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! 

Mexican rice in a blue bowl with a sliver spoon.

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 1/4 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).

Mexican rice on a blue plate with a sliver spoon.

Other delicious Mexican recipes:

Did you enjoy this recipe? Please leave a rating and a comment below!

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! 
4.99 from 73 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 286kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

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 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.

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 1/4 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).

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 286kcal
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  1. Lisa

    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. Meggan

      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

  2. Veronica

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

  3. 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

  4. Solomon

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

  5. 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

  6. Regelyn

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

  7. 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!

  8. 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?

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. Cassandra

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

  13. 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!

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. Janice

    This recipe is fantastic!  5 stars

  18. 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! ;-)

  19. 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!

  20. 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

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