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?

  • Rice. I use long-grain white rice, but you can substitute brown rice (you'll need to adjust your cook time).
  • Tomatoes. Look for juicy romas or vine-ripened tomatoes.
  • Onions and garlic.
  • Chicken broth. Or water to keep things vegan.
  • Tomato paste. In Mexico, instead of tomato paste, they use one cube of Consomate tomato bouillon (Culinary Hill may earn money if you buy through this link). It's nice if you don't keep a tube of tomato paste in your refrigerator and don't want to open a can for just a tablespoon.
  • Cilantro or parsley (optional). For garnish. This tastes great, but no one in Mexico ever does this (but let's be honest - they would never make rice in the oven, either). Sometimes they add 1/4 cup frozen peas and carrots, though. You can add that halfway through baking time if you want (just stir it in to the 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!

How do you make the Best Mexican Rice?

I learned this method from Cook's Illustrated, but it's also exactly how to they make Arroz Rojo in Mexico.

  1. 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.  (Here's my favorite food processor. Culinary Hill might make money if you buy through this link.)
    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 rice in vegetable oil until it is toasted and golden. Stir in the garlic, then stir in your tomato mixture into the rice along with some chicken broth and tomato paste. Bring 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. Bake the rice in the oven for just 30 minutes, stirring halfway through, then fluff with a fork.

What is the proper ratio of rice to liquid?

For every one 1 cup of rice, use 1 3/4 cups liquid of choice and 1/2 teaspoon salt (or less salt to taste).

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.

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.

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.

4.99 from 70 votes

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!
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword rice, tomatoes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 286kcal
  • 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
  • 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 1/2 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 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: 286kcal

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  1. Veronica

    I was looking for something authentic. You hit all the marks! Thanks!5 stars

  2. Megan Martinez

    When putting it in the oven do you leave it covered or uncovered for the Mexican rice

    1. meggan

      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

  3. Solomon

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

  4. Cameron

    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

  5. Regelyn

    Wow fantastic recipe, I cant wait to try that, thanks for sharing.4 stars

  6. Monica

    My go to recipe, turns out great every time. I don’t do reviews but this one was definitely worthy of a 5star review.5 stars

    1. Meggan

      Wow, thank you so much Monica!

  7. SJ

    This recipe is so good! I’ve made it multiple times in multiple ways – oven and Instant Pot. I also have swapped out salsa for the onions and tomatoes which works great. I posted about my love for this recipe on likesandfinds.com. Thank you for all the tips.5 stars

    1. DORAL A ALLEN

      How much salsa did you use, SJ?

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. Cassandra

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

  12. 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!

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. Janice

    This recipe is fantastic!  5 stars

  17. 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! ;-)

  18. 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!

  19. 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

  20. 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!

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