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 66 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 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. 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

  2. Joyce

    I found your recipe while looking for a Mexican rice side for my Chicken Enchiladas Verde dinner, coming up. The main thing that caught my interest was the inclusion of onion & tomato puree, which is a technique I’d never encountered before. Where I live, tasty tomatoes are hard to come by at this time of year, but I was going to use the plum tomatoes found at my local Wegmans anyway. Someone mentioned using canned tomatoes, and I have a subscription delivery of Muir Glen Fire Roasted tomatoes (which I use in so many dishes), which I might try instead. No need to reply – I realize I am taking my chances. But your recipe is the ‘whole enchilada’ (so to speak) that includes all the flavors I’m looking for. May toss in some black beans, if I decide not to serve refried beans instead. I’ll post the results. Just major thanks for your recipe!5 stars

  3. Jacqui

    Hi there. This looks perfect for my besties wedding in which I’m cooking. I’m wondering about making it ahead of time and then reheating. Ever done this before?

    1. Dana Griffithd

      I made WAY too much, but reheated for a second meal, and even froze the leftovers for a third (and equally great) meal. Couldn’t tell it wasn’t made fresh. Excellent recipe for reheating or freezing.5 stars

  4. Arena

    Okay. I make this often and never have time to comment. This recipe is amazing. The rice is always fully cooked and tastes so flavorful.

    Fyi ..
    I make it in the rice cooker and usually have to do 2 cycles. Im guessing since the rice is already hot when it goes in it thinks it’s mid way cooker. Tastes great when finished.

    Also. I use the left over tomatoes mixture as a base for my wet burritos.

    Thanks so much for sharing this goodness!5 stars

  5. EG

    This was amazing! I’m not much of a cook and have never prepared rice this way. It’s idiot proof! Took it to a pary and it was a hit. Heated up leftovers today in the microwave and added a tablespoon of water and it came out fluffy and perfect! Thanks for such a great recipe!5 stars

  6. Terri Davis

    Delicious! Used canned diced tomatoes with onions and green chili’s already in, long grain instant rice (daughter grabbed the wrong stuff) but it turned out great and very good. Thanks5 stars

  7. MinShien @ Joyous Apron

    This looks fantastic. Love the rice cooker instructions – that is so helpful! I am looking forward to trying this out!5 stars

  8. Janet Shannon

    Greetings, When I printed my copy from the website somehow those ingredients prep instructions did not print. I also reviewed on line instructions at the time of my original post and missed “seeing” the instructions. However, I did make the recipe preparing the ingredients as I “thought” they should be done and everyone like the end result. (I had to double the recipe.) Now I have reprinted the recipe for future use, making sure I got all the instructions. Thank you for your response.5 stars

  9. Janet Shannon

    Greetings, The instructions don’t provide information about the preparation of the garlic and Jalapenos for inclusion at step 4. Do I chop or mince the garlic? Do I remove the seeds from the peppers? Do I chop the peppers?

    1. Shelly

      The recipe states in the ingredients how to have the jalapeño & garlic prepped. HTH! Merry Christmas!5 stars

    2. meggan

      Hi Janet, sorry for the confusion on this! The ingredients themselves say how those should be prepared. For example it says “4 cloves of garlic, minced” and “1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded, and minced.” Are you seeing this on your end? I hope so, that’s where it shows (not in the instructions). So sorry for the confusion! Please let me know if you need anything else!

  10. layna vaughn

    THANK YOU for a Spanish rice recipe that actually works! Previously, I used a different recipe claiming to be “authentic” restaurant style, and it was a gummy mess (WAY too much liquid). A real Spanish rice pilaf recipe is not easy to find for some reason. Seriously, thank you :)5 stars

  11. Caren

    I have never commented on a recipe before and I feel compelled to do so today.  This rice was DELICIOUS!!  I loved it and wanted to eat the whole batch.  My husband loved it and even my super picky 6 and 8 yea old daughters ate it.  Of course, my 6 year old ate it grain by grain, but whatever.  

    I used only 1/4 of a jalapeño in hopes my kids would still eat it and it had great flavor.  I didn’t have low sodium stock, so cut the added salt at the end.  I also didn’t have long grain, so used basmati.  It was SO good.  I checked it at the halfway cooking mark and it was done, so I just kept it out.  Not sure what I may have done, but it tasted delicious and I can’t wait to make it again!!

    Thank you for the recipe!5 stars

  12. Holly

    Hi Meggan. I am excited to try this recipe. I’ve never made rice in the oven before, love that I won’t have to watch over a pot. My only concern is the vegetable oil. I am avoiding it because along with gluten and dairy, I have eliminated soy from my diet and vegetable oil is 100% soybean oil. What would you suggest as an alternative? 

    Thank you,
    Holly

    1. meggan

      Hi Holly! I totally understand your concern. I would use olive oil. I meant to update the recipe to say that, because that’s what I always use too. Thanks for the reminder and the question!

  13. Shelly Jerde

    This rice was FABULOUS! Thanks for sharing!5 stars

  14. Renee Phillips

    Do you think this would work without using the oil.  I always sauté with veggie broth as I avoid oils in my diet. 

    1. meggan

      Hi Renee, I’m honestly not sure. It would be worth a try! You could also skip the sautéing part entirely and just cook rice the way you normally would, with the tomato mixture. I’m not sure if the rice would be stickier that way, but I’m sure it would still be tasty. Good luck!

  15. Alicia Benson

    If using the rice cooker do I still add water to it like the rice cooker instruction says to?

    1. meggan

      Hi Alicia, no, you just follow the instructions and use chicken broth in place of water (or you could use water, it would still be good). But, you use 2 cups of broth (or water) per the recipe, not whatever your rice cooker would say. Because the rice is toasted in the pan in advance, the rice-to-liquid ratio is 1-to-1 vs. if you just put the rice in for steaming. Does that make sense? Thanks for your question! Let me know if you need anything else.

  16. Lauren

    I want to mention I use drained, pureed Rotel instead of the tomato/onion/jalapenos. It seems to work out great and is faster when I don’t want to spend time chopping veggies. I just throw the extra puree into my cheese dip instead of discarding.5 stars

    1. meggan

      Great idea Lauren! Thank you! I had tried the recipe using just regular diced tomatoes and their flavor was too strong, but maybe with the onion and jalapenos in the Rotel it would taste better. I’m sure it would. Can’t wait to try! Thanks again.

  17. Kaylee Manning

    Hi Meggan! I’m eager to try this recipe next time we have tacos! Question, do you think the tomato and onion concoction would freeze? I noticed you said “discard any remaining,” but I buy expensive produce. :P I’m not much for food waste!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Kaylee! I hear you on produce! You could definitely freeze any excess. However, I don’t usually have extra. It’s just that sizes of onions and tomatoes may vary, so if you use GIANT ones and end up with 3 cups of the mixture it would be too much. But generally it’s a tablespoon or so, and maybe even nothing. :) But yes! Thank you for not wasting food! I love that.

  18. Ruth

    Hi Meggan, I am not sure if anyone asked you this but do you think I can get away with using canned tomatoes in a pinch?  I don’t have any fresh and I have all of the other ingredients. I really want to try it at least this one time until I get to the store. Just wondering before I waste my time. Thank you in advance. 

    1. meggan

      Hi Ruth, yes absolutely! Someone even commented below that they used just tomato sauce. I think it changes the flavor, but not in a bad way. I think 1 (14 ounce) can tomatoes would probably do the trick (the tomato sauce person used just an 8 ounce can). Or you could use a 28-ounce can and pour off any excess. You won’t be wasting your time! I’d love to hear what you think. Thanks Ruth!

  19. Tara Ballard

    Thanks for the recipe. I want to cook the rice for 25 adults, but I’m confused about how to bake it in the oven. Do I put the stock pot in the oven?5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Tara, YES. You put the stock pot in the oven (with a cover on it). That’s exactly what I did. Turned out very well. I hope you enjoy it! If you have anymore questions just let me know. Thank you!

  20. Mishelle

    Rice turned out great.  Thank you for the recipe.  I used a can of tomatoes (didn’t have fresh on hand) and one chopped onion.  I dont have food processor.  Baking the rice made it so perfect!  Thank you, Thank you!5 stars

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