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. Kaitlin

    Just made this for dinner and I have a couple questions. I’m somewhat of a cooking novice so please bear with me.

    What temperature should the stove be for sautéing the rice? I burned the first batch of rice and the second batch was a little over-cooked as well.

    How much pepper should I add and when should I add it? I ended up adding a couple twists from the grinder before I brought everything to a boil.

    When all the ingredients are added and brought to a boil, how long should I let it boil for?

    Overall it turned out alright but some clarification would be greatly appreciated!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Kaitlin, I’m so sorry about the burnt rice! I usually cook it over medium heat, bearing in mind that I use a gas stove. You just need to stir it frequently and only saute it until it’s lightly golden in color. It is definitely not something I would leave unattended, so I apologize for not making the instructions more clear. I’ll fix that.

      As for the pepper, that’s really a personal preference. I don’t add it until the *very* end, when I’m folding in the cilantro, and then I add whatever tastes good. A few grinds probably? 1/8 teaspoon to a 1/4 teaspoon, I’d say. Before bringing the rice to a boil, I’m only adding salt.

      As for your last question, you don’t need to let it boil for any certain about of time. You literally just bring it to a boil and then stick it in the oven. It’s just a more efficient way to heat up all the liquid (rather than waiting for that to happen in the oven). Does that make sense? Once it starts to boil, you’re good to go.

      I will fix the instructions so all these points are clear! It’s awesome that you are taking on a recipe like this which is more than entry-level dump & pour stuff. :) I really believe practice makes perfect in the kitchen! Please let me know if you have any other questions, and thank you so much for helping me fix this recipe so it makes more sense! Take care.

  2. Jessica

    Thanks for the quick reply! I would probably cover it with aluminum foil. I’ve done baked brown rice that way in a smaller pan and the foil seemed to work just fine. As far as timing, I will be making it tomorrow night, so probably not enough time to test, but I appreciate the offer! I will let you know how it goes!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Oh, foil! Of course. I mean, I didn’t know if that would work. But now that you say that, I’ve seen that done A MILLION TIMES on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Sometimes I think they even put plastic wrap under the foil which would make a tighter seal (which is what I was worried about). But, I see no reason why it wouldn’t work. I hope you love it, I look forward to hearing your feedback (positive or otherwise!). Have a great weekend!

  3. Jessica

    Do you think it would work to double the recipe and bake in a 9×13 to feed a larger group of people? I’m terrible with doubling recipes, so if you have any recommendations on adjusting time, I’d appreciate it!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Jessica, my first question is, how would you cover it in the oven? My 9×13 pans have covers but none of them are oven-safe. So, that would be my first concern. My second question is, how soon do you want to serve this? I would be happy to test the recipe over the weekend (doubled, obviously), and report back my findings. I’d probably try it in my Dutch oven. And when I think about it, I don’t think the cooking time would increase by very much. It might even be the same. When I cook rice on the stove, the cook time is basically 15 minutes no matter what quantity. I don’t know for sure, but I would start at one hour and go from there. Maybe an extra 15 minutes would all that would be needed if even that. If you have some time and I can test it for you, please just let me know!

  4. Kari

    If I try this with brown rice, how long do you think I should cook?5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Kari, I’m not exactly sure because I haven’t made the recipe with brown rice. But, I think it would be at least an hour. I’d stir it after a half hour, see how it looks, leave it in another 30 minutes, and go from there.

  5. Landon

    Hi,

    This looks delicious, but I’m wondering if you ever ended up trying/succeeding at making it in a rice cooker or pressure cooker?

    Thanks!5 stars

    1. Sarah

      I made this in my Instant Pot yesterday and it was perfect. I subbed one can of diced tomatoes with lime and cilantro for the fresh tomatoes. After sauteing the rice I put in the rest of the ingredients (minus cilantro) and pushed the rice button. It cooked for 12 min. (and NPR for 8 minutes because I forgot about it). Opened the lid, stirred in the fresh cilantro, and delicious!5 stars

    2. meggan

      Hi Landon! I don’t have a pressure cooker so I’m not sure about that, but I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work (I just can’t tell you any specifics about the cook time). However, after seeing your comment this morning, I had everything on hand and went ahead and tried it in a rice cooker. It works perfectly! I have a 4-cup rice cooker so I ended up making just a half-batch to be safe, but I see no reason why the full recipe wouldn’t work in a 4-cup (or bigger) rice cooker. I did everything the same as the recipe and it took 33 minutes in the rice cooker. I’m not going to lie, this is really exciting and I might make it this way from now on! Thank you so much for your question. Have a great weekend. :)

  6. Celine

    Hi,
    So my understanding is that you roast the rice before actually cooking it? (if that makes sense).
    Never cooked rice like this before so it seems a bit odd to me :)5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Celine! Yes. Well, I’d pick the word “toast” rather than “roast,” but yes. That’s how they make pilafs typically, toasting the grains first. I think you’ll love it! Yes, it’s totally weird if you’ve never done it before. :)

  7. Bean

    Hello,

    Can this be finished off on the stove instead of the oven?5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Bean, probably. Or I should say, yes definitely. But I haven’t done that so I can’t tell you exactly how long it would take or what temperature. If I were going to try, though, I would reduce the heat the lowest possible temperature, cover, and cook for 15 minutes (maybe checking at 10 or 12 minutes just in case). I appreciate the question though because I will absolutely test this and figure it out! Thank you!

  8. Sue

    If made ahead, do you think it could be reheated in a crockpot? Or would it get to mushy? Need to serve to a large crowd and would like to keep it warm…thanks5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Sue! I think it would be fine reheated in a crock pot. Because it’s cooked pilaf-style (where you toasted the grains in the beginning), that really helps it from getting overly mushy/sticky down the line. I’ve reheated leftovers many times and haven’t had any problems. Good luck, I hope your guests love it! Thanks for your comment.

  9. Lindsay

    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. meggan

      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!

  10. Crystal

    Has anyone tried this with brown rice? I can eat Mexican rice every day. Thanks for the post!5 stars

    1. Robert Kathan

      I know you posted a long time ago…but add 10 minutes to the recipe for brown5 stars

    2. meggan

      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

  11. Jennifer

    thanks for sharing a great recipe! i made it last week and shared it on my #whatsfordinner journey.5 stars

  12. KR

    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. meggan

      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!

  13. Crystal

    In the recipe, you say to saute the rice for 10 to 15 minutes in the oil, but did you mean seconds?

    1. PHYLLIS SAIZ

      Can I double recipe and add 5 minutes to oven time?

    2. meggan

      Hi Phyllis, yes and yes! Thank you!

    3. Crystal

      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

    4. meggan

      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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. Mexican rice is the best.  I made a huge batch last week and had it with every night for  dinner.  5 stars

  17. 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

  18. 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

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