This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

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.

Pin this recipe for later!Pin This

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
Save this recipe
Get this sent to your inbox, plus get new recipes from us every week!

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.

Free Email Series
5 Secrets to Dinnertime Sanity
Free email series with tested, tasted & terrific dinner recipes!

You Might Also Like

4.67 from 891 votes (648 ratings without comment)

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. Michelle Spevak says:

    I tried making REAL Mexican rice so many times and this is by far the BEST!!!! I agree to do 3 to 4 oz of sauce. Fantastic. Mine cooked in about 15 mins! Thank you

    1. Kristin says:

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

  2. Lexi says:

    Oh my goodness… this recipe is amazing! It was a big hit with dinner tonight. Now that l have a pack of tomato bullion cubes, I am going to stock up on tomato sauce so that I can make this as a side for our weekly taco night. It’s so easy and came out perfect and authentic tasting. This is exactly what I would expect when I order rice at a really good Mexican restaurant. I will never buy packaged Spanish/Mexican rice again. And this is coming from someone who consistently screws up rice. Not this time!!

    1. Kristin says:

      That’s awesome Lexi! Love your feedback! Thank you so much for stopping by to share.

  3. Nikki says:

    Omg!! This was such a hit tonight! It was the first time I have made Mexican rice, and even the non-rice eater asked for more. I made it almost exactly like the instructions (I usually do with new recipes, but I did add in two extra cloves of garlic) I did chicken fajita burritos with the rice inside, and yummy!!!

    1. Kristin says:

      Nice! Awesome feedback Nikki! Thanks for stopping by to share.

  4. zo says:

    This recipe is amazing! Added some cumin and chipotle pepper to it as well. Love this and will keep making this rice!

    1. Kristin says:

      Thank you zo! Love the feedback, thanks for stopping by.

  5. Ritu says:

    Could you please let me know the brand of rice you used in this recipe? I want to make it with white rice but I don’t know which brand would be the best for this. Also, do you have a substitute for bullion or can I leave it out? Thank you in advance, this recipe looks easy yet delicious!

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Hi, I usually buy Mahatma Jasmine rice, or I buy what’s on sale. For the bouillion, you can omit it or use chicken bouillion instead, or replace the water with chicken broth.

  6. Lucy says:

    I stumbled onto this recipe a few years ago and it has been my go to ever since. My husband absolutely loves it and requests it often. Thank you so much for helping this helpless cook!

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Lucy! Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Melonie Makie says:

    I just made this recipe for the first time and mine turned out perfect, not saucy or mushy at all. I doubled the recipe using 2 cups rice, 3 cups chicken stock, 4 oz tomato sauce, 4 oz salsa, and 1 heaping tablespoon of diced jalapeños, plus the garlic and spices. Yum! Should be hit at our Mexican themed dinner party this evening!

    1. Kristin says:

      Love your feedback Melonie! Thanks for stopping by to share.

  8. J says:

    This rice is amazing!

    1. Kristin says:

      Thank you J!

  9. Marley says:

    This rice is amazing! The whole family loves it!

    1. Kristin says:

      Nice! Thanks for stopping by Marley.

    2. Holly says:

      Mine is too salty any suggestions on how to un salt the rice?

  10. Diana Betancur says:

    Love how your rice looks, how much water do you put in pan when rice is cooking?

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Hi Diana, All the information you need can be found in the recipe card.

  11. Ramon Medina says:

    I made this but I took out 8oz of water an it came out perfect

  12. Ally says:

    I love this recipe!! It’s important to note that Uncle Ben’s style rice will not work, as it’s parboiled. I used it once because we were out of our regular rice, it was soupy. This is a keeper!

    1. Kristin says:

      Awesome feedback Ally! Thanks for stopping by.

  13. Jenna says:

    I just wanted to say, I LOVE this recipe. It is a fan favorite and EXTREMELY forgiving. I have made it for literal years doubling the recipe (I use a total of one 8oz can) and it still turns out perfect. When I forget to pick up the tomato sauce, petite diced tomatoes and tomato paste have worked as substitutes. I do also add Sazon Goya for extra color and flavor. This recipe is the absolute best!! Thank you so much!!

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Jenna! Thank you for the awesome feedback.

  14. Ginette says:

    I have been searching for a Mexican rice recipe that we liked, and this is it! Turned out amazing – definitely saving. I’ll probably add just a dash of cumin and some salt next time, but such a great recipe. Thank you!

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Ginette! Thanks for stopping by.

  15. John says:

    I love the recipe. I tweaked it a little. I left the tomato sauce out. I used around a tablespoon or two of tomato paste and added a diced seranno pepper. I also used chicken broth / stock instead of water. Before adding the broth. I mixed all the ingredients up before adding it to the rice. I’ve tried over the years to make Spanish rice to no avail. This recipe has given me the ability to make a Spanish rice in which me and my family really enjoy. Thank you.

    1. Kristin says:

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

  16. Ben says:

    Absolutely perfect Mexican rice!!!!

    1. Kristin says:

      Thank you Ben!

  17. David says:

    Of you find the rice too saucy after using 8oz of tomato sauce it is because you should use 1 1/2 cups if water. The tomato sauce replaces the water. Do this and your rice will be nice and fluffy.

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Sure, you can do that. But we find that ends up with a little too much tomato flavor. As with any recipe, you may need to play around with it to find a flavor you really love.

  18. Chloe H says:

    This was good!
    Can I use chicken bouillon next time? Just curious

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Glad you enjoyed it! Yes, you can use chicken bouillon. It will just have a little different flavor, but still delicious.

  19. Dallas says:

    Thank yoh for this recipe. Have you a shredded beef recipe to go with this rice. Cheers 👍

  20. Genevieve Galvan says:

    Been looking for a recipe as good as the Mexican rice my mom makes. And this is better! Don’t tell her haha. I put some of the garlic and some raw rice and the chili powder and grind it in my mortar and pestle to really get the flavors out of it. I add a tablespoon of tomato paste as well and it’s really really good.

    1. Kristin says:

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