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Learn how to make Authentic Mexican Rice! It’s a simple recipe, requires just a few ingredients and takes less than 30 minutes to make. Add it to your menu for Taco Tuesday or anytime Mexican food is on the menu.
This is the best Mexican Rice recipe that is so good and so easy, it is our go-to side dish for any Mexican dinner. We serve this rice dish alongside Refried Beans or Slow Cooker Mexican Beans and with our favorite meals, like Ground Beef Enchiladas, Chicken Tacos and Carne Asada.
The Best Easy Mexican Rice Recipe
By far, this is one of my favorite and most requested recipes to cook. We make it for any Mexican dish from taquitos, to tacos to burritos. It’s truly an authentic Mexican Rice recipe. You want to know why? Because it comes from an authentic Mexican kitchen that just so happens to belong to my cousin’s mother-in-law!
My cousin shared this recipe with me years ago and I’ve been making it almost weekly ever since. This authentic family recipe was passed down from her mother-in-law who had learned the recipe from her mother and grandmother. The ingredients are pretty simple – white rice, tomato sauce, garlic, chili powder, and Caldo de Tomate.
Get a detailed list of ingredients & instructions in the recipe card below.
- Oil – I have used vegetable, canola, corn or olive oil. Other oils that you prefer can be used as long as they have a high smoke point.
- Long grain white rice – I have Jasmine rice without issues, but don’t recommend a short grain because it can be too starchy. Brown rice works – see the FAQs section for tips.
- Tomato sauce – Depending on how saucy you like your rice, use anywhere from 4-8 ounces.
- Caldo de Tomate – This is a tomato bouillon that can be found in the Mexican aisle or with the dry soup mixes. If you can’t find it or don’t want to purchase it, you can omit.
- Water – Substitute chicken broth if you prefer, especially if you omit the caldo de tomate.
What is the Difference Between Mexican Rice and Spanish Rice?
Some people call this Spanish Rice, but Mexican Rice and Spanish Rice are actually not the same thing. While they do use some of the same ingredients, Spanish Rice uses saffron threads and has more of a yellow color.
Whether you call it Mexican Rice or Spanish Rice, you’ll always call it delicious!
What Spices to Add to Rice
White rice on its own has a pretty neutral flavor, so adding spices is key to adding big flavor. Add garlic, tomato bouillon and chili powder for restaurant-style Mexican rice; chicken broth, onion and garlic for rice pilaf; and saffron for Spanish Rice.
How to Make Mexican Rice
- The first step is to brown the rice by cooking it with some vegetable oil over a fairly high heat. When the rice starts to turn bright white and then golden, you’re ready for the next step, which is basically just adding the rest of the ingredients – water, tomato sauce tomato bouillon, garlic and chili powder.
- Once it all comes to a boil, cover it up and turn down the heat. A clear lid is helpful here so you can see when the rice is done, but really 20 minutes is about all it takes. If after 20 minutes there’s still some liquid in the pan, just let it continue to cook until all of the water is absorbed and you can no longer see it bubbling to the top.
- Let it rest, covered, for several minutes, then fluff it up in the pan using a fork or wooden spoon, and you’re ready to serve. Sometimes I’ll add some frozen vegetables, like peas and carrots, or even chicken, like in my One Pot Mexican Chicken & Rice.
Top Tips and Tricks
- Use a good quality nonstick saute pan for cooking your Mexican Rice. The rice never sticks, and it has higher sides so there’s no chance or and of the rice going overboard while stirring! Do not use stainless steel pans for cooking rice.
- Resist the urge to lift the lid! Rice needs steam to cook and as it steams, the grains absorb the liquid which makes them plump and fluffy. Lifting the lid releases essential steam that is necessary to cooking rice perfectly.
- About the tomato sauce – This recipe was recently updated to use a little less tomato sauce. The original calls for an 8 ounce can, but a lot of people commented that their homemade Mexican Rice was a little too saucy. This can be a personal preference, and often depends on the cook, but you can use half of the can (4 ounces) and still have delicious, tomato-y restaurant-style Mexican Rice. Freeze the remainder of the sauce for using the next time you make this recipe.
- Can you freeze Mexican Rice? Absolutely! Store leftover cooked rice in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-6 days or the freezer for up to 6 months. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.
- Add a chopped up Roma tomato for more color and freshness.
Frequently Asked Questions
I have been asked this many times so I thought it was important to address. Chicken bouillon would be a fine substitution, although it wouldn’t have the same tomato taste. You could also simply use chicken stock instead of water and leave the bouillon out completely. I definitely recommend Caldo de Tomate if you can easily get it because it will give the best, most authentic flavor to your restaurant-style Mexican Rice recipe.
Since each kitchen and stove is different, it’s hard to say what could have gone wrong. However, typically it’s just that the heat wasn’t high enough and the rice didn’t come to a full boil. Let it cook a little longer to absorb more of the liquid. Or, remove the lid, turn up the heat to medium and let any remaining liquid boil off. One of these solutions should work for most problems.
Each kitchen, family, and family tradition is different. Just like in the US there are about 18 different types of barbecue sauce depending on what part of the country you live in, the same goes for Mexico and authentic Mexican Rice recipes. Just because it isn’t the same as what your family cooks, doesn’t make it wrong or bad.
This recipe calls for long grain white rice, which is the best for an Authentic Mexican Rice recipe. However, I have used Jasmine Rice in its place and it comes out fine. Brown rice can be used, but will require an additional ⅓ cup of water and about 10-20 minutes more cook time.
Recipes that use Mexican Rice
Even though it’s usually used as a side dish, Mexican Rice can be incorporated into a lot of different main dishes.
More Mexican Recipes
Planning a fiesta of your own? Mexican food is what we live for around here and if you want some delicious authentic and Mexican recipes, you’ve got to try our Crock Pot Chicken Tacos, Crock Pot Carnitas, Baked Salsa Chicken and my famous homemade Guacamole! Or dip your chips in some sweet Mango Salsa. My husband swears by my Shrimp Ceviche and my kids rave about my Mexican Sopes. Don’t forget the Margaritas! Want Mexican food for breakfast? Try this amazing Chilaquiles recipe!
Authentic Mexican Rice
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
- 1 cup dry long-grain white rice
- (4-8) ounces canned tomato sauce Use at least 4 or up to 8 ounces of tomato sauce
- 2 cups warm water
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons Caldo de Tomate tomato bouillon
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic about 2 cloves
- Heat oil in a 5 quart saute pan over medium-high heat. Add rice. Cook rice, stirring constantly, for several minutes, until rice begins to turn a golden color.
- Reduce heat to low to avoid spattering. Gently pour in warm water, then tomato sauce and stir. Stir in chili powder, Caldo de Tomate and minced garlic. Turn heat back up to medium-high, bring to a boil, then reduce to low and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until all water has been absorbed.
- Turn off heat, fluff rice then let sit, covered, for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
This is my standby Mexican rice recipe, I’ve made it upwards of 5 times but I’ve never exactly nailed the seasoning, I like the way it tastes to add a little bit of adobo but I went a little overboard and added salt as well the last time and it was WAY TOO SALTY. Obviously not the fault of the recipe but do you have any suggestions for how I could fix the rest of the rice? I don’t want to just dilute it with some water because I don’t want to lose flavor, thanks!
Hi Tom, Are you using the Calde de Tomat? I don’t ever add salt to this recipe because the bouillon is pretty salty itself. We love the recipe exactly as written with chili powder and garlic (sometimes minces, sometimes powder) as the seasoning.
Can you use this seasoning on some chicken to go with the rice or even add a little extra water and cook some chopped up or chicken tenderloins in the rice together???
Hi Ashley, It’s not really a seasoning if you’re talking about the Calde de Tomat. But you could do a chili powder and garlic powder seasoning. I would cook the tenders separately though, they cook pretty fast and could possibly dry out.
I doubled the recipe. Maybe that is why not all rice cooked through. It took 35-40 min, and not all liquid was absorbed (3 cups water, 4oz tomato sauce), and some rice wasn’t cooked entirely.
Hard to say why it wouldn’t cook all the way through without knowing all of the details. Rice recipes can be doubled and shouldn’t take any longer to cook. There are a lot of factors that could affect the outcome.
I made this yesterday for family get together. It eas a hit! I added 1/2 cup more of rice. And added a little more stock and a can of chopped green chilies. Not to saucy it was great!. Will made this again.
This has been go to for making rice for a while now.
It is almost exactly how I learned to make it from my ex husband’s family who are from Queretaro, Mexico… The main difference was just an addition of about half a cup of minced white onion thrown in about halfway through browning the rice in the oil and using fresh minced garlic and throwing it in with about a min left browning the rice to caramelize both with the rice and they use a couple of fresh, large, roma tomatoes blended with the water instead of sauce, but that’s because they grow most of their own stuff where they are at home as it’s more cost efficient for them. I actually like the flavor of the tomato sauce used here better, and its easier/quicker than messing with the blender. I go with just the 4oz of sauce, I just buy the mini cans, I have also just used a couple tablespoons of tomato paste when I didn’t have tomato sauce on hand and don’t have time to stop at the store, I add another half cup of water if I do that though. It works well if you find yourself short… However, I highly recommend that you dont forget the Caldo de Tomate or try and substitute it for a different bouillon, it would completely change the flavor. A jar of it will last a long, long time.. Or if you don’t use it much they sell it pressed into bouillon cubes, if using the cubes use half of one for each cup of dried rice used. I usually make a double batch of rice when I make it as everyone here eats it like crazy. It freezes well too, just add a tablespoon or so of water before reheating it in the microwave after letting it defrost in the fridge overnight.
My absolute favorite rice recipe! I love that I can make it at home better than my local Mexican restaurant. The Caldo de Tomate is a necessity to get that great flavor. I also use chicken broth instead of water (if I have it on hand). Love it!
I have been making this recipe for a few years now and I never get tired of it!! I even catered a few parties and made this & everyone was asking for the recipe. My husband & I probably make it once a month when we meal prep! The recipe is also very easy to follow, anyone can do this!
This is what I love to hear! So glad you are enjoying this recipe!!
Made this Mexican rice for a group on cinco de mayo. Everyone loved it. It’s definitely a keeper. Followed the recipe as written.
That’s awesome SanMc! Thanks for stopping by.
Do you rinse your rice before browning it? I rinsed mine before browning, and it turned out great. It seems like it’d turn out gummy if you don’t rinse off the excess starch.
I’ve never rinsed my rice and it’s never been gummy because you toast it.
Never rinsed mine as well, I use jasmine rice & it never gets gummy once you brown it before adding the water.
This is exactly what I was looking for tonight. It tasted just like I wanted and hoped for. Hit the spot. I used the 4-5 oz tomato sauce and it was perfect. I will definitely use this one again.
Nice! Thanks for stopping by Lara.
Such an easy and time saving recipe!! I have made this several times without any problems, my family loves it.
Nice! Thanks for stopping by Bruce.
This was by far the best mexican rice I’ve ever made! Excellent texture and flavour. Used chicken broth and 8 oz can of tomatoes with green chilies but other wise followed the recipe and it was perfect. My new go to for mexican rice. Thank you so much.
You are so welcome Sue! Thanks for stopping by.
How many servings does this recipe make?
I have enjoyed this recipe in the past using my Instant Pot.
It makes roughly 4 cups of rice.
Is this recipe OK for making the night before? I mean, does it reheat well?
Yes you can make it the night before and reheat it. But let it cool completely before refrigerating, then reheat on the stove or in the microwave. You may need to add a little water to rehydrate the rice.
Need to make a lot of this for a big party. Can recipe be doubled or tripled? And if I make the day before, can it be put in a crock pot on low heat to warm it up the next day? I’m sure I would have to add some water or broth to rehydrate the rice……..
In my experience, putting the rice in a crockpot can end up a mushy mess if you cover it because of the added moisture from condensation. If you do this, stretch out several paper towels under the lid to catch the liquid. And yes you can double or triple, just make sure your pan is big enough – it should take about the same amount of time to cook.
I really wish the notes about the saucy-ness was at the beginning of the recipe, maybe by where it says how much to use in the ingredients. Sadly, we will be having overly saucy rice tonight because I didn’t read ahead 🙁
Hi Briana, the ingredients list states that you can use 4-8 ounces of tomato sauce. The original recipe uses 8 ounces. But i definitely recommend always reading through any recipe all the way so there are no surprises.
Just made it. Used the 8oz can and had no problems with it being saucy. Was delicious
Awesome feedback Amanda! Thanks for stopping by.
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