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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.

Authentic Mexican Rice on a platter

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, Mexican Black Beans and with our favorite meals, like Ground Beef EnchiladasChicken Tacos, Instant Pot Chicken Fajitas and Carne Asada.

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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.

For me, this recipe is the closest to what you typically find in Mexican restaurants. While it might not feel “authentic” to some, it certainly is to us!

Ingredients

  • 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 used 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 or use chicken bouillon instead.
  • Water – Substitute low-sodium chicken broth if you prefer, especially if you omit the caldo de tomate.

How to Make Mexican Rice

See the recipe card below for full, detailed instructions

Long grain white rice toasting in a pan, a wooden spoon for mexican rice

Brown the Rice. The first step is to brown the rice by cooking it in a deep skillet or a large saucepan 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.

tomato sauce in a skillet with a wooden spoon

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 you can no longer see liquid bubbling to the top.

Authentic restaurant style Mexican Rice, being fluffed in the pan with a spoon

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 veggies, like peas and carrots, or even chicken, like in my One Pot Mexican Chicken & Rice. For a garnish, chop up some fresh cilantro or parsley and sprinkle it on top.

Frequently Asked Questions

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, Traditional 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 should be added 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.

What can I use as a substitute for the Caldo de Tomate?

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.

Keep in mind that you may need to add salt if you skip the bouillon. I highly recommend just doing a taste test once the rice is fully cooked, and adding the salt then if needed.

My rice didn’t cook all the way through in the 20 minutes. What happened?

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.

Is this really authentic?

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.

What kind of rice is best for Mexican Rice?

This recipe calls for basic 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 great. Basmati rice is typically used in Indian dishes, but will also work well. Brown rice can be used, but will require an additional ⅓ cup of water and about 10-20 minutes more cook time.

Can you double this recipe?

Yes! You can definitely double the recipe. You want to make sure that your pot is plenty big – A 5-quart should be fine. Double the ingredients, prepared the same way, but do not double the time. Your rice should still be ready in about 20 minutes.

Storage

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.

Refrigerating – Let the rice cool completely before storing. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

Reheating – Thaw first, then Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop, adding a splash of water or chicken stock to rehydrate if needed.

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 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.
  • Vegetables – Feel free to add some cooked veggies, like peas and carrots, when you add the water. This is best with frozen vegetables rather than fresh, which will overcook and turn mushy.
  • Add a chopped up Roma tomato before serving for more color and freshness.
  • Serrano Peppers – Chopped serrano peppers can add some extra flavor without adding too much heat. Sprinkle on top just before covering the pan.
  • Long-Grain Rice – You can use any long grain white rice. I have been using Jasmine rice for years and we actually prefer it to a regular white rice.
Authentic Mexican Rice recipe on a platter with a wooden spoon, a sprig of parsley

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! If you want some delicious Mexican inspired 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.

Or if you’re wanting some other side dish options, we love Black Beans and Rice or Cilantro Lime Rice.

Want Mexican food for breakfast? Try this amazing Chilaquiles recipe! Just don’t forget the Margaritas!

Recipe
A close up of Mexican Rice.

Authentic Mexican Rice Recipe

4.67 from 885 votes
The best Mexican rice that is fluffy and rich in flavor!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Total Time 27 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons Olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup Long-grain white rice
  • 4-8 ounces Canned tomato sauce Use at least 4 or up to 8 ounces of tomato sauce
  • 2 cups Water
  • 1 teaspoon Minced garlic about 2 cloves
  • 2 teaspoons Caldo de Tomate tomato bouillon
  • 1 teaspoon Chili powder
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Instructions
 

  • Heat oil in a 3-quart saute pan over medium heat. Add rice and stir to combine. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes, until rice begins to turn a golden color.
  • Add chili powder, Caldo de Tomate (tomato boullion), and minced garlic. Stir to combine.
  • Pour in water and tomato sauce and stir to combine.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce to low and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until all water has been absorbed.
  • Turn off the heat and let the rice rest, covered, for 5-10 minutes.
  • Fluff rice with a fork and serve.

Notes

  • About the Tomato Sauce – You can use 4 ounces (¼ cup) tomato sauce, or up to 8 ounce (½ cup) if you like it saucier. If you have leftover sauce, freeze for the next time.
  • Rinsing the rice is not necessary, which is why it’s not included in the recipe. However, you are welcome to do so.
  • Feel free to add cooked veggies like peas and carrots before covering and cooking the rice. 

Nutrition

Calories: 160kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 3gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 283mgPotassium: 105mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 181IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 13mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional Disclaimer Kristin Maxwell of “Yellow Bliss Road” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. For accurate calorie counts and other nutritional values, we recommend running the ingredients through your preferred online nutritional calculator. Calories and other nutritional values can vary depending on which brands were used.

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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Comments

  1. Laura says:

    I’ve made this recipe several times, and we love it! I do add a half cup of diced onion, which I saute for a couple of minutes with the rice before adding the rest of the ingredients. I’m also a saucy kind of girl, so I use the whole can of tomato sauce! Thank you for a delicious recipe!

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Laura! Thanks for stopping by to share.

  2. Alyssa says:

    Honestly this is a staple of my everyday life. I make this rice at least 3 to 4 times a month. I only tweak it a little bit for my own taste buds. We use chicken bullion instead and no chili powder. Thank you so much for this recipe, my partners mother loves it so much when I make it for her. ❤️

    1. Kristin says:

      That’s awesome Alyssa! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Barbara says:

    This is pretty good recipe however I added diced onions, more spices, and cut the water by a half a cup.

    1. Kristin says:

      Awesome feedback Barbara! Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Chris says:

    Added 1/2 tsp salt
    I never saw tomato bullion so used tomato paste

  5. Barbara Chavez says:

    Thank you for refreshing my memory on making this rice.. and I am a mexican lol! It turned out great and my husband loved it as well

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Barbara! Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Kelsey says:

    This was perfect! I doubled the recipe, measured absolutely nothing & it was a hit. I added in a jalapeño & some orange bell pepper for color. Cooked the jasmine rice in chicken stock. Thank you, this is one for the books! 😊

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Kelsey! Love the feedback, thanks for stopping by.

  7. HeatherJWstrnArk says:

    I’ve been using this recipe exclusively when I prepare ethnic foods from North, Central and South America. I made one tweak tonight with diced tomatoes and chile’s. It smells lovely!!♥️♥️♥️

    1. Kristin says:

      Thank you Heather! Awesome feedback, thanks for stopping by.

    2. Kendall K says:

      Is there anything I can substitute Caldo de Tomate tomato bouillon with. They don’t sell it in groceries stores near me!?

      1. Kristin Maxwell says:

        Hi Kendall, as mentioned in the post and in the notes you can substitute with chicken bouillon or use chicken broth instead of water. Ot, you can omit the bouillon altogether (in that case you may need to add a little salt).

  8. Lori Schrank says:

    I made this tonight and it was excellent! Used 3/4 of a can of tomato sauce after reading the reviews. It was perfect! Made it to go with Encilata stuffed peppers.

    1. Kristin says:

      Awesome feedback Lori! Thank you so much for stopping by.

  9. Lisa says:

    Just made this. It came out perfect! My husband loved it. I didn’t think it had much flavor. I think next time I might add a jalepeno in when it’s cooking. Definitely recommend it!

  10. Jo says:

    I made this for Christmas because my grandson loves rice! This was a big hit with him and my nephew!!! Thank you for a good and simple recipe!

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Jo! Thanks for stopping by.

  11. Billie Albertson says:

    Probably tenth time using this recipe. Ty

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Billie! Thanks for stopping by.

  12. Bronwyn says:

    Hello,
    Would like to make this recipe today but don’t have Caldo de Tomate tomato bouillon. Is it tomato paste or more like stock cube or powder. I have tomato paste and beef, chicken or vegetable stock powder. What should I use to replace the Caldo de Tomate tomato bouillon? Thanks so much.

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Caldo de Tomat is a powdered boullioun. Another bouillon would work in in’s place. The tomato sauce would provide a good tomato flavor. If you wanted to use some tomato paste, add it with the liquid, and just a very small amount.

  13. Susan Griffin says:

    This was delicious. I have lived in South Texas all of my life. I have never been able to duplicate their authentic Mexican rice. Your recipe was perfect. I followed it exactly. I used half a can of tomato sauce, one packet of caldo de tomato. I also added one chopped tomato and cilantro. I cooked 20 minutes. Perfection. Thank for saying not to cook n stainless steel. I never knew this.

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Susan! Thank you for your feedback.

  14. DC Pear says:

    Hi, I tried making this today. I used two of the Caldo de Tomate tomato bouillon cubes. Was that too much? My rice came out much darker than yours. Should it just be one bouillon cube?I also put in some lemon pepper seasoning and I will definitely leave that out next time. Thank you for the recipe.

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Hello, I haven’t use the cubes, only the powder. I’m not sure if maybe they are more concentrated? I would think that if it tastes good, you’re fine! How did it taste?

  15. Cindy Price says:

    Made this for Christmas Eve. The only difference is I had made some Chicken for Enchiladas and I did not want to throw away the tom/onion/ chicken stock. So I used it in my Rice. Turned out great. Thank you and Merry Christmas ❤️❤️🌲🌲

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Cindy! Awesome feedback, thanks for stopping by.

  16. Isabel Magana says:

    Do you have any tips for how much water to use with soaked basmati rice?

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      I would think it would be the same amount? I don’t soak my rice and haven’t tried it so I can’t say for sure.

  17. Billie Albertson says:

    I have been using this recipe for last couple years. Love it. Ty

    1. Kristin says:

      That’s awesome Billie! You are so welcome, thanks for stopping by.

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