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 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).

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 88 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).

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 286kcal
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Culinary School Secrets
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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. This looks amazing and I am going to try it out for a dinner party. Is it possible to make ahead of time? If so, how would I go about re-heating it before the party? Thank you!!5 stars

    1. Hi Lindsay, yes! Absolutely! Honestly I just microwave the rice to reheat it, even if it’s for a dinner party. I’d start with 2 minutes on high and see where that gets you (of course the time will depend largely on the quantity you are reheating), just in a glass dish with a paper towel over the top. There are probably other ways to reheat it (in the oven, on the stove top), but I know for a fact microwaving it doesn’t affect the rice adversely in any way (doesn’t make it mushy or overcooked or anything). Thank you so much for stopping by!

    1. I haven’t tried it, but I should! That’s a great idea! My husband eats brown rice every.single.day. I’m sure he’d appreciate the variety! :D

  2. This is a wonderful recipe-Cook’s Illustrated’s recipes usually are. But you failed to mention the source anywhere in your post-either it’s a legitimate mistake or an intentional one-but one that needs to be corrected.5 stars

    1. Legitimate mistake. You are right, it’s absolutely America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe. I usually list it in the recipe notes and link to the book on Amazon with an affiliate link. Will be corrected, thanks for pointing that out!

    1. Hi Crystal, no, it’s actually for 10 to 15 minutes. Basically you saute the rice until it is golden brown in color. It takes a little while. I’m using this method right now while I test green rice (arroz verde) and it is definitely 10 to 15 minutes. Sorry for the confusion though!5 stars

    2. OK, I followed this recipe this weekend, and I have to tell you it turned out AMAZING! Now that I know how to make this rice, I no longer need to visit my Mexican grocery store to buy it. Thanks for posting this! Truly great recipe.5 stars

  3. Meggan – you are the rice queen! This looks delicious – such a good trick. Can’t believe I’ve never tried this myself. Definitely adding it to my cooking list:)5 stars

  4. Great recipe, Meggan. I love all the very practical tips you always give us here.
    Now I know how to make perfectly fluffy baked rice!5 stars

  5. Yes!!! It IS so addictive right?!?  Ahh I love rice!  I am a total rice a holic!!! And I love that you use the food processor to make your life easier :)  I use my Vitamix for this task as well!  Looks fab and the idea of oven rice is sooo fool proof :) PINNED5 stars

  6. This seems like a wonderful store-cupboard recipe, Meggan, that you go back to again and again. I wish I could pop over there to California and grab a Mexican meal every time I was in the mood. Here in Greece it’s pretty tricky to find. I suppose that’s all the more reason to make my own! All the best again with your Paleo experiment. You really have got me wanting to find out about it now!5 stars