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!
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).
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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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!
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.
Mexican Rice Recipe (Arroz Rojo)
- 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
- 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.
- Long-grain white rice is the traditional choice for this recipe, but I've also tested it with basmati and it works perfectly.
- To make this recipe vegetarian, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).