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 886 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

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating




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

Comments

  1. Ginger Sanchez says:

    Can I use chicken broth instead of water

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Hi Ginger! Yes, you can use chicken broth. I would omit the tomato bouillon though, as it would probably make the rice too salty.

  2. Alyssa says:

    This is definitely a bit different then the “authentic” Mexican rice recipes I’ve had in the past, but who the ef cares! This is absolutely delicious and is my go-to rice recipe when I’m making any sort of Mexican-style main dish. I’ve tried some other recipes, but none holds a candle to the flavor of this one! Thank you for sharing this recipe!

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Alyssa! Fantastic feedback, thanks for stopping by.

  3. Catherine L Mejia says:

    I also added some chopped onion after rice was almost browned then the green from green onions after adding everything to the pan. I could Never get ratio of water/ rice correct. But This recipe is the Bomb! And I’m Mexican American

  4. Beth says:

    Great recipe!!
    I used 400 gram tin of diced tomatoes and the juices, as well as a chicken bullion. Still added the chili powder, and about a teaspoon of coriander powder, plus a little salt. I added onion and garlic as noted. Following the process of the recipe was flawless!!! Thank you, and I’ve subscribed.

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Beth! Thank you so much for subscribing, love the feedback.

  5. JANGEAMBE DICKSON says:

    Good

  6. Tom W says:

    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!

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      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.

  7. Ashley says:

    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???

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      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.

  8. Lottie says:

    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.

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      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.

  9. Leah Marty says:

    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.

  10. Allie Wilson says:

    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.

  11. Sara says:

    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!

  12. Paige says:

    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!

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      This is what I love to hear! So glad you are enjoying this recipe!!

  13. SanMc says:

    Made this Mexican rice for a group on cinco de mayo. Everyone loved it. It’s definitely a keeper. Followed the recipe as written.

    1. Kristin says:

      That’s awesome SanMc! Thanks for stopping by.

  14. Tony says:

    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.

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      I’ve never rinsed my rice and it’s never been gummy because you toast it.

    2. Paige says:

      Never rinsed mine as well, I use jasmine rice & it never gets gummy once you brown it before adding the water.

  15. Lara says:

    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.

    1. Kristin says:

      Nice! Thanks for stopping by Lara.

  16. Bruce McCain says:

    Such an easy and time saving recipe!! I have made this several times without any problems, my family loves it.

    1. Kristin says:

      Nice! Thanks for stopping by Bruce.

  17. Sue says:

    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.

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Sue! Thanks for stopping by.

      1. Christina says:

        How many servings does this recipe make?
        I have enjoyed this recipe in the past using my Instant Pot.
        Thank you,
        Christina

        1. Kristin Maxwell says:

          It makes roughly 4 cups of rice.

  18. Lisa Davis says:

    Is this recipe OK for making the night before? I mean, does it reheat well?

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      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.

      1. christine matter says:

        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……..

        1. Kristin Maxwell says:

          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.

  19. Briana says:

    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 🙁

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      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.

  20. Amanda woody says:

    Just made it. Used the 8oz can and had no problems with it being saucy. Was delicious

    1. Kristin says:

      Awesome feedback Amanda! Thanks for stopping by.