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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 891 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. Ms. Washington says:

    To all the people commenting on this lady’s recipe in a negative way. Saying what you would do or not do. Why don’t you post your own recipe? She’s posting it the way she and her family like it. If you don’t think this is the recipe for you, then on to the next one. Me personally I found it to be very delicious. So just stop trying to steal her light and get your own. I’m sure if you were such a great cook you wouldn’t be on here looking for recipes anyway. Just do what you know how to do and let the people who trying to learn decide for themselves.

    1. Kristin says:

      Thank you!

  2. Sue Thoren says:

    Made this for dinner tonight and it turned out great! Will be making this again!

  3. Carrie says:

    I made this recipe last night and it was absolutely delicious!!! I followed the directions to a “T,” but it didn’t come out fluffy, it was kind of mushy (but it still tasted fantastic). Any idea what I did wrong??

    1. Kristin says:

      Since stoves can vary from kitchen to kitchen, it’s impossible for me to say what went wrong. However, I would say that most likely it had something to do with burner temperature. I hope you will try this recipe again! Try using a glass lid so you can check it without lifting the lid. If it looks wet still, add a little more cooking time. You could also just let it sit for a while after turning off the burner. OR,continue to cook over low heat, stirring often, until the remaining liquid evaporates. This has happened to me from time to time, and one of these methods almost always saves the day! 🙂

  4. Kristina says:

    Thanks for the recipe! I plan on making it this weekend for a party, but will be veganizing it with Goyza with cilantro & tomato bouillon & veggie stock ❤️

  5. Marna says:

    Could this be made in a rice cooker?

    1. Kristin says:

      I haven’t tried it. It does call for browning of the rice so I’m not sure. If you try it, let me know how it comes out!

      1. Lori says:

        I was wondering that, too. I am going to have to give it a try, my rice cooker has a saute function so it should work.

        1. Kristin says:

          I haven’t tried it that way, but let me know how it works!

  6. Aurora says:

    Really, caldo de tomate? I use pureed tomatoes and onion. After browning my rice I add the puree and cook that with the rice then I add chicken broth and then salt, pepper to taste and just a touch of garlic powder for extra flavor. Simmer on low, stirring occasionally to distribute ingredients evenly, until liquid is absorbed, about 15 min.

    The fresh tomato 9(home grown if available), onion and chicken broth give the rice so much more flavor than water and the caldo de tomate.

    1. Mila says:

      So did you just come on here to bash someone else’s recipe?

    2. Kristin says:

      Thanks for your comment Aurora. When it comes to cooking, to each his own. This just happens to be MY recipe, and my family likes it.

      Oh, and GARLIC POWDER?? We use REAL garlic.

      1. Arizona Franklin says:

        I love Your comment back to her!!! it was great?????? That person is rude and negative You know you like your recipe and I think the recipes is great! Hey the bullion has everything in it that she did she just had to do more work then you love it

    3. Beann72 says:

      I feel really sorry for you, Aurora. What do you gain from bashing someone else’s recipe online??? How ridiculous!

    4. Arizona Franklin says:

      Really what a BITCH YOU ARE

  7. Michelle says:

    Can I make this ahead, say the night before? If so, any recommendations for re-heating the next day?

    1. Kristin says:

      Yes you can make it a day ahead. Just reheat in the microwave, covered with a paper towel, and add maybe a tablespoon or so of water. That should help to keep it from drying out.

  8. Diana Davis says:

    Just made this and it is excellent! Thank you so much. I love making Mexican dishes but could never find a rice recipe that tasted like the real thing, until this one. I made it exactly as listed and wouldn’t change a thing. Thank you so much.

    1. Kristin says:

      Glad you enjoyed it!!

  9. Holidays says:

    The first step says “Heat oil in a 5 quart saute pan over medium-high heat. Add rice.” Do you add RAW UNCOOKED RICE GRAINS or do I need to boil the white rice first, then proceed to the first step?

    1. Kristin says:

      In the ingredients list you’ll see where it says “dry long-grain rice.” You put that right into the hot oil. You will be cooking it when you add the sauce and water.

  10. Priscilla says:

    Made it tonight! Yum!

  11. Beth says:

    Pretty much exactly how my sister’s Mexican mother-in-law makes it, but with onion instead of garlic. I miss that rice, but can’t get the tomato bouillon in New Zealand. Now and again I have someone send it to me…. 🙂

    1. Kristin says:

      I know you can order it from Amazon…but I would miss it too!!!

    2. Monica Soliz says:

      You don’t have to use tomato bouillon. I am hispanic and tried making the rice several ways. For a little extra flavor you can use enchilada sauce mild or hot. Or you can use tomato sauce and with all your spices.

  12. Ashley says:

    Should I rinse the rice first?

    1. Ashley says:

      Oh! That was silly! Nevermind!

    2. Kristin says:

      Nope!

    3. Monica Soliz says:

      You can rinse. My hispanic grandmother always did.

  13. Rachel says:

    Quick question – the rice, is it minute rice or no? I always bum up a recipe with this.

    1. Kristin says:

      No, just regular long-grain white rice.

  14. Robin says:

    This turned out great! Couldn’t find the tomato bouilon in Ontario so just used chicken bouillon and all worked out!

  15. Lauren says:

    How many servings does this make? Sorry if I missed it in the recipe/info section.

    1. Kristin says:

      It’a approximately 4-6 servings.

  16. Nancy says:

    Does the tomato bullion have msg in it? If so can I substitute? This sounds so good.

    1. Kristin says:

      It does…but I really don’t use it that often, and it’s one of the only things I use that does.

  17. Aurora says:

    I add half a medium onion diced, I add onion right after rice starts to brown , so it cooks with rice and 1 teaspoon of cumin. Everything else is the same. Try it this way too , just adds alittle more flavor.

  18. James says:

    This actually sounds good! I would brown my rice in bacon grease though! makes it more flavorful but does not taste like bacon. Really good!

  19. Mallory says:

    I’m so sorry to have to leave this comment but we hated this. I followed the recipe exactly but it was so garlicky that we couldn’t eat it and it stunk up our house for days. Is it suppose to be this garlicky? Or maybe are the amounts wrong on the recipe?

    1. Kristin says:

      I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this recipe. The garlic called is correct, in fact I often use more than two teaspoons. Are you sure you didn’t accidentally use tablespoons?

      1. Teresa says:

        Can you tell me how many this recipe serves?

        1. Kristin says:

          It will serve 5-6 as a side dish.

          1. Teresa says:

            Thanks! Really like it!! Going to make it for a wedding this weekend!

    2. Lauren Keating says:

      I don’t think two teaspoons of garlic is enough! I always add more. I agree, I think you may have used a tablespoon. A teaspoon is so tiny.

    3. Monica Soliz says:

      Honestly, after making rice for several years. Use as much spices as you want for your own taste. My Hispanic grandmother didn’t even measure her spices.

    4. TheAuricle says:

      Be careful. There’s a difference between the minced garlic that comes in a jar and fresh minced garlic. The jarred garlic has been sitting in vinegar and water so it is much more concentrated. A 1/2 tsp of jarred garlic is as potent as 2 tsp of fresh. Also, the flavor and aroma is very different. This may explain your unpleasant experience.

  20. Maureen F. says:

    I have a ton of Mexican Rice recipes, but this is the first one I tried because I had the Caldo de Tomato in the cupboard. I am sad I waited so long! This was incredible and so easy!!! Definitely a keeper, and I can get rid of those other recipes!! 🙂