton of rice! I had enough for a second family meal for 10 people, and then enough for my husband and myself for a third meal. If you follow the recipe, this will make much more than 8 servings. 
    Having said that, it was nice to have so much rice left over. It did keep very well, and retained its fluffy and tasty nature.5 stars

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